We had the good fortune of connecting with April Lim and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi April, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
A conventional piece of advice in the literary world is to write every day. This is wonderful advice if it applies to you, but I disagree with this advice for myself because it can lead to burnout or a feeling of discontentment within my own writing. The act of constantly producing can cause me to feel overwhelmed, and it limits my ability to be creative in some ways. I enjoy writing, but writing to me is an act of self-care to realign myself rather than an exercise.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I write poetry that explores the themes of diaspora and my culture as the daughter of former refugees of the Cambodian Genocide. It was difficult accepting myself as a writer because I held a different expectation for myself. My parents never pressured me to become anything but educated and happy, but I wanted to set myself up for a grand future. I think I am living that grand future, but it’s not the one I expected. A lot of the challenges I faced were internal. The struggle between who I thought I would be and the person I was meant to become was the biggest challenge that I had to navigate through. Once I learned to accept myself as a Poet, I very much sped up in my journey of growth. I am still not the writer I think I am meant to be, but I don’t think I ever want to reach that point. I’m always looking to improve myself, and in turn, my art. There’s really no end goal for me. I just want to be able to create art as authentic to myself as possible.
I’m currently pursuing an MFA in Poetry at Oklahoma State University (OSU), but before that I was working full time at an IT & Solutions company as a Technical Editor. I still work there part time, but now I’m choosing to focus more on my growth as an artist and individual. There are more opportunities career-wise presenting themselves to me right now that I’m excited about. For example, I’m able to do a grant writing internship with a women’s shelter through OSU that is providing me insight to the nonprofit sector. As a passionate advocate for Domestic Violence Awareness, I’m so thrilled to have this opportunity. I don’t think I ever would have arrived at this point had I not made the active decision to pursue Poetry seriously.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First, I would hope they are coming in the winter! I love Houston and I want them to love it as well, so summer months are definitely off the table. What’s on the table is a lot of good food. I tell people that I travel for sights and food, but so far I haven’t been able to find food better than what’s in Houston. Depending on what they’re craving, I have a recommendation for basically everything. Indian? Maharaja Bhog. Chinese? Pepper Twins. BBQ? Truth BBQ. Vegan BBQ? Sauce Pit.
For sights, I’d show them around the museum district. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston always has my heart, especially with its CAMHLAB, its artist-in-residence initiative that pairs up with local Houston artists to help launch these artists and their works.
For an in-person/post-pandemic Houston experience, Wednesday nights at Write About Now Poetry at AvantGarden is an absolute must. There’s no crowd more lively and lovely than these individuals.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The Houston literary scene is a huge influence to my writing career, starting with Dr. Erika Jo Brown during my undergraduate career at the University of Houston who huddled me under her wings to later fling me into the metaphorical moon that is the poetry world. I was able to meet other dedicated and lovely writers through The Colony, a space for writers of color, created and led by Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton and Lupe Mendez. Local Houston writing workshop organizations, such as Inprint and Writespace, have also provided me opportunities to grow as a writer. Huge shoutout the the Kundiman Houston group, specifically Angela So for organizing our salons each month, whether in-person or on zoom, and supporting my hectic last-minute ideas!