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Short Story Prize: Readers

Meet the readers: Ray Hsu

We're introducing you to the 10 talented Canadian poets who helped narrow down more than 2,300 entries for the 2011-2012 CBC Poetry Prize into the longlist. 

Up next, the League of Canadian Poets' Gerald Lampert Award winner tries to convince you that the stereotypes facing poets aren't entirely false. 

image-hsu.jpgTell us about yourself. Where do you live and what do you write?
I live in Vancouver, land of high rent and thin privilege.

I started writing poetry because poets seemed to be having so much more fun than novelists, or so I thought as a student.

What's your day job?
I teach poetry at the University of British Columbia Creative Writing Program.

I'm also Editor of Ricepaper magazine, where I wring my hands on behalf of people who look like me.

What's your literary street cred?
Two literary knife fights (Anthropy, Cold Sleep Permanent Afternoon) plus a prize, which was nice.

Why did you want to be a reader for the CBC Poetry Competition?
Because the CBC asked nicely.

What do you like most about poetry?
I like poetry because it gives me the moral high ground.

Where did you read the entries?
I read them alone on a mountaintop.

When you’re reading hundreds of poems and trying to choose the most exceptional ones, what are you looking for?
I don't choose the most exceptional ones. I take the ones that I know will pass a vote with the other judges.

What is it about a poem that makes you put it in the YES pile?
Whether it's written centre-justified on the page.

Having read all these poems, do you have tips, any dos and don’ts for aspiring poets?
Don't stalk me.

What did you enjoy most about the experience?
I enjoyed how the fees afforded to me by judging have allowed me to build a new wing on my house. This particular wing is dedicated to poetry.

Ray Hsu is a rockstar who happens to write books. Ray is author of Anthropy (winner of the Gerald Lampert Award; finalist for the Trillium Book Award in Poetry) and Cold Sleep Permanent Afternoon (winner of an Alcuin Award). He has published over 150 works in over 75 magazines and anthologies internationally. Ray taught writing for over two years in a US prison and now teaches in the University of British Columbia Creative Writing Program. He collaborates across disciplines, districts, and dinner tables. Catch him at thewayofray.com.

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