I am deeply aware that “truth” can be debated; all I can do as a writer is convey the truth that I’ve deduced from evidence. Each person coming to that evidence may find a different way of expressing inferences. A biography, after all, is the intersection of my own biography—my experiences, people I’ve known, my personality— with that of my subject.
The last thing I want to be in my writing is didactic and preachy, but I do want to remind my readers that, in a way, all of life is a domino effect, that people suffer a lot and for a lot of different reasons, and that we all probably need to work on our empathy skills and on paying attention a bit more.
The voices in these poems are not often heard outside the South, and they are voices that, like the land, are being lost with the development and modernization that characterize the New South. Yet they express emotions and concerns we all share, and wherever I’ve taken this project, people are responding to it.
When I was younger, I was drawn to activities for which I had a natural aptitude, but discovered that I couldn’t feel really passionate about something that didn’t require more of me than I thought I was able to give. I’ve learned a lot about how to be brave and vulnerable, fearless and reverent by fighting and writing my way forward.
When I finally began to write about what I knew (it’s obvious— but it’s not obvious until you know what it is you know!) it felt like opening a door and coming home. This wasn’t really a matter of the subjects—people, relationships, families: I’d tried all that before. It was a matter of the voice; it was that I discovered what I sounded like, what I needed to sound like, to tell my truth about what I saw.
I believe that intentions matter. They matter in life and they matter in writing fiction. If you sincerely want to explore the humanity of a character who happens to be of a different race, that sincerity will shine through. Readers are so awesomely smart.
by Terry Hong
“I’ve been a slam poet, a fiction writer, a performer, and a journalist, and while I have all manner of manuscripts scattered across my apartment and office—poetry, short stories, and even a novel—I’m very picky about what I want to get published, and what will ultimately represent me. This is probably a very bad strategy for a writing career, but there you go.”