- Before each section in Soft Science, there is a piece called “Turing Test” which mimics the experiment that tests how well computers can simulate human speech. Why do you think Choi decided to begin each section with a Turing Test? In what ways is using a cyborg as a narrator for some poems representative of how society views Asians? Women? Poems such as “Making Of,” “A Brief History of Cyborgs,” and “Shokushu Goukan For the Cyborg Soul” seem to commentate on women’s place in society through the lens and body of a cyborg. What do you think Choi was trying to do when she wrote poems in which it is unclear if the speaker is a cyborg or a human? How does that relate to the overall title of “Soft Science?”
- Many of Choi’s poems commentate on women’s roles in society and continue the motif of female pressure to live up to their cultural expectations. Choi discusses gender dynamics in the relationship between the female narrator and whichever male she has interacted with. In what poems do you notice women having to perform for others? (I.E. smile, give in to sex, pose for photographs). What do you think of Choi’s interpretation of these expectations through the medium of poetry? Many of the women in these poems go through a cycle of emotions through their interactions with other people; some yearn for love and understanding, to the point where they find themselves engaging in promiscuous activity, and later experiencing shame (“Jaebal,” “The Price of Rain”). What do you think Choi is saying when she writes poems about female emotion?
- The way poets decide to structure their poems influences meaning. Poems such as “Program for the Morning After” and “Making Of” have very distinct and interesting forms that deviate from the other poems in the beginning of Choi’s collection. Looking at these two poems, in what ways does the form emphasize the overall meaning of those poems? Why do you think Choi decided to utilize multiple forms instead of sticking with the same two or three? What do you think is the meaning of the italicized lines in poems such as “The Price of Rain” and “Afterlife”? Are those italicized portions indicative of the narrator’s inner voice, or something else?
Rebecca’s Reading Questions for October 7th