Cover Photo: On the left is the cover of the book "The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On" against a blue background. It is a bright pink cover with a collage of a river running from a cityscape to the mountains. On the right is a photograph of Franny Choi.
Photograph by Francesca B. Marie/bookcover via Ecco

Franny Choi Believes in a Future After the Apocalypse

Alyssa Lo talks with Franny Choi about their most recent poetry collection ‘The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On,’ poetic forms, and speculative possibilities.

The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On

Soft ScienceFloating, Brilliant, GoneDeath by Sex MachineThe New York TimesThe NationThe Paris Review

Alyssa Lo: is such an evocative title. Could you tell me more about how you arrived at it?

AL: Since this is your third full-length collection—and shoutout to —you’ve been through the editorial process a couple times before. Did anything surprise you during the writing and editorial process this time around, or the publishing process as a whole?

Floating, Brilliant, GoneSoft Science

AL: Based on what you said about these apocalypses happening before, quite a few of the poems in the collection touch upon violence on the Korean peninsula as well as in the United States. For these poems, I’m wondering what the research process looked like. I’m also particularly interested in the “Upon Learning That Some Korean War Refugees Used Partially Detonated Napalm Canisters as Cooking Fuel” sequence.

AL: Looking more specifically at the collection, you’re someone who I think of as an inventive formalist. That’s evident in the palindrome poem “It Is What It Is” and many others in this collection. Could you say a bit about approaching form in relationship to the apocalypse? Was it any different than how you usually think about form?

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AL: Two other poems that I think about a lot are “Field Trip to the Museum of Human History” and “Dispatches from a Future Great-Great-Granddaughter.” Both of them are situated in the future. The former is one I point to a lot as an example of using the speculative to imagine liberated futures. I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on using this genre to create maps for what we can do now in order to build more just worlds.

The DispossessedThe Dispossessed

AL: On this note of future building, the first Witches & Warriors retreat was held this summer. First, congratulations, and could you say more about what that was like, as well as Brew & Forge?

AL: I really love—and have received books from—Brew & Forge! It’s wonderful hearing more about the retreat because it sounds like an incredible space of dreaming “What can we do?” while also allowing these organizers to rest after all the on-the-ground work they’ve been doing.

AL: What advice do you have for writers—people—trying to get through this time, and what have you been doing to take care of yourself during this time?

Alyssa Lo is a poet & writer exploring the expansiveness of language and the speculative as a way to understand the present with work in or forthcoming fromCatapult  and Strange Horizons. Originally from Hawai'i, Alyssa is now based in New York.