Hiromi Goto is the award-winning author of Chorus of Mushrooms and The Kappa Child. Her most recent work is a collection of short stories, Hopeful Monsters. She’s also written a novel for children, The Water of Possibility. Her poetry has been published in journals, WestCoastLine, Public 30, Amerasia Journal, CV2 and Prairie Fire. A YA novel, Half World, is pending with Penguin Canada.
Questions & Answers
Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?
No, not a specific moment. I was interested in the range of writing that poetry allows. Poetry demands a kind of precision, but there is also a great deal of room to experiment and play. Coming from a background in fiction sometimes I find myself feeling confined by the demands of causality in narrative fiction and plot. Poetry can have plot but it is not confined by it. There is a jazz-like quality to poetry for me and it is deeply satisfying and challenging.
How/where do you find inspiration today?
Inspiration comes from either the accretion of concepts, ideas and images or from a single moment, an experiential moment that takes on a mise en scene quality even while I am part of the lived moment be it as a player or as an observer.
What is your writing process?
It’s a full-spectrum process. There’s a hunter-gatherer quality in the early stages. Being observant and thoughtful and choosing the best material for the task at hand. One wouldn’t gather stones to weave a basket. So I’m gathering stuff, in my mind, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing. When I have enough material I start making something out of it.
What is your revision/editing process?
After finishing the project I let it sit for a while. Several months is the best. Then, I reread it and revise. The next stage is to receive feedback from someone else, a trusted peer who has strong editorial skillls. I revise again. I rarely submit material for publication without having had gone through this process.
Did you write poetry in high school? If yes, how did you get started? If no, why not?
Yes, I wrote sonnet-like things and lovely rhyming couplets; I wrote what I had been exposed to in the school system. I wrote them because I wanted to become a writer and I liked poetry. But I stopped writing poetry in my late teens and did not resume writing it again for many years. I still spend a great deal of more time writing fiction than poetry.
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. websites, text books, etc.)?
Sometimes refer to Creative Writer’s Handbook by Philip K. Jason and Allan B. Lefcowitz. But highly encourage the young poet to range far in your reading practice as well as attend literary readings.
When you were high school aged, what would have been helpful/motivating to hear from a published poet?
Your voice and your experiences matter.