posted April 12, 2011

Book of Poetry Explores Korean-American Experience

A book of poetry by Dr. David Cho of the Hope College English faculty explores the experience of life as a Korean-American.

"Night Sessions," published this month by CavanKerry Press of Fort Lee, N.J., follows an earlier volume by Cho, "Song of Our Songs," a chapbook which was published by Finishing Line Press in 2010.  Both are based primarily on Cho's own life as a Chicago-born and - raised child of Korean parents, who immigrated to America in 1971.

Whether writing of his parents, other relatives, his multi-ethnic friends, or other members of community or congregation, Cho seeks to honor and elucidate the past, even as it clashes with the present to form an American hybrid:  the poet himself.  Along the way, he revisits moments of childhood confusion and wonder, of assimilation and tradition, of memory and loss.

"These are well-crafted poems of quiet narratives that reveal a subtle first-person persona whose strength is manyfold," said Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy, who wrote the book's foreword.  An author herself and a member of the English faculty at DillardUniversity in New Orleans, La., she continued, "Cho makes magic of the mundane.  Cho's art is large though quiet with images that linger on affection, sensibility and taste without being overly sentimental."

An assistant professor of English, Cho has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2008.  He has previously had poems published or accepted for publication in journals including "Amerasia," "Many Mountains Moving," "Prairie Schooner," "Theology Today," and, forthcoming, "The American Scholar."

His areas of scholarly interest include late 19th to 20th century American literature; critical theory and theories of cultural nationalism; American ethnic literatures; Asian American literature; postcolonial literatures and theory; contemporary and modern American poetry and fiction; creative writing; and critical pedagogy.  His academic writing includes two forthcoming volumes, "The Resource Guide to John Okada's 'No-No Boy,'" and "Lost in Space:  Alternative Narrative, National and Historical Visions of the Korean American Subject in Select 20th Century Korean American Novels."

Among other honors, Cho was the "Illinois Featured Poet" in "Spoon River Poetry Review" in 2001, received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in 2002 and was nominated for the Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence at the University of Washington-Seattle, from which he holds two graduate degrees.  In the summer of 2010, Yanbian University of Science and Technology (YUST) in China invited him to deliver an address through its esteemed, international "Vision Lecture" series.

Cho completed his BA at the University of Illinois in 1995; an MFA and MA at Purdue University in 1999 and 2001 respectively; and an MAT and Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 2006.  Prior to joining the Hope faculty, he was a Future of American Studies "Seminarian" at Dartmouth University.  He was also previously a member of the faculty at North Park University in Chicago, Ill.; Seattle Pacific University; the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.; and Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind.

"Night Sessions" is available in paperback for $16, and may be obtained through the college's Hope-Geneva Bookstore as well as through other area booksellers.  Located on the ground level of the DeWittCenter, 141 E. 12th St., the Hope-Geneva Bookstore can be called at 800-946-4673 or (616) 395-7833.