1. Why did you start writing?
"I have always been invested in language — the aesthetics, the meaning, and the structure. One of my favorite things to do is to find connections between languages and break words apart by etymology. As a child, I never was consciously aware of my linguistic abilities, but I have memories of making anagrams for my parents to solve and being that kid who would guess the Hangman word on the second try. Words have always been inherently pretty to me and my first true love.
During elementary school, I wrote silly stories that I lost interest in after a week in favor of other hobbies, like art, ballet, and martial arts. It was in sixth grade when I began writing fanfiction and decided that writing was going to be my thing. Looking back, that decision was important to me because it was the first hobby that I developed outside of external influence.
I switched from prose to poetry in my sophomore year of high school during my English teacher's poetry unit. That unit was the lightbulb moment when poetry just made sense. For our final project, we had to write 17 poems. Writing that much for two months gave me the momentum I needed, and I never really stopped since. Poetry is such an integral part of my identity that I sometimes forget that writing and language claimed me before I claimed them."
2. Where do you draw inspiration?
"Maybe it’s possession (or a blessing from the Muses), but there are moments when words naturally flow. Slowly, a scene unveils, and I am left painting the rest of the poem. I think that process stems from making connections in my own life and the media I consume and then merging them in my writing. The end-product is a love letter of what currently haunts me.
Because writing is also the art of analysis, I am interested in the intersectional. I love incorporating myth, language, and science in my work and seeing how different themes interact with poetry. They are all mirrors for the same world we live in and the humanity we are a part of. Poetry’s power lies in connection, and it’s my role as the poet to leverage that power to search for how the world is interrelated.
I am currently trying to be more honest in my writing. I am going through a period of reconciliation with my history and experiences, and it just comes with growing up. While my already published work relied more on the themes that I am familiar with (i.e. childhood, nostalgia, and culture), what I write now bleeds into vulnerability and experimentation. I don’t know where this new style will take me, but I am glad that it is through poetry that I will build the foundation for my exploration and growth."
3. What is your method of writing? Notebooks, computer?
"Usually, I write on my computer! Because all poems have to be typed up in the end, writing on a laptop gives me a better sense of what the poem will potentially look like. Many of my poems originate from my Notes app, so the act of just transcribing ideas from brainstorming to Google Docs allows me to assess them from a new angle and if they are still worth completing. It is my ritual as if saying: 'I now commit myself to see this idea through and watch it bloom.'
A recent habit I’ve picked up is printing my poems, cutting them into stanzas, and trying to rearrange them in a way that makes sense. Physically interacting with the poem and playing around with it with my hands is just very helpful. The more perspectives and directions I find, the better, since much of my genius lies in sudden sparks and old obsessions."
4. How do you title poems?
"I title poems mainly by vibes. Some poems just come with a title, while others have to be derived by working backward after I finish the poem. I see titles as a preview of what the reader can expect from the poem or what the poem couldn’t say."
5. Who are your go-to poets?
"I love this question! My classic fallbacks are Sally Wen Mao, Anne Carson, Kaveh Akbar, Alicia Ostriker, Chen Chen, and Leila Chatti. Just reading their work makes me want to write my magnum opus. This list, however, would not be complete without my writing Twitter friends! If you are one of them and you’re reading this right now: 'Hi! I love you! You inspire me to take my craft to greater heights every day!' They are my catalyst, and reading their work leaves me breathless and wanting more, which usually leads to me writing my own work. You can say it’s a wholesome positive feedback loop."
6. On your author page you have a unique feature where you include bookmarks linking work by other writers. What brought this about?
"It started when I read Steph Chang’s 'Ghazal for the Moon Maiden' from COUNTERCLOCK. Needless to say, I was very much in love. I just kept on revisiting that site till the point it got a bit ridiculous, so I created a bookmarks page, following the footsteps of my many writer friends. Now, the bookmarks page is half a storage place and half a shrine to the pieces that left an imprint on me. The feelings that I felt when reading those pieces is what I want to emulate in my own writing. It’s the page that I send to my friends if they ask for writing recommendations and the page that I read when I’m feeling down. The bookmarks page is my home port, and I always welcome rediscovering the magic within it."
7. What do you do when you’re in a writing slump?
"I haven’t been in a slump for a while now, and I think that may have been due to the adrenaline rush of discovering the writing community and the cycle of writing, submitting, and publishing. I stress-write a lot (Fight, Flight, or Write!), and the past few months have been pretty harrowing with college applications. But now that things are starting to calm down, I think a slump will soon come. Writing slumps don’t bother me as much as they once did. I look at slumps as opportunities to hone my craft in smaller bites and develop new skills. This change in perspective has definitely made me more forgiving to myself. I plan on using the next slump to learn HTML, brainstorm fanfics, and study classical Chinese!"
8. Would you like to share what current writing project(s) you are working on?
"I’m working on a personal project where I write poems dedicated to my friends! I want to get them published in print magazines and give my friends physical copies before my high school graduation. Since there is a great chance that we will never be as close as we are right now, I wish to give my friends poems to remember me by and myself the closure to say what I will never be able to say again. It is an emotional rollercoaster, but I am happy that I chose to do this. I want to encapsulate our memories in my poetry."
9. What do you hope people take away from your work?
"I once saw a tweet saying that a stanza means room in Italian, and it stuck with me. I hope when people read my poetry, they walk through a cute gallery with light streaming through the windows and leave with a feeling of wholeness and completion. My dream is that people feel they have read something worth their time and that a fraction of the poem stays with them – may it be a glimpse of imagery, a clever line, or a shimmery feeling."
10. And finally, what do you enjoy doing that you don’t talk about enough? Tell me all about it!
"I love watching video essays! I started watching them for character analysis and fan theories, but it has since then expanded to many other topics. Right now, I’m into Internet mysteries, quantum physics, breakdowns of horror video games, probably because these are the things that I will never understand. I like scaring myself to build tolerance and to satisfy my morbid curiosity. I am also behind in pop culture so video essays are my way of catching up and understanding the origins behind them. I want to start a video essay channel on YouTube someday. I don’t know what it will be about, but I want it to scream Laura and be something I will dig to page 6 of Google searches for."
Hear Laura read her poem "to you, two thousand light-years later."
Amy Cipolla Barnes
Cristina A. Bejan
Elizabeth M Castillo
Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar
Emily M. Goldsmith
Lukas Ray Hall
B. Tyler Lee
June Lin (mini)
Calia Jane Mayfield
Maria S. Picone
Charlie D’Aniello Trigueros
Heath Joseph Wooten