I think favorite could be interpreted in various ways. I co-wrote a performance piece, Black White Chinese Women Got the Beat, with a woman twenty years younger than me. The significance of that writing was the similarities and differences of two mixed-race women with a substantial age difference. She grew up in a rural area, I grew up in a city. Together we performed our combined stories at various venues including a bar, a coffee house, and a college classroom.
Most meaningful, personally, was my picture book And You Can Love Me: a story for everyone who loves someone with ASD. The artist and I were both newcomers to writing a picture book, so it was challenging, but also rewarding because, again, it was an intergenerational effort. The book is a love story to my grandson who is non-verbal and autistic. He was diagnosed at age 3 ½ and he is now 13.
And yet, the book I am most proud of, I didn’t write, I was the editor. How Dare We! Write: a multicultural creative writing discourse contains the stories of 24 writers with various degrees of experience, and various preferred genre of writing. It is a resource for University instructors to know the challenges, yet perseverance of writers in the mix.
I couldn’t name just one. I could try to say my favorite poem is this, my favorite poetry book is this, my favorite memoir etc.….but I can’t. What I can say is poems, stories, and books by writers of color, especially women, especially Minnesota writers, are mostly what I read: Marcie Rendon, David Mura, Carolyn Holbrook, Bao Phi, just to name a few of many.
I have a list of books on my blog site that I recommend and books on Goodreads that I have read or that I am reading, including: Women Who Run With the Wolves; anything written by Toni Morrison; Alchemy of Race and Rights by Patricia J. Williams; the Late Homecomer by Kao Kalia Yang; The Woman Who Watches Over the World, by Linda Hogan; The Woman Who Fell from the Sky by Joy Harjo; Brutal Imagination by Cornelius Eady; and the list goes on and on and on in no particular order.
Septuagenarian is my swan song, so right now I am taking a deep breath and hoping to exhale 40 years of writing mostly about identity-my mixed-race identity-and when I’m ready, I hope to discover meaning and opportunity beyond writing books, but I’ve yet to visualize that future. I have always found working with other writers by mentoring and reviewing manuscripts the most rewarding aspect of my writerly life so that’s a possibility. Maybe writing has nothing to do with my future.
I have always told my students as much as we may not like it, it’s who we know as to where our writing can take us. It’s how do we find and participate in communities? How do we find and interact with other individuals-they don’t have to be writers, but certainly writers hold a special place in our family of friends. Especially as a writer published by an indie publisher, much depends on me to create visible spaces for my books. But it’s not like I interact with people because I have an agenda, I’ve just always approached people with genuine interest and sometimes they become supporters of me as an artist and promote my work. It’s actually because of a friend that my work was submitted to LHP/Modern History Press which began a six book relationship with the indie press.
My writing process is very random. I write when I need to write. When I’m compelled by emotions that need an outlet. Emotions triggered by news, by movies, by a book or a story that affect me or my communities. Emotions triggered by personal experiences—what haunts me, hurts me, angers me; and, sometimes, what makes me happy, what gives me joy. Poetry is the genre that conveys best what my heart renders.
My blog is blog.sherryquanlee. I also have a FB page: sherry quan lee. I don’t post frequently, but when I do I hope to convey what may be useful to other writers. Also, my blog and FB page are places I can give visibility to other writers, especially writers I have worked with or know. My personal focus has always been identity, so that is often the theme of my posts.
From life; from living; from observing and listening.
I enjoy revision. Not the pins and needles of copy editing, but the freedom to play with a poem, with the sound, the language—to actually discover what wasn’t the initial intent.
Editing: spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
I have always wondered whether when my life gets better does my writing get better, or does my life get better as my writing gets better. I’m not sure the answer is important. But I do consider that writing has been my way of knowing myself based on the fluidity and intersectionality of my journey—my history, and how I got to where I am, to who I am now. From experience, I agree with other writers that say the more you write the better the craft of your writing. However, as one of my mentors said to me, don’t over edit because that takes the life, the spark, the sass, the intention out of my poems.