Interview with Maria S. Picone

Your writing is defined by overlapping identities. Do you think your writing is an exercise in its expression?

My identity would not be where it is without my writing, and vice versa. If you completely conflate me as speaker and writer, you can get an idea of how honest I am on the page.

Your work braids culture and belonging/unbelonging. What do you think helps in being honest with origins?

First, you are not a culture. You are a single representation of that culture. There will be places where you align and places where you do not. That is identity. Use those negative spaces as much as the positive aspects of your experience. Do not lean into renderings of yourself, by yourself or others, that express your representation as actual and only truth. Do not let them pick a single explanation for why you do what you do.

Writing both prose and poetry, do they feed off each other? If so, to what end?

They are a reference for each other.

They are a relief from each other.

They are a reflection of each other.

They are a refuge to the artist.

Cheekily, they are sibling rivals clamoring for the multi-genre writer’s attention and time.

As an editor, where do you think the future of flash fiction is headed?

At the moment, flash is beautifully intangible. I think as flash writers and outlets proliferate and demand to be taken seriously, alternative ways into the craft of improving flash will also multiply and make it easier for both prose writers and poets to take the last leap to enter the genre. That is, one of the best and most exciting aspects of flash is its hybridity, its slipperiness.

Using both Korean and your adopted tongue makes your work interestingly complex. For such an amalgamation, what advice would you give?

It flows organically but is also hard to capture. For me, other languages in my work or other forms such as visual organization on the page are a stand-in for the inaccessible ineffable that I as a person want to express as such per se. A huge challenge for me in any form is helping readers learn how to read my work. I express it complexly because it is complex. 

Congratulations on your debut chapbook Sky Sea Edict (Muddy Ford Press). You clearly got a lot of work done during a busy schedule. Please tell us about your writing routine.

Thank you! My writing routine consists of spending a small amount of time each day on personal writing or adjacent activities such as submissions, applications, and opportunities. I also (mostly) don’t force myself to work on any one thing. Exploring what I have energy for at that moment, while still committing to write something, has been incredibly helpful for my writing output and practice.

Maria S. Picone
Maria S. Picone

Maria S. Picone/수영 is a queer Korean American adoptee who won Cream City Review’s 2020 Summer Poetry Prize. Her debut chapbook, Sky Sea Edict, will be published in late 2022. She has been published in Tahoma Literary Review, The Seventh Wave, Fractured Lit, and more, including Best Small Fictions 2021. Her work has been supported by The Juniper Institute, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, GrubStreet, Kenyon Review, and Tin House. She is the managing editor at Chestnut Review and The Petigru Review, Hanok Review’s poetry editor, and Uncharted Mag’s associate editor. Find out more at, Twitter @mspicone.

Mandira Pattnaik
Mandira Pattnaik