From South Korea to western Massachusetts is a long trip in and of itself. But in her memoir “Ring of Fire,” Colrain resident Yenna Yi recounts some even more dramatic journeys: how she and her husband, Steve Lobb, built a 48-foot catamaran and, over two decades, sailed with their two sons across the Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
It’s a story of adventure and a peripatetic existence that saw the family living in and visiting many places — Hawaii, various Pacific islands, New Zealand, the Netherlands — and traveling along the Ring of Fire, the part of the Pacific Ocean basin known for earthquakes and volcanoes.
Yi, who today is a psychotherapist, was born in South Korea a few years before the Korean war began and spent much of her childhood in a one-room house with her “hulmonie” (grandmother) and “oma” (mother). She would meet her future husband, an American studying in the Netherlands, in Europe in 1967.
Her story is not just one of epic travel (including many black and white photographs) but of watching her two sons grow up partly at sea, where they learned to navigate and fish and trim the sails of the catamaran. It’s also a story of loss: divorce and the death of loved ones, including one of her sons, who died while attending Amherst College in the early 1990s.
“The sadness of loss lingers,” Yi writes. “At the same time, I have had the privilege to sail in and out of the Ring of Fire with my family for years. I have two wonderful grandchildren … I have taken chances, felt free to move around the earth, loved my family, and had marvelous adventures.” – Steve Pfarrer of the Daily Hampshire Gazette
I could not unleash this book until I completed it. The author Yenna’s family lived a very unique life as returned expatriates to Korea after the WW II. But the country in turmoils was not warm to the family. Later Yenna spent her golden time with her American husband in her family boat traveling around the world and raising two sons. I was reminded of family and human bond all the way through the reading. How important it is than I can imagine! The end was so sudden and heart breaking personally. The memoir, however, shows she keeps trying to be connected to all her families, oma, halmoni, and her beloved son. And she did this wonderful job. Even after having finished the book, I tend to keep pondering over her life. Now my enlightenment is that she never lost the family bond. It seemed so to me for a while though. How strong she became through her connection to the family. I recommend this book to everyone who believes in family and strength of human mind. Her life resonates in my mind long… -Sun Kim
I read through the book uninterrupted and what struck me was the different dimensional view of lives and places.
The author is moving places one to another on earth horizontally and wherever her stop makes dot positioning vertically. Place was introduced by latitude and historical backgrounds of both human and earth. It makes a human to a dot passing through universe momentarily. There is one earth to share by us, human. The family was traveling ‘Ring Of Fire’ like seen through the doily crocheted by her mother.
In spite of the different perspective on life and nature, I felt that I was invited into her open wound at the end of the story. I wished that the writer proceeded her sorrow and loss for further healing. -Yong Hui Beck
Words flow like a steady ocean current. words move with such illustration its almost like painting a picture. You can almost envision yourself in these places. Captivating. Masterpiece. -Elise Skibik
With insight and imagery, Yenna Yi invites us to travel with her, exploring the terrain of love and grief. Unrolling a map of the years, she traces the pentimento of the past and seasons of joy. Truly, in this collection “Words are the soul’s pulses/Made of tears and flesh/That speak my heart to your heart.”
Author of her memoir, “Innocent” and “Terrarium”, poetry collection.
Yenna Yi’s life began in war torn Korea. After she became of age, married, and two sons and sailed the ocean with her family for several years. Time and love brought her to the United States. Her poems speak eloquantly of the beauty of the world, the gift of joy with her sons, and the sorrow of loss. They carry the remembrance of pain but acceptance of love by lifting the long sadness that transforms the wondering wanderer.
The columnist of the Recorder, Author of her memoir, “The Roses at the End of the Road.”
Dedicated to her son, Yenna Yi’s delicate book “Star Dust” is a poignant navigation of life after loss, and how loss echos even as we strive to find bits of joy. “Snow can’t stop the Spring from coming– / Joy can’t be separated from soul”
So many gentle lessons for all of us in this book of poems.
Support Local Authors at Los Nietos Press