Franny Choi


Franny Choi is the author of several books, including, Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019), Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014), and a chapbook, Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). She was a 2019 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow and has also received awards from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and Princeton University’s Lewis Center. Her poems have appeared in the New York Times, the Nation, the Atlantic, Paris Review, and elsewhere. She co-hosts the Poetry Foundation’s podcast VS (it’s pronounced “verses”—get it?) alongside Danez Smith and is currently an Arthur Levitt, Jr. Artist-in-Residence at Williams College. Source

Choi Jeong Min

for my parents, Choi Inyeong & Nam Songeun 


in the first grade i asked my mother permission

to go by frances at school. at seven years old,


i already knew the exhaustion of hearing my name

butchered by hammerhead tongues. already knew


to let my salty [   ] name drag behind me

in the sand, safely out of sight. in fourth grade


i wanted to be a writer & worried

about how to escape my surname–—choi


is nothing if not Korean, if not garlic breath,

if not seaweed & sesame & food stamps


during the lean years—could I go by f.j.c? could i be

paper thin & raceless? dust jacket & coffee stain,


boneless rumor smoldering behind the curtain

& speaking through an ink-stained puppet?


my father ran through all his possible rechristenings—

ian, isaac, ivan—& we laughed at each one,


knowing his accent would always give him away.

you can hear the pride in my mother’s voice


when she answers the phone this is grace. & it is

some kind of strange grace she’s spun herself,


some lightning made of chainmail. grace is not

her pseudonym, though everyone in my family is a poet.


these are the shields for the names we speak in the dark

to remember our darkness. savage death rites


we still practice in the new world. myths we whisper

to each other to keep warm. my Korean name


is the star my mother cooks into the jjigae

to follow home when i am lost, which is always


in this gray country, this violent foster home

whose streets are paved with shame, this factory yard


riddled with bullies ready to steal your skin

& sell it back to your mother for profit,


land where they stuff our throats with soil

& accuse us of gluttony when we learn to swallow it.


i confess. i am greedy. i think i deserve to be seen

for what i am: a boundless, burning wick.


a minor chord. i confess: if someone has looked

at my crooked spine and called it elmwood,


i’ve accepted. If someone has loved me more

for my [   ] name, for my saint name,


for my good vocabulary & bad joints,

i’ve welcomed them into this house.


I’ve cooked them each a meal with a star singing

at the bottom of the bowl, a secret ingredient


to follow home when we are lost:

sunflower oil, blood sausage, a name


given by a dead grandfather who eventually

forgot everything he’d touched. i promise:


i’ll never stop stealing back what’s mine.

i promise: i won’t forget again.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:






Intersectionality & Culture


Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


(of a literary work) in the form of letters


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Sensory Detail

words used to invoke the five senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell)