24 Jan 2013

Paradise Hunger: Interview with Henry W. Leung

I’m posting here the interview I did for MQR. Henry is a second year MFA student at Michigan, and a terribly intelligent one.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Henry, over the course of two lunches, to talk about his recent book, as well as his thoughts on writing. Below are excerpts of the conversation, just a peek into this insightful author’s mind.

Henry W. Leung was born in a village in Guangdong, China. He spent his childhood in Honolulu before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently completing his MFA in Fiction at the University of Michigan. Paradise Hunger – the winner of the 2012 Swan Scythe Press Poetry Chapbook Contest – is his first chapbook. He writes a bimonthly column on Asian American poetry for the Lantern Review.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I had two childhoods, one in Honolulu – with perfect weather (of course, I didn’t appreciate it back then, I wanted to live in the cold so I could wear a leather jacket) – and the other in Alameda. A lot of our home village ended up in Honolulu, but my mother moved us to California to be near her sisters and for better opportunities in education. It worked out in the end, but I always thought of the first childhood as a happy but not very productive one – a “normal” childhood, playing video games and farming neighbors’ backyards. But in California, I noticed race for the first time. I was alone more, I didn’t have close friends for a while. And I was the token Asian kid. Ironically, it wasn’t until I joined a martial arts school when I was eleven that I started to feel at home. You know that saying, It takes a village to raise a child? The martial arts was the other village that raised me. Continue reading