Full House Lit Mag

Coven Poetry, Unpublishable Zine, and Grace Lau

May 14, 2021 Full House Lit Mag Season 1 Episode 20
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this podcast, we begin looking at Coven Poetry and their latest issue. We then chat to Unpublishable Zine and about their journal. We finish off by chatting to  Grace Lau about the release Grace's newest poetry collection, and practices as a writer. 

Leia  0:10  
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Full House podcast. So we've got some fantastic guests in Part A and Part B. And we're also going to be looking at the brilliant Coven and their issue, the most recent issue. So we're going to dive straight into looking at Coven. So Coven poetry is an online literature and art journal, that seeks to give space to the innovative and experimental, we're particularly interested in work that is ecologically aware, explores process as ritual and mythology and crafts. So they're looking for some quite experimental pieces and really explorative pieces really. And Coven particularly aims to highlight the works and voices of those from marginalized groups. It is edited by the wonderful EP Jenkins, and the most recent issue is fantastic. So I've got lots of stand out pieces. This is definitely one to have a read of, because it's fantastic. And visually, it's fantastic as well. So the first piece I absolutely loved comes from Nathan Anderson. And entitled (Clippings) On Rails, in brackets. It's a really fantastic piece. It's not particularly long, and it's quite, you know, simple, but it's, oh it's fantastic. So the first line is, I dress only in nudity, and I thought was such a fantastic line, it's not the sort of thing that I've read before, because it's such a contrasting image. And it's not something that, you know, traditional, you know, in the presentation in that way. So I really loved that first line, it really pulled me in instantly, and then the rest of the piece is so smooth, and it flows so well. So many interesting little segments and gems. And then the last one's really cool as well. So it goes parenthesis, parenthesis. And as I say, it's not a particularly long piece. But yeah, this is one of my print out pieces, I'd love to print out and just have it as a postcard or something and just stick it on the wall in a little gorgeous frame or, you know, put in my wallet or something and carry it around with me, it's a fantastic piece. It was the perfect example of something that pushes boundaries and such as simple like effortless way, it looks like you know, so easily done, but obviously, there's a lot of thought that's gone into it. So a really fantastic piece. And there's a few other pieces, actually, by Nathan Anderson, there's two more pieces that have that same clippings bracket. So obviously part of the series here, and they're equally as really engaging, there's just something about our first piece that really stuck out to me, but all the pieces are really cool. And then another piece I really enjoyed comes from Michele Beck. And this just takes you on a journey like this takes your eyes your mind on you know, a roller coaster, it's so cool as you move up and down and side to side. And I love pieces like this that really engage with you, it's not just you won't get lost, you know, in the thick density of this piece or anything like that you're constantly being engaged, which is something I really enjoy in my reading. So it starts "Once, when I was seven, I stood on a cooker ring, moments after it had been turned off." And again, such a you know, visually strong and really destroying general opening sort of line that really pulls you in. And then this piece definitely plays around with formula in the way that you know, lines are formatted and, and the way that shape is played around with is really cool. I just I love that there's parts that sort of descend words that descend down and against the shapes that have created a fantastic and it's like a jungle gym for my eyes for my mind. And I think it's really good. I've gone back and read this piece so many times now. And it's still, you know, just as fun as it was the first time when I read I mean, the content, the content is absolutely fantastic, as well. And it's a good example of a form of language working pretty well together. Nothing is lost. You know, by the really exciting form and shape, the language is still good. So they work in perfect harmony, really, and it's a fantastic piece. And then the wonderful Nora had some fantastic pieces. So the first one is Hands Space Face, which seems to be set in a sort of COVID or you know, post-COVID landscape really about like distancing, potentially, of you know, it's not about that it definitely reads as if it could be very relevant to now the last line being "keep the distance" and it starts with "every face is beautiful through a glass, we touch palms, breathe onto breath, eyes watching eyes" and there's a real sense of separation and of I guess loneliness in this piece.

