Categories
Editorial

Reach for the Stars

Courtesy: Creative Commons
“Nothing can be unconditional: consequently, nothing can be free.”


“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” 

-- George Bernard Shaw,  Maxims for Revolutionists, Man & Superman (1903) 

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), a great writer and playwright, used these epigrammatic lines to bring focus on what people thought was liberty or freedom from oppression, from regimes that were dictatorial. While discussing concepts of freedom, one does wonder if political freedom solves all humane issues, occasions we celebrate with great aplomb, like the birth of a nation.

This month started with the observance of July 4th, the date of the American Revolution in 1776 and the publication date of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in 1855. In between these two years, in 1789, ten days down the line, on July 14th, another significant occurrence has been handed down by history to be celebrated as the Bastille Day— the day prisoners were freed from Bastille, a major event that led to the overthrow of the insensitive monarchy in France, a symbolic resurgence of the common, exploited man that has often been seen as an inspiration for later uprisings to reinforce the concept of democracy or liberté, égalité, fraternité.

As we move forward in time, towards August, one wonders if liberty attained by these means was good for all fellow humans? France was part of the Allied Forces that with America taking the lead dropped not one but two atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, to end the Second World War. Did the ends justify the means? Reflecting the cry and suffering of these victims, we have poetry from Suzanne Kamata, a well-known writer from Japan. Michael Burch on the other hand has shared poetry with us which shows how the nuclear programme continued unrepentant despite the devastation it caused. One must give kudos to the descendants of the victims of the nuclear blast that they have forgiven the perpetrators, admitted their own hand in the Second World War and moved ahead. In that spirit, we have an essay on peace by Candice Louisa Daquin, who joins the Borderless team as a writer-in-residence.

We have much happening in poetry this time with an interview of American poet Jared Carter, a recipient of number of awards and fellowships, including the Walt Whitman Award and the Guggenheim fellowship. He walks us through how he created the poem ‘Yeti’ (first published in the May edition of Borderless) and talks of the impact of artifacts from China and India on his own thought processes, the impact of Du Fu (712-770) and much more. We have a poem in Du Fu’s style this time by George Freek and an interesting poem with a Chinese title by Carter, a title that can have multiple connotations and yet each seems to fit the poem perfectly.

Rhys Hughes has brought humour into our pages with both his poetry and essay on William Mcgonagall, who bore the sobriquet of the worst writer in the world through his life and had things thrown at him when he read his poetry in Dundee. Yet, his work survived the beatings, and he lives on known as the ‘Scottish Homer’.

More poetry by Singaporean poet Marc Nair gives us a glimpse of the little island as viewed by someone who has grown up on it. Poetry is always multi-hued, and we have Lorraine Caputo transport us to a Garífuna village in Honduras. Penny Wilkes takes us ‘Down the Path of Nostalgia’ with a mix of old and new photography, prose and poetry on how almost a decade after the end of the Second World War, she started her love affair with photography and nature. It hovers between poetry and musings, and this time we have a rare musing by Jared Carter too. Devraj Singh Kalsi continues cogitating with wry humour while arranging bookshelves. We also have the backpacking granny visiting Indonesia. Post sharing this trip, our granny — Sybil Pretious — plans a little break from publishing to complete her memoirs.

A riveting flash fiction by Kaiyi Tan celebrates the spirit of conquest in these dark times, weaving into the pandemic lore the quest for personal freedom. Stories this time carry a real life one by Jean Kortum on adoption — her own struggle. But then, stories can be real or unreal – draw a bit from both to reflect bigger truths or create alternates that sink into the human mind as a perceived reality and leave an imprint deep inside the heart, like that of Niles Reddick. My conviction is that some lived experiences of writers seep into each story, whether it is from Bangladesh or India or by our literary fictionist, Sunil Sharma. His narrative continues infused by suspense.

We have a complete translated story of Tagore by Radha Chakravarty as our book excerpt this time. ‘The Parrot’s Tale’, ostensibly part of a children’s collection, reflects Tagore’s response to conventional schooling — a reason for him to start Shanti Niketan perhaps. She has also shared two of her translations of Rabindranath’s songs from Bhanusingher Padabali (1884, Bhanusingh’s verses). Chakravarty generously consented to an interview and has given us a glimpse of her journey as a translator and critic.  We also have translated a long poem by Tagore on our pages, a poem that inspires hope, though it was named Dushomoy (1897, Bad Times) finally. The original name had been Swarga Patthe (On the Path to Heaven) as can be seen from a page in his diary. We have been fortunate in finding a recording of his voice reciting the poem in Bengali and the print of a sample page of the manuscript bearing his signature.

We continue with Akbar Barakzai’s poetry translated by Fazal Baloch from Balochi – this time addressed to his daughter reminding for some reason of Nehru’s Letters from a Father to his Daughter — a book I read as a child.  In addition, we have translations from Korea and Bosnia & Herzegovina, from where the young poet, Maid Corbic, has taken up the concept of freedom of the self and of the nation, both together.

