Don Mee Choi

Don Mee Choi

Don Mee Choi is a poet and translator who has received a Whiting Award and Lucien Stryk Translation Prize. She is a recipient of translation grants from Daesan Foundation and Literature Translation Institute of Korea, where she was born. Choi also translates for the International Women’s Network Against Militarism (IWNAM). She is an advisory editor for Action Books: Korean Literature Series. Choi lives in Seattle and teaches Adult Basic Education at Renton Technical College’s community-partnership site in Downtown Seattle.


Untitled [1950 June 27]

1950 June 27: my father heard the sound of the engine of a North Korean fighter plane, Yak-9. Foremostly and therefore barely consequently in the highest manner, he followed the sound, running towards the city hall. After all it was hardly war. Yak-9, made in Russia, flew over the plaza of the city hall. Then in the most lowly predictably ethically unsound manner from the point of view of everything that is big and beautiful, the sound of the machine gun. He missed the chance to capture the Yak-9 with his camera. That late afternoon the yet-to-be nation’s newspapers were in print, but no photos of the war appeared in any of them. After all it was hardly war, the hardliest of wars, neverthelessly Yak. And it turns out that one thing is better than another. Hence still going forward, napalm again. Always moving up to Choson Reservoir. Always another hill, for in no circumstance can man be comfortable without art. Why that is so has nothing to do with the big problem—what to do with the orphan kids. And always the poor hungry kids. Now look at this and look at it and look at it. This is what the Republic of Korea is fighting for—miles and miles and miles of order words that are given in our society. Merry Christmas, Joe! Phosphorous and flamethrowers. Fire them up!—burn them!—cook them! Beauty is pleasure regarded as the quality of a thing from the point of view of everything that is big and beautiful in the highest manner possible and why that is so has nothing to do with hills and more hills, rivers and more rivers, and rice paddies and more rice paddies. How cold does it get in Korea? Brass monkey cold.


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Seminar with Craig Santos-Perez | October 4, 2016

Reading with Craig Santos-Perez | October 4, 2016