First Language(s): Vietnamese
Second Language(s): English
Chanlee Luu is a Vietnamese American writer from southern Virginia, currently working towards an MFA in creative writing at Hollins University. She received her BS in chemical engineering from the University of Virginia. She writes poetry about identity, pop culture, science, politics, and everything in between, but is open to experimentation on form and genre.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Normally, I would overthink this question (What age range is considered a child? Do I like the series or the individual book? How does one determine a favorite anything without doing an analytical ranking system with points?), but two books popped up in my head: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. For the former, I remember feeling shocked by all the twists, but overall, I loved being transported to the magical world of Bayern. From the latter, I learned the word “melancholy,” which was captured in a lozenge, a fascinating concept for a future food science nerd.
Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?
I liked creative writing in school, but going to spoken word performances by Asian Americans, like Jason Chu and G Yamazawa, in college really inspired me to write my own and start competing in slam poetry events. I'm generally not an externally expressive person, so poetry really was an outlet to say what I needed to.
What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?
I would not exactly call myself a thrill-seeking person, but I do enjoy an adventure when the opportunity presents itself. The most physically thrilling activity I've done might be zip-lining (with help) in the Dominican Republic on a study abroad trip. However, the most thrilling thing I wish I could experience again was Taylor Swift's reputation tour.
Do you listen to music while reading or writing?
Most of the time, I do listen to music while writing because my thoughts are too loud, but then sometimes I do need silence because I need to hear my thoughts, which seems counterintuitive, but I still have not figured out the optimal writing conditions for me, which can be a bit of a problem. This is why writing can feel like a miracle or magic when I am able to formulate words out of this brain, which prefers numbers and Excel spreadsheets.
To the Alien Crops in the Marshy Fields
Issue Fall '22