Franny Choi

Spring Tour Dates

Posted by on Feb 13 2017

Did you know that AWP is exhausting? Especially when you spend half of it being sick? Who knew? I guess, me, now.

Speaking of exhausting, just put up my spring tour schedule. Some of these are Project VOICE gigs, so best bets for open-to-the-public shows are the ones at Duke, U Chicago, and the Toronto Poetry Slam. Come say hi if you’re around!

Electegy

Posted by on Nov 08 2016

Damned if I do, damned,
damned. What pet name
to give the firing squad?
How to deescalate
a burning house? What’s
the proper way to bury
your sister – alive, in fistfuls,
or years before she asks
for lungs? And what
shovel, really? what boots?
what booming text, what pundit
wiktionary snuff cycle, what
hands, ever, have I owned?
I slice open my palms & find
more palms. Everything I touch
turns to a wet claw, as is
my right, as an American.
Right? Better a hole in the ground
than a whole village? As if
my feet are anywhere near
the road. What dream,
which woke. What chokehold
to smother this too-trebly
dronebeat? Which otherskull
to cleave open with my own
only teeth, stolen, like everything,
from the grave of a stranger
wearing my face? I will go,
I swear, I will go with the one
who sings it best, my favorite
song: you chose to be good.
you chose to be
good. you chose to
be good. you
chose to be

SO MANY UPDATE WOW

Posted by on Sep 21 2016

Lots of new content added, including this interview with Ploughsharesthese poems on this queer poetry blog, and videos!

Not doing much touring for the fall while in school but the few shows nailed down so far are on the tour page, and the good news is that I bought a pack of those pens that are like four different colors so that you can take highly organized notes. Because I’m still / I’m still Franny from the block (or, as you might call it, academic bowl team).

 

Have They Run Out of White Poets Yet?

Posted by on Apr 06 2016

Have they run out of white poets yet?
If they haven’t, we’ve reason to fret.
Long ago, there was just Billy Shakes –
other white people’s stories he’d take.
But then Ezra looked toward the East
to spice up his post-War can of meat,
said he wanted to bridge East and West
(but it’s shoddy translation, at best).
And then Kenny Rexroth got prize winnings
for translations of Japanese women.
But surprise! It was all a big game
for ol’ Ken to get unearned acclaim.
Then Araki-so-called-Yasasuda
turned out to be Johnson, and you’da
thought that that’d be the end of the story,
but more white poets wanted more glory.
M.D.H. couldn’t get his poems placed,
so he took on Ms. Yi-Fen Chou’s face.
(Not to mention Vanessa and Kenneth –
among recent fuck-ups, they’re the zenith.)

Now along bumbles – what’s his name? Trillin?
Figured it’d been a while, so he’d fill in
for the other old crusty white croutons
who ran out of nice flowers to muse on.
To be fair, Calvin didn’t pretend
to be aught but himself: a sad send-
up of Dr. Seuss decked in his finest
anti-Asian regalia, minus
any interest in speaking to those
who don’t share his tax bracket or clothes.
We thought after Yi-Fen we’d be set
with this shit but I’m willing to bet
soon we’ll find one we still haven’t met.
Have they run out of white poets yet?

 

 

#notallwhitepoets

Source

“Field Trip to the Museum of Human History” on PBS News Hour

Posted by on Dec 08 2015

In case you missed it: he wonderful Corinne Segal interviewed me and spotlighted my poem, “Field Trip to the Museum of Humam History,” for PBS News Hour. What strange times.

Corinne has also been holding down that space for POC, QT*, and immigrant poets, so check out some of the other features, including my collective mates Fatimah Asghar and Danez Smith.

This poem is 100% for my Providence movement family, most of all for PrYSM. I understand that not everyone will agree with the vision of this poem. Many people have called me a “naive girl” for writing it. Abolition is a more complex and much more vast project than this one poem can capture. My hope is only to give people who are already fighting every day (in concrete and loving ways) for liberation from police violence a brief glimpse into another world. For more information about what abolition might look like, check out this quick read in The Nation or Ursula K. LeGuin’s novel The Dispossessed. 

