Poet's Evening # 6

Don Mee Choi

Don Mee Choi © Jay Weaver

In the artistic work of Don Mee Choi (b. 1962 in Seoul, South Korea) multi-linguality is a political gesture of resistance – of Speaking Differently and Remembering Differently – against established forms of memory and remembrance. Her experiences as a Korean-American translator and poet place her in a field of conflict of neoliberal interests, in which her texts cannot act innocently. For her, translation is the making aware of these conflicts by means of language archaeology.

In Hardly War she investigates the traumatic echoes and deep-rooted ramifications of the Korean and Vietnam wars and of American colonial policy and asks questions about their impact on her childhood and present. To do this she works both transmedially and transhistorically, sampling heterogeneous geopolitical and historical fragments and integrating postcards, drawings, sheet music and photos into her texts. These are artefacts of her father’s, who was a war photographer. In this way, Hardly War does not just reflect on the role of the camera and of observing misery and war, just as her first work, The Morning News is Exciting, also did, in an extraordinary variety of forms including opera libretto, lists and songs, but also looks at relationships with fathers, militarism, nationalism, origins and patriarchy. In 2019 Don Mee Choi is a fellow of the DAAD Artists in Berlin Programme.

Publications (selection):

Hardly War, Wave Books 2016

Freely Frayed, ㅋ=q, & Race=Nation, Wave Books Pamphlet Series 2014

Petite Manifesto, Vagabond Press Chapbook Series 2014

The Morning News is Exciting, Action Books 2010

Translations (selection):

Kim Hyesoon: Autobiography of Death, New Directions 2018

Kim Hyesoon: Poor Love Machine, Action Books 2016

Kim Hyesoon: Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream, Action Books 2014

Kim Hyesoon: I’m Ok, I’m Pig, Bloodaxe Books 2014

LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs

LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs © Willy Somma

LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs (b. 1970 in New York) is one of the most exciting voices in experimental poetry in the USA. She is a DJane, sound artist and interdisciplinary poet from Harlem. Her texts draw on myths and take place amid the tensions of post-colonial Creolisation, bringing forth their own systems of networks and shifts oriented not on biographical facts but on the desire to communicate. Diggs’ poems are urban Babylonian chants, an amalgam of dozens of languages (including English, Quechua, Cherokee, Maori, Hindi, Spanish, Japanese and Swahili).

This mixing of languages is what she overhears in the world around her in New York – she listens, translates and has others translate, reproducing the languages, switching them in parallel and rebooting them in a polyglot Anime cyber people. She works as much with bits and pieces of pop culture as with material from Classical or forgotten myths and unjustly neglected forms such as “kantan chamorritas", a form of debating poem from the Marianas. Her long-awaited book TwERK (a reference to the high art of Booty Shakin’ in hip hop) contains ironic Black Nature Poems and poems with titles such as “marmota monax mizrahi feeds chi chi mugler at the latex ball”.


TwERK, Belladonna 2013

Manuel is destroying my bathroom, Belladonna 2004

Ni-Ban, MOH Press 2003

Ichi-Ban, MOH Press 1998


Televisión, 2003

Johannes Göransson

Johannes Göransson © privat

For the Swedish-American poet, translator and publisher Johannes Göransson (b. 1973 in Lund, Sweden) poems are wounds of translation. His prose-verse hybrids at the interface of fiction and poetry blend impulses from the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets with surrealist, gore and Beat elements. In the form of a diary or stroller’s notebook they bring with gurlesque power trauma, guilt, anxiety, loneliness and addiction into a raging pride of the fucked up. They are razorblade symphonies, porn films, science fiction and glamour-grotesque all at the same time.

Göransson has become best known as a provocative translation theorist with his essay “Translation Wounds” in which he sees poetry translation as a violation of the unilingually-thought poem. For him, translation is a wound in the body of the poem through the aperture of which media such as languages, history and memory can infect this space of quarantine. The “transgressive circulation” of the translation can in this way destabilise holistic ideas of language and literature.