And you know, I think it could be applied into lots of different contexts but you know now particularly it does ring ready true for you know, a lot of people have gone through this sort of, you know, connection through glass or through screens. And yeah, I think he's a really relevant piece. And as I say, it could be applied to different situations, which is really interesting about it. And for me, I read it as sort of like a, you know, a piece that really works well within this COVID sort of landscape, and really I think it's quite evocative of that. And then the next piece is called Mummy. And this is a fantastic piece, really, really, really strong. You know, it can be read, you know, side by side, or it can be right downwards in like columns. I've read it both ways. Like I really enjoy it both ways. And the, you know, technical bit is this bit at the bottom. I just love it, because it can be read sort of as "my mom or mummy or Mum, my" and I just think it's such an interesting way of playing around. It's such a simple, you know, word, but I've never seen it played around like that before, and the form works really well of these, you know, separating segments. I absolutely love it. And all the different phrases are so interesting. So, for example, "wrap scarf, a tug to claws gristle, it blinks, hold it a voice" this is really short, individual sort of words, but they're so impactful, especially when you know, you read this piece out, you're reading on the page, it sounds so strong as well. But when you read it out, these words really do come alive. And they've just got so much sort of impact behind them, and it works so well as a piece and I remember seeing this posted on Twitter, and I just absolutely loved it. And it was fantastic. And I completely understand why you know, it's in this recent issue of Coven. I also really like Nikki Dudley's pieces. They're sort of like screenshots or like pictures of books that have like a physical copy of a book that has words, blacked out, like scribbled out in black pen. So it's sort of creating like a found piece, and like a blackout, blackout poetry type of thing. And it's really, really interesting, I think it's, you know, I've seen this, you know, done with newspapers and that so often, but not really, with books. So this definitely offered something that was a bit different to, you know, the usual thing I was seeing. I especially like this last one called No Longer is really small, really short, but it's really cool. And I like the way that the bits are blocked out sort of go with the bits that aren't blocked out. And I just really like the innovation behind this and you know, using what you have, just pick up a book next to you and see what you come up with and what words you know really pop when they're when they're, you know, put to the forefront. I think the first piece Ferocious Calm does that really well. It's fantastic. I love the way that Nikki has this command over making something into something so wonderful, really like transforms, it's like when you watch those shows on telly. like Nikki would be great with those transformation challenges. So yeah, really brilliant. I love these pieces. Definitely worth a mention. Then I want to mention this piece by Claire HM. God, it's so cool. It's another of these pieces that I'd love just blow up really big and put a poster or just you know, just print out as is and you know, put in a lovely frame, it's so pretty, it's reminds me of like Star constellation pictures, and I think it's called A Spell For Galaxy Girl is really, really lovely. Because it's just beautiful, you need to see this one, definitely go have a look at this one. Because visually, it's just gorgeous. And again, the language is brilliant, as well. And it all just comes together. This is the sort of thing that I've used more, you know, like, are is really, really lovely. It's, it's really pretty, in a best way, like in a fantastic way. It's just a gorgeous piece. Visually, it's a gorgeous piece in terms of the language and the story. I really like the way that some of these lines are just constructed. There's, again, this is sort of where you could probably read some in conjunction with each other or you could read them as sort of separate little stanzas. I don't think there's necessarily a correct, well obviously that there must be correct or the you know, Claire wrote it with an intention, but I think you can read it in a lot of different ways. So I just think it's really good. I've read this so many times now and I just get so I'm just in awe of the way that it's on the page, the way the stories are told and just all the different ways you can read it and your eyes just guided by these wonderful little stars is really great. I absolutely loved it. I also really like the pieces from Louise Mather. So especially The Equation of Sunrise, it's so cool. It's really really lovely. It's, I'm not even quite sure how to describe it really. I just really enjoy looking at it.

