Bao Phi is the author of Thousand Star Hotel, a collection of poems published by Coffeehouse Press earlier this month. The collection is bold in its language for experiences that oscillate between existence and erasure, and it is moving in its mission to challenge the boundaries of solidarity and to refuse neat conceptions of past, present and future. I was grateful to have the chance to speak with Bao about his newest collection, which uses verse to parse through his childhood in the Philips neighborhood of Minneapolis, the complexities of fatherhood in contemporary America, and the politics of Asian America.
The green-eyed monster will try to tell you that other writers will steal your readers. How wrong this monster is! People who read books will read more than one book, and as we all know, writers are readers too. Never forget that.
Water. Poetry. Space. Place. The sublime. If you aren’t familiar with the writer and cultural worker Moheb Soliman’s poetry and way of looking at the Midwest, you’re missing out! Moheb lives in Minneapolis and works at the Saint Paul-based organization Mizna, which produces an Arab American lit journal and film festival.
When Ai-ming surprises me, I suspect that she surprises the narrator—and thus, that the narrator is not just making her up. Because her actions imply thoughts that I can't see and didn't even expect, I develop a theory of mind in relation to those actions; I infer a consciousness, a decision-making faculty, a will. The surprising act doesn't need to have meaning to the reader for it to signal that there's meaning inside the character. Even if we never find out just what makes her tick, we can see that she's freaking ticking!
Writing: it is a work of love. It may or may not result in riches, but the process in itself should be satisfying. Literally there is blood (oh those paper cuts), sweat, and tears as the words find their way into the public ether. So it’s natural to feel the drive to “give up the day job” when going down this path. This is my gentle nudge that it’s better to ease oneself into such a position vs. backing out at a breakneck speed. There’s a life beyond writing, and both are dependent on the other to ensure success.
The Vegetarian, by Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith), tells of an unexpected vegetarian in South Korea and the destruction of her life and family as she turns into a tree. It's told from the perspectives of Yeong-hye's husband, brother-in-law, and sister.
It also employs some exceptional techniques for portraying strong emotion. In particular, we can learn from the brother-in-law's reaction to Yeong-hye's suicide attempt.
The sign of a strong writer is the ability to listen to critiques. In addition to developing thick skin during the publishing process, it’s equally important to be able to discuss your book; to take the necessary critiques and general responses from editors/agents.
As a person who respects the role of any writer, and happily wants to stay in the role of agent, I often get to witness the general anxiety of writers in conference settings, let alone the inbox queries. I recognize it’s hard to put oneself on the line without a sea of emotions attached to one’s book.
While we often talk about the need to accept rejections—to learn from them—it’s equally harder to take the specific reasons (for those rejections) and to look at your manuscript with new lenses. How does one tackle this without sacrificing the spirit of the book?
Well folks, it’s been fun but every internship must come to an end. I’ve eaten copious baked goods, looked behind the curtain of the Twin Cities lit scene, and met dozens of amazing and inspiring artists and arts supporters along the way.
I’d like to thank the Loft for granting me this opportunity, the artists below for sharing their time and thoughts with me, and YOU for reading! Before I go, here’s one last look at some of the talented and passionate folks who are keeping the Twin Cities lit.
In Nnedi Okorafor's novella, Binti, a teenage girl leaves her planet for the first time. It's science fiction and imagines new technology, culture, and ways of thinking. I'm interested in how Okorafor makes us comprehend what is necessarily "beyond" the mental grasp of a contemporary reader.
First, it's not a matter of dumbing down the ideas or making them seem simple. Because if that happened, we would necessarily lose the wonder of it—it would become easy. When the unfathomable is fathomed, it's sort of not unfathomable any more, right?
Block out some time and circle your calendars, summer classes are here! Summer at the Loft is full of vital conversations, creative outlets, and opportunities to connect. Whether this is your first class at the Loft, or you're a regular returning for more, it can be hard to choose from the dozens of options available each season. Don’t worry: I’ve culled the depths of our catalog to create this condensed list of offerings. There really is something for everyone!