Most writers have day jobs and frequently have difficulty finding writing time. How do you manage it?
I have four children and nine jobs. I manage it by not sleeping. Ever.
How long have you been writing and do you perceive your writing to have evolved in any particular way that you would like to share?
I have been writing since fifth grade when I wrote a book review of “Old Bones” for Highlights Magazine. I did it for the money, $5. Since then, I have written news, feature articles, reviews, essays, columns, blog posts, prose poetry, and creative nonfiction, primarily for ethnic new media. I have also created multimedia artworks and I have hand sewn chapbooks. I speak often to college students and young professionals about Asian American history and media, challenging them to resistance and action. Regardless of the form, I find that I am always searching for meaning, for truth, for better understanding. My guardian angel once observed, “You’re the sort of person who doesn’t even know what you think until you’ve written it.”
What appealed to you about being a part of the Pact Press Speak and Speak Again anthology?
I love the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance, and all the great work that they do!
What do you think is the responsibility of the writer in today’s polarized environment?
Make trouble. Move hearts. Incite people to action. #GoodTrouble
Why do you do write? Why do you do what you do?
I really want to help empower younger Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders so that they do not have to go through the same stuff we did with identity crises, being a minority, always being “the only one.” I would love to spare people (starting with my own children) the angst of wrestling with who they are, what they are, how they fit in, and help them develop a strong sense of identity, culture, and pride. I advocate and speak up for the older generation and more recent immigrants who might not have the education, political awareness, or English skills to fight for their rights and their children’s rights. I talk to the mainstream because I figure that the best way to protect my children from racism and discrimination tomorrow is to educate their peers today.
Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Michigan and Hawai‘i. She is a contributor and essayist for NBC News Asian America. She has also written for AAPIVoices.com, NewAmericaMedia.org, ChicagoIsTheWorld.org, AnnArbor.com, PacificCitizen.org, InCultureParent.com. She teaches Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies at University of Michigan. She has published three chapbooks of prose poetry, been included in several anthologies and art exhibitions, and created a collaborative multimedia artwork for a Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.
Frances has three chapbooks available from Blacklava Books
Imaginary Affairs—Postcards from an Imagined Life
Where the Lava Meets the Sea–Asian Pacific American Postcards from Hawai‘i
Dreams of the Diaspora