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Month: February 2020

How Do You Translate Intergenerational Trauma?

E.J. Koh’s memoir The Magical Language of Others floats stunningly through the abandonment she experienced as a teenager. When she was fifteen, her parents returned home to South Korea for a more lucrative job opportunity, leaving her behind in the United States with her college-going brother. 

Image result for magical language of others ej koh

While away, her mother began writing her letters in “kiddie” diction to accommodate Koh’s then-limited Korean. Some of the letters—reproduced in full in the book—came with small drawings. They offer a part epistolary insight into the family’s dynamics and the incredibly lucid sound of Koh’s mother’s voice. Koh never responded to these missives. In her translator’s note, she writes: “The thought of writing her was unbearable. Korean was a language far from me. I never suspected I would come to it in the end.” 

Koh ventures beyond her own past to that of her ancestors caught in family dramatics and political tragedies of Korean history including the 1948 Jeju Island Massacre. Interspersed, amongst others things, are Koh’s own adventures of culture and language in Japan and her coming to poetry.

I spoke to E.J. Koh about the translation-poetry-memoir remix, living while excavating the troubled past(s), and writing difficult love letters. 

J.R. Ramakrishnan: You’ve obviously been considering your family your whole life. I am wondering about the moment you decided to embark on this memoir. It seems you’ve written about your family in your poetry collection A Lesser Love, but this is a full disrobing in prose, is it not? 

E.J. Koh: Originally, the memoir was a book of translations of my mother’s forty-nine letters. It opened with a translator’s note—a summary of the memoir you’ve read—except it was two pages. I’m grateful that nothing happened the way I had planned. It was obvious to me, at one low moment, the two-page translator’s note must become two hundred pages. I was held back by my own insistence on what I know rather than leaping toward the thing I cannot quite understand. For a person who has a lot of fears, the latter takes enormous courage. Through the years, I was learning and still am learning, how to turn fear into curiosity. I could not leave the reader after two pages, then hope that my mother’s letters might be read with the compassion of what I have learned about our histories, our lives. Today, if you look at the page count of the memoir, it’s almost exactly two-hundred pages.

JRR: You’ve certainly put a lot out there. How have your immediate family responded to the book? 

EJK: In (Hayao) Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, there’s a young girl Chihiro, who is a fumbling, scared child but goes on to do things that she felt she was never capable of doing: she works at a bathhouse, appeases the Gods, rescues her friend from a curse, and returns her family to the human world. In the end, Chihiro goes back home with her parents. Meanwhile, her parents, who have not been aware of these things, still see her as a young girl, and yet there is something comforting in how Chihiro has changed—she knows what she is capable of—yet she remains the same to her family. Maybe I savor the nostalgia of this movie I had watched so often while my parents were gone. I must have thought I would like to be brave one day. But in the end, this memoir and its adventure, all of it comes second to the dailiness of my parents’ singular concerns: “Have you eaten?” “Are you resting?” “When can you come home?” A lot has changed in me, and a lot is the same in me with them. My research in intergenerational trauma shows me that words, stories—they heal across time among the living and the dead. It is a remarkable thing. My family, however, wishes for my wellbeing whether or not I take on such responsibilities.

JRR: In the book, you tell a workshop classmate about your grandmothers: “Whatever I say or do now can give relief to the past—and to them.” How do you think Jun and Kumiko would review your completed memoir?

To give something good, you must’ve lost something good.

EJK: On the road, people from my past, maybe our mothers were friends at the Korean Catholic Church in San Jose, but they would come up to me after a reading and say: Sugo haetsuh (수고했어). This translates into: Good job. But it suggests that I must have been carrying a burden—that these days were not easy. They’re not words of praise as much as they are words of consolation. It’s how we say good job to each other in the Korean. To give something good, you must’ve lost something good. The phrase sugo haetsuh holds those dualities without resisting the other. More than I love you or thank you, somehow, sugo haetsuh can shake me to tears. It’s what I imagine Jun and Kumiko would say to me.

