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In Session: Transnational Korean Literature from China, Japan, and the US
3: Diasporic Solidarity in the Korean American Poetic Imagination: The Poems of Cathy Park Hong and Franny Choi
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Emily J. Yoon
University of Chicago, United States
This presentation examines how the Korean American poet channels her marginal identity to expansively address the concerns of a wider community of individuals who find themselves Othered in the United States. Cathy Park Hong’s poetry uses invented language to verbally position the speaker as Other; Franny Choi engages with languages of robots and the Turing Test to explore the usage of language to determine humanness/Otherness. In doing so, these poets interrogate the meaning of Korean identity and the efficacy of the Korean language in the US context. In addition to investigating how poetry is used as a method of exercising a larger diasporic or collective empathy, a notion that is embedded in the Asian American movement and its artistic endeavors, the presentation also asks: how far-reaching and meaningful is the definition of Otherness? If all immigrants, non-native-English-speakers, and more broadly people of color and people of diaspora can be united to form a community of Otherness, how is solidarity among these subcommunities encouraged? How do these writers use poetry to wrestle with these questions through its fluid rules of language?