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  • Writer's pictureAva Chen

Interview with Ivi Hua: Issue 2 Featured Contributor

"we were butterflies in glass bottles, &

last night I dreamt of you taking to the air,

leaving it all behind."

-"three from october" by Ivi Hua

Saltwater oceans, slashed skies, split skin—in her vivid, dynamic poem "three from october," Ivi Hua, our featured poetry contributor to Issue 2, immerses readers in a lush world of heartbreak and violence, rife with visceral imagery and wistful remembrance. Hua utilizes white space and enjambment on the page to skillfully create visual constellations of emotion. In this interview, she delves into her inspirations, stylistic and storewide, behind "three from october," as well as her general thought process when crafting poetry. We hope you enjoy Hua's thoughtful interview!

You can read Hua's poem here.

Q: Your poetry uses abnormal spacing and line breaks. What led you to that choice in this particular poem and why?

Writing “three from october”, I knew I wanted a disjointed, jaggedly-cut voice present throughout the poem. Especially within the context of the dreams that the piece is structured around, the abnormal caesura allows a level of nonlinearity to the narrative that unfolds. The large spaces are meant to be tangible representations of pauses, of moments where the images last beyond their words. For example, in the third section, I wrote “become blades made for slaughter./ my veins my arteries empty,” with very noticeable caesura between each phrase.

In terms of the line breaks, I felt that their placement allowed for a sense of motion within the piece. Because of their abnormalities, the reader is forced to continue onwards with the poem to reach a natural conclusion. It’s somewhat the same with the spacing— I aimed to emphasize the impact of each phrase by isolating it. The goal was to have each group of words stand for itself, while still being in conjunction with the others.

Q: My favorite line in this piece is "last night i drowned & woke up withered / this saltwater ocean a blade to my chest." Could you tell us a little more about that line, what inspired it, and its place in the poem?

At its core, “last night i drowned & woke up withered / this saltwater ocean a blade to my chest” calls upon the feeling of being completely overwhelmed. Additionally, it marks a turn in the tonality and context of the piece. Up until this place in the poem, “three from october” is solely about yearning, centered around external issues. However, this line marks the introduction of an internal struggle that runs parallel to the love that the speaker feels for the person they’re addressing.

In terms of inspiration, water has always been an element I’ve associated with infinity, especially within its turbulence. I wanted to convey a sense of losing control and being overwhelmed, and conceptually, drowning, with its total lack of air, was the closest concept to the emotions I was working to communicate.

Q: What or who were the main inspirations behind this poem?

This poem, strangely enough, started as a collection of journal entries from October of 2021. The month was a time of great change and vivid emotion in my life, and I turned to poetry to try to express something akin to what I was feeling. Each of the three sections was initially started by lines from my journal throughout the month, and then I worked to expand upon each of the ideas presented. It definitely helped that I tended to be very intense and dramatic when journaling, as "three from october" is largely structured with striking imagery. Throughout the course of the writing process, the ideas and connotations of the poem underwent metamorphosis, and we ended up with the piece we have today.

Q: What kinds of things are you focusing on when you write a poem?

When writing, I try to focus first and foremost on communication of ideas and emotions. I like to start with a few lines, and then begin to expand into playing around with structure. Once I've established a loose structure, I'll work on streamlining the piece, especially in terms of tonality and usage of language. I will typically hone in on emotional themes and communication of those themes once a draft of a poem has been established, and play around with lines until they feel satisfactory. Oftentimes, after all else is done, my final focus will be on the structure. I’m a visual processor, so the way a poem is placed on a page is something I tend to adjust once all the actual language is on the page. Overall, though, emotional impact is what is most important to me, and the other aspects I work with are supports to that final result.

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