Keith Lyons from New Zealand in his very brief essay has quoted American novelist William Faulkner, “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” And perhaps we need to remember this if for no other reason, then, just to maintain our own sanity in these strange, almost unreal times as we attempt to unite as humankind to free ourselves from an unknown and unfathomable virus.

In a more sombre note, last week, untroubled by the virus, a victim of cancer, Bollywood legend Dileep Kumar, aged 98, breathed his last. Ratnottama Sengupta adds an unusual colour to the Borderless Journal with her tribute to this hugely acclaimed actor. In the process, she unfolds for us a brief history of the Indian cinema, and a glimpse of a world that transcends all man made constructs in quest of perfection.

We have an interesting set of reviews this July. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Anuradha Kumar’s riveting short story collection, A Sense of Time. A murder mystery for young readers, Murder at Daisy Apartments by Shabnam Minwalla, has been reviewed by Gracy Samjetsabam. The Third Eye of Governance–Rise of Populism, Decline in Social Research by Dr N Bhaskara Rao, reviewed by Bhaskar Parichha, seems to be a non-fiction that looks forward to bridging gaps between academia and the real world, a truly felt need. Parichha has also given us an essay on a man who inspired Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, to make him a part of his lore, a journalist who moved around all of Asia with equal aplomb and a sense of humour – a truly global citizen called Richard Hughes.

I want to thank all our wonderful contributors for making this edition a reality. And readers, we leave you to explore the unknown… like that place we call outer space. A huge thank you again to not only all our wonderful contributors, our faithful readers but also to the fabulous Borderless team scattered across the world.  

Before I wind up, a little bird trills a song of hope in my ear. Business tycoons have started stepping into the mysterious void of space to eventually – let us hope — create affordable travel for common man, though it has started off as an expensive proposition. Will this be an industry that will generate more jobs on and off Earth and find new places for man to inhabit? After all, when George Bernard Shaw wrote his plays and essays, we had yet to cross the frontiers beyond Earth, had never even thought of flying across the world in budget airlines or mining moons!

Will we have a new world, a new outlook and a new set of hopes and aspirations as we stretch the frontiers of our home planet?

Wish you all a wonderful month of reading and thinking.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

Categories
Poetry

Equation

By Ihlwha Choi

A bird intending to leave flies away.

If you fail to catch a bird fluttering,

If you miss a ball ready to bounce away,

That's because a bird has its own soul,

Also, because a ball has its own freedom.

A bird's soul and a ball's nature must be respected.

 

If you want to confess your love,

You must keep the right time.

Just as there is a time when a poem is to be born,

There is a time when a bird will hatch.

 

A bird willing to be with you, finally sits next to you.

If you catch a bird ready to flutter away,

You would catch only a shabby feather-deprived thing.

 

That's not an answer to the equation.

Ihlwha Choi is a South Korean poet. He has published multiple poetry collections, such as Until the Time When Our Love will Flourish, The Color of Time, His Song and The Last Rehearsal. 

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL. 

Categories
Poetry

One Star

By Ihlwha Choi

One Star

After losing his way
He is wandering in the strange street

I have not found the way
Which leads to him

Like his way
Like my way
Like the way we both can't find


One familiar star
Shining brightly afar in the night sky 

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Ihlwha Choi is a South Korean poet. He has published multiple poetry collections, such as Until the Time When Our Love will Flourish, The Color of Time, His Song and The Last Rehearsal. 

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL. 

Categories
Poetry

God is dangerous

 Poetry from Korea by Ihlwha Choi

God is dangerous.


The man committing theft,
The man committing adultery,
The man committing murder,
Each keeps his secret.


Man takes His name in vain.
God is tired and worn out.

Distinguishing the crimes one by one,
Forgiving, consoling and loving again,
He is in pain — sorrowful and lonely.

He is not joyful at the sound of the psalms —

Plumbing the dark sides of people’s minds, 
Looking into their enmities, hatred and greed. 

God is rather intolerant
When people try to execute you.


God is very dangerous.

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Ihlwha Choi is a South Korean poet. He has published multiple poetry collections, such as Until the Time When Our Love will Flourish, The Color of Time, His Song and The Last Rehearsal. 

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL. 

Categories
Poetry

Ten Islands

                                  Poetry from Korea by Ihlwha Choi

Ten people are eating rice cake dumpling soup

Same price

Same taste in the same bowl

Made by the same cook

They are eating the same soup delivered by the same waiter

Among them

Young people arrive through the falling snow

One young girl wearing a red backpack

Another girl wearing a baseball cap slightly tilted on the head

One male student with black eyebrows 

who has ever written love letters

Sitting with a boy who has never written love letter

And also two privates coming out of army camp for vacation

One grandma with her little grandson

Among the ten

Some ones know each other and some not

Some seem to have seen each other somewhere

The wind is blowing very hard outside

Though ten people are eating hot rice cake dumpling soup

They are all islands surrounded by ten oceans

Ten islands different in shape

Are eating hot rice cake dumpling soup cooling huhu

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Ihlwha Choi is a South Korean poet. He has published multiple poetry collections, such as Until the Time When Our Love will Flourish, The Color of Time, His Song and The Last Rehearsal.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL. 

