Emma Lee speaks to featured poet 
Melanie Hyo-In Han

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Melanie Han is an avid traveler and a poet who was born in Korea, grew up in East Africa, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing in Boston. She has won an award from Boston in 100 Words, and her poetry has appeared in several magazines and online journals, such as Fathom Mag and Among Worlds. During her free time, she can be found eating different ethnic foods, studying languages, or visiting new countries.

‘To Miss Tranquist’ explores how names can isolate or include and you use a western name alongside your given name, despite arguments with your parents. Do you still feel that sense of conflict, of being split between two cultures?

I still do feel that sense of conflict between my two cultures, but I’ve come to a point in my life where I’ve learned to embrace and appreciate that. I don’t think being split between two cultures is a bad thing any more; in fact, it just gives me more opportunities to be a multi-cultural person! 

Your poem ‘Houses and Homes’ explores the differences between someone who doesn’t feel they have roots and someone who lived in one house throughout childhood. Obviously, it’s impossible to say one is better than the other, but what changes a house into a home?

To me, a house becomes a home once there is a sense of rootedness. Oftentimes, having family and friends around helps with the process, but overall, the passage of time, along with an accumulation of memories and a feeling of belonging makes a place a home. 

How did you start writing and what drew you to poetry?

I don’t remember exactly how I started writing, but I do know that even from a young age, I was drawn to poetry because it gave me a chance to express myself. I loved being able to explore my own identity through writing, and I still do. 

What projects are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on a poetry chapbook, which will hopefully be finished by the summer! I also always have a few ongoing translation projects on the side. 

What are you currently reading?

Over the past few months, I’ve been reading several poets, such as Laura Da’, Aria Aber, and Emily Jungmin Yoon. I find myself drawn to people who write about their history, culture, and personal identity. I’m always open to more recommendations! 

Is there any writing advice or tips you’d like to pass on?

I’d love to encourage people to put themselves out there; being vulnerable is okay! In my opinion, the most important thing about writing is just starting the process of it. Then from there, reaching out to others, sharing work, and collaborating with other poets is helpful.

What’s next for Melanie Hyo-In Han?

I’m hoping to finish my MFA in Creative Writing in the next year! After that, I’ll probably continue to write to work towards a full length collection of poetry.  

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