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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.65, No.3, 455 ~ 476, 2019
Translating Resistance: Don Mee Choi, Jiyoon Lee, Eunsong Kim, and Others
Robert Grotjohn
This essay considers Don Mee Choi’s The Morning News Is Exciting and maps several lines between Choi’s work and that of other poets in the community that Anna Maria Hong calls “KAFP” (Korean American Feminist Poetry / Poets), particularly Jiyoon Lee’s Foreigners Folly and Eunsong Kim’s Gospel of Regicide. The analysis builds from the influence of a Deleuzian “rhizomatic” reading strategy and Myung Mi Kim’s fundamental questions of deterritorialization: “What is English now, in the face of mass global migration? How to practice and make plural the written and spoken―grammar, syntaxes, textures, intonations ...” Choi, Lee, and Eunsong Kim write in the deterritorialized space of those ellipses by resisting what Deleuze and Guattari call the “order-words” of neocolonial “grammaticality.” In various temporal and linguistic disruptions, Choi interrogates the neocolonial relationship between the U.S. and South Korea. That interrogation shows rhizomatic lines extending to the work of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha as well as Myung Mi Kim. Choi disorders the connections she sees between military and sexual violence, sometimes with the intertextual aid of Emily Dickinson. Lee creates a persona of “foreignwoman” who is at first cowed by but finally performs a brutal turnabout on “Native speaker,” whom she first encounters as the voice on an EFL cassette. Eunsong Kim resists the order-words of both whiteness and her neo-Confucian ethnic heritage, finding liberation in a traitorous gospel. The exploration of these three poets opens to a brief reflection on the diverse, expanding community of KAFP that defies the grammaticality, political and linguistic, of Standard Englishes and their patriarchal orders.
Key Words
Korean American Feminist Poetry, Don Mee Choi, Jiyoon Lee, Eunsong Kim, Deleuze and Guattari
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