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CalArts Hosts Poet Don Mee Choi as its 2024 Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence

CalArts Hosts Poet Don Mee Choi as its 2024 Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence

Don Mee Choi. Photo: Dirk Skiba.

“[Choi’s] writing has showed me that discomfort is neither cruel nor condemnation, but a passageway towards freedom, or towards becoming feral, or freely frayed.”
— Christine Shan Shan Hou, Lit Hub

Valencia, Calif. (Jan. 11, 2024) – The Creative Writing MFA Program of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is pleased to announce critically acclaimed poet, translator, and CalArts alumnx Don Mee Choi (Art BFA 84, MFA 86) as its 2024 Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence

A markedly influential figure in contemporary experimental poetry, Choi combines the visual, the documentary, and the lyrical in her highly acclaimed books. Choi’s Kor-Us Trilogy (Hardly War, DMZ Colony, and the forthcoming Mirror Nation) intertwines her family history with the troubled and complex modern history of South Korea and its long entanglement with the power and ambitions of the United States. Choi has already received some of the highest honors a literary artist can achieve, including the National Book Award for 2020’s DMZ Colony and a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of her work in poetry and in the field of translation, where she’s introduced many English readers to some of the most innovative poets working in South Korea today.

The Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence Program—housed within the MFA Creative Writing Program in the CalArts School of Critical Studies—brings a prestigious writer to CalArts each year for a public reading and meetings with students. Past Katie Jacobson Writers in Residence have included Joy Harjo, Roxane Gay, Kevin Young, Stephen Graham Jones, Samuel Delany, George Saunders, John Keene, and Lydia Davis.

On Thursday, Jan. 18, Choi will give a lecture on the CalArts campus entitled Translation Womb. The lecture will delve into Choi’s award-winning practice as a translator, while discussing her long term work translating prominent Korean poet Kim Hyesoon, and her own first experiences of English.

On Friday, Jan. 19, Choi will take the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT) stage in downtown Los Angeles for a public and live streamed reading, followed by a conversation and book signing. The conversation, curated by GYOPO – a collective of diasporic Korean cultural producers and arts professionals – will feature Choi in dialog with poet and translator Youna Kwak.

Both events will immerse audiences in Choi’s work, expanding understandings of what poetry can do, while challenging readers to experience the many layers of personal and cultural experience called history.

The Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence is made possible by a generous donation from the Jacobson Family.


Don Mee Choi
CalArts Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence 
Translation Womb

Public Lecture and Reception
Thursday, Jan. 18 at 5:30pm
The Bijou Theater, CalArts
24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia, Calif. 91355

Don Mee Choi
CalArts Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence 

Public Reading and Conversation with Youna Kwak, hosted by GYOPO
Friday, Jan. 19 at 8:30 p.m.
631 W 2nd St, Los Angeles, Calif. 90012


California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines, and cultural traditions.

The Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence Program is named in honor of CalArts Creative Writing alumnx Katie Jacobson whose dedication to public literary engagement in Los Angeles was much noted in her lifetime. CalArts is thankful to Katie’s family for their generous donation which enables this yearly series. 

CalArts’ School of Critical Studies brings together internationally recognized writers, poets, scholars, and thinkers working in both new and traditional forms across a wide variety of disciplines, extending from narrative fiction, performance, and multimedia to cultural criticism and political theory. The school offers two graduate programs: the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing Program and the Master of Arts Aesthetics and Politics Program. In both programs, the expertise of Institute faculty is complemented with an extensive series of readings, lectures, workshops, and longer-term residencies by a diverse range of visiting writers, theorists, and artists.

The CalArts MFA Program in Creative Writing is unique in the field of Creative Writing for the way it combines a dedication to experimental practice and a resolutely non-genre tracking curriculum. At CalArts writing is understood as an art form best practiced alongside the other arts. Core Faculty members are Brian Evenson, Carribean Fragoza, Chris Santiago, Gabrielle Civil, Muriel Leung, Janet Sarbanes, Matias Viegener and Anthony McCann.

Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT), CalArts' downtown center for contemporary arts, is a multidisciplinary center for innovative visual, performing, and media arts founded by CalArts in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles. Through performances, exhibitions, screenings, and literary events, REDCAT introduces diverse audiences, students, and artists to the most influential developments in the arts from around the world, and gives artists in this region the creative support they need to achieve national and international stature. REDCAT continues the tradition of the California Institute of the Arts, its parent organization, by encouraging experimentation, discovery, and lively civic discourse. For current program and exhibition information, visit

GYOPO is a collective of diasporic Korean cultural producers and arts professionals generating and sharing progressive, critical, intersectional and intergenerational discourses, community alliances, and free educational programs in Los Angeles and beyond.