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Voices From the Gaps

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Rita Dove

Rita Dove talks with a graduate student Lauren Curtright during a VG interview

VG conducts interviews with women artists and writer of color whenever possible. We also house transcripts from interviews conducted by Bryan Thao Worra of The Asian American Press, which were generously donated to VG for archiving.

Contact us if you are interested in conducting an interview for VG.

VG Interviews

Cisneros, Sandra
I don't see any kind of mirror of power, male power, that is, as a form of liberation. I don't believe in an eye for an eye. I don't believe this is truly freedom.

Manushkin, Fran
After working a decade as a children's book editor with Harper and Row (1968-1977), Fran Manushkin felt it was time to begin putting some of her own children's stories down on paper.

Mora, Pat
When I was reading Bachelard and feeling that pitch of pleasure that comes when a writer touches me somehow psychically, I remember thinking that the book might not at all work for Vern, that many readers would be unwilling to fly away with Bachelard and drift a bit on his ideas, but for me the flights were heady and intimate and delicious.

Moraga, Cherrie
My major influence has been the bilingualism and working-class theater of the Chicano Teatro movements, especially El Teatro Campesino. Also the poetic sensuality of Federico García Lorca.

Power, Susan
I'm really good this way, I have no agenda whatsoever. I don't write with an agenda where I think, "Ooh, I want to teach them this. " I really write out character's stories.

Rendon, Marcie
I can't honestly say that anyone has influenced my writing. I started writing to save my sanity, so from early on it was 'my' writing, my thoughts, my 'style'.

Smith, Zadie
When if I see kids walking down the street, the first thing I think is, if they are slightly brown, or have slightly Asian eyes, I want to know where their parents are from, how they got here; I do that all the time.

Asian American Press Interviews

Apeles, Teena
Earlier this year, Seal Press released Women Warriors: Adventures from History's Greatest Female Fighters by popular freelance writer Teena Apeles.

Chang, Victoria
Her first book of poetry, Circle, won the Crab Orchard Review Award Series in Poetry and will be published by Southern Illinois University Press in April 2005. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in journals such as The Nation, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Kenyon Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate, New England Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and North American Review.

Chang, Wah-Ming
Fiction writer Wah-Ming Chang of Ithaca, New York, wrote The Tenth Girl, recently received the Mary Roberts Rinehart Grant as well as the Bronx Writers' Center Chapter One Award. Asian American Press caught up with her recently to discuss her work and writing

Chin, Marilyn
Marilyn Chin is the author of Dwarf Bamboo and The Phoenix Gone, The Terrace Empty. Her new book Rhapsody in Plain Yellow was published by Norton in 2002. Her books have become Asian American classics and are taught in classrooms nationally. She has won numerous awards for her poetry, including two NEAs, the Stegner Fellowship, the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, four Pushcart Prizes, a Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan, residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Lannan Residency, the Djerassi Foundation and others. She is featured in a variety of anthologies, including The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, The Norton Introduction to Poetry, The Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry, Unsettling America, The Open Boat, and The Best American Poetry of l996. She was featured in Bill Moyers' PBS series The Language of Life. She co-directs the MFA program at San Diego State University. Presently, she is a Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard.

Hagedorn, Jessica
Jessica Hagedorn is an acclaimed novelist and National Book Award nominee, as well as a poet, playwright, and screenwriter. She was born and raised in the Philippines, and moved to the United States in her teens. She is the author of three novels, Dream Jungle, The Gangster of Love, and Dogeaters, and of Danger and Beauty, a collection of selected poetry and short fiction. Hagedorn is also the editor of the first Charlie Chan is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction.

Hahn, Kimiko
Kimiko Hahn is the author of Air Pocket (Hanging Loose Press, 1989), Earshot (HLP, 1992) which was awarded the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize and an Association of Asian American Studies Literature Award, The Unbearable Heart (Kaya, 1996), which received an American Book Award, Volatile (HLP, forthcoming, 1998) and Mosquito and Ant (W.W. Norton, forthcoming, 1999). In 1995 she wrote ten portraits of women for a two-hour HBO special entitled Ain't Nuthin But a She-thing. She is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award. Kimiko Hahn is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Queens College/CUNY.

Lee, Karen An-hwei
Karen An-hwei Lee lives and teaches on the West Coast. A regular contributor to literary journals, she has completed several novellas and poetry collections. Her work has won numerous university awards, fellowships, and residencies, including a fellowship from the Yoshiko Uchida Foundation. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing and a Ph.D. in literature. Sarabande Books recently released her collection, In Media Res, "an investigation into how God hides in language," and an "etude on blindness and enlightenment. " Asian American Press caught up with her recently to discuss her work.

