WINNER OF THE 2020 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR POETRY
Don Mee Choi's urgent DMZ Colony captures the migratory latticework of those transformed by war and colonization. Homelands present and past share one sky where birds fly, but 'during the Korean War cranes had no place to land.' Devastating and vigilant, this bricolage of survivor accounts, drawings, photographs, and hand-written texts unearth the truth between fact and the critical imagination. We are all 'victims of History, ' so Choi compels us to witness, and to resist.--Judges Citation
Woven from poems, prose, photographs, and drawings, Don Mee Choi's DMZ Colony is a tour de force of personal and political reckoning set over eight acts. Evincing the power of translation as a poetic device to navigate historical and linguistic borders, it explores Edward Said's notion of the intertwined and overlapping histories in regards to South Korea and the United States through innovative deployments of voice, story, and poetics. Like its sister book, Hardly War, it holds history accountable, its very presence a resistance to empire and a hope in humankind.
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About the Author
Choi's hybrid structure allows her, in some sense, to have it both ways--to look at her subjects while simultaneously, and paradoxically, showing that some subjects are just too big to see in full: war, your parents' life before and without you, your government and its decisions.
--Kathleen Rooney, The New York Times Sunday Book Review
Playful and complex . . . Choi's poetry operates within a tradition of Korean-American experimental poets that includes Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and Myung Mi Kim. Choi's zany take on militarism and the Korean diaspora may seem absurdist, but it is an inventive and daring waltz that upends what is commonly understood as the 'Forgotten War.'
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.
--Joyelle McSweeney, Montevidayo
Don Mee Choi writes about violence and injustice in modalities that are neither sentimental, obvious, or pornographic.