Franny Choi

Franny Choi's picture
  • Play/Screenwriting
  • Poetry
Franny Choi

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Franny Choi is the author of two poetry collections, Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019) and Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014), as well as one chapbook, Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). She was a 2019 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow and has also received awards from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and Princeton University’s Lewis Center. Her poems have appeared in the New York Times, Poetry, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She co-hosts the Poetry Foundation’s podcast VS (it’s pronounced “verses”—get it?) alongside Danez Smith and is currently a Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in English at Williams College.

After graduating from Brown University with a B.A. in Literary Arts and Ethnic Studies, Franny developed her writing practice in community with artists and activists in Providence, Rhode Island, where she was a Co-Director of the award-winning Providence Poetry Slam. In 2012, she joined with fellow artists Fatimah Asghar, Danez Smith, Jamila Woods, Nate Marshall, and Aaron Samuels to found the Dark Noise Collective. She continued her studies at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where she received an MFA in Poetry and a postgraduate Zell Fellowship.

Soft Science was a Rumpus and Paris Review staff pick and received attention from outlets including NPR, the New York Times, and Lit Hub, which called it “profoundly intelligent work which makes you feel.” The speculative fiction magazine Strange Horizons said it “offers fireworks enough for everyone, whether you’re excited about the queerness of cyborgs, the nature of consciousness, or the porous boundaries of contemporary lyric poetry.” Soft Science was named as a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, a Massachusetts Book Award, the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry, and a Believer Book Award. In 2020 Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts awarded her the Theodore H. Holmes ’51 and Bernice Holmes National Poetry Prize.

In addition to outlets such as the New York Times and Paris Review, Franny’s work has also appeared in Ms. Magazine, the NPR show Code Switch, PBS NewsHour’s Brief But Spectacular series, the Angry Asian Man blog, and The Abolitionist, which distributes to over 5,000 incarcerated people. In 2018, her poem “A Guide to Drag Kinging” was set to music by composer LJ White for the piece The Best Place for This; the same year, her poem “Frame” was included in an exhibition of ekphrastic art at the Cassilhaus Gallery in Durham, NC. Her work has been translated into Spanish, Japanese, Greek, and Turkish.

A seasoned performer, Franny has been a finalist in competitions including the National Poetry Slam, the Individual World Poetry Slam, and the Women of the World Poetry Slam. She is a two-time winner of the Rustbelt Poetry Slam and has performed her work in schools, conferences, theaters, and bars across the country. As a teaching artist, Franny has taught students of all ages and levels of experience, both in formal classroom settings and through organizations like Project VOICE and InsideOut Literary Arts Project. A Kundiman Fellow and graduate of the VONA Workshop, she founded the Brew & Forge Book Fair, a fundraising project that brings together readers and writers to build capacity in social justice community organizations. In 2019, she launched the Brew & Forge Lecture Series at Williams College, which puts poets and organizers in conversation with each other to discuss the intersections of activism and literary arts. As a curator, she has worked with organizations including Split This Rock and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and she is particularly passionate about highlighting the voices of queer and trans poets of Asian/Pacific diasporas.

Franny has also authored two plays: Mask Dances, which was produced as part of the 2011 Writing is Live Festival in Providence, RI, and Family Style, which was given several staged readings in Chicago in 2017 and won a Hopwood Award for Drama at the University of Michigan. She was formerly the Senior Editor of News, Politics, and Social Justice at Hyphen Magazine and is currently at work on a collection that blends personal essay and cultural criticism. She lives in Northampton, MA.

Franny Choi's Published Work