Again, this is one that you need to go and view. It's so pretty. It's got these like sports. So like the bounce of the image, and I don't know, I don't even know how this was quite zoomed in. I don't even know how this would look if you zoomed out. It's got these gorgeous words or phrases and symbols and images. And it's so fantastic. I literally could just spend ages just staring at this image and piecing bits together and just just is a really beautiful, gorgeous piece. Definitely one that you know, definitely one that meets the print art stick on the wall job 100% I love the way that light bounces off the picture. I just really like looking at it. I think it's so visually engaging and just so wonderful. I think it's a perfect addition to the issue. Really great. And the first piece is really cool as well, which is Portals. So 100% recommend check out Louise and Louise has some really great work all in all. So if you haven't, you know, read anything or seen anything or viewed anything from Louise, definitely go check Louise out. And then we have some really great pieces by Maggs Vibo. Not 100% sure how you pronounce that one. And there's a series of really great pieces, but the one I really love is Poetry Cauldron. And it's so cool. I get I'm not entirely sure what's actually going on in this picture. But fantastic. It's like a picture and it looks like something's on fire, presumably maybe poetry in a cauldron or pot or some sort of thing like that. But it's just so cool. It sort of seems like it's been taken like in motion or in movement. And the fire and the flames is fantastic. And it's sort of got like these burn pieces of like ashy poetry or words or paper. And I think it's really striking. It caught my eye like, you know, as I was going through the issues, wow, what is that, and it just looked fantastic. And then we used to just have some really great pieces, the first ones Breech. And that's what these these gorgeous drawings and illustrations over these, these words. And the word you know, breech sticks out. And it's really fun or like really interesting to look out and take into because one word sort of at the side that pop out like we see a flash of the word heat. And again, that use of colour and this is gorgeous, it's got some really deep reds into some oranges and some really lovely vibrant yellows. And then we have the piece Received, which is the the middle piece from Maggs. And I really liked the line "paper doors and all of it. Study the pieces." I just think that's fantastic. That those two lines, it's really cool. I really enjoyed this piece, like another line, "Take the stamps, trains, coins, and butterflies, comic books, anime board games", it just ended up having something in me and I like the ending line as well "each flag and molecule of you examined", it's just really cool. It is a really interesting addition to see, you know, the sort of visual imagery that Maggs does versus some of the words and I just think it's really demonstrative of how you know, talented Maggs obviously is with really great command over the visual sort of side of things. And I have not heard or you know, seen of Maggs' work before, but I'm really glad, like happy and glad that they featured in Coven. Because now I can, you know keep checking them out and see their fantastic work. And so there are many fantastic pieces from Coven's latest issue. But those are my absolute favorites. But again, there's so many great ones. I think I spent like many hours just looking through this over a few days and just taking it all in. Because I mean it's 93 pages long. So that's a lot of material and a lot of content there for you to really dig your teeth into. So many sort of experimental pieces, oh God it's fantastic. It's really fantastic. Highly recommend it if you're a fan of Streetcake or the Babel Tower Notice Board, you're gonna love this issue. So you know, definitely dig your teeth into this and enjoy because you would definitely enjoy. And then so moving on from Coven Poetry's fantastic issue, we're going to be chatting to our first guest and they are the wonderful Unpublishable Zine. And we're excited to have them on. And we've been following them for a while now and we really like the stuff they put out. So Hello. Thank you so much for hopping on. I mean, to start off with, do you want to introduce yourself introduce the mag. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kristen  14:22  
Sure. And thank you so much for having me on. I've been following Full House for quite a while as well and I really love what you guys put out. My name is Kristen and I am the editor in chief slash, you know, editor and podcaster and admissions reader everything for Unpublishable. We are a pretty small scene, I was inspired to start Unpublishable last summer, you know in the midst of quarantine, and I had been reading a lot of poetry at the time and had been trying to get my own poetry out there. And I had noticed that in the publishing world, there are a lot of barriers for emerging poets. And, you know, unfortunately, a lot of the time, it's really, really hard to get your first piece of poetry out there and acknowledged and read. And I'm sure you know, if you guys are writers yourselves, you can kind of commiserate with that it's always the hardest, the first piece is always the hardest one to get out. So I had been kind of you know, wingeing about not being published. And, you know, the difficulties of that. And my fiance had kind of turned to me and said, Well, why don't you start your own Zine then so that, you know, or your own blog or something like that, a place on the internet where you can put your own work. And I really liked that idea. And I didn't want to limit it to just something that was a place for my work to be because I know that I know, friends who have struggled with being published as well. And I wanted to create a space that was not only for emerging and new poets, but a place that people could submit to and not really be afraid to be, I guess, judged about, you know, their name or their place in the industry or their place in publishing. You know, I tried, I tried to create Unpublishable, as a space that would be unbiased in submissions. And I've been pretty proud of my ability to kind of ignore people's names as I've been reading submissions, and basing it on the quality of work in that way, which I'm sure there are many, many similar zines that do the same thing. It's just something that I really value and I wanted to put forward with Unpublishable.

Leia  17:09  
Certainly, I mean, for me, reading through your website, the first time I saw it, I was like, oh, gosh, this is great. Because I mean, for me, as a uni student, I see a lot of people who are student writers, but they don't really consider themselves as writers because they haven't necessarily been published anywhere. They don't have a book out. They don't feel like a writer in that way. Maybe because they're still in education. Or, as you say, they just haven't found a place for any of their work yet, but the reason you really resonated with me and your site is because, you know, you give a home to people that are you know, perhaps starting out and their journey or you help I feel like you really are complacent, helping people feel like a writer and become more established and you say, yeah, you write so you're a writer. I love that about you, guys.

Kristen  17:58  
Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I mean, and I was, I was really inspired, actually, at least on the the audio side of the scene, the podcast by Pádraig Ó Tuama's podcast Poetry Unbound, I've been listening to it for quite a while and it's just this very, very lovely, short, bite sized podcast that he'll read, you know, a poem per episode and it's like a five minute episode, but it's just the most peaceful part of my day is just hearing him read these works. And I thought how special would it be or how wonderful of a dream that is to have someone like that read my work or read someone else's work and emerging poets work. So I, I hoped to give that kind of a moment to folks who submitted to Unpublishable through our podcast, granted I I do not consider myself as good of a reader as Pádraig Ó Tuama, but I try.

