This Morning News is Exciting: Don Mee Choi Wins a Whiting!

by on Oct.26, 2011


Don Mee Choi has won a 2011 Whiting Award for her brilliant, shapeshifting, challenging, relentless poetry. Action Books published her debut volume, The Morning News is Exciting, in 2010, and have published recent and upcoming volumes of her translations of Kim Hyesoon.

We are pleased and proud at this recognition of our friend.


From Weaver in Exile (published in La Petite Zine)

Stars are whores.

I weave pubic hair for dolls and frogs naively lit by your orange lamps. If cloth is meat, what is blood? Try weaving shredded wrists, decapitated hearts. Was my mother a sacred bitch?

The earthen bridge takes me to a shallow creek. Is this the Milky Way? Babies or children on bridges annoy me. Who separates them from mothers? You?
A galaxy of moss. I’m tired of this imitation sky.

Let’s skip to your dream. How many lamps did you see? Do you remember east and west? Explain the island. Why is the bridge flat? Describe the distance between the murmuring pines. Did you love my mother? Will I remarry?

Moving into and out of prose, poetry, translation, and journalistic writing, Choi’s various genres make a dazzling prism of such contemporary experiences as immigration, technology, embodiment, language and loss. Watching the televised morning news from Korea, she longs, “Cameraman, run to my twin twin zone!”  Rereading a travel diary, she reflects, “There are passwords beneath order-words: farewell of farewell, return of return.”


Beyond its own intensity and inventiveness, the work makes a significant contribution to Asian-American literature. Formally, Don Mee Choi is an inheritor of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, whose seminal Dictee (1982) has had a major impact on contemporary innovative American poetry.

Yet Choi innovates on Cha’s decades-old example. Choi’s work releases new-media energy; it moves at fiber optic speed as it to struggles to find terms for our 21st century experience of globalized media, especially as such media affects our sense of history, commodity, violence, politics, terror, and freedom.


Order the Morning News is Exciting here!

5 comments for this entry:
  1. Ken Chen

    She really deserves this. We were trying to see if we could do a reading at the Asian American Writer’s Workshop or at our festival this Saturday (, but the timing didn’t work out.

  2. Kim

    awesome! I never thought of Choi’s work in conversation with Cha before but it totally makes sense. Morning News is highly visual and cinematic in the way the text morphs and transforms into different modes of expression – different languages – the visual is also there even though there isn’t any visual media in the book – the imagery is succinct and luscious and screaming. So happy for Don Mee! She really deserves this!

  3. Lara Glenum

    This is fantastic news! Hooray and big congrats, Don Mee!

  4. don mee

    Thank you for this post, Joyelle! This is such an honor.
    I’m so grateful that you and Johannes fist contacted me me via women poets’ listserve and Susan Schultz of Tinfish Press. I’ll never forget how certain you were about Kim Hyesoon’s poetry. I can’t wait to see ACTION BOOK’s next book: All the Garbage of the World, Unite!

    Ken, thank you!

  5. Joyelle McSweeney

    I feel like this was a Team Action effor–to put Don Mee’s book out there so people could be changed and amazed by it. The ND undergraduate, Bobby McKenna, who designed this is amazing, and Kim Koga’s work promoting the book really matters. Good work, team, and Don Mee, you are the best.