The Paris Review

Queerness, Cyborgs, and Cephalopods: An Interview with Franny Choi

Franny Choi isn’t done thinking about cyborgs. When we met two weeks before the release of her latest collection Soft Science, she told me she was still discovering AI ideas she wished she could have addressed in her poems. Reckoning with the mythology of a “finished product,” Choi is coming to terms with having a book that is both out in the world and still in progress. The process isn’t easy: as one of Choi’s cyborgs says, questioning reality makes her feel “a / little insecure / a little embarrassed haha.” But to be insecure, or still in progress, should never be mistaken for being incomplete.

Soft Science asks what it means to live as a queer Asian American femme, someone “made a technology for other people’s desire.” How do we distinguish between the constructed pieces that have been imposed on us versus the parts of our identity that we’ve chosen? Are they always distinct? The voice of Soft Science is often corrupting: Choi inhabits colonized language and uses it to her own ends. In the poem “The Cyborg Wants To Make Sure She heard You Right,” Choi runs negative comments directed at her on Twitter back and forth through Google Translate until the language is transformed into something new. By repurposing language, Choi offers up a record of what is happening to our bodies and minds under whiteness and capitalism, and the beginnings of a way forward.

Choi is the co-host of the podcast VS, a member of the Dark NoiseSoft Science Floating, Brilliant, Gone Death by Sex Machine

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