Koon Woon was born in a small village near Canton in 1949, immigrated to the United States in 1960, and presently resides in Seattle’s International District. He began writing poetry when mental illness struck at the age of 30. He found himself homeless twice as the result of mental illness. He maintains that “poetry was/is the tenuous thread that held me together.”
Koon Woon’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including THE POEM AND THE WORLD: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY and PREMONITIONS: THE KAYA ANTHOLOGY OF NEW ASIAN NORTH AMERICAN POETRY. Publisher of the literary ‘zine, Chrysanthemum, and Goldfish Press, Woon is a vocal advocate for Seattle literature. THE TRUTH IN RENTED ROOMS is his first poetry collection.
Koon Woon will be reading his poetry on May 2, 1999 in the Seattle Poetry Festival at On The Boards theater, the Timberline Library in Aberdeen, WA on April 22, 1999 at 7:00 PM, and at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Federal Way on July 16, 1999 at 7:00 PM.
Dennis Y. Ginoza recently spoke with Koon Woon in Seattle.
Koon Woon’s answers are presented here in RealMedia 5.0 format (non-streaming). To listen to these files, you will need the free RealPlayer software.
To read selected poems from THE TRUTH IN RENTED ROOMS and to hear Koon Woon reading, click on the following links:
It’s All I’ve Got, He Said
Q&A with Koon Woon
1- When did you start writing? koonwoon1
2- Were any poets particularly influential on your own writing? koonwoon2
3- You are an advocate for Seattle writers. What is unique about writers from this area as opposed to writers from New York or San Francisco? koonwoon3
4- How does the immigrant experience, both your own and that of Asians in general, shape your poetry? koonwoon4
5- Has your struggle with mental illness effected how you write or what you write about? koonwoon5
6- Do you think many poets write for an elite rather than regular people? koonwoon6
7- Does being grounded in two languages influence your work? koonwoon7
8- Isolation is a central theme in your work, yet that isolation is tempered by a connection to both history and a larger community. Can you talk a bit about the role isolation plays in your work? koonwoon8
9- THE TRUTH IN RENTED ROOMS is divided into three sections. Could you describe each section? koonwoon9
10- What interests you in the tension between China and the US, between homeland and adopted country, past and present? koonwoon10
11- What advice would you give to aspiring writers? koonwoon11
12- Why do you write? koonwoon12