Leia  19:08  
Absolutely, and I think that's such a lovely concept, especially with just you know, making, you know, words a bit more accessible as well, having them read out something, that we're doing a lot at Full House as well. So I think you're doing some really great things. It's lovely to see, you know, from a community aspect. And I wonder if you had three words to describe yourself, what would they be?

Kristen  19:29  
Oh, goodness, I would say I guess as myself and a part of, you know, as the editor of the scene, I would say curious, creative and open as a little bit of a glimpse into my daily life. I work at a library and I've always been very inspired to be curious and inquisitive. And you know, look into things. So I think it's reflected a bit in how, you know, we've chosen folks for the Zine, I love how diverse the not only the the work we publish, but the, the authors we publish, you know, I've, I'm really happy to see that we have published folks from all over the world and folks from all different gender identities, sexualities, you know, races, backgrounds, and it's, it definitely lends to a very well rounded, you know, experience, I hope, reading Unpublishable and seeing all these different perspectives reflected.

Leia  20:46  
Yes, that's in the end, I want to you need to kind of on some of the pieces, do you have any, you know, standout pieces that spring to mind or any writers that you've really enjoyed working with?

Kristen  20:57  
Yeah, absolutely. So most recently, we have two poems by Elizabeth M. Castillo, she's actually going to be featured on our next podcast, reading her work. Usually, I'm the person reading on the episodes, but I'm always open to having authors step in if they really want to read their pieces. And she does an absolutely fabulous reading of her poem Penasquitos, which is this like this very interesting and a little violent take on a on a breakup. It's kind of like a gory, very out there, description of how you know someone can dissect a breakup and find it in the most literal way. It's very, very different. And I absolutely love her take on it. I've also one of my favorites, is Brief Interaction with God and Pizza, by Ashley Pearson. As funny as the title is, it's a very poignant and almost devastating poem about assimilation and being an outcast in someone's own family. Ashley is a Korean American poet. And the poem is about, you know, being adopted and being in a family and in a culture that is, she is a different person in her family. And it's a lot about trying to be something that you might not be that you know, you might not have been designed for. And it's just wonderfully devastating. And then one of my other favorites, was actually another poem that I had to ask the author to read on our podcast, because it just comes from 1, it comes from a background that I myself as a white person I'm not familiar with and 2, the style of the poem lends, so well, to the author reading, it has this very, very wonderful, almost slam poetry, read to it. It's called Flexing in my Complexion. And it's by a poet named Highly Poetic. It's just this very, very phrasing poem about her life as a black woman and her complexion and the way she reads that is just so fantastic and lyrical. And it's just it flows so well. And I could not have I could not have done it justice.

Leia  23:39  
I say talking about sort of like the community, how have you found the response from everyone and you know, being on Twitter and how's it been?

Kristen  23:47  
It's been wonderful, and very surprisingly wonderful, actually. You know, I have I have a bit of a background in social media myself, and I know, it's incredibly hard to get started with a new account, one, and, you know, kind of getting a following for something like this. And I was so surprised at how open and accepting and excited the poetry community online is. And, you know, especially on Twitter I feel there's always people are always excited to share work by other poets and shout out new magazines. And I think something that really helped us in the beginning was having other magazines and other you know, Zines reaching out to us and, and putting us on lists of places that were open for submissions. And the interactions between Unpublishable and other poets and between Unpublishable and other zines really, really helps broaden our community and it's just a really, really wonderful corner of the internet. And I really encourage folks who are looking to get out there and who are looking to find this community to really just, you know, go on Twitter and try to get yourself out there. There's just a really wonderful welcoming community waiting for you.

Leia  25:19  
In terms of Unpublishable, and some of your hopes and dreams and goals for the future. What does that sort of look like?

Kristen  25:26  
Um, well, I really hope to in the future, be able to get to, you know, wider audiences, and perhaps maybe do some printed versions of the zine. Right now, it's, we're, we're very small, and, you know, I, I operate out of the US. So I understand that with kind of a, an international audience, it may be difficult to put out a print version of the zine. But, you know, eventually, that's something I'd really like to do. And I know in this digital age of right now that that COVID has brought us in meeting online and holding events online. I've always kind of toyed with the idea of maybe doing a live reading online with some of our poets. I just think that would be so fun. I haven't I haven't gotten the timing together just yet. But I would really love to do that the future.