Lee, Sherry Quan
Minnesota teacher and writer Sherry Quan Lee has been an eclectic and significant figure in the Asian American writers scene in the Midwest, and has worked with many of the writers here at different stages in their careers. She had volunteered her time with a number of Asian American writing groups and arts movements, including Asian American Renaissance, which printed her popular book, Chinese Blackbird. She is part of the distinctive Split Rock Arts Program at the College of Continuing Education at the University of Minnesota and continues to be active in the community. Asian American Press caught up with her recently to discuss her work.

Pai, Shin Yu
Shin Yu Pai was born in Decatur, Illinois and grew up in Riverside, California. The child of Taiwanese immigrants, language and story-telling have always been central to her experience.

Reconstruction of voice: Hmong and Lao Writers
SPEAKEASY recently had a chance to interview several young Hmong and Lao writers and artists recently to discuss their work and its relationship to their community as many Hmong and Lao rebuild their lives in the United States: Pacyinz Lyfoung is a Twin Cities community activist, Hmong poet and dancer. Kou Vang is a Milwaukee, WI-based Hmong visual artist. Soudary Kttivong Greenbaum is a Laotian community activist and writer in Illinois. May Lee is a Hmong spoken word artist and writer based in Saint Paul. A-Yia Thoj is a Hmong writer and actor living in the Twin Cities.

Shin, Sun Yung
Sun Yung Shin was born in Seoul, South Korea and was raised in Chicago. She has lived in Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Paul, and Minneapolis and has worked at a variety of jobs including a clerk at a sheet music-and-band instrument store, drugstore delivery girl, a nanny, an often laid-off software development analyst, and a poet-in-residence. Shin's poetry, reviews, and essays have been widely published. She currently lives in Minneapolis with her husband and their two children. She recently published her first childrenÕs book, CooperÕs Lesson.

Su, Adrienne
Born in 1967 in Atlanta and raised there, Adrienne Su attended Harvard University and the University of Virginia, where her mentors were Rita Dove, Gregory Orr, and Charles Wright. In 1995 she was the first Ralph Samuel Poetry Fellow at Dartmouth College, and later she held residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell. She spent three winters in Provincetown, Massachusetts (one of them on a fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center) and several years as a writer and editor in New York City, where she briefly competed in slams at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, including one season with the national team. Her first book of poetry, Middle Kingdom, was printed in 1997 by Alice James Books. She now teaches English and creative writing at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Asian American Press had a chance to interview her recently via e-mail.

Thammavongsa, Souvankham
SOUVANKHAM THAMMAVONGSA is the author of Small Arguments (Pedlar Press, 2003). Small Arguments started off as a series of chapbooks printed by the author and bound with Elmer's glue. It is 'a delicate and graceful hand naming the fragile materials of poetry' (Dionne Brand). Recently it was awarded the 2004 ReLit Award for excellence in poetry and an Alcuin Society citation for excellence in book design. Souvankham has also been featured at Harbourfront's Premiere Dance Theatre and International Reading Series. Small Arguments is her first book.

Trenka, Jane
Jane Jeong Trenka has received fellowships from The Jerome Foundation, the Blacklock Nature Sanctuary, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Loft Literary Center, and SASE: The Write Place. Cited by the independent Minnesota newspaper City Pages as "Best Book by a Local Author," and by the Minnesota Humanities Commission for a "New Voice" commendation, The Language of Blood received the Minnesota Book Award for "Autobiography/Memoir" and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. She joined us recently for an interview.

Vang, Ka
Ka Vang was born in Long Cheng, Laos, in 1975. A playwright, fiction writer and poet, she is a two-time recipient of the Playwrights' Center's Many Voices Fellowship, the 2002 Asian American Renaissance/Jerome Foundation's Artist Regrant program, the Jerome Study and Travel grant, the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Grant, and the Bush Artist Fellowship. Her one-act play, DISCONNECT, was performed by Theatre Mu during the 2001 New Eye Festival. Another play, Dead Calling, was performed at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis in 2001. Her play, From Shadows to Light will be performed by Theater Mu in the fall of 2004 at the Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis. She is also featured in two anthologies, Bamboo among the Oaks, and Charlie Chan is Dead 2. She is currently a columnist for the Minnesota Women's Press and Hmong Tribune. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Yamashita, Karen Tei
Karen Tei Yamashita is a Japanese American writer from California. She lived for nine years in Brazil, the setting for her first two novels, Through the Arc of the Rain Forest (1990), and Brazil-Maru (1992), both of which received critical acclaim. Her third novel, set in Los Angeles, Tropic of Orange (1997), and was a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize.

Yang, May Lee
Hmong writer and community activist May Lee Yang was recently awarded an Artists Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to spend time on her writing. A former Many Voices Fellow of the Minnesota Playwrights' Center, May Lee Yang is also a founding organizer of the popular VISION conferences for Hmong youth, and a member of the F.I.R.E. spoken word troupe. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the ground-breaking Bamboo Among the Oaks Anthology, Unarmed, and the Paj Ntaub Voice Hmoob Literary Journal. She lives in Saint Paul. AAP caught up with her recently to talk about her work.