Ra Heeduk

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Ra Heeduk
Born 1966 (age 50–51)
Language Korean
Nationality South Korean
Citizenship South Korean
Korean name
Hangul 나희덕

Ra Heeduk is a Korean poet.[1]


Ra Heedukk (1966~ ) was born and raised in a Korean orphanage where her parents—Christians who sought to carry out the teachings of their religion through communal living—served on the administrative staff. Na has confessed that the experience of living with orphans had made her a precocious child; and the recognition of the difference between herself and her playmates early on gave her a unique perspective on the world.

Ra stumbled into the life of a poet quite unintentionally. While struggling between the religious ideals fostered by her parents and the causes upheld by the student movement she encountered in college, Na simply came to seek salvation in poetry.[2]


Ra's poetic imagination is grounded in the force of life and growth as manifested in motherhood and plant life. Her first collection of poems, To the Roots and the second, What Was Said Stained the Leaves pierces the fog of hypocrisy and contradictions cast over our daily lives while maintaining a spirit of forgiveness and motherly warmth. In the “soft earth that trembles with joy as it feeds its own blood to the tree roots” we find an image of a mother who willingly endures much hardship to raise a child. The tenderness with which the poet embraces this difficult world stems from her absolute belief in the force of life which causes the trees to thicken and mother’s milk to flow.[3] It can be said that Ra is constantly searching for the source of this life force. To become receptive to what the nature can tell her, Ra believes that she must be able to “listen with her eyes and see with her ears.” Such effort is detailed in her third collection of poetry It’s Not That Far From Here and her fourth, What It Means To Grow Dark. The poet uses harmonious juxtaposition of “sound” and “darkness” to signal the process of “listening” with the eyes as the “seeing” becomes useless with growing dark.[4]

Works in Translation[edit]

  • What is Darkening (어두워진다는 것)
  • Scale & stairs: selected poems of Heeduk Ra (사라진 손바닥)

Works in Korean (Partial)[edit]


  • To Roots (1991)
  • The Words Stained the Leaves (1994)
  • It's Not That Far from Here (1997)
  • Growing Dark (2001)
  • A Missing Palm


  • A Half Bucket of Water (1999)

Literary Criticism

  • Where Does the Purple Come from (2003)


  • Kim Soo-young Literature Prize (1998)
  • This Year's Young Artist Award (2001)
  • Contemporary Literature Prize (2003)


  1. ^ "나희덕" biographical PDF available at: http://klti.or.kr/ke_04_03_011.do#
  2. ^ "나희덕" LTI Korea Datasheet: http://klti.or.kr/ke_04_03_011.do#
  3. ^ "나희덕" LTI Korea Datasheet: http://klti.or.kr/ke_04_03_011.do#
  4. ^ "나희덕" LTI Korea Datasheet: http://klti.or.kr/ke_04_03_011.do#

External links[edit]