Reading & Conversation with E.J. Koh & Truong Tran on Experiments in Truth-Telling, Language & Form (on Zoom) – Dec. 2, 6-8pm

Please join the MFA for Creative Writing and Poetics Cultural Change seminar for a Reading & Conversation with E.J. Koh & Truong Tran on Experiments in Truth-Telling, Language & Form on Zoom.

Please pre-register to receive an e-mail with the Zoom details the day of the event here:

This reading and talk is open to the public and will be recorded. Details below:


Reading & Conversation with E.J. Koh & Truong Tran on Experiments in Truth-Telling, Language & Form (on Zoom), co-sponsored by Kundiman Pacific Northwest

6-8p Pacific time, Thursday, December 2, 2021


E.J. KOH is the author of the memoir The Magical Language of Others (Tin House Books, 2020), winner of the Washington State Book Award, winner of the Pacific Northwest Book Award, longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award, and author of the poetry collection A Lesser Love (Louisiana State University Press, 2017), winner of the Pleiades Editors Prize for Poetry. She is the co-translator of Yi Won’s poetry collection The World’s Lightest Motorcycle (Zephyr Press, 2021). Koh has received fellowships from the American Literary Translators Association, MacDowell, and Kundiman. Her poems, translations, and stories have appeared in AGNI, Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, POETRY, Slate, and elsewhere.

The Magical Language of Others is a powerful and aching love story in letters, from mother to daughter. After living in America for over a decade, Eun Ji Koh’s parents return to South Korea for work, leaving fifteen-year-old Eun Ji and her brother behind in California. Overnight, Eun Ji finds herself abandoned and adrift in a world made strange by her mother’s absence. Her mother writes letters in Korean over the years seeking forgiveness and love—letters Eun Ji cannot fully understand until she finds them years later hidden in a box. As Eun Ji translates the letters, she looks to history—her grandmother Jun’s years as a lovesick wife in Daejeon, the loss and destruction her grandmother Kumiko witnessed during the Jeju Island Massacre—and to poetry, as well as her own lived experience to answer questions inside all of us. Where do the stories of our mothers and grandmothers end and ours begin? How do we find words—in Korean, Japanese, English, or any language—to articulate the profound ways that distance can shape love?

TRUONG TRAN was born in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1969. He is the author of six previous collections of poetry, The Book of Perceptions, Placing the Accents, Dust and Conscience, Within the Margins, Four Letter Words and 100 words (coauthored with Damon Potter). He also authored the children’s book Going Home Coming Home, and an artist monograph, I Meant to Say Please Pass the Sugar. He is the recipient of the Poetry Center Prize, the Fund for Poetry Grant, the California Arts Council Grant and numerous San Francisco Arts Commission Grants. Tran lives in San Francisco where he teaches art and poetry.

Just as the denial of tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones with University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wang Ping at Macalester have made headlines for academic racism targeting Black professors and professors of color, Truong Tran’s book of the other is a timely commentary on the inequities built into the white establishment within academia and beyond. In this provocative collection of poetry, prose, and essays, Tran offers a stunning rebuttal to the idea of anti-Asian racism as a victimless crime—the hiring of a less qualified white man over a teacher of color who has served his public university for years, the performance of racial trauma for a white audience, the bind of racial representation and diversity politics, the daily racist transgressions that occur in events as simple as standing in line at the grocery store. These sharp-eyed experiments in language and form resist the luxury of metaphor to name not only the state of academic violence but the daily injustices one encounters as a queer working-class teacher, immigrant, and refugee. book of the other is written with a compulsion for lucidity that transforms outrage into clarity, an achingly poignant acknowledgment of the estrangement from self forced upon those seduced by the promise of color-blind acceptance, and the step-by-step recollection needed to return to oneself.

from The Convergence Zone is a series of author readings, and artist talks and performances, sponsored by the MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics at the University of Washington Bothell. It brings together sometimes peaceable, sometimes combustible, fronts of discovery and experiment. This series brings to the (virtual) Seattle metropolitan area exciting writers and artists who “cross” and “trans” genres and media. It discusses and performs written arts in an expanded field.

Kundiman creates an affirming and rigorous space where Asian American writers can explore, through art, the unique challenges that face the new and ever changing diaspora. We see the arts as a tool of empowerment, of education and liberation, of addressing proactively the legacy we will leave for our future.The Kundiman Pacific Northwest chapter, led by Jordan Alam and Shankar Narayan, hosts salons, readings and workshops for the Pacific Northwest region. Anyone who self-identifies as Asian American is welcome to join a regional group and their listserve here.


To request disability accommodations or check in with the organizer about access needs, please visit the registration link for this event.

For more information, contact Ching-In Chen (

By Eli Heller (He/Him)
Eli Heller (He/Him) Career Coach