Interviewing Victoria Lin
If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
I would like to have dinner with Mary Oliver -- one where we go to the nearest farmer’s market together to buy fruit, vegetables, and meat we wished to eat. Then we would cook something delicious together, such as a thick stew with mushrooms, lamb, and beans. For dessert, perhaps we might have blackberries drizzled with coconut milk and honey. I would want Mary to be very happy, so I base the bulk this menu off a poem; how better to determine what meal to serve a beloved poet?
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
I write drafts of poems in a Mead composition notebooks. After I fill a notebook, I read through it to look for poems I want to develop further. I am always afraid to read through my notebooks, perhaps because I worry I will not find anything I value. My fear embarrasses me, but it is real and powerful. I compel myself to work through it somehow, but it never leaves me.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Since I already mentioned Mary Oliver, I will say Sylvia Plath for her imagery and craft.
What books are on your nightstand?
I was reading Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry collection Book of Hours (Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy) and Maurice Manning’s collection Bucolics nearly every day that I was working on this manuscript. Both collections are still on my night-stand for regular reference along with Hafiz, Elizabeth Bishop, Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath, as well as whatever novel my book club is reading, psychology text-books, the Bible, and probably some Brene Brown and Louise Hay. When on vacation, I will read fantasy novels. I am currently obsessed with NK Jemisin. Since my night-stand is a shelf on the headboard just above our pillows, my husband often worries my book stack is becoming too tall and might fall on our heads while we sleep. I thin out the stack occasionally, but many of the same books migrate back again eventually.
Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?
People inspire me with their messy, mean, and gorgeous lives. Complicated feelings inspire me. Pain inspires me. I suppose I am deeply influenced by the romantic poets, whether I acknowledge it consciously or not, in that the external world tends to reflect my internal state of being. Sometimes the prospect of an audience inspires me, but that can terrify me as well.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
The dash may be my favorite punctuation mark because of Emily Dickinson, my first poetic love. Although, I also have a deep love for the semi-colon.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
I rarely read my any of my text books for classes in high school. (except the English literature text books -- I read all of those.) I’d rather tell you what book I wasn’t supposed to read, which was Sibyl. It was the only book that I recall my parents banned me from reading in high school. I promptly found it on my grandmother’s basement bookshelf and read it one afternoon after school. I tended to be a fairly compliant daughter in most areas of life, but apparently not when it came to books.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
I would like to thank my tea pot, which may have held more green tea than all the lakes in Minnesota.
Why do you write? The first 5 words that come to mind. Go.
To understand my existence.
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
“What I can do -- I will -- / Though it be little as a Daffodil -- / That I cannot -- must be / Unknown to possibility --” -- Emily Dickinson
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