The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Kim Koga

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Kim Koga ImageLet’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

Last year I fell into a very deep depression. It had been 3 years since I wrote anything and I had been ignoring that part of myself. I started doing mental exercises and journaling. I discovered that writing is an integral part of my being – that I loved being around writers – that I needed to write to be healthy and to take care of myself – so I started writing again. In other words, I learned that writing (in all of its forms) is essential to my life – so I write.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

I have been writing a long poem called girlgirl. I’ve lost my thread as to what I wanted to write when I started so my project tumbles along and morphs as I morph. I started writing it over a year ago. I’ve never had a project over this length of time before so it’s completely new to me. I want to investigate foreignness and my foreignness in it – feelings of foreignness despite “belonging”. The divergence between name and culture, and interrogating my feminism. I’m interested in exploring a world that is post-apocalyptic in which girlgirl can enter and fuse through – holding up her eye (which has fallen out of her face) to the world and see what is projected through her lens, and possibly how those things are distorted or enhanced by the lens.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

I’m not sure how to describe my aesthetic. This has been a perennial problem for me – and more so now. I feel like I’m in a transitioning period in my writing. The piece mentioned above is nothing like I’ve ever written before. I guess it’s similar to exercises that I’ve done before, but this project born out of something else – is all together something else. I used to write a lot about love and sex, which I think was more about fulfilling needs or expressing needs – but now I feel like I’m able to write about other aspects, other perceptions – and life… This project is separate from anything I’ve done before – reimagining my aesthetic in a sense? More along the lines of my collage work, than anything I’ve written before.

Who are your favorite authors?

Laura Mullen, William Faulkner, Hyesoon Kim, Hiromi ito, Yoko Tawada, Don Mee Choi, Raul Zurita, Aase Berg, Alice Notley. There are really too many to list and too many that I haven’t read.

What’s the most challenging piece of writing you’ve attempted? Tell us why.

The piece that I’m working on now has been the most challenging. It’s challenging because it’s more planning than I’ve ever done on a piece before, and it’s really outside of other things I’ve written in the past. I’m moving in different directions so I’m working on feeding my brain and slowly making some visual art while I’m working on this piece. I’m reading Hyesoon Kim, Yoko Tawada, Joyelle Mc Sweeney, Deleuze & Guattari and working on some collage art very slowly. All of these things will overlap into and feed my writing. I’ve never worked on a project like this before. It’s very excited and intimidating.

What’s your idea of bliss?

Gardening, baking, making art, endless money for supplies (garden, baking, art, books, etc) and travel, a space dedicated for making art – I’d love to have a little commercial space for a little gallery and a place to host readings… money for school – there are so many classes that I want to take and so many things I want to learn!

What makes you angry, and I mean all-out-smash-the-china raving mad?

Injustices make me angry and sad.

What books would you take with you on a three-month retreat in the boondocks?

I would take all of Faukner’s The Sound and the Fury, Raul Zurita’s The Country of Planks, the Selected Poems of Lorca, Bolaño’s Distant Star, Deleuze & Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, Lee Edelman’s No Future, Laura Mullen’s Complicated Grief, Alice Notley’s In the Pines and Alma, or the Dead Women, Woolf A Room of One’s Own, Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Net… I would take too many books with me and then fret about which one to read first. I read pretty slowly these days. It takes me such a long time to finish a book and I’m really easily distracted too. I recently tried to read at the beach but found the sound of the waves too distracting.

Your house is burning down. What’s the most important thing you’d want to take with you?

Our Turtle.

Describe your life philosophy. In a sentence.

Move forward – you cannot change the past.

Author Biography:

Kim Koga is a freelance writer and editor, and a managing editor for 1913 Press. Tinfish press published her chapbook Ligature Strain in 2011. Her work has been featured in ­­­_list magazine, Lantern Review, Ariel, and Grab the Lapels, among others. She received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Notre Dame and currently resides in San Diego, CA.