Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail. At the time of the poem’s writing, we lived in one of a collection of four-unit condos. My family was a bit young then. My two sons had been born but they were both under the age of eight, so although our three-bedroom unit was small by the American standards I was familiar with (about 1,200 square feet), it was livable for our family size. Because I was doing graduate work half of one of the rooms was my own. There was space for a bookcase or two of books and my computer desk—that was it. I did all of my writing on the computer. The walls of the room, like all the walls of all the units, were concrete, but papered with some standard flower print on a white background. The floors had a plastic surface, which emulated a shade of wood. The sliding wood-framed windows were barred, large and opaque, but opened to a view of the forested hill. I could hear birds; I was happy for that. (Right: Ian Haight family photo - wife is pregnant with their daughter. Copyright permission granted by Ian Haight for this CRC Blog Post Only)
How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?) I may have drafts with markings on them, but if I do they are in storage, so I will attach the earliest draft of the poem and the most recent draft for comparison.
Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version? And can you share them with us? There’s only one line that got cut. In the fifth stanza, line 3: “and red berries” (Right, Korean berries) was deleted because I felt like it was too much detail and made the poem clunk. To me it felt like a detail that was not entirely necessary in comparison with what was rhythmically gained by losing it. The first line lost the phrase “Yellow fin” to describe the kind of fish for the same reason, and because it wasn’t authentically true. People laid out all sorts of different fish.
The ending, for sure. To see that pheasant rise and then to place it in context of the poem…I got what that meant when it happened but I didn’t really feel it until I re-read it in the finished poem. It’s spiritual—and very Korean. I love that I can deeply feel what that moment means even though I am an American white male. I also love that Korean people understand and respect my authentic experience.
Anything you would like to add?