Saturday, December 15, 2007
Shodo 書道 connections
My calligrapher friend, Inso Chung, sent me a selection of his calligraphed bookmarks this week. He does Korean, Japanese, and Chinese brush calligraphy, translating selected poems and phrases into English on the back of each bookmark or card he makes. We first met in Monterey in 1988 when I was a student in the Japanese Studies program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS). Inso-san was a Korean teacher at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey and would come to the MIIS library, where I worked part-time, to use our Chinese and Japanese reference collection. We'd always greet each other in Japanese, and in time, we shared some of our calligraphy with each other and spoke of Japanese poets.
Years passed and I returned to Monterey and MIIS in 2003 to attend graduate school for TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Again, I worked at the MIIS Library part-time and again I met Inso-san and we resumed our friendship as if no time had passed. Inso had retired from the DLI and was selling his brush calligraphy pieces at the Monterey Farmer's Market, among other places. I am inspired by Inso-san's lifelong practice of brush calligraphy and his enjoyment of East-Asian poetry. Inso-san is one of those living gems who keeps the wisdom, poetry, and art of the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese poet-seers alive with each brush stroke.