Göransson teaches at the University of Notre Dame and together with Joyelle McSweeney runs Action Books Press, which focuses on transnational, interlingual and feminist poetry.

Publications (selection):

Transgressive Circulation. Essays About Translation, Noemi Press 2018

The Sugar Book, Tarpaulin Sky Press 2015

Haute Surveillance, Tarpaulin Sky Press 2013

Dear Ra (A Story in Flinches), Starcherone Books 2008

Translations (selection):

Aase Berg: Dark Matter, Black Ocean Books 2013

Henry Parland: Ideals Clearance, Ugly Duckling Presse 2006

Sawako Nakayasu

Sawako Nakayasu © Mitsuo Okamoto

Sawako Nakayasu‘s (b. 1975 in Kanagawa, Japan) collection Mouth: Eats Color belongs in every translation seminar. It is a multilingual series of Chinese whispers made up of originals, translations and anti-translations. In it she rewrites ten poems by Sagawa Chika using various different translation practices, permuting them and letting them crystallise out quickly until the texts between Japanese, English, Spanish and French are brought into vibrating motion. It is clear that in Nakayasu’s work the poem is what happens between languages, a walk, a togetherness that engenders community, a “promenade”.

Nakayasu teaches at Brown University and co-edits the magazine ‘Transpacific Poetics’. In productive translation she is constantly seeking the balance between faithfulness and beauty, and so experiments with various strategies, even including “roguish translations”. For her book Texture Notes she translated choreographic notations from a handwritten notebook of Tatsumi Hijikata, the founder of Butoh dance performance. Nakayasu works with performance and film as well as with the mediums of language and translation.

Publications (selection):

The Ants, Les Figues Press 2014

Mouth: Eats Color. Sagawa Chika Translations, Anti-Translations, & Originals, Rogue Factorial Press 2011

Texture Notes, Letter Machine Editions 2010

So we have been given time or, Verse Press 2004

Translations (selection):

Tatsumi Hijikata: Costume en Face. A Primer of Darkness for Young Boys and Girls, Ugly Duckling Presse 2015

Takashi Hiraide: For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut, New Directions 2008

Urayoán Noel

Urayoán Noel © Luis Carle

Poet and artist Urayoán Noel (b. 1976 in Sancture, Puerto Rico) lives in the South Bronx and as a “stateless poet” leads the Nuyorican (an amalgam of New York and Puerto Rican) tradition in an installative-performative praxis for the age of the smartphone. His aesthetic thinking moves between the co-ordinates of print, body and web, with slam rhythms, the Latin Funk House Kenny Dopes and Rapflows Fat Jons, Big Puns and Oddateees hammering in the background. In syllable-step sonnets, decimes, anagrams configured by app, translations of himself and others done with speech-controlling and on his poetry vlog wokitokiteki.com, Noel explores ways to advance the mixing of English and Spanish-language poetry from the ambit of the Nuyorican Poets Café, which he also investigates theoretically as an Associate Professor at New York University.

Noel sees poems as “unstatements”. What he is looking for are identity-critical text events which propagate unbelongings, whether to nations, territories, categories of text or genre, gender norms, languages or other “syndromes”. His experiences of New York’s queer community also come into it. These text events take place for just a short time in a body that is understood as being deterritorialised, which is also involved in artistic collaborations with choreography, dance, music and composition, etc.

Publications (selection):

Buzzing Hemisphere / Rumor Hemisférico, University of Arizona Press 2015

In Visible Movement. Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam, University of Iowa Press 2014

Hi-Density Politics, BlazeVOX 2010

Kool Logic/La lógica kool, Bilingual Press 2005


Pablo de Rokha: Architecture of Dispersed Life. Selected Poetry, Shearsman Books 2018

Wingston González: No Budu Please, Ugly Duckling Presse 2018