Interview with Vi Khi Nao for American Microreviews & Interviews
Cynthia Atkins: In your new collection, The Old Philosopher, you seem to be interested in embarking on territories that are at once both spiritual and material. The poems expose the collisions and intersections of the world of the flesh, as well as the world of capitalism and commerce—our wants vs. our needs. So I am wondering, Vi, how you see these worlds in the scape of your interior imagination, and how these subjects filter into the poems, as in “you stir the seeds of civilization/ in light or in water.”
Vi Khi Nao: My poems are my interior imagination. I don’t have an exterior imagination other my physical existence on this earth. We can talk about the obstructive nature of my physical body in a visual plane of reality, which has the ability, if one is willing to imagine, to omit my existence. Alas, when I am not writing about everything that is life, which is my life outside of my life and inside of other people’s and inanimate objects’s life, I feel like I am leaving my laptops or personal belongings unattended at the library. As readers, you should be able to walk away with my poetry, whether they have been defined by commerce or capitalism. I have always wanted to be a writer, but instead, I am just an elite bank robber. You should rob me whenever you can. Aesthetically. I want the kind of poetic heist in which the intellectual police would want to come after me—with a bandwagon of flashlights and sunglasses and one roasted pistachio.