This week’s Featured Poet Wendy Kwok Interviewed
You’ve seen Wendy’s fantastic poems… now find out a bit more about her, her work, and her creative processes…
Tell us about your poems.
They have a funny way of saying everything I cannot. They are my feelings, the world through my eyes; they are a train of thought chased to the extent of my literary legs. But they are never as beautiful as the real world. They are only echoes.
I write them because it feels natural. Sometimes they are a good place to put the great weariness that comes with thinking too deeply about everything; sometimes they are nothing more than a glorified coping mechanism, a vessel in which I place my life so it can be examined from all angles. Sometimes they come about because everything I feel is threatening to spill over - whether that be joy or grief or peace or loneliness - but mostly I write because I love to.
How long have you been writing?
I have written ever since I knew how to; my family loves books and I have been surrounded by paper and ink my whole life, so writing is as natural to me as breathing. I was introduced rather unceremoniously to poetry by my English teacher when I was twelve, and ended up writing in grossly exaggerated rhyme that stole all the meaning from the words. I was rather put off as a result [though I did continue writing prose] and didn’t rediscover poetry until I turned sixteen and fell in love [what love I was capable of then, anyway] and the feelings had nowhere else to go.
Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
I’ve been published in three volumes of my old high school’s yearly literary magazine, as well as Soul Disclosure; Poetic Expressions - a series of books representing the richness and diversity of the poetic form. I don’t really know where my work is going because writing is not a means to an end for me, but I would sincerely love to reach out to more people and maybe show them a little of myself; maybe even touch them and transfer across oceans and continents the sentiments I am surrounded by.
What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Learning how to critique and revise my own work, and learning to receive the critique of others with grace. It is hard to get perspective on your own writing sometimes because it is so close to you; sometimes it feels like an extension of yourself and it can sorely sting when your poems are read critically. But in order to improve as a writer you must be able to look at your words and see how they can be bettered.
What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
I can write the beauty in my life into words so I can share it with others, so I might touch something in somebody I may never meet. It is a place I can put all the weight of the world into, so I may walk lighter without losing mass. The worst is that I can never really express what I mean because words can only say so much.
Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
Live. Absorb as much as you can from life and live it well because poetry is above all a reflection of all that is human, and in order to write well you must be aware of the world and feel with every part of your heart. Be thin-skinned and susceptible to everything because that is how you get the most out of all that we have, and by extension your writing will benefit for it is a richness of spirit that makes poetry so wonderful.
Who/what influences your poetry?
It can be anything. A thought, the way light falls on the lawn, the morning, running taps, limbs, lace, frost, windows, electrocardiograms, apple juice, soap, pistachios, nocturnal whispers, ovine viscera, flight, birdsong, love, loss, longing… anything that makes me feel or think is likely to find itself somewhere in my writing. As for people - everyone I interact on whatever level will influence what I write, because I am quite porous to the emotions of others (and it is the things I feel that make me write.) I am also influenced by my favourite writers; Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Romantics, Doris Lessing, Seamus Heaney, Roald Dahl, Rainer Maria Rilke, Blake… but I am most inspired by the poets I know personally. I love them best of all, because they lift me up when I am low and I am able do the same for them; we are travelling this odyssey together, and I couldn’t have asked for better company.
fill me with words so i’ll
spill the essence of sea
onto the sun-spots skipping
in your eye, full of ghostly
flowers and spectral towers
tight with pretended words
awash in the underside of
waves dancing your doubt
for the fish to read.
you forgot we are mostly
water and we have learned
our translucency from wilder
climes. stranger times remind
me of moments i did not know
and suddenly the lee of cloud
lathers the sea so you no longer
show what i am to you
Want to be a Featured Poet? Just send at least three of your poems to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always happy to hear from you!