Haiku for Brunch

As we await our main course of poetry and fiction, I’d like to share a recently written, bite-sized haiku with you all. Author’s note: It turns out that writing as though you are drunk is extremely challenging to do when you’re sober (at least for me) so I’m grateful that it was a short poem and not a piece of work that was longer. Also, the true time is usually around 11:30 p.m. but 1 a.m. sounded more poetic to me. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

252 at 1 AM
Speling, grammmer badd
Nthing dirtry or the truth
Givev me smoe creditt

-Allie Coker-Schwimmer





More well-known authors answer the question of why they write and what inspires them most.


W. Bruce Cameron, author of A Dog’s Journey and A Dog’s Purpose, writes:

“I literally can’t NOT write.  I always wrote on my vacations, it was how I relaxed.  Now I get to write full time–it’s like always being on vacation.”

“Well, my answer to this has evolved over time.  I used to try to write thrillers, but never sold one.  Then I wrote humor, which was
very successful for me, but I love novels and wanted to get back to fiction. I was searching my heart for a new genre, and decided to write a dog story
that came into my head.  But inspiration is never my problem–my head is always filled with stories.  I will never have time to write them all.”


Author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See, told us this:

I have so many reasons.  1) My mom is a writer and my grandfather was a writer.  I had a lifelong apprenticeship to become a writer. I doubt there’s anything else I could do.  Sometimes I tell myself it’s a good thing they weren’t plumbers. 2) I don’t dream very much when I’m working on a novel. I think that’s because I’m in a kind of dream state when I’m writing, so at night I just get to sleep. But when I’m not writing, I have terrible nightmares. When I finish a novel, I always have a few days or even weeks of solid sleep, then the nightmares arrive.  Once that cycle starts, my husband always says, “Looks like it’s time for you to get back to work!” 3) Writing takes me away from “real life,” while putting right at the heart of real life.  4) I love stories. 5) There are stories I feel compelled to tell. Hidden or lost history has always fascinated me. In a novel, you can connect to people who lived through that history. What I hope is that readers will put themselves in my characters’ shoes and feel what it was like to live through these historic episodes.”

Some writers start with a relationship — a mother and daughter, sisters, a father and son — and I’ve done that. Sometimes writers start with the idea of exploring an emotion — love, hate, jealousy, envy — and I’ve definitely done that too.  Sometimes writers start with a time period — World War II, the Depression, the Great Leap Forward — and I’ve also done that. Some writers start with an intriguing subject — the secret women’s writing of China, the so-called “lovesick maidens” of the 17th-century China, the building of the Three Gorges Dam — and I’ve written about all of those.  I guess what I do is take a little bit from here and a little bit from there. For example, I was inspired by several different things when I started Shanghai Girls. (I’m sorry, but I seem to be in a numbering mood this morning.)  First, I’ve been collecting Shanghai advertising images from the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties for many years.  The so-called Beautiful Girls, women who posed for commercial artists, were right in the heart of the excitement in Shanghai. The charming and captivating life illustrated in advertisements is one thing, but I was curious about what real life was like for those women.  This brings me to Shanghai as a topic.  Shanghai was the Paris of Asia—very glamorous, very diverse.  Shanghai Girls starts in 1937.  This was the final moment before things really started to go bad in the city.  The Japanese invaded in August. The Sino-Japanese War rolled right into World War II.  As soon as World War II ended, the civil war began.  Then Mao took over the country.  He took a very dim view of Shanghai.  The city went from being the Paris of Asia to being very gray, grim, poor, and depressed.  It stayed that way until the mid-1990s.  Today Shanghai is once again a glamorous, beautiful, and wealthy city.  So again, I really liked the idea of this final moment.  Third, I wanted to write about what it was like for Chinese women who came to America in arranged marriages.  (I had a lot of aunties in my family who came here from China in arranged marriages and I felt I knew a lot about what life was like for them.) Fourth, I wanted to write about China City, a short-lived tourist attraction in Los Angeles.  Fifth, I wanted to write about Angel Island and the Confession Program, things that most people don’t know about America.  I wanted to write about the natures of sisters.  And, of course, love.”


Her book, Pay It Forward, was adapted into a movie and now author Catherine Ryan Hyde talks with us a bit:

“Human nature is a constant source of inspiration for me. I’m fascinated by who we are as individual humans. I’m fascinated by why we do the things we do and why we don’t the thing we don’t. Why do we say we’re not angry or hurt when we clearly are? And why is it so easy to tell where we stand with other people in the face of verbal protestations to the contrary? A novel, to me, is always an exploration of a deep and complicated question. For example, when I wrote Pay It Forward, I was noticing that we all say we want to live in a kinder world. And I began to observe how easy it is to be kinder. We can wake up on any day and do more for the people around us than we did the day before. It costs nothing (in most cases), and it doesn’t hurt. And we say it’s what we want. So…if we all want to live in a kinder world, and it’s easy to be kinder, why don’t we? Why doesn’t somebody just start? Questions like that about human nature turn into novels in my brain. The goal is not to answer the question, because if it wasn’t an unanswerable question I doubt I’d get a whole novel out of it. The goal is to explore a question in depth. Then, when the novel is published, there’s some chance that I can actually get others to ask themselves the same question that was rattling around in my own head. So it’s a fascinating form of communication, the writing of novels. If people all started telling the damn truth, meaning what they say, and not hiding what they’re feeling, it would be a wonderful world. But I’d be out of a job. In the meantime there are plenty of quirks of human nature to assure I’ll never run out of subjects to write about.”


