Author Q & A with Emdash AKA Emily Lu Gao
June 8, 2022
This week’s Author Q&A is with Emdash (AKA Emily Lu Gao). Emdash is a multi-genre writer, poet, and teacher who currently splits her time between NJ and SoCal. Her writing is propagated from Spoken Word Poetry and Ethnic Studies, primarily grappling with queerness, mental health, and healing. Her poem “Statistically Speaking” appears in our Spring 2022 issue.
We asked Emdash to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of her poem and what she learned from writing it.
Her response: “I pulled this poem from my ribs in Spring of 2020 during a class with Professor Brent Armendinger; it’s been incredible seeing it grow and heal alongside me. It has slowly become my opening number at readings!
“”Statistically speaking” affirmed what a dear poet friend once told me: sometimes the poem isn’t ready for you to finish it just yet. And now it is. On a macro level, I am constantly learning as I write and revisit pieces. One of the best (and scariest) parts of writing is the unavoidable path to your truth.”
Her response is on point. Poetry reveals layers of truth as the lines unfold down the page, or in this case, across and down a grid of cells in a chart. And often, what the poem needs is to be put away, in order for us to gain more experience and clarity so when we revisit it, new truths are ready to be revealed.
Following this, we asked Em to share what fuels her desire to write.
Her response: “An ache to heal, grow and decolonize, hopefully shedding shame in the process. An astute desire to shed more light on mental health issues. An acquired taste for humans, including myself.”
We then asked if she has any projects coming up she’d like to share with our readers.
Her response: “My chapbook ABC Redux, a rerelease of a chapbook I made in 2019, is set to drop by the end of this summer/early fall. I am hoping to get back more into Spoken Word by the end of this year as well. Follow me @emdashh for juicy updates!
We then asked what author(s) (or other persons) have been the biggest influence in her writing?
Her Response: “Not an author but to two different entities: (1) open mics and (2) every teacher I’ve ever had a 1-on-1 conversation with. I owe my voice, my confidence, and my will to keep going, to you. These cosmic entities raised me. Thank you so much.”
Finally, as we always do, we asked Emdash to share what she thinks of when she hears the phrase “The Good Life.”
Her response: “Witty ice cream, shoulder kisses, and a trusty bookshelf. Oh, and a well-reviewed Bluetooth speaker with mighty longevity.”
We can certainly agree with that!
Emdash is currently an MFA candidate at Rutgers University-Newark and her poems can be found in The Agave Review, Curious Publishing, and Queer Rain. She recognizes mental health challenges many people experience and recommends free, 24/7 resources like the like NYC Wellness Line and The Trevor Project.
Thank you, Em, for participating in our Q&A and being open to sharing more about yourself and your writing (and Spoken Word) life. We are grateful for the opportunity to publish your poem!!
~The Good Life Review Team