Tanya Ko Hong


Tanya (Hyonhye) Ko Hong is a bilingual Korean American poet, translator, columnist, and advocate for bilingual artists. She was born in Suk Su Dong, South Korea and immigrated with her father to the United States when she was 18 years old. Hong had already begun to write poetry in Korean, but it wasn’t until she finished high school in a Southern California public school that she first began to write in the English language. She was driven to develop her craft in English when her American school friends wanted to read her earlier work; Hong felt that literal translations of her Korean words didn’t do justice to the original feeling in her verses, so she set out to write organically in both languages. She went on to earn her undergraduate degree in sociology at Biola University in La Mirada, California, then her Master of Fine Arts in poetry and a post-MFA teaching certificate from Antioch University in Los Angeles. Hong is the author of four poetry collections featuring pieces in both English and Korean. Her first book, Generation One Point Five, was published in 1993 in Korean with English translations. Most recently, Hong released The War Still Within: Poems of the Korean Diaspora with KYSO Flash Press in 2019. Grounded in the true stories of Korean “comfort women,” the more than 200,000 women forced into sexual slavery by opposing forces during World War II, Hong’s first-person poems seek to recenter the voices of Korean and Korean-American women in the narrative of their own history. She earned the inaugural Yun Dong-ju Korean-American Literature Award in 2018, and she has received grants from Poets & Writers, the Daesan Foundation, and the Korean Cultural Center. Hong is active as an event organizer and workshop teacher in the Southern California Korean community, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She resides with her family in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. 

Second Period

I got called in to a little dark room,


Mrs. Lopez showed me a picture book.

Khang, I say.

No, river, she says.

Liver, I say.

Not liver, it’s river, she says.

That’s what I said, river, river, river, khang—

It’s a khang!

She shook her head.

Look at my mouth, she says, RRRRR



River, I said.

Then shut my mouth.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:





Poems of Place

Literary Devices:


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work