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New Mexico State University

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NMSU hosts an evening of Korean women's poetry as part of Women's History Month

As part of New Mexico State University's celebration of Women's History Month, Don Mee Choi, a poet and editor will present "Anxiety of Words," a reading and discussion of three contemporary Korean feminist poets. The event begins at 7:30pm on Friday, March 13 at Hardman Hall, Room 106.

Poet and editor Don Mee Choi will present "Anxiety of Words," a reading and discussion of three contemporary Korean feminist poets as part of New Mexico State University's Women's History Month events. (Photo Courtesy Zephyr Press)

Don Mee Choi was born in Korea, but her family left in 1972 to escape political oppression. She began studying contemporary Korean literature in 1998 and soon after began translating the poets included in the bilingual anthology, "Anxiety of Words: Contemporary Poetry by Korean Women." It is the first collection of Korean feminist poetry to appear in English.

"This reading represents another aspect of women taking the lead..." said Mary Benanti, event organizer and college assistant professor of women's studies. "Anytime you move a group of individuals forward in challenging restrictive laws and social constructions, you provide those people with a better future... and when women anywhere have a better future, so does the rest of society."

Ch'oe Sung-ja, Kim Hyesoon and Yi Yon-ju, are the featured poets in the "Anxiety of Words" anthology. Through their innovative use of language and insistence on bold and often violent subjects, the poets challenge the core expectation of Korean women's poetry, which should be soft, pleasing and gentle. This tradition of yoryu (female) poetry goes back thousands of years.

Choi has a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies in 20th century Korean literature from the Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, and bachelor's and master's degrees in fine art from the California Institute of Art. Her poems and translations of Korean poetry have been published in more than 20 publications.

As part of her presentation, Choi will provide some background on the traditions of Korean poetry, the changes that unfolded in the 20th century, and the lives and work of these three poets, as well as read samples of their poems in both English and Korean. There will be a question and answer session following and a reception after the reading.

The event is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by NMSU's Women's Studies program, Confucius Institute and Zephyr Press. A parking permit for off-campus visitors may be obtained at https://corridor.nmsu.edu/auxadmin/ParkingForms/epermit.aspx.

For more information check www.nmsu.edu/~wstudies/ or call 575-646-3448.