Interview With Franny Choi

It wasn't until later in life, after I'd been expressing myself through poetry for years, that I began to depend on it as a way to process my experiences. I do still like to think of it as a game, though! It helps take away some of the high stakes of crafting a poem.

What advice do you wish you had gotten as a teen?

       Stop worrying so much about what others think of you! Or what's the "right" way to dress or act or live or love! The big secret is that there's no way that things are "supposed" to be. The things that made me a weirdo in high school are the things that make me more awesome now.

Tell us about a time when you were brave, or bravery was required of you, or you saw someone else being brave.

       When I was a junior in college, the boy who had recently been my boyfriend died suddenly while he was studying abroad in China. That same day, I was supposed to go to the staged reading of a play I'd written and answer questions from the audience. I remember getting ready for the show, tying up my hair, and thinking, "I just need to get through the next few hours." Sometimes, I think going through the normal motions of a day when everything is crashing around you is the bravest thing there is.

How do you start a poem? Give us a window into your process.

       Often, my poems start from a little seed that's been clanging around in my head for days. Something like, "Wow, I really have trouble finishing the ends of my sentences." Sometimes I sit down intending to write that poem; other times, I just start writing, and that's what bubbles up. I think it's important as a writer to be a little more aware than most people of your own tiny obsessions.

 What is your motto for getting through the tough times?

        "Love and good humor." When I'm feeling really overwhelmed, I try to focus back to the love that drives me to work so hard, to remember what it's all for. And I think it's impossible to get through hard places without a good sense of humor.