by Joyelle McSweeney 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!