Don Mee Choi named the Bain-Swiggett Visiting Professor and Visiting Lecturer in poetry for fall 2024

Written by
Sarah Malone, Department of English
May 23, 2024
Don Mee Choi

Don Mee Choi. Photo: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

In the 2024 fall semester, the Department of English will welcome poet and translator Don Mee Choi as the Bain-Swiggett Visiting Professor and Visiting Lecturer in poetry. A recipient of fellowships from the MacArthur, Guggenheim, Lannan, and Whiting Foundations and the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program, Choi is the author of DMZ Colony, winner of the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry. She was selected as one of the inaugural 2021 Royal Society of Literature International Writers.

Choi’s other publications include Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016), The Morning News Is Exciting (Action Books, 2010), and several chapbooks and pamphlets of poems and essays, including the essay Translation is a Mode = Translation is an Anti-neocolonial Mode (Ugly Duckling Presse 2020), which Los Angeles Review of Books reviewer Anabelle Johnston calls “seminal” in her review of Choi’s most recent book, Mirror Nation (Wave Books, April 2024).

Mirror Nation completes Choi’s KOR-US trilogy, following Hardly War and DMZ Colony

Reviewing DMZ Colony in The Times Literary Supplement, April Yee writes that “Though many translators’ careers can be characterized as sustained exercises in twinning — a translator and a writer speaking at once, their identities intertwined — Choi’s is a particularly salient example.”

Yee cites Choi’s end note on the poems in DMZ Colony that she wrote first in Korean and then translated:

“These poems in Korean and English are not exactly identical, as no translations are”, Choi writes. “It’s just that there are always two of us — the eternal twoness.”

Choi was a 2021 Picador Guest Professor at Leipzig University and has offered many poetry workshops at universities across the United States.

At Princeton, Choi will teach a fall 2024 graduate seminar, “Doing Poetry: Feminist Poetics and Translation,” drawing inspiration from Kim Hyesoon’s coinage of "I-do-poetry" for seeking what Hyesoon refers to as the "feminine," the unsevered bodily engagement with loss, sorrow, death, and injustice.

Choi’s translation of Hyesoon’s Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018) received the 2019 International Griffin Poetry Prize, and her translation of Phantom Pain Wings (New Directions, 2023) won the 2023 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.

Choi will deliver a public lecture, “The Poetics of Translation,” at 4:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 22, and read in the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series starting at 7:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 29.