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About this poet

Born to Korean parents on August 7, 1976, Cathy Park Hong was raised in Los Angeles. She studied at Oberlin College before earning an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop.

Hong's most recent poetry collection is Engine Empire (W. W. Norton, 2013). Her debut, Translating Mo'um (Hanging Loose Press, 2002) received a Pushcart Prize. Her second collection, Dance Dance Revolution (W. W. Norton, 2007) was selected for the Barnard Women Poets Prize.

Hong's poetry evokes a sense of split identity and alienation from Anglo-American culture. Cal Bedient, in the Boston Review characterized her writing as "brilliant, feisty, and formidable." A review of her work in Rain Taxi Review of Books described Hong's "meticulously honed, visceral poetic" as "simultaneously beautiful and furiously anti-beautiful," work that "manages to create a space for the irreducibility of meaning."

Hong's awards and honors include a Fulbright Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and a Village Voice Fellowship for Minority Reporters. She teaches at the Queens MFA program in Charlotte, North Carolina. She also serves as editor-at-large for jubilat magazine.

Engines Within the Throne

Cathy Park Hong, 1976
We once worked as clerks

        scanning moth-balled pages

into the clouds, all memories

outsourced except the fuzzy

        childhood bits when


I was an undersized girl with a tic,

they numbed me with botox

        I was a skinsuit

of dumb expression, just fingerprints

over my shamed


        all I wanted was snow

to snuff the sun blades to shadow spokes,

muffle the drum of freeways, erase

        the old realism


but this smart snow erases

        nothing, seeps everywhere,

the search engine is inside us,

the world is our display


        and now every industry

has dumped whole cubicles, desktops,

fax machines into developing

        worlds where they stack

them as walls against


what disputed territory

        we asked the old spy who drank

with Russians to gather information

the old-fashioned way,


now we have snow sensors,

        so you can go spelunking

in anyone's mind,

let me borrow your child


thoughts, it's benign surveillance,

        I can burrow inside, find a cave

pool with rock-colored flounder,

and find you, half-transparent

with depression.

From Engine Empire: Poems by Cathy Park Hong. Copyright © 2012 by Cathy Park Hong. Reprinted with permission of W.W. Norton. All rights reserved.

From Engine Empire: Poems by Cathy Park Hong. Copyright © 2012 by Cathy Park Hong. Reprinted with permission of W.W. Norton. All rights reserved.

Cathy Park Hong

Cathy Park Hong

Born to Korean parents on August 7, 1976, Cathy Park Hong was raised in Los Angeles

by this poet

poem
        Recall the frontier when the business 
of memory booms, when broadbands uncoil 
        and clouds swell with sticky portals, amassing 
        to a monsoon of live-streams. 
        Burn your chattel to keep the cloud afloat
so its tears can freeze to snow. 
        The voice flatlines in this season of
poem
I’mma a two-ton spiker   hips fast rondeau
N’ere more,  nay sayer    feel this orbit rattle
 
Wipe that prattle that spittle   crass pupa
Gupta       away you     ma’ man, 

where you              revolving    solving 
spin shorty            shark   satellitic    fever

Leer not, lyre         I spiral atom
poem
Chang spoke / Eng paused.

Chang threw a beach ball / Eng caught it.

Chang told a white lie / Eng got caught for the lie.

Chang forgot his first language / Eng picked up English.

In letters, Chang referred to themselves as "I" / Eng as "we."

While proselytizing, the preacher asked Chang, "Do you know where