Tuesday 5 November 2013

Interview with Ray Hsu

Bionote: Ray Hsu seems a bit of a contradiction. Named one of "Vancouver's most promising young entrepreneurs" (The Globe and Mail), Ray Hsu has also served as a literary tastemaker for the CBC Poetry Prize and the National Magazine Awards. He published two award-winning books and gave a TEDx talk on How to Live a Creative Life. His latest  project is ROOM+BOARD, an online spot for writers to sit, write, and connect.

10 Fundamental Questions for Poetry Editor Ray Hsu:

1. Given the ways contemporary authors have been trying to compose all kinds of poetry, how would you define ‘poetry’?

As Alexander Pope said in 1711, "True wit is nature to advantage dressed: what oft was thought but never so well expressed." Now that's poetry.

2. Many people say poetry is dying. Do you agree or disagree with this statement, and why?
Poetry is dying. But like the dying, we know how to come back.

3. What defining features do you think ‘best’ poetry should possess? In other words, what is your personal or working definition of ‘best’ poetry?

Emily Dickinson once said, "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." I don't think that she went far enough. Poetry should decapitate.

4. What are the most important makings of a ‘great’ poet? – please name 3 greatest poets the world has produced thus far.

I don't know about greatness, but I do know about maturity. So did T.S. Eliot, who once said that, "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal."

Picasso knew about greatness, or at least Steve Jobs did, since everyone argues that "Good artists copy, great artists steal." (http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/03/06/artists-steal/)

5. Who are the 3 most important or noteworthy contemporary poets according to your personal/working criteria?

The three most important poets working today can be found in this list of four:

- a. rawlings
- Sachiko Murakami
- Steve Roggenbuck
- Daniel Alexander, a.k.a. SNCKPK

6. Considering the contemporary poetry writing/publishing reality, what are the most important changes that you think should be made to promote poetry as a worthy cause?

In order to promote poetry, we must promote non-poetry. Poetry will follow.

7. Which 3 poetry editors or magazines would you like to recommend to all poetry lovers? Or, which 3 are your most favorite poetry editors/journals?

My three favourite journals are

- Pacific Poetry
- badpoem.com
- I can't think of another

8. What are the most important or interesting things that you have learned about poetry writing/publishing as a poetry editor?

Many lyric poets make fun of experimental poets, many experimentalist poet look down on lyric poets, and few of either attend spoken word poetry events.

9. What is the most or least enjoyable part of being a poetry editor?

The most and least enjoyable part of being an editor was being politically ousted for my views.
10. Given your rich experience as editor of Ricepaper and judge of CBC Poetry Prize, what advice would like to offer to those who actively participate in various kinds of literary contests and those who seldom do so?

Don't wait for an editor or judge to choose you. Choose yourself. Take charge of your own fate.

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