Tanya Ko Hong’s New Book: “THE WAR STILL WITHIN”

Sunday, March 22, 2020 — 4:30 p.m.

I had the pleasure of being on a poetry panel with Tanya Ko Hong two years ago at the PAMLA conference in Pasadena. Organized by Suzanne Lummis at the behest of Steve Axelrod, the panel focused on the emergence of several communities of poets in Los Angeles as an unexpectedly prolonged renaissance continues to exceed its original expectations. I was fortunate enough to acquire a copy of one of her books, GENERATION 1.5 (1993); the title alludes to challenges encountered and endured by immigrant communities as the first generation’s tumult yields to the second’s withstood assimilation.

Tanya Ko Hong has a new book of poems out, and it well deserves its considerable advance praise from Ellen Bass, Terry Wolverton, Alexis Rhone Fancher, and Molly Bendall.

Acclaim for THE WAR STILL WITHIN: Poems of the Korean Diaspora

“Tanya Ko Hong captures in these spare, elegant poems, a world of cruelty, suffering and survival. Here is beauty juxtaposed with pain so deep it’s almost impossible to put into words. And yet this fine poet does just that. She breaks our hearts with the truth and astonishes us with her compassion.”
— Ellen Bass, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets

“In The War Still Within, Tanya Ko Hong weaves a scarlet thread from Korea to the United States, from World War II to yesterday, from ancient stories to cell phone calls—this blood-soaked thread is the suffering of women and the legacy handed down from mother to daughter, for generations and across continents. These poems invoke exquisite imagery to tell the truth about exploitation, cruelty, betrayal, and displacement. The stories of these women burn themselves into your heart.”
— Terry Wolverton, poet, novelist, and author of 12 books

“Dedicated in part to her long-dead mother and to women who have lost their names, Tanya Ko Hong’s The War Still Within wages its battles in one exquisitely revealing poem after another. The author gives names to the nameless: the Korean comfort women during WWII, as well as women who came after, women who suffered too long in silence, whose sad fate shackled them to lives of quiet desperation. This extraordinary book is for them, and for all of us.”
— Alexis Rhone Fancher, poetry editor of Cultural Weekly and author of five books of poetry

“In The War Still Within, Tanya Ko Hong illuminates dark corners of forbidden territories. She exposes her own history and struggles as a Korean-American woman, and in a searingly frank sequence she writes in the voices of those who were Korean “comfort women” during WWII. She delicately balances a stance that is explicit as well as gorgeously reflective. She vivifies and deepens experience in this dynamic collection. We should follow her lead, follow her call as a way into the future: ‘Tonight my tongue cuts galaxy.’”
— Molly Bendall, author of five books of poetry and professor of English at USC Dornsife

“Listen Carefully as what has been unnamed is named, what has been silenced is spoken, as the war within laid across the page.”
— Alexandra Umlas, author of At the Table of Knowledge

The publication reading, scheduled for March 29, has been postponed because of the embargo on public gatherings.
In the meantime, though, here is a recent video made by POETRY LA, with Mariano Zaro as the interlocutor.

Mariano Zaro interviews Tanya Ko Hong:

Book Review: The War Still Within by Tanya Ko Hong

Three Poems by Tanya Ko Hongo appear in the Cultural Weekly’s poetry column, edited by Alexis Rhone Fancher:

Tanya Ko Hong: Three Poems

안녕하세요. 고현혜 입니다.
여러분 모두께서 안전하시고 평온하시기를 먼저 간절히 바랍니다.
이번에 제 영문시집, The War Still Within 이 나왔는데 여러분과 함께 출판 낭송회를 갖고자 했으나 연기 되었음을 알려드리며 몇가지를 함께 나누고자 합니다.
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시청해 주시고 함께 공유해 주시면 너욱 감사 하겠습니다.