Much of her work includes mixed language and serialized narrative.
Hong, a child of Korean parents, was raised in Los Angeles, California.
She is a graduate of Oberlin College and has an MFA from Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has received a Fulbright Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship.
Hong's books of poems include Translating Mo'um, published by Hanging Loose Press in 2002, Dance Dance Revolution, published by W. W. Norton in 2007, and Engine Empire, published by W. W. Norton in May 2012.
Her poems are forthcoming or have appeared in A Public Space, Paris Review, Poetry, Web Conjunctions, jubilat, Chain, among other journals. She has also written articles for publications like The Village Voice, The Guardian, Christian Science Monitor and New York Times Magazine. In 2002, she won a Pushcart Prize for Translating Mo'um and in 2007 she won the Barnard Women Poets Prize.
Dance Dance Revolution was Hong's second book, published in 2007 by W.W. Norton. It is a collection of poems, written in a style that encompasses "code-switching", or the mixture of several languages, such as English, Spanish, French and Korean, and spoken extremely informally with the inclusion of slang. The story takes place in an imaginary place called "The Desert", a luxurious place where people of different origins and languages mingle, causing a blend of languages that form into a dialect known in the book as "Desert Creole". The narrator of Dance Dance Revolution is the Historian, who travels to the Desert to find the woman who her father once loved. "The Guide", a character in the story who acts as the tour guide to the Historian, is that woman. Most of the poems in the book are told from The Guide's point of view, characterized by the Guide's mixture of languages and point of view, with narration of the Historian, which is characterized by the Historian's use of standard English. The Guide uses the poems to talk about her life in the Desert as well as her past during the Kwangju Revolution, when she lived in South Korea before she moved to the Desert.
When asked about the unusual language in the book, Hong commented, "As far as the language, I was reading a lot of linguistic theory at the time, particularly on this idea of Creole as a language that is in transition. French, for instance, was a Creole of Latin before it became the "official" language. English is always in transition, although the Standard version is more likely to be frozen in its glass cube. But spoken, English is a busy traffic of dialects, accents, and slang words going in and out of fashion. Slang is especially fascinating. I love outdated slang dictionaries—these words are artifacts that tell you the mindset and squeamish taboos of a certain milieu during a certain time period. I wanted the English in the book to be a hyperbole of that everyday dynamism of spoken English."
Hong's first book, Translating Mo'Um, won the Pushcart Prize. Her second book, Dance Dance Revolution, won the Barnard Women Poets Prize in 2006.
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