Joe Milan Jr. is a second-generation Korean American and taught in South Korea for nine years. An assistant professor of creative writing at Waldorf University, he lives in Forest City, Iowa.
Joe Milan Jr. is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Waldorf University, was the David T.K. Wong Creative Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia, UK, and a Black Mountain Institute and Barrick Ph.D. Fellow of Creative Writing at University of Nevada Las Vegas, USA. He has served as fiction editor at Witness and is an MFA graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He’s American with Korean ancestry and taught in Korea for nine years.
His work has appeared in Literary Hub, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, F(r)iction, LA Review of Books, The Kyoto Journal, and more. Read them online.
What are you working on right now?
Or maybe it’s a reimagining of “Rip Van Winkle,” where “Rip” is a Korean American grandmother succumbing to dementia. Her illness unleashes a life she had worked hard to forget: her life as a North Korean sleeper agent sent to the US. Believing she has been activated, she disappears into rural America to fulfill a long-forgotten mission. Told from her granddaughter’s perspective, Judy, a mixed-race Korean American woman living in Seattle, journeys to find her grandmother from the madness of the past. Melding the spy, immigrant, and political narrative genres, this project is about generational divides and the inherited scars of history.
Where are some of your early work?
You can read some of my early work here.
Tell us about your teaching.
I teach creative writing, literature, and composition at Waldorf University. I taught at UNLV for three years as part of my Ph.D. Before that, I taught at several universities in South Korea for over eight years. If you’re an old student from the Catholic University of Korea, you can look back at some of the good times we had together in class at the old class website.
Who took all those awesome photos of you?
Taufik Bonaedy. Great guy, great eye. Check him out on Facebook.