Author: Don Mee Choi
Publisher: Wave Books (2016)
Like fried potato chips – I believe so,
utterly so – The hush-hush proving
ground was utterly proven as history –
Hardly=History – I believe so, eerily so
– hush hush – Now watch this
performance – Bull's-eye – An uncanny
human understanding on target –
Absolute=History – loaded with
terrifying meaning – The Air Force
doesn't say, hence Ugly=Narration –
Hardly War, Don Mee Choi's major second collection, defies history, national identity, and militarism. Using artifacts from Choi's father, a professional photographer during the Korean and Vietnam wars, she combines memoir, image, and opera to explore her paternal relationship and heritage. Here poetry and geopolitics are inseparable twin sisters, conjoined to the belly of a warring empire.
"Choi’s use of hybrid forms—poetry, memoir, opera libretto, images and artifacts from her father’s career as a photojournalist in the Korean and Vietnam Wars—lets her explore themes of injustice and empire, history and identity, sifting through the detritus of family, translation, propaganda, and dislocation."
–The New York Times Sunday Book Review
"Constructed from poems, chunks of prose, sheet music, photographs, collage, and even the script for an (incredibly short) opera, Hardly War is unlike anything you’ve ever seen."
–The Seattle Review of Books