Clara Hsu on Spiking Curiosity and Giving Light

Clara Hsu on Spiking Curiosity and Giving Light

An interview with Clara Hsu, from The Write Stuff series over at SF Weekly:

Clara Hsu practices the art of multi-dimensional being: mother, musician, purveyor of Clarion Music Center (1982-2005), traveler, translator and poet.

A nominee for the Pushcart Prize in poetry (2001), Clara’s first book of poems, Mystique, received honorable mention at the 2010 San Francisco Book Festival. Her work can be found in print and online journals. She is featured in the 33rd issue of the British poetry journal, Erbacce.

With John Rhodes Clara co-hosts the San Francisco Open Mic Poetry Podcast TV Show. With Jack Foley she co-edits Poetry Hotel Press.

Her new book of poems, The First to Escape, is available online and at readings. A review of the book can be found at Synchronized Chaos.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?

“I’m a poet.”

“OMG! I didn’t know such people exist… I mean, do they really… ???”

What’s your biggest struggle — work or otherwise?

In order to improve his English, Fidel Castro set himself up to memorize two hundred English words a day. I’m trying.

If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?

Just like anything you want to do, take it seriously, intensely and passionately. Otherwise don’t do it.

Do you consider yourself successful? Why?

Every time I discover something new I consider it a success.

When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?

The Cuban Revolution.

Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?

When I was young I saw a newspaper clipping of my grandfather lying naked in the street. The heading read: Evangelist Ma Destitute in the Streets of Canton. He was a devout man of few words.

Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?

I want to be a princess with a large treasure chest — lots of clothes and jewelry.

Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.

I keep scratching my head. It’s bewildering.

Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.

Now you see it now you don’t.
Don’t you see it don’t you now?

How much money do you have in your checking account?

Enough but never enough.

What’s wrong with society today?

There are thorns to pick but pick them and you’ll get pricked.

Are you using any medications? If so, which ones?

No. I’m your cleanest poet in town.

What is your fondest memory?

Lying in a hidden alcove
Listening to the bells of Old St. Mary’s.

How many times do you fall in love each day?

I fall once in a while
but mostly I’m steady.
Did you say “love”?

What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?

Everyone is social dancing.

What is art? Is it necessary? Why?

Thou art, art thou?

What are you working on right now?

Opening up that damn consciousness.

What kind of work would you like to do? Or: what kind of writing do you most admire?

Ones that spike curiosity and give light.

What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?

Fifty words are enough for a blurb.
Fifty dollars can buy lots of enchiladas.
Fifty states have no official language.
Fifty sheep will put one to sleep.
At fifty-something one is quick to say
Fifty/fifty is for the commies when out to dinner
and the date won’t pay.


Here to read all The Write Stuff profiles; here to watch all the videos.