All Things Diode


Join us in welcoming new Diode intern Chi Kyu Lee.

Chi Kyu is a poet born and raised in Seoul. He recently graduated from Cornell University with a major in English and a minor in Arabic. He will be attending the MFA program at the University of Minnesota starting this fall. He is crazy about languages (make him practice Arabic or ASL!) and anything queer. He loves to read Asian-American, Arab-American, and Arabic literature.


Diode: What are some major themes of your work?

Chi Kyu: Queerness, race, religion, intercultural dialogue (especially between the US, Korea, and the Arab world, often through travel narratives), and family are some major themes of my work.

D: Which artists/writers inform your work?

C K: Alice Fulton and Michael Prior (my instructors); Ocean Vuong, Chen Chen, Eduardo C. Corral, and other modern and contemporary Queer poets have influenced me.

D: What are you currently reading?

C K: I'm currently reading Ahlem Mosteghanemi's The Bridges of Constantine which I highly recommend!

Watch this space this summer for posts from Chi Kyu! 🖊️

Bina Ruchi Perino & Dorothy Chan discuss titling books & poems, deadlines, art crushes, writing advice, & more for The Boiler.

From the interview:

Bina Ruchi Perino: What is a favorite piece of advice from a mentor of yours? How did it help you with your writing?
Dorothy Chan: Everything my poetry dad, Norman Dubie has ever told me. He is everything.
Here’s a piece of his advice that will help everyone (paraphrased): I remember the first day of Norman’s workshop, the first day of the MFA at Arizona State. He told us to stay healthy, to eat well, and to limit our drinking. He said it was important to stay healthy because staying healthy also ensures good poetry and longevity of career.
I always think about Norman’s advice. The poetry world can feel so competitive sometimes, but it’s also important to keep the big picture in mind, in more ways than one. So, it’s important to stay healthy. If you’re not healthy, you can’t write your best poems. You can’t organize full-length collections. You can’t keep a clear, calm, and steady mind.

Read the full interview at The Boiler!

From Matthew Duffus:

The epigraph to Ricky Ray’s stunning debut, Fealty, comes from William Stafford’s The Answers Are Inside the Mountains: Meditations on the Writing Life: “The earth says have a place, / be what that place requires.” These lines emphasize two of Ray’s major themes—the importance of the natural world and humanity’s attempts to live up to this world’s majesty. Divided into three lengthy sections, Fealty includes poems dedicated to or in conversation with many other poets, including Wendell Berry (one of the book’s dedicatees), Czesław Miłosz, and C.D. Wright, among others. As is often the case when prominent poets are named in a younger poet’s work, these are indications of Ray’s influences. Even more, however, as the book goes on and the names accrue, they become aspirational figures as well. If Ray continues to build on this collection’s heights, he will one day find himself named among the above figures in a future debut poet’s work.

Read on at Valparaiso Poetry Review Spring/Summer 2020: Volume XXI, Number 2

About the Collection

In Ricky Ray's debut collection, Fealty, the world quickly reveals itself as more complex and mysterious than we imagined. In poems surreal, feral, visceral, and yet tender, moving, and wise, Ray guides us through themes of love, death, animism, fidelity, belonging, and care. There is something of the ancients in his consciousness, which continually reminds us that we not only inhabit the earth, but are movements of the earth itself. Ray's connection to creatures great and small feels elemental; dog and dandelion stand beside man and mountain in the light. His eco-poetics, reminiscent of Wendell Berry and Joy Harjo, carries the dark passion of duende and the rhythmic swing of jazz manouche. All told, Ricky Ray is a modern-day mystic, and Fealty is a series of startling visions capable of inducing a more intimate kinship with the world.

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