I started keeping a journal when I was around four; I was an only child so this was my way of talking to myself; it was a way to check in and reflect.
I spoke Korean at home; English was difficult to learn; I didn’t understand the grammar until I was about fifteen. I got into goth music, punk rock, Edgar Allan Poe—I read “The Raven” and wanted to write just like him.
When I was 15, I submitted two poems to an Oakland Youth Poetry competition. One of them was a strangle little poem that explored every detail of a snow globe: how it is a contained artificial world that can be knocked over and shattered by an observer. The other one was about my first relationship, a you and me against the world kind of thing, exploring what it was like to be in love while having god-fearing parents. I became interested in Korean literature and poetry; I focused on the alphabet and how it sounded.
Silence and secrecy are important themes to me. I realize now that it is because I am talking to myself and confirming that these experiences and feelings are happening. I can’t stop writing about lingering feelings of loneliness; haunting experiences, having to re-live those experiences; PTSD.
I am focusing on healing my previous poems’ narratives. I start with the memory of what happened; I describe it and try to remember everything I felt and didn’t want to say; I go back and re-read it out loud, I take out some words; editing is a very physical experience—working and working on it until it gets weird.