JRR: How did you live while you composed the memoir? The excavation not just of your personal history but the trajectories of the mothers in your story is very brutal (and beautiful, but definitely brutal) to read. How did you hold on to yourself and the present while doing it? 

EJK: I overheard my brother talking to somebody who had asked a similar question about the breadth of the memoir, and he said, nodding, “But it’s not everything.” The memoir feels like a lot, but I’d agree that it’s not everything. The memoir is a single, knife-like shard of a larger piece of our family and history. It doesn’t follow how my father’s side of the family continued to escape persecution—the militarization in South Korea in the everyday and the experience of compulsory military service. Or my high school days in Davis, in my history class, when I had interrupted the teacher and absurdly and violently threatened to kill a boy to stop him from bullying me about my small eyes, and then was sent to the principal’s office.

There are worse things, and things, not so bad in the memoir. But my work is in studying the language we use for trauma—the language that stays in our families as it travels through generation after generation. I’m often asked the question, how do I live at all? When can I find any time to be happy? You might be surprised to hear this—how wonderfully serene I feel most of the time. It wasn’t like that at first. Though it seems like I read and write about the saddest things and speak to those with the saddest stories, the thing we always come back to is love. When I am studying about trauma, I am also studying about love—about care in the everyday, forgiveness and letting go, and these things give me a sense of life. Even for the most brutal chapters in the memoir, there are edges of light—certain love and care. If I only see brutality, then it feels impossible. Seeing beyond it, then everything feels like it must be done.

JRR: You write: “In the letters, I heard her voice, closer than it felt over the phone.” Your mother is so alive in her letters and little drawings. Would you talk about this a little? Do you write real letters to anyone yourself? Do you ever get any? 

When I am studying about trauma, I am also studying about love—about care in the everyday, forgiveness and letting go.

EKJ: There were two ways to reach my mother—through a phone mounted on the kitchen wall or reading her letter in the mailbox outside. Through the phone, I must have felt as though I were performing as her daughter: “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I love you, and I miss you.” Whereas, through her letters, she could reach me on the inside—in the place that was hurting and alone. Today, I write love letters to strangers every week. It’s the one thing I feel that I am able to give to somebody else. When asked by others if they can write back to me, I ask them to challenge themselves by writing it to somebody else. Maybe it is the hardest person to write a love letter to. Maybe they need it the most from you. 

JRR: So very much to ask about language and translation! But I’ll keep it to one question about the part in your book that especially moved me: 

At once the road became vivid and Kumiko recognized her father: 

(Road) (Father) (Road)

I suppose we’re always reading ourselves into other people’s books. Last week, I saw a dead corpse on a highway. It looked so casual, covered up. It took me back to when I was very young and I witnessed my father’s death on a beach. 

You use of your mother’s translation’s parentheses for the first time in a long time (in the course of the book) felt so significant in the stopping of time that happens when you see such things. Could you talk a little about these particular parentheses and how you shaped this extremely intense scene and revelation of what happened to your grandmother’s dad?

EJK: I am noticing that I don’t switch gears from poetry, translation, and prose. This may change in the future. But when I move on to something new, the mode I’m in is still multi-modal. Poetry, translation, prose are simultaneous events in my work. Over time, the genres have become less significant to me. But they remain significant to those that accept and choose the genre of my work by its most obvious qualities—to metabolize it into literature, or as they say, “Literature with a capital ‘L.’” The way rigidity resembles death, fluidity resembles life. Plants are this way. Our bodies are this way. Then too, our minds, our creations.

