The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Fiction from Mexico City

Interview: Nicolette Wong

Nicolette Wong is a dancer, writer, and editor in chief of A-Minor Magazine & Press. Her writing has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Thrush Poetry, Eratio Poetry, Escape Into Life and other venues. Her poetry chapbook, Stone Bride Madrigals, was published by corrupt press (Paris). Visit her at http://nicolettewongwriter.com

 

Interview by Jack Little (UK/ Mexico)

Published in The Ofi Press issue 45

 

 

1.    You are one of the best travelled poets and editors that I know. How have your experiences abroad and at home impacted upon your writing and other literary projects?

A Saami sacrificial site I visited in Laponia, a deserted neighbourhood in Hong Kong, a shadow that glides past my shoulders in the night... These settings or presences make it into my poems. Other than that, I don't write my experiences abroad or at home into my work – I'm not interested in writing about anything that's to do with my life, so to speak.

I often travel to meet or visit people. In the past few years I've met quite a few writers and artists I'd known for a while over the distance. Meeting Eryk Wenziak, art editor at A-Minor Magazine & Press, David Heg, the photographer I collaborate with, A-Minor Press author Michael Keenan, and other friends like Susan Tepper, Gloria Mindock, Rose Hunter, to name a few... It makes it feel a bit more real, all this publishing and writing that I do from my room in Hong Kong. And that means something to me on a personal level.

 

2.    Do you think poetry can ‘make a difference’? Or does it serve another purpose?

I think it makes a difference for those who find truth – or the antithesis of truth – in poetry. In any poem they come across. From there it may serve another purpose that is entirely personal and peculiar to the reader.

 

3.    What themes are you particularly attracted to as a poet? Are they the same for you in your role as an editor?

The ties between the living and the dead. Chinese folklores. Departure. I'm not drawn to these themes in particular in my role as an editor; I'm drawn to the strange and the surreal, visceral or abstract.

 

4.    What is the relationship between your speaking voice and your written voice?

My written voice is my voice. People hear it when I read my poems. Otherwise, my speaking voice is a persona I carry about me through the days. It's muted in my mind.

 

5.    What advice do you have for an aspiring poet?

Recently I was described as “a fiction writer who started writing poetry” by a poet whose work I admire. Someone who holds a MFA from what many consider the most revered creative writing programme and has two books out from a lovely press. My education was fiction – I switched to poetry four years ago. These things are often conventionally defined. A writer's instinct is not. It's something to be safeguarded.

 

6.    What's next for A-Minor Magazine & Press?

At A-Minor Magazine we're recruiting an associate editor to join our team. At A-Minor Press we'll be releasing two full-length poetry collections (Ghosty Boo by Kate Litterer; Post Human by Nate Pritts) in the next couple months. We may also recruit a new managing editor, and/or book layout and design editor, as I plan to reopen the press for submissions in 2016. If anyone is interested, feel free to get in touch.

Poem by Nicolette Wong

The Death Circus

 

 

Seats with the resplendent

searing through them:

 

              names and tulips dusted

in blood.      The brittle dies in me.

 

                   Stellar the man takes

                   the cowries, blasts

 

                   the ballerinas

                   the inflatable husbands

                   where the radish clowns

 

                   unfurl across

                   a velvet stage.

 

 

The baroque derelict alive

for one last time, reaping feathery

flesh with opulent tiles.

 

         I watch in terror

the man's lightboxes with berserk lines

         around his waist, each face crimson.

 

I see the anonymous light masks

across the seats. I am with them.

I am among them.

 

 

 

Originally published in Negative Suck in January 2013. Included in Stone Bride Madrigals published by corrupt press.