Building future bridge of global peace

The great monk and poet Cho Oh-hyun’s poetry published in Egypt

This week I got a message from Cairo, sent by the editor of “Shi’r” magazine, telling me that my translated volume of poetry; entitled Far-Off Saint written by the great monk and poet Mr. Cho Oh-hyun, has been published in Arabic, this month.

The first edition was published a few days ago in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, April 2013, by Bait Al-Ghasham for Publishing and Translation, while the new edition is coming as a full section devoted for the unique work, inside the only magazine of poetry, published quarterly in Egypt, “Shi’r”, that carried the poet’s photo on its front cover.

Shi’r, which means “poetry” in Arabic (and Persian, as well), has been the oldest magazine surviving to promote the Arabic poetry. It is now more than 40 years old! Its editorial board has many distinguished Egyptian poets such as Fares Khidr, editor-in-chief, and Abdul-Nasser Essawi, managing editor, and they both found that publishing poetry from the Far East is giving a welcome sign for a unique literature, especially when they knew that this was the first time to introduce Mr. Cho-oh Hyun’s poems in Arabic.

By translating and introducing these poems of wisdom and philosophy, written by the great monk, for Arab readers, in a wider scale, for the first time, I hope that it is considered a real cultural bridge between the Asian and Arab civilizations. This is our goal in AJA (Asia Journalist Association), and it is our target in The AsiaN (The Next News Network), as well as it is our task in life.

I wrote once that a good line of verse could bring you amusement for a day. An inspiring poem would then tune your mood for a month. An excellent volume of poetry might set you in heaven for a year. And if you meet a man who lives as a good line in an inspiring poem of an excellent volume of poetry, it means you have an extra life.

My first experience in translating Korean poetry into Arabic started with bringing an anthology selected sixty poems from the works of the great poet Ko Un. Then, I did not meet him, until we gathered last year, for the first time, to sign his Arabic book I translated. It was really a great opportunity, and I think when I start translating another work written by Ko Un, the experience will be totally different because I met the poet. It means that he sent his magic touch to his lines of verse.

This is what happened when I met Master Musan Cho O-hyun first before translating his excellent work Far–Off Saint. I could capture the sense of humor, the cleverness of an old man, the wisdom of the monk, and the culture of a unique poet.

Mr. Ko Un’s book sold more than 16 000 copies, a huge number in Arabic cultural circles, but the good reason was that the book was a free gift to the monthly cultural magazine Dubai Al-Thaqafeyyah, published in UAE.

I wonder if such steps taken by individuals, could be sponsored by global multinational companies?

As an example, while Samsung is well known for introducing the new technologies for the benefit of the people, I am dreaming that they consider establishing a fund for publishing the Korean literature in Arabic. I hope I could run such a project to introduce not only poetry written by the well known poets, but the new poets as well.

Also, from a very real experience I see how my wife, Mrs. Fatima Al-Zahraa, the TV director and art critic, was taken by the Korean novels she read. She reviewed two of them for The AsiaN in Arabic.

Also, we could publish the Korean comics (Manhwa) in Arabic for the school students. What I see in the field of TV serial appreciated by Arab viewers is encouraging me to make a new further step in the other types of cultural media, where the future Galaxy made for the Middle East is coming with a full range of Arabic cultural products of poems, novels, folk stories, proverbs, and translated songs, as well.

The bridge has two ends, or, as I imagine, two starts, they need to join together, to make a more sensible future full of global peace.

The efforts must be united for a stronger and long range results. The ideas of individuals who seek this step fulfilled should be supported. Future is crossing the bridges of communication and understanding. Once, there was the strong connectivity of the Silk Road, and we need to rebuild more than one Silk Road to cross carrying our lines of wisdom.

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