Categories
Poetry

Spring of Sorae Port

by Eui Joong Kim

The wingings of seagulls are light

Among the beams of sunlight fluttering

With the cold wind.

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The smile of the Spring that I suddenly meet

Though sunlight is still weak

To awaken the sleeping earth.

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Sorae Port, where the living things at the risk of their lives

In the repeated ebb and flow of the tides,

Live in harmony.

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Spring doesn’t push the winter away

But melts it holding it in the breast

Slowly, softly and warmly.

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Eui Joong Kim was granted a Rookie Award for poetry in the magazine of Monthly Hanmaek Literature and Hong Kong Dongshin Literature Prize. He is a member of Hanmaek Writers’ association and Incheon Writers’ association. 

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.

Categories
Poetry

Nandini

by Ihlwha Choi

I couldn’t ask Nandini if she had studied at school.

I only asked a foreign student excellent in Bengali about her age.

The girl, understanding only English such as brother, sister and thanks was the youngest daughter of a roti shopkeeper.

Located at the small street near the post office in Shantiniketan, West Bengal,

There was Nandini’s small shop along with fruit stalls and the bike shop.

Cows passing by would thrust their heads suddenly

Into the shop thatched with bamboo stems.

One Korean poet said he had seen the girl when she was seven.
Her bones had grown up until now, at the age of fourteen, selling chai and roti.

In this district, goats and ducks, even dogs and cows grow up by themselves.

They do not pierce cows’ noses nor pull them by reins.

The only thing that hinders the cows is the chains around the trees.

The only thing hindering the sleep of dogs is so many steps and vehicle horns.

Maybe Nandini also has grown up like that,

Delivering the dishes of roti and washing the glasses of chai,

Yelling at the two babies of her older sisters.

She might learn about the world hearing the customers’ talk over their shoulders.

How long had she had bare feet? The toes pressed out from sandals looked like tree stumps.

My returning back to my country has nothing to do with Nandini.

She only smiled brightly twinkling her eyes at my small gift.

I wished she would meet a good man not wanting a dowry,

And become a nice mother, like her elder sister,

All together with her brothers and sisters and strong and diligent mother,

Dissolving the tragic memory of her father’s suicide.

Nandini smiled though I told her to close her mouth, though I didn’t let her say cheese to make her smile.

When did she learn to smile in front of a camera?

There lived a flower-like little girl selling chai near the old house of Poet R. Tagore.

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Ihlwha Choi is a South Korean poet. He has published multiple books of poetry. Until the Time When Our Love will Flourish, The Color of Time, His Song and The Last Rehearsal to name a few. E-mail: choiihlwha@hanmail.net

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.

Categories
Poetry

Korean Blast


By Wansoo Kim

Korean Blast


Old Japanese women,
Crossing the East Sea* at a breath
To have the blood of youth transfused
Through their throbbing drama stars,
Burst cheers and tears
As teenage girls.
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Young people with yellow hair
Jump up tearing their vocal cords
To the song whose meaning they don’t know at all
Because K-pop gale blusters
In Europe and the American Continent
Where the hot blast of pop songs
Shook the young hearts of the Korean Peninsula
In my childhood.
.
The Korean hot blast
Crosses even the barbed-wire fence
Of the inter-Korean border
And melts even the hostility like stone
Surrounded like Fort Knox
In the hearts of the soldiers taking a gun.
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The Korean Peninsula now
Is not ‘the land of the morning calm’
Or the land sobbing with grudges and sorrows any more
But the dreamland
With the living volcano of dramas and K-pops blazing
For the people of the world to wish to visit surely once.

*East Sea – Japanese Sea

Wansoo Kim is a Ph. D. in English Literature from the graduate school of Hanguk University of Foreign Studies. He was a lecturer at Hanguk University of Foreign Studies and an adjunct professor at Incheon Junior College for about 20 years. He has published 5 poetry books, one novel, and one book of essays. One poetry book, “Duel among a middle-aged fox, a wild dog and a deer” was a bestseller in 2012, one page from the book of Letters for Teenagers was put in textbooks of middle school (2011) and high school (2014) in South Korea, and four books (Easy-to-read English Bible stories, Old Testament(2017), New Testament(2018) and Teenagers, I Support your Dream”) were bestsellers. He was granted a Rookie award for poetry at the magazine of Monthly Literature Space in South Korea, and the World Peace Literature Prize for Poetry Research and Recitation, presented in New York City at the 5th World Congress of Poets(2004). He published poetry books, “Prescription of Civilization” and “Flowers of Thankfulness“ in America.(2019), received Geum-Chan Hwang Poetry Literature Prize in Korea(2019)and International Indian Award(literature) from WEWU(World English Writer’s Union)(2019).

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.