1) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?
As long as I can remember, I have always known that I love to write, or rather, I spent inundating amount of times tinkering with words, reshaping them inside my head, considering their weight as they churned this way and that on my tongue, lost in an impractical universe of a child who constructed her impoverished living in the slum of District 5 of Saigon into a wonderland of treasure trove, where small fingers throbbed with wealth of vision, learning to deconstruct and modify language from sounds, sights, smells, tastes into this thing called writing. Thus, I destructively read, and wrote, then prowled beneath, inside, along the liquid landscapes, savage harvests, arrogant sunrises, barren streets, clove-scented kitchens, they all became my reality and fantasy. So, cheers to mediocrity for having the insight to flee.
My storyteller of choice is Haruki Murakami. He writes simply, provokes provocation in the course of rational reasoning while confessing to the necessity of change. He envisions the world as a floating logic burgeoning from an atom, with an understanding of how life should be lived, though along the way, it struggles with insatiable urges of the loins, and straying will, so it scrubs at the pitiful cries and ubiquitous chains of surrealistic temperament born through self-evolving, but evolves it does. I think this is the essence of his writing, equally so with poetry in motion, for you must be able to enter a place where you cannot turn away from your maimed beauty, your inarticulate truth, and your blank contention of ego.
2) How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
I am my muse. It is a highest praise from the self, then again, it is the ugliest load of crap I can think of. But, I am always able to find me here, there, and everywhere, like when I am alone in a darkened room, a speck of light that filters through the window slats could stir a line such as this “I remember remembering, I remember the way you croon and moon-dance beneath the street lamp…”, and, “beneath the table she works the tip of her needle through the jacket’s hole and into her flesh, stretching the split deeper each time until it tears down the stairs of her form”, or “she is ready to tear into scales, radiating staccatos to the wind…” these were two instants among many when I was driven nearly mad with the stress of my daily grind. I conceive I am walking in then retracing over the tracks of my own life, whose whispers I catch with ease, whose sleep thins then wake rises to the right chords of refrains. Even when I speak in a foreign tongue, intruding in someone else’s memory, I still understand the shifting thoughts just the same.
3) Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
I am on Facebook, though I have taken to adopt Lana Bella as my nom de plume, so if you were to search for the real me, you might not be able to. Because I elect to protect these meager bits of anonymity I have left in this technological era, though more poignantly, I like to think of myself as a literary tree, splintering two ways, one stretching toward the sky, its parallel twin burrowing earthward into the darker plane, both form a mirrored sequence of time, logic and capacity.
4) Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
I choose not to involve in any writing group or community of writers, for a simple reason that my work is and will always be subjectively portrayed, thereby, subjectively conceived. Furthermore, people by nature are a cheering lot, considerate to others’ feelings by ceding to tact and subtlety rather than absolute truth in critiques. So I humbly entrust my writing in the hands of editors and publishers, whose opinions and consideration I defer to most.
At the moment, I am moseying through my third volume of Murakami, titled “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki”, interesting title, more intriguing when I tunnel into the belly of his bizarre, possessive, color-coded ambiance on a transcendental sphere of reality, of unresolved issues in youth, of entombed memories, of a stagnant living death, all at once strange yet familiar to my own identity. Especially when it accompanies the melancholy notes of Franz Liszt’s Le Mal Du Pays, roughly translated “Homesickness”. Colors and music are the central elements in this small novel, he plucks my heart’s strings while he paints them in colored noises and reverberating nostalgia.
5) What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
Ideally, to be a respectable writer, you must be accommodating to your innate needs for success, thereby equally accommodating to your eventual consequences of failure. Success and failure go hand in hand, as the saying goes, and the irony is, the beauty that you once thought you held could also become the object of your repulsion. So be honest, be contemplative, be merciless with who you are and what kind of writer you want to be.
In short, I write to dispense into the world all that I am, well, all that I allow myself to be seen with and thought of and summarized through the whimsical lenses of the world at large. It remains hauntingly a balancing, tugging and repelling tour de force. As the words of Ernest Hemingway ring ever so true: There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.