A new episode of theÂ New Books in PoetryÂ podcast is up. I had a delightful conversation withÂ Franny Choi about her new bookÂ Soft Science (Alice James Books 2019).
Franny Choiâ€™s book-length collection of poetry,Â Soft Science,Â explores queer, Asian American femininity through the lens of robots, cyborgs, and artificial intelligence. As she notes in this interview, â€œthis book is a study of softness,â€ exploring feeling, vulnerability, and desire. How can you be tender and still survive in a hard and violent world? What does it mean to have desire when you yourself are made into an object of desire? What does it mean to have a body that bears the weight of history? Choiâ€™s poetry contemplates such questions through the technology of poetic form.
Here is a little snippet from our discussion, in which Choi discusses the idea of speaking for the voiceless:
“Early in my writing career, I was really struck by the concept of being a voice for the voiceless. I think this has to do with being a young activist kid and realizing that having the ability to write and speak in a way that moved people was a privilege, and [I had] a desire to use that privledge for good. I think not that long after I encountered this concept it started to feel icky to want to speak for people that have mostly been called voiceless but arenâ€™t â€” and [it became] much more important to highlight those voices rather than speaking for them.Â
For someone who is politically minded and writer and is interested in the craft of persona work, I think it makes for a difficult space to know how to operate in, you know. So, I think that the ways Iâ€™ve tried to â€” at least in this book â€” manage that have been to kind of relocate the voiceless as a populace within myself, like what are the parts of me that feel unspoken for or unable to explain themselves through normal language. Thereâ€™s a lot that is unspeakable within all of us. For me, I feel my job as a poet is to try to use poetry to use poetry to navigate those spaces.“
You can listen to the interviewÂ hereÂ or on the podcast app of your choice.
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