“The first time I heard Chiwan Choi read, I had no idea what to expect. By the time he was done a few minutes later, I was shaken, almost vibrating with the energy of his voice, his line. The poems in his latest, The Yellow House, show that this energy has only intensified over time. There’s a kind of low-key power to his writing that can be casually devastating—a naked, a cappella warbling that can rise, in an instant, to the ecstatic.”
—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science-Fictional Universe
“I have replaced god / with longing,” writes Chiwan Choi in his latest The Yellow House, a phrase that acts more as earthbound apotheosis of survival than it does as mere thesis. Here, Choi recasts the familial legacy of war and displacement, but also of joy and triumph, into a private spiritual kingdom, where “even after the city is destroyed” he writes, “I will touch you on the surface of everything.” This is poetry as preservation, as an unrelinquished archive of ghosts, but mostly, it arrives, to our luck, as a testament of a self earned and re-earned, like how yellowness, caught in its own dizzying light, turns itself golden. This book is golden.
—Ocean Vuong, author of Night Sky with Exit Wounds
“The Yellow House reads like a story collection but moves like an R&B love song, yearning for things. Uncompromising, masterful, and deeply moving, The Yellow House summons ghosts with whispers and tricks of light. “[H]ere is the world” where we age through memories that appear as images on the ceilings, emoting, and taking our breath away. Taking our faith away. A world where we lose pieces of things—sometimes we lose them whole—including ourselves. Choi’s poetry is a melancholy voice that is calling us back to the place we began or began again, asking us to close our eyes, follow the sound, and remember. A stunning tribute to the lost.”
—Natashia Deón, author of Grace
“Chiwan Choi’s The Yellow House does the remarkable work of a love letter in the form of “full memories that wrap fingers around ribs.” Whether the exchange is between an adult and a parent, or between lovers or between one’s own faulty remembrances, each wants and needs the other to lift them from a deep rooted sadness. This is that love letter, a true testament of grief and how to remove that grief. And what parents and lovers offer, despite all that one has had to “file into memory,” is ultimately a testament of love. As readers, we are left in the glow of what The Yellow House has given to us, unafraid of what comes next as we celebrate each page.”
—F. Douglas Brown, author of Zero to Three, winner of 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize
CHIWAN CHOI is the author of 3 collections 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. Chiwan is a partner at Writ Large Press, a downtown Los Angeles based indie publisher, focused on using literary arts to resist, disrupt, and transgress.
Photo Credit: Sean D. Henry-Smith