: Fiona Sze-Lorrain Interview :

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Author and Poet Fiona Sze-Lorrain Interview

"I write when I see something or have something to say."

Antioch Review contributor, Fiona Sze-Lorrain (pictured - photo credit: photo by Guyot/Mendoza, Courtesy Malbarecently agreed to be interviewed.  We hope you enjoy and learn from her experiences.

1. Tell us about you.

I am a poet, literary translator, and zheng harpist. I am a French citizen, born in Singapore in 1980. I write and translate in English, French, Chinese, and occasionally Spanish. My most recent book of poetry is The Ruined Elegance (Princeton, 2016). I live in Paris. Currently, I serve as an Abigail R. Cohen Fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination.

2. What made you want to write?

I write when I see something or have something to say. Not all that I write can be shown or published, alas. I don't seek out "something" (or some "moment") so as to write about the experience. Most of the time, I wait.

3. How many times were you rejected before you were published and paid?

It took me a long time before I was first published.

4. How do you handle rejection, and what advice would you give to emerging writers?

I try to understand why, and when I can't, I relativize the case. 

5. Of everything you have written, what is your favorite piece and why?

This is difficult for me to answer: I don't have a "favorite" piece because I don't trust the verb "like." I don't believe in self-indulgence.

6. Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

This, on the other hand, isn't difficult for me to answer: Kafka, Proust, Dickinson, Breton, Debord, Didion . . . 

7. What else do you want to share with our readers? 

A Blue Dark—a joint exhibition of my handwritten poems and translations on washi paper prepared by Fritz Horstman, and his ink drawings—was held at the Institute Library in New Haven. Here is a link to a video and another to some pictures of the exhibition/space. In conjunction with the exhibition, a book catalogue has been published by Vif Éditions. The show ran until September 7th. A smaller installation of our work will be on view at Berl's Poetry Shop in Brooklyn until early October 2019.

And my latest book of translations of contemporary Chinese poet Ye Lijun, My Mountain Country, is just out from World Poetry Books. Here and here are some poems from My Mountain Country.

September 2019

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