3 Things!

Posted by on Nov 16 2015

Some cool stuff!

  1. Social Media, Race, and Disney Princesses: Check out this episode of the Poetry Off the Shelf podcast that I did with the Poetry Foundation and the incredible, brilliant Saeed Jones. We read poems by Claudia Rankine and Elana Bell.
  2. Vital Signs: Khary Jackson, author of Any Psalm You Want, wrote this great piece on my poem, “Open Letter from Jessica Alba to My Father,” for Muzzle’s “Vital Signs” series.
  3. Divedapper Interview: Kaveh Akbar interviewed me for Divedapper, a website that profiles poets. We talked about everything from first books to yellowface to robots!

New curriculum up!

Posted by on Sep 21 2015

Have you ever noticed the tiny note in the back of Floating, Brilliant, Gone that says that you can find lesson plans and curricula at www.frannychoi.com/curriculum? Well, today, after a year and a half-long “coming soon” sign, that note is finally true!

A NEW SPECIES OF BEAUTIFUL: A Five-Workshop Curriculum on Identity & Self-Examination is now live!

Designed for students age 16-20, this free curriculum includes discussion questions and writing prompts for five poems from Floating, Brilliant, Gone: “The Hindsight Octopus,” “Chinky,” “The Mirror,” “To the Man Who Shouted ‘I Like Pork Fried Rice’ at Me on the Street,” and “Metamorphosis.”  The curriculum has a dual purpose: 1) to teach students to craft beautiful, meaningful poems; and 2) to lead students to engage critically with identity and power.

Feel free to modify, use, and share for educational purposes! More resources for educators are — seriously this time — coming soon!

regarding the yellowface poet

Posted by on Sep 09 2015

[ Poem in response to m.d.h., white poet who used a Chinese pseudonym to get published in Best American Poetry. ]

 

choi jeong min
for my parents, Choi Inyeong & Nam Songeun

in the first grade i asked my mother permission
to go by frances at school. at seven years old

i already knew the exhaustion of hearing my name
butchered by hammerhead tongues. already knew

to let my salty gook name drag behind me
in the sand, safely out of sight. in fourth grade

i wanted to be a writer & worried
about how to escape my surname – choi

is nothing if not korean, if not garlic breath,
if not seaweed & sesame & food stamps

during the lean years – could i go by f.j.c.? could i be
paper thin & raceless? dust jacket & coffee stain,

boneless rumor smoldering behind the curtain
& speaking through an ink-stained puppet?

my father ran through all his possible rechristenings –
ian, issac, ivan – and we laughed at each one,

knowing his accent would always give him away.
you can hear the pride in my mother’s voice

when she answers the phone this is grace, & it is
some kind of strange grace she’s spun herself,

some lightning made of chainmail. grace is not
her pseudonym, though everyone in my family is a poet.

these are the shields for the names we speak in the dark
to remember our darkness. savage death rites

we still practice in the new world. myths we whisper
to each other to keep warm. my korean name

is the star my mother cooks into the jjigae
to follow home when i am lost, which is always

in this gray country, this violent foster home
whose streets are paved with shame, this factory yard

riddled with bullies ready to steal your skin
& sell it back to your mother for profit,

land where they stuff our throats with soil
& accuse us of gluttony when we learn to swallow it.

i confess. i am greedy. i think i deserve to be seen
for what i am: a boundless, burning wick.

a stone house. i confess: if someone has looked
at my crooked spine and called it elmwood,

i’ve accepted. if someone has loved me more
for my gook name, for my saint name,

for my good vocabulary & bad joints,
i’ve welcomed them into this house.

i’ve cooked them each a meal with a star singing
at the bottom of the bowl, a secret ingredient

to follow home when we are lost:
sunflower oil, blood sausage, a name

given by your dead grandfather who eventually
forgot everything he’d touched. i promise:

i’ll never stop stealing back what’s mine.
i promise: i won’t forget again.