Leia  26:26  
Yeah, sounds fantastic. I'd love to see that. And brilliant. And then in terms of, you know, you being an editor, you know, is there anything you sort of got from the experience that you've learned, you've gained?

Kristen  26:38  
Yeah, absolutely. Um, I think I've really pushed myself to be better at giving advice and criticism and helping poets who, I guess haven't, haven't really gotten there yet, with their work to kind of consider little changes that they can make to help their piece flow better. I mean, even even folks that I've published, there have been some moments where I'm reading the work, and I'm thinking, Okay, well, maybe the slides can be broken up a little bit differently. And people are always so open to reworking. And something that I've learned as well, on the other side of that is that a lot of the time in poetry, especially when you're so focused on form, a lot of it is intentional. So I wouldn't, although I'm open to suggesting changes here and there with poems, I do also really, really want to respect an author's intent with a piece, especially when it comes to form. So I guess one of the things one of the biggest things I've learned in editing and selecting pieces for the Zine is that form can do something, the form can do so many different things to a poem. And authors can do so many different things with form, and word choice, and all of that stuff with the poem.

Leia  28:06  
Certainly and has it sort of, you know, reading all these amazing pieces, and that doesn't inspire you in your work for I know when I have looked through all the fantastic submissions. I'm just like, wow, like, I want to get on writing right away. So I wonder what sort of effect it has on you.

Kristen  28:21  
Yeah, definitely. Um, I mean, I know, a lot of a lot of folks are, have been taking quarantine as kind of this, you know, this time of, you can either take it as, Oh, this is my time to really focus and write, or, you know, I'm doing nothing, and I have no inspiration. And it's really, really hard to write. For a lot of quarantine, unfortunately, I've been struggling with some writer's block myself. But it is hugely inspirational to read these works by poets who have just been chugging along and getting that work out. And, you know, putting themselves out there. And one of the things that I've really, really loved about some pieces that I've published is that they explore forms I've never used before. I, I do a lot of free verse, and one of one of the poems that I can think of right off the top of my head that really adheres to structure is a poem about Little Red Riding Hood, inside of the wolf. And the first half of the poem is just the experience, laid out in a very linear way. And then the second half of the poem takes that form and uses the same lines, the same words in the same order but backwards. And that's a that's a form of poetry that I've always really loved and respected. And now I'm far more curious about and putting it in practice is so much harder than you think. At least to make it into something that reads the same way or at least gets a message across the same way backwards as it does forwards. And it's the type of form that I'd really like to explore with myself.

Leia  30:20  
Yeah, definitely that I love that too about, you know, there's so much that can be discovered, I think that I didn't even know existed. And now I do. And I'm like, Wow, it's so cool. So it's a really great experience to be an editor, I definitely do agree with you there. And I mean, just thank you so much for coming on and chatting to us. It's been absolutely lovely to have you on.

Kristen  30:40  
Thank you. Thank you. It's been it's been lovely speaking to you guys.

Leia  30:44  
So it was really great to chat to Unpublishable Zine, and find out a bit about them. And now we're gonna talk to a wonderful community member and writer who is Grace. So hi, Grace. How are you?

Grace  30:56  
Hi, Leia. I'm well. Thanks. How are you?

Leia  30:58  
Yeah, really good. Thanks, excited to chat to you and learn a bit more about you. So to start off with, do you just want to introduce yourself to us?

Grace  31:05  
Yeah. Hi, I'm Grace. I'm a poet, who's currently living in Toronto in Canada. Yeah, I was born in Hong Kong. And my family emigrated to Canada. And I grew up in Vancouver, since I was about four or five. And yeah, I moved to Toronto a couple years ago, and been loving it here ever since.

Leia  31:29  
Yeah, brilliant. I mean, you've got a really exciting, you know, collection out. So you want to tell us a little bit about that.

Grace  31:36  
Yeah, so I recently just released my debut poetry collection. It's called The Language We Were Never Taught To Speak with Guernica Editions. They have a really cool series. It's called the first poet series, and they just kind of look for debut poets who have manuscripts, I guess. And yeah, I was really fortunate that they liked mine enough to bring me on for this season's release. And, yeah, it's a collection that I started writing, maybe about four or five years ago, when I started writing poetry more seriously. And also reading poetry more seriously as well, I think and, yeah, I didn't know if it was ever going to, you know, be a real thing, quote, unquote, that that gets published as a as an actual book. So that was really exciting. Yeah, and now it's, I think it's, I think it's out online. Now. I think Amazon might have had some delays last time I checked, but yeah, a book baby is born.

Leia  32:44  
That's so exciting. And what an achievment on your part as well. So I mean, give us a little bit more information, maybe about some of the themes you discuss, or what is the collection about really?

