In his poem ‘Face’ (translated from Korean by Brother Anthony of Taize), Kim Ki-Taek describes a brief moment in the life of a tired office worker who is sitting at his desk with his face buried in his hands. In a surreal transcendence of an otherwise ordinary moment, the speaker becomes aware of his face, “stuck to the skull’s shell”, forming expressions. The skull is watching the face, “the face that blooms briefly then fades”. When the face finally comes to, the speaker, recovering his eyes, begins to “focus on the figures in the document”. ‘Face’ makes one think about the brief, un-policed spaces that spring up from within a tired, dead bureaucratic environment. A poet of daily life, Kim Ki-Taek functions as a quiet fly on the wall observer, a recorder of the moment. In an e-mail interview, he says: “I became a poet after winning the New Year literary contest of Hankook Daily Newspaper in 1989. I was 32 years old then. In Korea, the literary contest is a crucial route to becoming a professional poet. I had been writing poetry since the age of 20. The reason I turned to poetry is that all I needed was paper and pencil. That was easier than anything else for me. I was a poor man. When I graduated from high school, I had to work in a factory. After three years of factory work, I made enough money to go to college. I was very shy and had difficulty communicating with others. Poetry was attractive to me because, in my imagination, I could meet many people without my shyness getting in the way. Poetry also opened out a better second life that I could enter through my imagination.”

That Fay speaks in a voice that is direct and immediate is largely a function of the audience she is reaching out to: “immigrant, working class and not highly educated, but who were open to learning and new experiences”. In fact, it is this embedded sense of a very different audience that is perhaps the key to understanding her work. Equally important is Fay’s understanding of art as deeply transformative, an art that is for everybody.