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A Reading and Conversation with Don Mee Choi, Winner of the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry-On Demand

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Don Mee Choi, Ph.D. |  Carol Barrett, Ph.D.
59 Minutes
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“... in light, we lived like birds.” – Don Mee Choi, DMZ Colony

Join poet and translator Dr. Don Mee Choi for a reading from her 2020 National Book Award for Poetry, DMZ Colony, that explores lives affected by colonization and war. A discussion will follow the reading.

In DMZ Colony, Dr. Choi, born in South Korea and based in Seattle, deftly explores the histories of South Korea and the United States via her return from the U.S. to South Korea in 2016. Her book is described by Alexandra Alter of the New York Times as “a collage of survivor accounts, prose, and quotations with photographs and drawings that takes its name from Korea’s Demilitarized Zone.”

In awarding the prize, the National Book Award committee said, “Don Mee Choi's urgent DMZ Colony captures the migratory latticework of those transformed by war and colonization. Homelands present and past share one sky where birds fly, but ‘during the Korean War cranes had no place to land.’ Devastating and vigilant, this bricolage of survivor accounts, drawings, photographs, and hand-written texts unearth the truth between fact and the critical imagination. We are all ‘victims of History,’ so Choi compels us to witness, and to resist.”


Don Mee Choi, Ph.D.'s Profile

Don Mee Choi, Ph.D. Related seminars and products

Poet and Translator

Union Institute & University Alumni

Don Mee Choi earned her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Union Institute & University in 2003, with concentrations in Modern Korean Culture and Translation. She is the recipient of the Whiting Award for emerging authors and poets, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, Lucien Stryk Translation Prize, and 2019 DAAD Artist-in-Berlin Fellow.

She is the author of Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016), The Morning News Is Exciting (Action Books, 2010), and several chapbooks and pamphlets of poems and essays. She has translated several collections of Kim Hyesoon's poetry, including Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018), which received the 2019 International Griffin Poetry Prize.

The highly prized National Book Award for Poetry is one of five annual awards given by the National Book Foundation to recognize outstanding literary work by U.S. citizens. They are awards "by writers to writers,” with nominations provided only by publishers.

Photo credit: SongGot

Carol Barrett, Ph.D.'s Profile

Carol Barrett, Ph.D. Related seminars and products

Doctoral Faculty

Union Institute & University

Union Institute & University doctoral faculty member, Dr. Carol Barrett, is an interdisciplinary scholar and educator who has published two volumes of poetry, including the prize-winning collection Calling in the Bones (Ashland Poetry Press.) She holds two Ph.D.s: the first in Clinical Psychology and the second in Creative Writing. Her publications appear in journals in the fields of literature, psychology, gerontology, thanatology, women’s studies, medicine, religious studies, education, and art therapy. Her writing has challenged barriers due to gender/sexuality, race/ethnicity, age, social class, differing abilities, religion/spirituality, and marital status. Dr. Barrett’s current research interest is the healing potential of poetry. She also writes creative nonfiction; the book Pansies (Sonder Press) was a 2020 Oregon Book Awards finalist.

Photo credit: Sarah Sargent

Book Information

Click here to purchase DMZ Colony

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A friendly reminder this event has been prerecorded

Welcome + Details


President Karen Schuster Webb, Ph.D

Dr. Carol Barrett, Moderator


Reading               Don Mee Choi

Discussion           Don Mee Choi + Dr. Carol Barrett

Q&A                      Guests + Don Mee Choi



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