I’m excited to share that I’ll be supporting Emily Yoon’s new book release, A Cruelty to Our Species, at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop on Tuesday September 25th. Emily is an incredible writer, community builder, and advocate for the vibrant complexities of Asian/American cultural expression. I’m honored to see her share this new work in person and read with her, Wo Chan, and Kristin Chang.
On a personal note, I’m deeply touched to have been asked to share with this next generation of upstarts, innovators, and community builders. They’re taking our movement into new directions and necessary conversations, and it is a joy to bear witness and participate in that. When I was coming up as a writer almost 20 years ago (gasp), I wasn’t certain if there would ever really be a community for me. I got used to being the only As/Am author in so many spaces, and frankly the way I was approaching language often felt far afield. I’m so proud of the way Asian/American literature has centered on complexity, challenge, and nuance. I’m proud of our community and grateful for all who continue to pour themselves into it.
Wow. I woke up this morning to an announcement that PoemTalk (hosted by The Kelly Writers House at UPenn) held a discussion about two of my poems from my first book. Amazing. So much gratitude to Al Filreis, Sawako Nakayasu, Donato Mancini, and Gabriel Ojeda-Sague for the generous attention and care.
I’m part of this amazing group show at one of my most favorite art spaces, Georgia, in town! I’m thrilled to be in such amazing artist community. It opens Friday September 21.
I’ll be presenting a video piece about intimacy titled “To Be Alive, the Softest Splendor.” To view it, you crawl under a blanket fort and put on some headphones. I’m grateful to Joshua Ware for including me and the amazing Sommer Browning for making such lovely community gatherings possible.
To Be Alive, The Softest Splendor (installation and video, 2018)
The relational experience of intimacy—of discovering yourself in a shared moment of human connection and vulnerable safety—invokes a special attention, one that focuses heightened interest on fine details. The glorious beauty of a turning hand, the gentle play of light catching on someone’s hair.
I have found that urban environments invite me to narrow my attention far more than vast open landscapes—the sense of density and crowding requires me to hone rather than diffuse. This was something I mourned for many years, as I felt it was a sad survival response to regular street harassment and an assault I experienced while living in Philadelphia. By narrowing my attention, I realized I was trying to shield myself from the aggressive or hateful interest of others. A cocoon of focus. This video piece is a small healing effort—to remind myself of the beauties in being small.
I believe that gentle attention is a type of love—in these cases, that loving interest casts a friendship light onto my friends’ bodies as they share a little bit of their time and stories with me. My hope is that while viewing this piece, Georgia’s guests will share in the affectionate interest I experienced while making this piece; that we’ll all collectively remember what a joy it is to be alive, the softest splendor.
eohippus labs (los angeles) has released a small collection by Korean/American authors exploring inherited trauma. I’m incredibly thankful to be included in this collection, which was edited and introduced by Janice Lee, with essays by Don Mee Choi, Chiwan Choi, and Saehee Cho.
When I saw the galley proofs last month, a tremor moved through me reading these essays. It’s hard to articulate han, it literally overwhelms me. I’ve tried in other spaces, but seeing this shared effort with my literary kin opened something inside me. Such gratitude.
I’m headed to a new artist residency program out in the forests in Washington state, the Rockland Woods Residency. I sort of can’t believe all the amazing artists I’ll be in community with. I’ll try and feature them each while I’m there. I hope to make some video work about desire and landscape, write some alchemy poems, and make friends. I think it’s going to be good for my soul!
I was honored to share about Peace Light’s history and genesis with Imani Roach from Artblog Radio last week. You can listen here. We talked about where the concept came from, audience, collaboration, and what it means to be alive and an artist in the world.
I’m crazy excited to share that my new work, PEACE LIGHT, will be featured in Philadelphia from May 3-June 3 as part of Asian Arts Initiative’s 25th Anniversary exhibition series, (ex)CHANGE.
Motivated by urgent issues of Korea’s well-being and a desire to bridge what happens on the Korean Peninsula and our lives here, PEACE LIGHT features an installation of paper lanterns designed by Kai-wei Hsu covered in my writing. A large weather balloon will float overhead, against which I’ll project a video piece dedicated to crossing impossible spaces, connection, and peace. In collaboration with Philadelphia-based choreographer and dancer Jungwoong Kim, the installation will be incorporated into a site-specific performance piece.
For opening weekend, we’ll be hosting two live performances on Thursday May 3rd at 7pm and Sunday May 6th at noon, both located at 448 N. 10th Street on the second floor. Performances are wheelchair accessible, and free and open to the public.
The lantern texts feature my own writing with excerpts from Leo Hwang, Erinrose Mager, Asialee Drews, Chiwan Choi, Janice Lee, Sun Yung Shin, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Bekhyon Yim, and Lee Herrick. These fellow Korean writers and friends responded thoughtfully to a survey I had sent them asking about longing, crossings, and peace. Their friendship and support fills my heart with a perfect kinship light.
I’m grateful to Asian Arts Initiative for this amazing opportunity, and to the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage (PCAH) for financing this series. My life has been utterly changed by PCAH’s immense support over the years. I’m immeasurably thankful!