The stoning of my great-grandfather in the Jeju Island Massacre was visually and spatially translated using parentheses: (Road) (Father) (Road). The poetry is in the two words and how each word changes in its relationship with and proximity to each other—a sort of transubstantiation. There is a road. There is a father. The father becomes the road. They stoned him over days, and we feel it in the poetry of these words. The prose is the event. There is a narrative, rather than a singular moment, that erupts in a sequence. He had come down from the mountain to see if his neighbors and friends were safe, but he was captured in a demonstration for the islanders, then stoned over days until he became the road. Though it’s an oversimplification of the shape and process, these things are happening simultaneously and across intersections. Yet it cannot be complex enough to say what sort of heartbreak it was to my grandmother and still is to our family. 

The post How Do You Translate Intergenerational Trauma? appeared first on Electric Literature.

Drop a comment below if you’ve discovered anything cool for writers!

Having trouble viewing the text? You can always read the original article here: How a Marketing Podcast Gives Brands a Human Voice

Can a podcast lend an important human voice to our otherwise robotic digital brands? Here’s what the data says. A website has some limitations when it comes to growing your brand. A website has to wait until someone comes to visit. It’s like that kid always hoping someone will sleep over. You can’t send it […]

The post How a Marketing Podcast Gives Brands a Human Voice appeared first on Conversion Sciences.

What’s the most intriguing writing tip you’ve uncovered from this post?

It’s been a light blogging month. We’ve been dancing around getting the final plans, financing, and contractors set up for the work we’re doing on the Dublin house and then heading off for our first actual vacation in almost 5 years. But, I wrote half of this answering a question on mailop, so I may as well polish and publish.

What is FCrDNS

FCrDNS stands for Full Circle reverse DNS or Forward-Confirmed reverse DNS. It means that if you do a DNS lookup on the domain in a reverse DNS lookup than that domain will point back to the original IP. The name actually comes from the fact that if you start with the IP address and go through the hostname, you get a full circle.

Image illustrating the full circle from connecting IP to hostname and back to the connecting IP using rDNS and DNS queries

The reason FCrDNS is a thing is because any IP address owner can assign any domain to the rDNS of an IP address. They are in complete control and there are no technical checks that the hostname be a domain they own. Anyone could assign their IP a rDNS of, or or to their IPs. And, in fact, lots of spammers did just this, assigning domains to their IPs that they didn’t own.

Why do we care about FCrDNS?

Spammers lie, a lot. The did all sorts of things to avoid being blocked. Stealing legitimate domain names in their rDNS was one of those. They’d set up their IPs forging known domains as a way to try and get around some filters. Receiving systems figured this out pretty quickly. They started doing FCrDNS checks to verify that the person managing DNS for that IP space also manages DNS for the domain space. The underlying idea, is that if the IP points to a hostname and that hostname points back to the same IP, then everything is under control of the same entity.

FCrDNS is a method of deciding whether or not the IP address is legitimately being used by the domain in the rDNS entry. FCrDNS is a way to verify the identity of the connecting IP. If the rDNS doesn’t match, then it’s much more likely that the mail is coming from an illegitimate source. 

What should have a FCrDNS?

Basically, any time you set up rDNS on an IP address it’s good practice to give the corresponding hostname an A record. For IP sending outgoing mail, this is one of those expected best practices. There’s an IP address with a rDNS of a single hostname and the hostname points back to the IP address. That IP uses the same hostname to introduce itself during the SMTP transaction. Certainly when I’m looking at IP addresses and domains and EHLO values I do check to see if everything matches.

But. Not every hostname has to have a single A/AAAA record. A single hostname can point to multiple IPs:

DNS output showing pointing to 8 different IP addresses in

A single IP can also point to many different hostnames or no hostnames at all. In fact spot checks show me that none of the IP addresses in the example above actually have a rDNS set up.

;    IN  PTR

The ability of an IP to point to many hostnames and a hostname to point to many IPs complicates completing the circle. Anyone verifying FCrDNS on an IP with multiple PTR records needs to do multiple DNS lookups for the verification step. Lookups can quickly get out of hand if each of the domains in the PTR has multiple IPs then there’s even more DNS work.

