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Interview with Hans Yang

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

Hans Yang is a poet, prose writer, and screenwriter from the United States. He is an alumnus of the residential Iowa Young Writers Studio’s Class of 2022, and a 2023 National YoungArts Finalist in Novel. He is the founder and the prose Editor-In-Chief of the Metaphysical Review, an international literary magazine showcasing exceptional and complex work from writers of all ages. His work is published in the Cloudy Magazine, and forthcoming in Bullshit Lit and Fleuri Lit.

Quick Questions

Favorite book at the moment: Soft Science by Franny Choi

Favorite book of all time: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Favorite author: This is too tough. K-Ming Chang, Dostoevsky, Murakami, and more…

Favorite poem: really difficult question, almost impossible to fully answer but either “INTRODUCTION TO QUANTUM THEORY” by Franny Choi or “Golden” by Daniel Zhang, published as the winner of the Kenyon Review’s Patricia Grodd Poetry Contest. The former is just so technically and experimentally brilliant, and the latter’s aesthetic and imagery is just so (may I say,) hot.

Favorite place to write (ambiguous): At home in my room, or at my local coffee shop, usually in the earlier or later hours, since in between I find it hard to concentrate due to all the energy in the day.

Favorite thing you have written so far: ‘constant flux’, I’d say the combined enjoyment in the pride from its completion and the satisfaction of the process was the most out of all the poems I’ve written so far. It’s a piece on the fleetingness of experience, how a college boy meets a

Favorite place to find poetry: Honestly, much of the poetry I find is from my friends, whether it's their poetry, or if it’s another poet’s. I’m lucky to have such good friends with such a high caliber of writing ability– their taste is immaculate.

(Slower) Questions

How did you become interested in creative writing in the first place?

It was dissatisfaction from reading YA novels. I would come across a poorly written novel, and frustrated, I would try to fix it (to some degree). Of course, at first I didn’t have the ability to do so. But as I grew older, that ability became adequate. At that time, however, I had moved onto my own trademarks and ideas.

Who or what would you cite as your main inspirations for writing?

God, this is difficult. Uh– when I was young, I had a huge affinity for action fantasy. I was super picky then, and I didn’t care much about realistic fiction. Christopher Paolini’s Eragon and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series were my whole world. I wrote crappy fanfictions about their characters going bonkers against Minecraft characters or just generally being badass. I still hold both series dear to my heart today.

How was your last experience in Iowa Young Writers Studio?

I attended Session One In-Person at the Iowa Young Writers Studio. Oh, the studio was the best time I’ve had in years. I would stay there forever if I could. I took Joan Li’s course on ‘Stories and their Shapes’- I was greatly attracted to it due to my trouble properly formulating structure. Before the workshop, when writing short stories, I would jump around in short stories at different points in the plot and ‘sew’ the paragraph islands together.

Your most recent work that you posted ‘hivemind’ is really beautiful to read, and the form of the poem is something I’ve always wondered how to do. Would you be able to share your process with this and do you have any tips for creative such evocative images?

Thank you. ‘hivemind’ is an intriguing piece in terms of process. The origin of pieces for me are first, the form, second, the image, and finally, third, the execution. The beginning of hivemind was a peculiar, grainy definition in my mind– hivemind as both a hurricane-like bee colony of immigrant diaspora and also a vain techno-orientalism, a reach for sentience and understanding. The motif of the collective pronoun, we, and the breathless lack of punctuation was an attempt to render the tone ominous and the pace overwhelming. I thought about how the lines overlap with each other in theme, which was a major part of the piece. For example, the line “we the closed xian restaurant on thirteenth down past the strip club replaced by pancake parlors” refers to tragic gentrification, and combined with “the workers are out in the bay area” and “the drones are dancing in the dark” refers back to the central theme of a ‘hive’- worker bees, working themselves to death, and drone bees, whose only role is to mate. There is more to it, but it would take far too long to explain everything.

Regarding evocative images, when experimenting don’t force yourself to manufacture authenticity. This is the most important part, and often fatal. However, this is not to say that concentrating at all is bad, and that you should just daydream. I’ve tried that before, and it’s really time inefficient.

‘Growing Up / Growing Out’ related questions

How would you define ‘home’?

Honestly, I think that a true ‘home’ is a place where you’ll cry when you leave it. A place where you’ll grow attached to the people, the places, and the feel of the city, absorb it into you, that when you leave (or maybe don’t), it feels like you’ve lost something in your identity.

Do you think that ‘Growing Out’ of places is an inevitable part of ‘Growing Up’?

I wouldn’t say so. I feel that some part of ‘growing out’ is your own choice. If you’d like to let go, so be it. But in most cases I see traces of people hanging on. My friend Andrew, immigrated from Hong Kong, briefly reminiscing about noodle shops. My friend Krish, moving from the Bay Area to Texas, recalled a time he got kicked out of a community center in San Francisco. In everyone, I’d say, there is at least a trace of their past. Sometimes I revert back to the stupidity of a second-grader. (It’s kind of enjoyable in most cases).

What are some places / past selves / ideas / phases that you have outgrown? I lived in Chicago for nine years before moving to the West Coast. I came back to Chicago last summer and a waiter at a Chinese restaurant we used to frequent was still working there and recognized me. It was crazy.

It’s a bit sad, too– I don’t recognize a lot of things in Chicago anymore. Compared to San Diego it seems so flat and so concrete-bound. The people, too– my friends in third and second grade, have gone on to become amazing leaders and world-class musicians. It just seems quite surreal.


To find out more about Hans, you can find him on Instagram at @hansyang.docx, or his website. His recent poem: "gou-shi-29" is also featured in Edition 1: Growing Up, Growing Out. You can check out the Instagram post, and the full interview recording on our Spotify.

Screenshot of our Zoom meeting with Hans Yang!
Screenshot of our Zoom meeting with Hans Yang!

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