Grace  32:56  
Yeah, so I think I've been kind of describing it as kind of self therapy, I guess. The themes are pretty wide ranging, I'd say, like, there's a poem about basketball, which I absolutely love. There's poems about kind of the tech world, because in my day job, I work in tech. But I think the vast majority of the poems are about kind of my family, my experiences growing up, being queer, a lot of kind of religion as well, because I grew up in the church, which is kind of funny. Being that I pretty much knew I was gay since I was seven. So that was a fun turn of events. But yeah, a lot of the poems were kind of my way of working through a lot of these things that I never really talked to people with my family, like, my family is, like loves me a lot. I love them a lot. But we're not big talkers, if you know what I mean. So yeah, there's a lot of stuff that I think down the line, and in the future, we'll definitely have chats about. But yeah, there's just a lot of I think unresolved things just with family with being queer, kind of coming to terms with all of that, that appears in the collection. But that being said, you know, there's, it's not like, I don't think it's kind of a sad collection. I've talked to some folks who've read it, and they're like, oh, there's like, funny things in here, which I didn't even it's not something that I did consciously. But then now I'm reading back on Oh, yeah, there's a little bit of kind of little sly humor in there, which, which is funny to see. Because that's not something that I meant, I think to ever put in there when I was writing it.

Leia  34:50  
I mean, I'm always interested in how people, you know, do their craft and write these, you know, amazing pieces. So, what's your writing process like? Is this something you like, you know, found out in a couple of days, or you know, right?

Grace  35:04  
Oh, man, I think it really depends on the poem. I don't know about. every writer has their own process. But for me writing these, it really depends on the poem, because for some poems, it felt like, I wish I had a record of what it was actually like journaled about this now, because there would be so much more accurate, but I feel like with some of the poems, yeah, I kind of banged it out, it was like, a day or two, and it just feels like oh, yeah, it just came out. And it was almost fully formed. And that was with minimal editing after, but for the vast majority of them, I think, I wrote a first draft. And it usually starts with maybe like, the kind of very singular thoughts that I felt like could be explored further, and elaborated upon. So it starts from there, that little nugget, and then it kind of builds out from there. But the first draft is, I'd say, for 75-80%, at least of the poems, the first draft is not very good. And I let it sit there for a few days, sometimes a few weeks, and then I come back to it. And almost always, I'll find something that I didn't notice before, or I'll be like, Oh, I could probably expand on this a little further. So I think time, for me is a really key kind of ingredient for writing poetry, if I don't let it sit. I think it's kind of at like, 70% of what it could be, or that's the kind of risk that I'm taking. So I'm a very impatient person. And that that was a lesson that I had to learn as I was writing these, it's like, Okay, I have to just let it breathe a little bit.

Leia  36:55  
Oh, wow, that's so interesting. I always it just, I'm always blown away when I how other people do things. I just think it's so everyone's got such a unique way of doing things. And I say it's another question I have for you is, you know, around this this collection, how easy was it to write? I mean, did it all, this is sort of related to you know, about the craft? I know, for some people, you know, they do sit down and it's easy to pour their feelings out. And once they're in that kind of headspace that there Yeah, other people, it can be a lot harder to actually get in the right mindset. So one, is there anything new that helps you maybe get into that mindset? Or you know, how to step in to the right, aura?

Grace  37:40  
Yeah, that's a really good question. I don't think I've ever thought about that. One. I think like to prepare for writing poetry, especially for me, I think the preparation step is very much kind of a mental or emotional preparation. Because anything I've written that I thought was was good, or that I liked, was always something that was vulnerable for me and I was like, painfully conscious of because I'm, I'm like a super kind of, like, anxious nervous person most of the time. So that's something that is, I had to consciously do, like, I can't just write, you know, a vulnerable, okay, yeah, I'm just gonna write this poem about like, my family, or like, my feelings about coming out or whatnot. And it's kind of a headspace that I have to just mentally take that step to, okay, I have to open this door, or I have to just be okay with writing this out onto paper. And it's, it's tough, it took a lot of getting used to, because in the beginning, that was what I think was my biggest blocker, or obstacle when I was writing poems. It's just, I was writing it, but I felt like there was an invisible kind of glass barrier between, you know, like, the poem and like, and the truth of what it could be, or the essence of it. And I was because I just wasn't being vulnerable enough I feel or being truthful enough to myself, if that makes sense.

Leia  39:18  
Yeah, that definitely makes sense. And have you always been a writer?

