LR: Speaking from your perspective as a writer, editor, and professor, what are some of the most interesting trends that you’re seeing right now in contemporary Asian American poetry?
LH: I don’t know about trends, and to be honest I have never been that interested in following them—but I know what you mean here and I appreciate the chance to say what I find interesting and/or valuable in contemporary Asian American poetry. I admire the Hmong American emerging poets like Mai Der Vang and Andre Yang with roots in Fresno, the Berkeley poets like Margaret Rhee and Barbara Jane Reyes (talk about a visionary), the wonderful impact that Kundiman has had on contemporary poets, the wide-reach of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and some of the emerging Hapa voices like Matthew Olzmann. I’m also very happy to see more poets, such as Tina Chang, Sasha Pimentel Chacón, Ken Chen, and Ed Bok Lee, acknowledged with laureateships or major awards. Have you read their books? They’re extraordinary. I had the honor of reading for a national poetry contest recently, and I can also say how impressive other young writers are—two of my many favorites are Leah Silvieus and Eugenia Leigh. And I must mention the work of my fellow adopted Korean poet, Sun Yung Shin, whose groundbreaking new book is Rough, and Savage. Have you read these writers? Their work is stunning.
One “trend” I would like to see develop more is remembering, anthologizing, and respecting some of the poets whose careers were established earlier but remain vital: Amy Uyematsu, Li-Young Lee, Lawson Fusao Inada, and poets of their generation. There are many exciting new voices. But let us enlarge, expand, and remember as we progress, and not let important voices be devalued in the process.
Lee Herrick is the author of This Many Miles from Desire (WordTech Editions). His poems have appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies, including The Bloomsbury Review, ZYZZYVA, Highway 99: A Literary Journey Through California’s Great Central Valley, 2nd edition, and One for the Money: The Sentence as Poetic Form, among others. Born in Daejeon, South Korea and adopted at ten months, he lives in Fresno, California and teaches at Fresno City College and in the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College.
For the rest of the interview, go to http://www.lanternreview.com/blog/2012/11/07/a-conversation-with-lee-herrick/