RaveFull StopThe human concerns Cho centers in her writing—the project of loving specific people, of remembrance—are as real and immediate as anyone’s living. This is not to say the archives she engages, and the one she enacts, are not also alive, but that Cho has managed a deft presentation of an uncertain and critically underserved past ... My desire, moreover, to praise Cho’s as-if-contained writerly achievements runs concurrent to the impulse to situate other texts around hers, to create an expanded grid upon which to consider its open registers, particularly in a climate such as ours ... As ever, to write about a thing without containing it requires a certain ability to know when to not write about the thing, which Cho manages without foregrounding the negative as a Neat Technique. Truly, this project feels like it’s expressing a fundamentally complex thing about immigrant experiences, about the experiment that is Korean America, about womanhood, mental illness, and grief.
Don Mee Choi
RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksA rich and paradoxical ecology in itself, Don Mee Choi’s third collection, DMZ Colony imagines the DMZ as an abundant poetic and intertextual landscape, and an axis in relation to which she carries out her trademark translational, transnational, and transliteral experiments ... comprises an imaginative and highly multimedia mode of accessing a space where human perspective is forbidden. In reality a restricted, literally marginal entity, the DMZ, in Choi’s hands, is like an accordion, expansive and multidimensional, even planetary in scale ... Such interstellar leaps can be dizzying, but for Choi, it’s precisely through contiguous transit and intertextual relations that meaning finds its afterlives ... The translational disparities, to which only a bilingual reader is privy, make up an invisible poem between the English and Korean, a kind of inter/meta/textual zone. Only in her closing notes does Choi reveal that she penned the letters herself, retroactively imposing yet another dimension, the realm of fiction, onto the \'critically-fabulated\' archival documents (to borrow the theory of scholar Saidiya Hartman) ... as much an entity as it is a place, a meta-discursive domain wherein its throng of unlikely inhabitants—endangered birds, political prisoners, orphans, refugees, all colonized subjects and outcasts of empire—are alternately declared and concealed. Collectively, they indeed amount to a colony of sorts, one that thrives off its own premise. It is the necessarily speculative nature of the DMZ, which bars all forms of material access, that provides the opportunity and very basis for Choi’s translational mode. That mode, in turn, gives voice, and makes real imagined worlds.