Grace  39:24  
Mm hmm. Yeah. That's actually funny. I, I do a lot of writing in my day job as well. Yeah, I've always it's funny, I didn't think that I would ever be a writer. When I was in school, I was very similar. I was going to be in like business or and it kind of just fell into writing. When I went to uni and I, I actually did a double major in English Lit and psychology. And I had no idea what I was going to do with it. I was like, vaguely, maybe it's something business related. which ended up actually happening, because now I technically kind of work in marketing. So I guess that's kind of this is related. But yeah, I've always been a writer ever since I graduated. And it's I don't know if it's made it easier or not actually.

Leia  40:12  
And I guess what some of the highs or highlights or you know, stand up moments of your writing, you know, journey and adventure has been so far, maybe?

Grace  40:27  
If we go chronologically, I think the first one was definitely when I had my first acceptance for a poem in a journal, and that was when I really, it kind of hit me that, oh, I can, I'm not totally rubbish at this, I can actually, you know, work at this, and maybe this will go somewhere. That was huge. I think that first kind of sign or validation that, okay, you, you can maybe do this is super important, especially because there's not like one I feel there's not one route you can go into, that guarantees you that you can just get into poetry, everyone comes into it from such a different kind of experience a different background. So that was huge for me. So there's this writer, Ivan Coyote, who's also Canada based, who was doing a residency at a university in my home in my hometown. And I brought a rough manuscript to them, because as part of the residency, they do kind of free, I guess, manuscript consultations with, with aspiring writers and poets. So they read my poems, and they had really just encouraging nice feedback. They had no obligation to be as nice as they were. But it was just such a, just a warm, and I don't know, inspiring experience to have like to have someone who is, you know, an established writer, who's well regarded, where from to, you know, give you their, you know, personal, you know, genuine opinions about your work is, is such a gift. And, for me, it was just I appreciated that so much. And it just really added to the motivation, I guess that that I had to, you know, finish your manuscript, polish it up and send it out. So that was another like, big highlight. I think having that writing community or having that even however, fleeting, or however brief that interaction is, is so important, because writing is such a solitary thing that you do, it's, you can't really have writing party, I guess you can have virtual writing parties. I've seen some of those on Twitter. But yeah, I just feel my connection with another another writer is, was was great for me. And then, of course, getting the manuscript acceptance and being like, Oh, my God, I'm gonna have a book. It's gonna be published with the press and everything that was probably the Holy Trinity if we come back to God references of the highlights in my writing journey so far. Super, super fortunate. Yeah,

Leia  43:19  
yeah, you've done so much. It's fantastic. It's really inspirational to hear and yeah, I'm an awe of the things you've accomplished. Really. It's fantastic.

Grace  43:28  
Thank you so much. Yeah.

Leia  43:29  
I suppose if you had to choose, I don't know if this is a bit like, you know, chosing all your children? Do you have a favorite piece that you've written?

Grace  43:38  
Oh, man, that is a really tough question. I don't know if I could choose one. I have a couple that I love. Even like doesn't sound right. It still feels like there are a few that kind of hit closer to home. Yeah. That, yeah, there are a few. The first one in the collection, that one is about that one. I really just it's one of my favorites, because it's about drag race, which is a show that I love. And it was also the first poem that I performed in front of a group of people. I think it wasn't even really for I was at a party. It was like before COVID. We were at a house party. And I don't even know how it got started. But I ended up reading that poem for a few friends and a few people that I just met at the party, and it was great. I was a little bit buzzed. But yeah, that poem has really good memories for me. And it just ties into everything it looks like. It's kind of like pop culture, which I love and it's also kind of about identity and being Chinese Canadian, even though the Queen that I referenced is American and Canadian, but it's, yeah, that one, I think is one of my favorites.

Leia  45:11  
And so another question I have is what are some of the best, you know, magazines, journals, sites or people that you've really enjoyed working with or work that you just enjoy?

Grace  45:23  
Magazines I really enjoyed working with. So, Yulin Wang is the editor, the first editor who took my poem. So my first poetry acceptance, Yulin was the one who accepted it. And then we still like talk on Twitter and stuff. So it's kind of nice to have that connection from from way back. And then with journals, let me think there's a journal that took some of my earlier work. It's called Yes Poetry. And it's written by Joanna Valenti, I think, is her last name. But that was a great experience. With poetry and acceptances. I think it's always nice when they have a little more kind of personal, like, I know, obviously, most folks who are working at lit journals and magazines are like, not paid or not paid very much and they have full time jobs. So I definitely like do not expect people to give, you know, personalized feedback for all of the poems that passed through their editor's inboxes but there are some, I think, Joanna took the time to provide kind of feedback on my poems, and she accepted them too, which is kind of rare. And a more recent one, Long Con magazine, which is really cool. They, they're a magazine that kind of takes work that is created or written about other art, artwork. So in response to a song or a painting or any other art out there. So they took a poem I did recently that was in response to a Billie Eilish song. Everything I wanted. So yeah, that was a really cool experience. And the editors are great as well to work with. Yeah, and then yeah, Ivan Coyote, who was who I mentioned earlier, was just an amazing person and Amber Dawn, as well, who is a poet and also wrote novels and everything and Amber Dawn blurbed my book, which I'm super grateful for that she took the time because I know she's like, really busy. Everybody wants everyone her to blurb their book. So yeah, she she's absolutely incredible. Yeah, those I think those were some folks recently I really enjoyed working with.

