This interview is the third in our "Meet the Denizens" series, featuring the masthead of Dishsoap Quarterly. For Corine, Bianca, one of our editor-in-chiefs, conducted this interview live. Corine Huang is a lead poetry editor.
Bianca: Let's start off with some basics. Tell me about yourself. Where you're from, what your hobbies are, things like that.
Corine: I'm Corine. I'm from Hong Kong. Right now, I live in the Bay Area. I guess I watch a lot of anime. I guess that's a hobby.
Bianca: OK. Second, why do you enjoy writing? What inspired you to start doing so? Is there a particular emotion that it evokes? Why do you write?
Corine: I only really started writing a few months ago. I was reading a lot of Sylvia Plath. I was always really introverted. That, combined with the burgeoning angsty teenage phase, made me seek an outlet that wasn't speaking. I gravitated towards writing because it's much more premeditated. I feel like I have a lot more agency over what I say in my writing.
Bianca: What do you like to write? What genre? Why do you enjoy writing that genre?
Corine: I write a lot of poetry because there's less commitment. It's a lot easier to be inspired by one specific emotion or subject and not have to deal with things like plot and characters.
Bianca: Honestly, I totally get that. Who are your favorite writers and how do you think they have influenced your writing?
Corine: Favorite writers? Probably Sylvia Plath, Anne Carson, and I think I'd say Ocean Vuong. I just really like how cathartic and emotional it all feels when it doesn't confine itself to the conventions of poetry. It's difficult to define.
Bianca: Have you read the Glass Essay by Anne Carson? It gives you goosebumps. It's just so smart. I wish I could be Anne Carson, but we can't all get what we want.
Corine: I went through a phrase where like all my titles were quotes from the Glass Essay.
Bianca: Honestly, that'd cool though. If you wrote poems with quotes from the Glass Essay, then you could compile them and they could form a collection. People do that all the time. It's fine to borrow things. So speaking of the Glass Essay and Anne Carson, are there any specific works that you draw inspiration from?
Corine: Yes, the Glass Essay. I also like a lot of Ocean Vuong's work. I find that I gravitate a lot towards writing about my "immigrant experiences,” such as my heritage and my Chinese mythology and all of that. I look for writers like Ocean Vuong and Nancy Huang that write about that in very unconventional Chinese ways.
Bianca: That makes sense. I love Ocean too, but I've never heard of Nancy Huang. What is your writing process like?
Corine: I don't really have a process; I just kind of get inspired to do something. With editing a particular piece, I like to distance myself from it for as long as possible before being super ruthless, going in with the red pen and circling everything that's bad.
Bianca: How long do you typically spend on a project? I know you write poetry, but who knows? You could write 20 drafts of the same poem.
Corine: I would say no more than two weeks. At the point that I am right now, my style takes a complete turn after a month or something.
Bianca: That's totally fair. Can share some of your thoughts on the literary community? Have you created work in response to other artists in the same way you did with Anne Carson? If so, what do you think the importance of this communication is?
Corine: You know, I love the community that we’ve created. It's that perfect balance of being just detached enough that it's not uncomfortable and close enough that we can still share. I think within the literary community I'm not really inspired by particular works, but by their constant ability to create. That's really influenced me to write more and take different approaches to writing.
Bianca: How do you think editing and writing are correlated? What do you think it takes to be a good editor? What do you specifically look for in a piece? That's a lot of questions, so take them one by one, if that makes it easier.
Corine: I think editing can make your writing better. It's really helpful for developing a style because it allows you to find what you specifically like and don't. In that sense, you can refine your own style.
In editing, I like things that are purposeful. I don't want to say economical because that sounds really capitalistic... I don't like things that are really wasted or unnecessary. Poetry is so much more concise, artful, and powerful if you can make use of everything that you've included.
Bianca: What are your favorite literary magazines and artistic experiences?
Corine: My favorite literary magazines are Wildness, Sine Theta, and I guess DIAGRAM. I've haven't had a lot of artistic experiences. The most rewarding artistic experience I've had is starting Dishsoap with you guys.
Bianca: What projects are you currently working on? What things or ideas do you see yourself exploring in the future?
Corine: I'm definitely trying to put together a portfolio. I've been reading a lot into philosophy and classics lately. I kind of want to explore the idea of how you quantify human worth.
Bianca: That's so interesting. I can't wait to see more of your work. What advice do you have to offer young writers that are just starting out in the literary world or what do you wish you'd known when you were starting out?
Corine: I think something that is not really obvious is this: it's okay to be proud of work that is not necessarily satisfactory. When you're first starting out, you're not going to get affirmation from a lot of people. Writing is so draining, so you're probably not going to continue doing it unless you find a way to be proud of the words that you're producing.
Bianca: That's good advice! Well, that was our short interview. Thank you for sitting with me today!
Corine: Thank you.
Bianca: Thank you! Have a nice rest of your day.