Alice James Books 2019
New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Asian American StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in LiteratureNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoetryNew Books in Politics & Society February 25, 2020 Andrea Blythe
Franny Choi’s book-length collection of poetry, Soft Science (Alice James Books 2019), explores queer, Asian American femininity through the lens of robots, cyborgs, and artificial intelligence. As she notes in this interview, “this book is a study of softness,” 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? Choi’s poetry contemplates such questions through the technology of poetic form.
“Once, an animal with hands like mine learned to break a seed with two stones – one hard and one soft.
Once, a scientist in Britain asked: Can machines think? He built a machine, taught it to read ghosts, and a new kind of ghost was born.
At Disneyland, I watched a robot dance the macarena. Everyone clapped, and the clapping, too, was a technology.
I once made my mouth a technology of softness. I listened carefully as I drank. I made the tools fuck in my mouth – okay, we can say pickle if it’s easier to hear – until they birthed new ones. What I mean is, I learned.”
— from “A Brief History of Cyborgs” by Franny Choi
Franny Choi is the author of two poetry collections, Soft Science (from Alice James Books) and Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing), as well as a chapbook, Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press). She is a Kundiman Fellow, a 2019 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow, and a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers Program. She is a Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow at Williams College and co-hosts the podcast VS alongside fellow Dark Noise Collective member Danez Smith.
Andrea Blythe is a cohost of the New Books in Poetry podcast. She is the author of Your Molten Heart / A Seed to Hatch (2018) a collection of erasure poems, and coauthor of Every Girl Becomes the Wolf (Finishing Line Press, 2018), a collaborative chapbook written with Laura Madeline Wiseman. She is a cohost of the New Books in Poetry podcast and is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association and the Horror Writers Association. Find her online at andreablythe.com or on Twitter and Instagram @AndreaBlythe.
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