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Berkeley poet and translator Grosjean dies of liver cancer

Daily Planet Wire Services
Saturday October 28, 2000

Korean immigrant helped introduce books of leading English poets and Buddhist writers to Korean readers 


Ok-Koo Kang Grosjean, noted poet and translator, died last night in her home in Albany. She would have been sixty years old on November 1 and had been diagnosed with liver cancer earlier this year.  

She is best known for introducing the work of leading English language poets and Buddhist writers to Korean readers through her translations of several books including the Dalai Lama's Policy of Kindness and Ocean of Wisdom, Thich Nhat Hanh's Being Peace and The Heart of Understanding, J. Krishnamurti's Flame of Attention and Education and the Significance of Life and Gary Snyder's No Nature.  

She also translated works from Korean into English, most notably with the volume Selected Poems by Park Nam Soo. Her own books of poetry, Horizon and A Hummingbird's Dance remain in print, and a book of recent poems entitled Delightful Encounters is forthcoming. About her poetry she once said, "I let myself flow in the mysterious stream of the heart."  

Ok-Koo Kang was born in Kwang-Ju, Korea, and emigrated to the United States in 1963 with a pharmacy degree from I-Hwa Women's University in Seoul.  

She attended Columbia University and San Francisco State University before receiving a master's degree in nutrition (biochemistry) from U.C. Berkeley.  

She immediately got work as a chemist for the USDA labs in Albany and continued there until taking early retirement in 1995.  

She met Glen Grosjean ("grow-zhahn") at Cal, where he was an associate in speech (he later held various academic positions there until his retirement) and they were married in 1965.  

She had been raised Presbyterian but was gradually drawn to Buddhism through her husband's interest - he had been a Zen monk for three years in the 1950s at Shogenji, a monastery in Japan - and in response to the loss of her sister to cancer in 1968.  

Her garden was a great passion, and Ok-Koo was also a devoted musician, playing viola da gamba, piano, recorder, lute and the Korean kayageum (koto).  

Her husband survives her along with their son, Charles, who lives in Pasadena.  

A Buddhist service will be held on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in the Chapel of Light at Skylawn Memorial Park on Half Moon Bay Road, off Skyline Boulevard.