My family left South Korea before I’d started kindergarten. I was around five and still didn’t know what ‘home’ really was, other than where my mother was, let alone what a ‘nation’ or ‘immigration’ meant.
We then lived in Paraguay, a country we then left just as I was learning Spanish.
By the time we got to the U.S., to Los Angeles, I was a 10-years old with no languages and no sense of home.
“Coming Home” is a poem that speaks of my connection to Los Angeles, the only place I have ever felt was home to me. It’s where my family lives, where my parents will pass, the city that fed me, nurtured me, toughened me and taught me about love and community.
It’s the place I always long for no matter where I am, no matter where I may be one day.
Chiwan Choi is the author of three books of poetry, The Flood (Tía Chucha Press, 2010), Abductions (Writ Large Press, 2012) and The Yellow House (CCM, 2017). He wrote, presented and destroyed the novel Ghostmaker throughout the course of 2015.
Choi’s poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and magazines including The New York Times Magazine, ONTHEBUS, Esquire.com, and The Nervous Breakdown. Choi is a partner at Writ Large Press< and a member of The Accomplices. He was born in Seoul, Korea, spent his early childhood in Asunción, Paraguay, and now splits his time between Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. He is currently working on a new book, my name is wolf.
Artist Q & A
What does "For the Love of L.A." mean to you?
It means that of all the places I’ve lived in in my life, some by choice, others not, L.A. is the place I always call home. L.A. raised me.
How do you think the work you've created reflects the time we're in?
For me, all spaces (and objects) carry memory, carry life, and both my poem and the accompanying video are attempts on my part to capture that.
What do you think the future looks like? And how do you see the arts contributing to it?
Future always looks bleak as we watch elected officials and corporations working in conjunction to turn L.A. (and other cities) into their own personal playgrounds, into their own cash printing machines.
What places in Los Angeles most inspire you?
Koreatown. Those streets remember me.
Do you have any future projects that you'd like to share with us?
Currently finishing up my new book, my name is wolf, and launching my new paranormal podcast, Are You There, Ghost? It’s Me, Chiwan.
What other projects do you have in the works right now?
Just started mapping out the next trilogy of books (once my name is wolf is done and released) that explores family, the U.S., mythology and self-identity.