Gene Yang, author of the graphic novel, American Born Chinese, finds inspiration:

“Everywhere. 🙂  My stories have been inspired by things that make me happy, things that make me sad, my friends, my brother, my kids, my parents, books, newspaper articles, movies, video games, trips to the museum, food that I ate, the way my office chair creaks when I lean slightly to the left.  My first graphic novel was inspired by my lifelong struggle with sinus problems.  The world is full of inspiration. You just have to be alert enough (or maybe bored enough?) to look.”


Phyllis Naylor, author of such books as Shiloh, writes: “Because a story in my head is like a rock in my shoe; I just can’t wait to get it out.”

Get Creative!

Hello All!

As summer comes to a close for some of us, let’s focus our minds and motives towards writing and voicing the opinions we’ve stored up all season! HIP is looking for some new talent and that means submissions. THAT’S RIGHT- HIP WANTS YOU! Yes, you. And even you. Outlined below are a few things we look for and I’m hoping to see my inbox flood any moment now (oh yeah).

Reviews: We don’t care if it’s a movie, book, play, album. We don’t care if it’s old, new, new to you, or undiscovered. We just want to hear your take on it! Want to compare two superhero movies you saw recently or two superhero movies that are 20 years apart? Great. Want to disagree with The New Yorker about a particular book review? Also fine. Give us your opinion written in a savvy, and evidence-based way and we’ll consider it!

Fiction: We welcome everything from novel excerpts (the first chapter, please) to flash fiction. Have a great story about your life that you’ve shrouded in the term “fiction”? Great, pass it along. Pen names accepted. We’re not putting any limits on genres just yet, we just want to read your best work and see if it’s a good fit!

Nonfiction: PLEASE SUBMIT MORE NONFICTION! I know there are plenty of you writers out there who love this genre (looking at YOU!) If you want to write a sports article, fine. If you want to write a personal essay or submit part of a memoir, also fine. Newsworthy topics come and go every day and I’d love to read more articles and essays of nonfiction.

Poetry: Haiku, sonnet, ballad, verse, ode, anaphora, ekphrasis, elegy, epic, villanelle, prose, sestina, pastoral, limerick (that’s right, Bill Boden, I said limerick). No matter what form it comes in, we all love a good poem. Now what makes a good poem? Trickier to describe, but we’re betting you’ve got some stashed away at the bottom of your drawer or in the back of your mind. Now would be the time to get those out and dust them off, please. They can be short as this year’s fashions or as long as 5 pages (but no more please). Send ’em in!

Plays: Wouldn’t you just LOVE to be the first person to submit a play to HIP LITERARY MAGAZINE?!? Answer: yes, you would. So do it.

Other: Humor, travel, opinion, etc. are all received well and encouraged. Not to mention game reviews which should have been listed at the top in “Reviews” (I’m eyeballing you, Matt Richardson).

Send us your submissions- you know you want to.


Allie Coker-Schwimmer, Editor


Thoughts from poet E. Ethelbert Miller, poet David Kirby, and humor writer, Jenny Lawson:

“I think the question I should answer is – why do I continue to write?

At the age of 63 I see myself wanting to write more. I look around and I see many of my friends preparing for retirement. I don’t want to retire from writing. There is so much pleasure one receives from language and the act of creating something that can be shared with a reader or listener. I always saw a poem as being a gift from one heart to another.

When I started writing I wanted my work to have some influence on changing social conditions. I wanted to write poetry that people could take into their lives and use; I still believe this. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a believer in the Beloved Community and the idea of a common language rooted in love is something I embrace.

We live in a world filled with hatred and too many wars. Genocide is a word that unfortunately has been translated into too many languages.

I write with the hope that I can bring beauty into the world. Many of my recent poems have been love poems and poems about intimacy

and the exploration of the erotic. It is difficult to love just one person.

It’s like trying to find the right word but constantly needing to do revision. Yet, as writers we do the heavy-lifting. If the Beloved Community does not exist then we must bring it into existence. This is why I write, this is why I live and what I live for.” – E. Ethelbert Miller

“I don’t really use the word “inspiration” and don’t know any writers who do. I think of a poem as a little thinking machine; that may sound a little abstract, but the thoughts it helps me think are often pretty noisy and symphonic. For instance, recently I saw an Indian gentleman touch another’s feet. Why? It was obviously a sign of respect, but what does that gesture mean? Eventually I talked to some Indian friends and found out, but along the way, I speculated about the nature of love, sorrow, regret, and a dozen other things. So I look for little crunchy moments like that. I’m happy with the way things are going so far, so check with me in a few months, and I’ll let you know how the poem turns out.” – David Kirby

“I have serious anxiety disorder and writing gave me an outlet for communication before I found therapy and drugs.  Writing is my drug of choice. My favorite authors are Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman and Dorothy Parker but I think my own writing is actually most inspired by essayists and humorists.  David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, Jen Lancaster, David Thorne and Allie Brosh are all amazing.” – Jenny Lawson