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For The Love Of L.A.: Chiwan Choi

FOR THE LOVE OF L.A.

 

For The Love Of L.A. highlights the broad and expansive array of Angeleno creativity across diverse disciplines and geographies. New artists and works of art will be posted every Tuesday. In its first two seasons, For The Love Of L.A. premiered 48 projects while offering artists a platform to express their views of Los Angeles that are relevant and reflective of the current time through music, dance and visual culture.


View other artists

Chiwan Choi

"Coming Home"

coming home from my morning walk i see my father sprinting at full speed his left hand clutching at the purse
he uses to carry his bible and bus pass

his body leaning forward as if
he is trying to break through a wall mom is few yards behind him
as always

her short legs pumping as fast as they can to keep her from losing contact

they are running to the bus stop on 7th and Main headed to some market
that is having a sale
on scallions or pork butt.

they don’t see me
i don’t call to them

we are immigrants a family in motion
touching the surface of continents

that never belonged to us

but i rarely ride the bus with them anymore

the only time i remember from
the past 20 years
is when i rode the 18 bus to virgil and 3rd to see her doctor about her liver failing.

i held her hand on that ride.

*

it has been a beautiful summer, an extended stay
in Los Angeles, my home. the familiarity of the streets and the noise and the tastes and the people,
the people, their brown faces and brown skin and the words that come out of their mouths every day harmonizing.

i call LA my home and it's funny how i catch myself saying it as if i'm lying about it because i wasn't born here
and i don't even have an address here for now.

i say home because it feels right.
i say home because i need to.

there are also my parents who are too busy breaking
to be happy that i've been here every day for almost two months.

today i was at their place in Little Tokyo
and as i watched dad asleep on one chair and mom watching pirated korean drama with the sound off on the other chair,

i wondered whether my home is also aging, breaking,
getting sick.

i have prepared my whole life to say goodbye to my parents.
even if i fail at it when the moment comes, i have prepared for it.

but i don't know how to not say home anymore.

i don't know how to watch the sky above Los Angeles that isn't really blue

die and disappear.

Artist Statement

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.

Biography

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.

FOR THE LOVE OF L.A.

 

For The Love Of L.A. highlights the broad and expansive array of Angeleno creativity across diverse disciplines and geographies. New artists and works of art will be posted every Tuesday. In its first two seasons, For The Love Of L.A. premiered 48 projects while offering artists a platform to express their views of Los Angeles that are relevant and reflective of the current time through music, dance and visual culture.


View other artists

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