Campus memorial service will be held in the Sacred Heart Chapel in Marygrove’s Liberal Arts Building on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at 4:30 pm.
Last March, Dr. Chae-Pyong (J.P.) Song began his presentation at the Marygrove Academic Symposium with these words: “One way or the other we all cross borders; border-crossings entail arrivals and departures. But we all cross borders differently, so, we don’t experience arrivals and departures in the same way.”
Even in the last moments before he crossed his final border, J.P. taught us how to resist both physical and philosophical lines of demarcation; how to defy our own borders—just as he had throughout his life.
Today we are all grappling with his crossing in different ways, but those of us fortunate enough to have known him as a mentor, colleague and friend no doubt arrive at a similar destination: J.P. was a rare intellectual who found, and taught others to find, beauty and possibility in a world wrought with uncertainty.
After leaving Hwayang-myon, Yeosu, Korea in 1989, Dr. Song earned his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, concentrating on postcolonial Anglophone literature. He was coordinator of Marygrove’s Master of Arts in English program from 2007 through 2011 and has been a part of the department of English since 2001.
If we, no matter where we come from, could imagine others, and if we could place ourselves into the place of others, in other words, if we could exercise our empathetic imagination more willingly, the world could be a better place.
Dr. Chae-Pyong Song
In addition to being a master teacher of 20th century English literature, postcolonial literature, globalization and literary theory, J.P. has translated over 200 literary works by Korean poets, many of which appear on his website, Korean Poetry in Translation. His work has also been published in The Korea Times, New Writing from Korea, Metamorphoses: Journal of Literary Translation, WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly, and Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture. Recently he, along with his friend and collaborator Dr. Anne Rashid, won the 40th Korean Literature Translation Awards for translating Kim Hye-soon's poems.
As you reflect on your time with J.P., we hope that you, like those who have contributed brief tributes below, will continue his unwavering pursuit of intellectual and aesthetic beauty, social justice and compassion—or what he commonly referred to as the pursuit of “the empathetic imagination.”
-As teacher, scholar, and colleague, J.P. transformed everything and everyone he touched. He was brilliant, funny, and intense. He was committed to literature and language, to social justice and human rights, to scholarship and “translation” at all levels. He felt that he had an important role at Marygrove and in the wider community, that people who migrate across oceans and continents have a crucial role in bringing awareness back and forth between peoples, in negotiating difference and identifying common beliefs and values. He referred to Salman Rushdie’s challenge to the idea that much is “lost in translation,” emphasizing that perhaps even more is gained in it. J.P. certainly believed this. He dedicated his life to it. I know I am better for having known him. I think we all are.
~Frank D. Rashid, Ph.D., Professor of English
-J.P. Song was extraordinary in every way. He was a fiercely loyal friend, a warm and generous colleague, a gifted educator, a startlingly profound thinker, and a virtuoso writer and translator. In our cruelly too-brief time with him, he helped us to appreciate the vast possibilities of life lived without borders, and we will never see his like again. We miss him enormously.
~Donald E. Levin, Ph.D., Professor of English and Chair of English and Modern Languages
-I cannot even begin to describe the immense absence that will remain in J.P. Song’s stead. He was a master teacher of the highest order, who perfected his trademark blend of academic rigor and passion for literature. Anyone lucky enough to know him gained an honest sense of the difficulty at the core of all serious scholarly endeavors, while learning what makes such endeavors worthwhile and meaningful. “This is a messy business we are in,” he used to say about our work as scholars and seekers, and we would do well to remember this wisdom as we continue to navigate the sacred uncertainty of life.
~Darcy L. Brandel, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English and Coordinator of the English Graduate Program
-Professor Song experienced the most turbulent period of Korea as a young student: Gwangju Uprising in 1980 and the first half of the 1980s afterwards. He is one of the rare intellectuals teaching outside Korea who can witness people’s struggles and sufferings in modern Korea through literary works. It was the motivation for him to get engaged in the translation of the modern Korean poems into English. He believed that they can be moving and touching to the heart of the readers of the world.
~Gyonggu, Shin, Director of GIC and Publisher of Gwangju News, Professor of English, Chonnam National University
-There really isn't a week that goes by that I don't access a point of knowledge that Dr. Song shared with me as a master's student. I find myself quoting him in my own classes and thinking of his mannerisms and how he always pushed us toward the less obvious and more challenging answers to a series of complex questions. He introduced me to a world of scholars and made difficult theory graspable and I (as well as my own future students) will be always be indebted to him.
~Erin Bell, former student and Marygrove College Graduate
-Dr. Song was a wonderful teacher and mentor. He possessed a wonderful mind and a warm heart. My life is better having been one of his students.
~Jason Applegate, former student and Marygrove College Graduate
I feel privileged that I was both an undergraduate and graduate student in the English Department at Marygrove, and received the gift of J.P. Song’s passionate teaching and mentoring skills. Once I was hired as a full time employee at Marygrove, J.P. also became a dear friend. I will especially remember our spring outings to photograph flowers both on and off campus. In addition to his scholarship, J.P. had an eye for beauty, and a talent for finding pleasure in the simplest things in life such as a good meal or a walk on a spring day. It is difficult to imagine life without him.
~Laurie LePain Kopack, former student, Marygrove College Graduate, Administrative Assistant and Adjunct Instructor
-Infinite pebble/More than a boundless ripple /Cast amid the stars.
~Jacklene Johnson, former student
-"Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." –Buddha.
This makes me think of something Chae-Pyong Song would tell me.
~Rachel Van Rossum Thorp, former student, Marygrove College Graduate