Erin Kong

Erin Kong photo by Ceci Cruz

Erin Kong: Bridging Diaspora, Trauma, and Storytelling

Erin Kong is a second-generation Korean-American storyteller and scholar whose work explores the intricate and often poignant intersections of diaspora, death, and what they playfully refer to as “daddy issues”—a reflection on intergenerational trauma with a touch of alliterative humor. Their unique voice and perspective have established them as a compelling figure in contemporary literature and performance arts.

Early Life and Influences

Growing up as a second-generation Korean-American, Erin Kong’s formative years were deeply influenced by the rich cultural tapestry of their heritage. The complexities of navigating between two worlds—their ancestral Korean roots and their American upbringing—shaped much of their early experiences and continue to inform their work. This duality is a central theme in their storytelling, offering a nuanced exploration of identity, belonging, and the intergenerational echoes of trauma.

Academic and Creative Journey

Kong’s academic pursuits have been driven by a desire to understand and articulate the nuances of diaspora and its impact on identity and family dynamics. Their scholarly work delves into themes of loss, memory, and the multifaceted nature of cultural inheritance. This intellectual foundation provides a robust framework for their creative endeavors, allowing them to blend scholarly insight with emotive storytelling.

In recognition of their contributions to the arts, Erin Kong was awarded the 2023 Phoenix Artist’s Grant. This prestigious grant has enabled them to further explore and expand their artistic projects, solidifying their place as an influential figure in the Phoenix arts community.

“War Brides”: A Staged Exploration of History and Identity

In their debut play, “War Brides,” Erin Kong presents a powerful narrative that intertwines personal history with broader historical contexts. The staged reading of “War Brides,” produced by Binary Theatre Company, marked a significant milestone in their career. The play delves into the experiences of Korean women during and after the Korean War, shedding light on the often-overlooked stories of resilience and survival.

Through “War Brides,” Kong examines the lingering effects of war and displacement on subsequent generations, bringing to the fore the emotional and psychological landscapes shaped by such profound historical events. Their ability to weave personal and historical narratives underscores their talent for storytelling and their commitment to amplifying marginalized voices.

Debut Poetry Collection: “korean mourning rituals”

Erin Kong’s debut poetry collection, “korean mourning rituals,” is a poignant exploration of grief, memory, and cultural rites. Available on Amazon, this collection delves into the rituals and traditions surrounding death in Korean culture, offering readers a deeply personal and evocative journey through loss and remembrance.

The poems in “korean mourning rituals” are characterized by their lyrical beauty and emotional depth, capturing the essence of mourning and the ways in which cultural practices shape and express grief. Kong’s poetry not only honors their heritage but also provides a universal reflection on the human experience of loss, making their work resonant with readers from diverse backgrounds.

Co-Founder of Desert Diwata

In addition to their individual achievements, Erin Kong is a co-founder of Desert Diwata, an organization dedicated to honoring radical Asian-American creation. Desert Diwata serves as a platform for Asian-American artists to showcase their work and engage in collaborative projects, fostering a vibrant and supportive community.

Through Desert Diwata, Kong has helped to create spaces where Asian-American voices can thrive, challenging stereotypes and pushing the boundaries of traditional artistic expression. The organization’s mission aligns with their own artistic philosophy, emphasizing the importance of representation and the transformative power of art.

Navigating the Digital Landscape

Erin Kong embraces the digital landscape as a means of connecting with a broader audience and sharing their work. Their website,, serves as a hub for their creative projects and scholarly pursuits, offering visitors a glimpse into their multifaceted world. Additionally, their Instagram account, @erin.kong, provides a more personal and interactive platform where they engage with followers, share insights, and promote their latest work.

Challenges and Triumphs

Kong’s journey as a storyteller and scholar has not been without its challenges. Navigating the often-overlapping worlds of academia and creative arts requires resilience and a willingness to confront difficult truths. Their exploration of intergenerational trauma, for instance, necessitates a deep dive into personal and collective pain, a process that can be both cathartic and daunting.

Despite these challenges, Kong’s work is marked by a sense of triumph and empowerment. Their ability to articulate complex emotions and experiences with clarity and compassion has garnered them recognition and respect within the literary and artistic communities. Each poem, play, and project they undertake is a testament to their dedication and their belief in the power of storytelling to heal and transform.

Looking Forward

As Erin Kong continues to evolve as an artist and scholar, their future projects promise to further explore the themes that have defined their work. They remain committed to amplifying marginalized voices and creating spaces for diverse narratives to be heard. Whether through their poetry, plays, or collaborative efforts with Desert Diwata, Kong’s work will undoubtedly continue to inspire and resonate with audiences.

Their upcoming projects include a second poetry collection and a series of essays on intergenerational trauma and diaspora, which they hope will contribute to the ongoing dialogue on these critical issues. Additionally, Kong is working on a new play that explores the intersection of mental health and cultural identity, further pushing the boundaries of their storytelling.


Erin Kong’s work stands at the intersection of personal narrative and collective history, offering a powerful exploration of diaspora, trauma, and identity. Their contributions as a poet, playwright, scholar, and community leader reflect their commitment to storytelling as a means of connection and transformation. Through their creative and scholarly endeavors, they continue to bridge cultural divides and bring to light the stories that shape our understanding of ourselves and each other.

Their journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of art to illuminate, heal, and inspire. As they forge ahead, Erin Kong remains a vital voice in the landscape of contemporary literature and performance, leaving an indelible mark on the world of storytelling.

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