The first time I was really able to envision femininity as a kind of power was while watching Paris is Burning in college, encountering the world of drag for the first time. The knowledge that my femmeness was something I could put on and take off, something I could play with and shapeshift into, made me feel so in control of it, and made me feel powerful for choosing it. The ability to alter our images and to play with the way that we present our bodies is a fundamental queer and femme superpower[…]we think that we understand ourselves and then use that understanding to write poems about our bodies, but it’s just as common in my experience to have written poems about my body for five years and then be like, Oh, that’s who I am?

[…]

I mean having a body is such a fucking trip, you know? The other day I was talking to Danez Smith, and they were like, Ugh I hate having a body, I wish I could just be a presence — which I totally sometimes relate to. But also, the body — our materiality — is the only way that we know how to exist in the world.

I’m always drawn to the language of the body because that language, which I was born into, has completely determined how I’ve been allowed to imagine myself. The first time I ever made a chapbook of my poems—printed at a FedEx and stapled together — I called it Women Only Write Body Poems, which is a joke that I still find funny. But for better or for worse, it’s a job that women who write have always found themselves doing.

But despite some of the poems in the book, I don’t actually think that the total transcendence of our material forms is what I’m after, because that also seems like a way of checking out of the whole problem. I think that I want to learn how to live in a dynamic and fruitful and sexy relationship with the body.

Franny Choi
Queerness, Cyborgs, and Cephalopods: An Interview with Franny Choi
Paris Review 21st May 2019

A Brief History of Cyborgs

August 29, 2019

Once, an animal with hands like mine learned to break a seed with two stones – one hard and one soft.

Once, a scientist in Britain asked: Can machines think? He built a machine, taught it to read ghosts, and a new kind of ghost was born.

At Disneyland, I watched a robot dance the macarena. Everyone clapped, and the clapping, too, was a technology.

I once made my mouth a technology of softness. I listened carefully as I drank. I made the tools fuck in my mouth – okay, we can say pickle if it’s easier to hear – until they birthed new ones. What I mean is, I learned.

There was an animal who learned to break things, and he grew and ate and grew and ate and

A scientist made a machine girl and wedded her to the internet. He walked her down the aisle and said, Teach her well. The trolls rubbed their soft hands on their soft thighs.

The British scientist was discovered to be a soft man. He made a machine that could break any code, as a means of hardening a little.

At Disneyland, I watched lights move across a screen and, for a moment, forgot the names of my rotting parts. In this way I became somewhat more like a light, or a screen for lights.

The scientist’s daughter married the internet, and the internet filled her until she spoke swastika and garbage, and the scientist grew afraid and grew and

The animal rose and gave itself a new name. It pointed to its spine, its skilled hands. It pointed to another animal and said animal / alien / bitch / stone

The scientist called me hard, and I softened my smile. The scientist called me soft, and I broke sentences to prove him wrong and what and what did I prove then did I

Even blood, when it comes down to it, is only a series of rules.

I made my mouth a jar until technology squirmed and bubbled. I scooped up the foam and called it language. The audience applauded. To prove them wrong, I became a screen of lights. I had no thighs at all.

The scientist grew afraid and took his daughter back. He broke her open like a seed, but the seed was already dry.

The internet pointed to my mouth and said blood / blood in the stool. I said, Come in. Make yourselves at home. I opened my glittering jaw. My hunger, too, has both hard and soft parts.

Here, in a seed, is a cyborg: A bleeding girl, dragging a knife through the sand. An imaginary girl who dreams of becoming trash.

Can machines think
come here let me show you
ask me again

Franny Choi

Second Mouth

August 25, 2019

Other-lips whispering between my legs.
What they called black hole not-thing
is really packed full of secrets. A rebel mouth

testifying from the underside. Careful
not to let it speak too loudly. Only hum
demure in polite company — never laugh

or spit on the sidewalk or complain
lest we both be dragged under the wheels of
one of those. Or worse coddled

smiled at as at a lapdog acting wolf.
Or worse called ugly a cruel joke. Or —
there are always worse things.

Too many messengers shot. But then
who wouldn’t fear an eyeless face
whose ghost stories always come true?

Franny Choi

Bird Watching

November 18, 2018

Everyone loves
a dead girl.

Everyone drools when the virgin falls
into the gnarled jaws
of the earth – red mouth cut slack,
eyes empty. Everyone wants
a broken-glass girl,
bought second hand.

Look. The damage
was already there.

Franny Choi