As I have mentioned in the past, my next concert and album project is called 시음 /si-úm/, which is a blend of poetry and music in Korean. I envisioned matching one poem with one piece that I perform and record, and present it in a way where those two forms of art live together through this project.
Even though I had the music for this project set aside for a while, the other side, the concept of how the poetic element would play out in this project, has been through many changes and still is in progress. I collaborate with poets and commission the work for this project, and go through legal approval for use of poems with which I fully connect. (I have been getting lots of ‘no’ emails from poets’ legal representatives. It is pretty tough to get over rejections constantly especially from ones that I’ve grown attached to or love so much that I wish I could use them. But there is some success. Hooray! So I keep bothering poets.)
When I started this project, even though I love this idea of matching poetry with music, I had no idea how poetry has existed in this world. The deeper I dig and read volumes of poetry every day, the more I realize that I am barely scratching the surface of this massively huge new world. Every day I am discovering new poetry or a poet that is absolutely mind-blowing to me, yet I soon realize that I am the one who didn’t know about him or her work. Oh, I see…Where have I been?
Today I want to introduce you two poets among many with whom I am absolutely thrilled to share this project. One is a World Champion surfer Shaun Tomson. If you don’t know of him, he was basically Michael Jordan in a surfing world in the 80s and 90s, and many female fans might have put his posters on their walls and worshiped him. He is a legend. Recent years since he retired from a pro-surfing, he became a public speaker and a writer especially after a loss of his son from an accident, sharing his wisdom through the ocean. I absolutely loved reading his books, especially The Codeand Surfer’s Code.
One day about a few weeks ago, a new thought came into my mind out of nowhere.
“Would Shaun be interested in creating a short poem about surfing for my project?”
Though he might not call himself a poet, I thought he must love expressing himself with words. There is one piece of music in this project that I think of as a ‘water’ piece, which is Reflections in the Water by Claude Debussy. This would be perfect if he could be a part of it, I thought. So I boldly contacted him expecting a rejection, and guess what? He said YES, and he is planning to be at my CD release concert in La Jolla on April 24 with his family from Santa Barbara! He said that April 24 is also the day when his lost son wrote a poem and shared it with him, saying that the universe was calling him for this project to write a healing poem for the world in honor of his son. I am extremely humbled and honored by his contribution to this project. He is working on a poem currently, and I will release it during the concert on April 24th, so as a part of 시음 /si-úm/ album insert note for those who can’t be at these concert series.
Another poet with whom I am thrilled to include is Tae-Joo Na, 나태주, a well known Korean poet in Korea. His words have the power to penetrate a heart and gently linger. I am a big fan of his works. I will share one of his poems as a Korean as he originally composed it. If all the world fans of BTS can sing in Korean, we can handle beautiful Korean poetry in Korean as well. I have a vision about collaborating other current Korean poets for 시음 /si-úm/ as a Korean version, potentially performing in Korea. Especially around the time when I will be publishing my book Whenever You’re Ready in Korean this year.
I’ve started a snowball 2 years ago with a dream of combining poetry and music, and have worked hard by myself for a while since then. Finally now it started to feel like there is some kind of a force of nature that pushes this project somewhere I don’t even recognize. Unknown, exciting, magical, and wondrous.
I hope you are getting excited as much as I am. The official album 시음 /si-úm/ will be released on April 24. There is another side of this project which requires you to be a part of it which I will share later! Wink wink!
In the meantime I urge you to read one poem this week. Any poem. And sit on it for a little. And read it again. Recite it. It will do good to your heart, I promise.