The Korea Herald


Seoul-based Australian academic wins N.S.W. Premier’s Literary Awards

By Park Ga-young

Published : May 19, 2022 - 17:00

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accelerations & inertias By Dan Disney (Vagabond Press, 2021) accelerations & inertias By Dan Disney (Vagabond Press, 2021)

Dan Disney, a professor at Sogang University, has received the N.S.W. Premier’s Award for Poetry for his latest poem collection “accelerations & inertias.”

Disney, who has lived in South Korea for 12 years, was given the Kenneth Slessor Award, which comes with a cash prize of 30,000 Australian dollars ($21,000).

Published in 2021 by Vagabond Press, the collection “dissects the psychogeography of information, knowledge and lived experience of place and time into glistening fragments,” the award’s judges’ comment reads. “The collection is energized by its respectful and adventurous engagement with the traditional Korean sijo form,” it added.

Disney said he used the sijo form extensively and used some ideas from canonical Korean poets including Hwang Jin’i, Cho Oh-hyon, Yi Saek, Pak Il-lo, Yi Hwang, and Yang Sa-on. 

Dan Disney (Dan Disney) Dan Disney (Dan Disney)

“Using the sijo form is an act that demonstrates my respect and heartfelt desire to engage with Korea’s astonishing history and culture. The syllabic constraints in a Korean sijo are not followed in my English-language “sijo/stlings”; but I have tried to remain faithful to the rhetorical structure of the sijo (theme to expansion to counter-theme, then resolution),” Disney said via e-mail on Wednesday.

“As much as I am captivated by Korea, this book is more interested in methodology than mere imagistic excursions (or incursions), and foremost among my heuristic concerns is the practice of meditation, in which I simply note my breathing (‘rising, rising, falling, falling’), or label whichever inward mental activity is taking place (‘thinking, thinking,’ et cetera),” Disney noted.

The poet, who was also shortlisted for the Peter Porter Poetry Prize this year, said that this collection is dedicated to wife, who is Korean.

“The book is essentially a reflection on nature, language, cross-cultural knowledge (and the im/possibility thereof); it is dedicated to my wife, Sun-ha,” he added.

“The book’s pronouns are organized around a direct address: very often, the ‘you’ in the poems can be read to imply Sun-ha. Her family, our life together, the meditation that we undertake as a methodology: all these are present in the poems.”