top of page

Existence in the Diaspora?: I Want to Resonate With You

What does it mean to exist in the Diaspora? It means to be in and of the world.

I came to the US when I was two years old, and then sent back to live with my uncle and his family. And then returned to the US when I was around four years old. I am aware often of being in-between places, if not realities. But I am learning that we are responsible for making our own realities. Don't let anyone stop you.

An essential aspect of "existing" is creating and living in/with art: "I write poetry therefore I exist." (I hope this is true for you, too.) And with the writing of poetry comes the reading it out loud. I have been reading my work to anyone who will listen for the past odd years now. To have an audience is a natural progression in the act of art making. As Carl Phillips writes in his meticulous essay about audience from his recent My Trade is Mystery, we start with ourselves as the "first audience" but "any art that lasts must eventually resonate with others beyond the maker's self."

What Phillips so clearly lays out for us is the phenomenon of our having multiple selves and often how these selves are simultaneously "coinciding and refusing to." So the self that can articulate thoughts/feelings/truths is the one that helps the selves that "can't find or [have] lost, the way."

I want to resonate with you, but before that happens, I must make sense to myself.

I'm writing because that's how I make sense of my life...I need to be in my attempts to interrogate and put to rest, for a time, what I feel overwhelmed by.
––Carl Phillips

I am in and of the world as an immigrant in the Diaspora. This means I am in struggle with the idea of "home" or of being at home in the world. It has been a tricky idea and notion, one with so many layers of feelings and messages that are overwhelming. If you can identify and name your emotions, then you are on to something because we live with these unnamed and unrevealed remnants of feelings conjured from our childhood experiences and traumas.

Essentially the work to be at home is the work to be yourself. And this work must involve art.

The child of immigrants always wanting to tell the truth but not in prose,don't want to write prose, writing fiction is like having to eat a whole chicken when you just need a wing or thigh or even the chicken butt would do.
––Jiwon Choi


bottom of page