By Don Mee Choi
Much like Proust's madeleine, a spinning Mercedez Benz ring outside Choi's Berlin window prompts a memory of her father on the Glienicker Bridge between Berlin and Potsdam, which in turn becomes catalyst for delving into the violent colonial and neocolonial contemporary history of South Korea, with particular attention to the horrors of the Gwangju Uprising of May 1980. Here, photographs, news footage, and cultural artifacts comingle with a poetry of grief that is both personal and collective. Inspired by W. G. Sebald and Walter Benjamin as well as Choi’s DAAD Artists residency in Berlin, Mirror Nation is a sorrowful reflection on the ways in which a place can hold a “magnetic field of memory,” proving that history doesn’t merely repeat itself; history is ever present, chiming the hours in a chorus against empire.
"Reading Don Mee Choi’s DMZ Colony is an experience that plunges into a theatre of words, a theatre of pain in which words are everything… The poet’s presence moves among history, like a phantom without a face… each reading of DMZ Colony enacts a transition of history from within, which calls for individuals to break the silence—the last and the most essential border one can carry."
Pareys Liu Yiyi, Cha Journal
"Choi admits to being a “compulsive translator,” but some things cannot be translated or even spoken. The scribbles stand in for the unspeakable...they say, our rage and grief are not in excess. It’s excess as a corrective."
Elisa Gabbert, New York Times
"Choi’s DMZ Colony is 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."
Jed Munson, Chicago Review of Books
"This way of seeing, at once prophetic and hardboiled, weaves through all her poetry."
E. Tammy Kim, Poetry Foundation
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Don Mee Choi is the author of the National Book Award winning collection DMZ Colony (Wave Books, 2020), Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016), The Morning News Is Exciting (Action Books, 2010), and several pamphlets of poems and essays. She is a recipient of fellowships from the MacArthur, Guggenheim, Lannan, and Whiting Foundations, as well as the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program. She has translated several collections of Kim Hyesoon’s poetry, including Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018), which received the International Griffin Poetry Prize.
Publication month: April 2024
ISBN# 9781950268931 (6.75x9, 128pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9798891060005 (6.75x9, 128pp, limited edition hardcover)