The stunning third collection from Choi (Hardly War) is a feat of docupoetics, collage, and translation that bears witness to unheard voices from the Korean War and the Park Chung Hee military dictatorship. Choi braids personal and political histories, including her family’s flight from South Korea, her father’s work as a photojournalist, transcriptions of conversations with activist Ahn Hak-sop, and imagined accounts of eight orphans who survived the 1951 Sancheong-Hamyang massacre. These accounts serve as crucial investigations into the role of translators as “practitioners of memory.” “The language of capture, torture, and massacre is difficult to decipher,” Choi writes, “It’s practically a foreign language.” Thus, Choi’s project is one of interpretation—between Korean and English, text and image, transcription and imagined experience—which becomes “an anti-neocolonial mode” and a way to remember victims of state violence. Choi creates a logic and language that carves a space for counternarrative, and that questions what it means to be human in the face of ongoing wars. “Our eternity of war!” Choi writes, “Are we orphans of beauty? Are we angels of eternity? Who are we, really?” Virtuosic in its range and empathy, this is a book that shifts the reader’s understanding of historical narrative from one of war to one of flight. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 05/05/2020 Release date: 04/01/2020 Genre: Poetry
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