Leia  47:52  
And then do you also have any, you know, inspirations in the literary world, that you really admire their work?

Grace  48:04  
I mean, Ocean Vuong would have to be one for sure. Ocean is just an amazing poet and  writer I mean.  On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is an amazing novel. And I think after reading Ocean Vuong's work, it taught me to, I don't know, like the care that he brings to his writing. And even when he's just talking about his poems, or his his writing, is, there's just so next level, like I didn't do an MFA, I didn't study, like creative writing or poetry in school. So a lot of the work that I've read is stuff that I've kind of found on my own or I've seen online people recommended it and and I kind of like self self study of poetry, and whatever Ocean, I think Ocean's a teacher as well. But he is, I just learned so much reading Ocean Vuong. And another poet, a book I got recently is Jericho Brown, also an American writer, and I think it's called The Tradition and I thought that it was it's a great, great collection. It kind of inspired me to write duplex, which is a form that he invented. Really cool. I've don't really write much, I don't experiment much with form or haven't done so in my writing so far. But the the duplex is cool because it's not too overly difficult to kind of get started writing with but it just it's restricted, but it's also kind of very freeing in that way. So how it works is like it's A group of couplets so every couplet, so you write a line and then the next line is a kind of slightly tweaked version of the line before it. So it's, it's kind of like a cookie crumb trail of a poem that leads you in unexpected places, because you're just adjusting the line a little bit to get you to the next step. It's really interesting. Yeah, yeah, Jericho Brown's another one. And then that shout out to some Canadian authors that I love like Jen Sookfong Lee. And in these are like, it's cool, because the Chinese writers that I never heard of in school that I studied, even having studied English Lit, like four years of that. All the all the writers that I studied are all, like, 90% of them were dead, like deceased for many, many years. And it was just such a rich community to realize, after I graduated with like, oh, my god, there's so many living writers who, who some of them look like me, which is, which is really cool. who are writing in kind of this country, this city, and yeah, I wish I had more of that in school.

Leia  51:21  
Great. And then the last question I have for you is, what are some of your, you know, future maybe plans or goals? You know, he can picture yourself in, say, two years, what do you hope to maybe have achieved?

Grace  51:35  
Oh, that's a, that's a really good question. I think. Because right now having, I've never given birth, but it mentally it feels like I pushed out like a baby. Yeah. So I'm like, I think I need to take a little bit of a break until my next project. But I'm, yeah, I'd love to continue writing, maybe release a second collection, but about different things. Because this collection definitely feels like it was about a very specific time in my life and stuff that I've tried to work through from, oh, I don't know, like the first almost 30 years of my life, right. And there's a certain set of, I wouldn't call it baggage, but like, these are experiences that, you're kind of okay, I think I'm finished with it now. And it's finished with me now. Yeah. So I think, yeah, I would love to write another collection about whatever happens in my life, the next couple of years, maybe get to do in person readings for real this time, because COVID has totally thrown a wrench in all of that. And everything's been virtual. But yeah, that's, I want to dream big. And, you know, say I'll just be a writer full time or be a poet full time, but we'll, we'll see how that goes.

Leia  53:03  
Yeah, certainly worth aiming as high as you can. That's lovely. Yeah. And I mean, just thank you so much for talking to us and so great to hear a bit more about you and your work and we're really excited to follow your journey going forwards.

Grace  53:16  
Yeah, thank you so much. I really appreciate you guys having me on.

Leia  53:19  
And so that brings us to the end of part A of this week's podcast and we'll see you over at Part B to chat to some more fantastic guests.

Introducing the podcast
Looking through Coven Poetry's latest issue
Standout: Nathan Anderson
Standout: Michele Beck
Standout: Nora Blascsok
Standout: Nikki Dudley
Standout: Claire HM
Standout: Louise Mather
Standout: Maggs Vibo
Chatting to Unpublishable Zine
Chatting to Grace Lau