These technical and practical realities are why we can only recommend that an IP sending mail have FCrDNS, we can’t require it. And, in fact, not all outgoing mail servers do have it.

image showing one of's outgoing IP addresses ( does not have FCrDNS.

FCrDNS is a hack to link an IP address to a domain. That’s all it’s there for. You set it up if you can, and should probably expend some effort to do so for dedicated outbound servers, particularly those sending bulk mail. But, no, your 5321.from domain doesn’t need to point to an IP simply so you can check this box

What’s the most intriguing book website you’ve recognized this week?

human-centered marketing

In my new book, I propose a Marketing Rebellion — a movement toward human-centered marketing.

It is a vast book with lots of ideas. The idea of shifting your focus from technology to something more customer-centered and personal might seem overwhelming but taking that first step does not have to be difficult.

Customers have the accumulated knowledge of the human race in the palm of their hands. They can connect to vast tribes instantaneously and they are in control. They don’t want to be interrupted or intercepted. They’re skipping your ads, blocking your spam, discarding piles of unopened direct mail waste.

They demand marketing on their terms. Human terms.

There are a few simple things that almost anybody can do to begin …

1. Stop doing what people hate

As a consumer, you’re probably sick of marketing that annoys you and interrupts you. Look at your own company. Are you doing things that people hate?

Stop it. Right now.

Just stop annoying and interrupting people and you are taking a giant leap forward toward respecting them.

2. Get out of the office

My teacher and mentor Peter Drucker advised us that 75 percent of your meetings should be with your customers (either internal or external).

Especially as a marketer, your job is to be out among your customers understanding their needs and translating this into valuable new products and services.

A startling story from the book was a Martin Lindstrom account about asking 5,000 marketers if they had visited a customer in the last year and 19 raised a hand.

That is why our profession has become sick.

Get out of the office and meet with customers.

3. Be an observant consumer

The simplest exercise is to think about what you love about your favorite customers. How do they engage with you? What creates the emotional bond between you and the product?

To be a good marketer, be an observant consumer. When you see a company doing something great that you love, think about how you can translate that to your own business.

4. Show up

I speak, teach, and consult but I also do a lot of personal coaching for small businesses and entrepreneurs. As I review the sites of even one-person businesses, it’s amazing to me how difficult it is to find a photo of a real person, much less a video.

Everyone knows that business is built on relationships with people that we know to be warm and competent. Why don’t we extend that to our own web and social media presence? Look at your own web presence. Where are the faces, the smiles, the heart, the passion?

If you’re successful at business, it’s probably because people like and trust you. Is that how you’re showing up online or do you have stock photos of fake people?

It seems so simple — human-centered marketing means you show up.

Human-centered marketing — There’s no choice

Take one small step toward this human-centered marketing movement today. At one point or another, you’ll have to stop obsessing over technology and get back to the human roots of marketing.

Why? You have no choice. This is the way the world is moving, this is what customers demand … and the customers always win.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration courtesy

The post How to take your first step toward human-centered marketing appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

Why Jane Austen Is Still So Adaptable And Relevant | Writer’s Relief

Why Jane Austen Is Still So Adaptable And Relevant | Writer’s Relief

With another adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved classic Emma expected soon in theaters, it seems the author’s insights into human nature are still relevant today. According to an article Writer’s Relief found at There are the same social pressures. There are class divisions and we’re having these invisible wars on the Internet. I don’t think humans are changing that much.

Read more to find out why, if she were alive in 2020, our favorite heroine Emma would be the queen of social media.


What’s the most interesting writer tip you’ve found from this post?

Do you want a competitive edge in your marketplace? Are you using LinkedIn to research your competitors? In this article, you’ll learn how to use LinkedIn to gather valuable insights about your competitors and use what you learn to grow your own business. Why You Should Research Your Competitors on LinkedIn There are many benefits […]

The post How to Use LinkedIn for Competitor Research appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.