Q & A with Connecticut Authors: Kat Chow
September 29, 2022 • Features & News, Q & A

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Q&A

COVID is still with us, although easing off a little, thank goodness. Did you have a favorite comfort genre to turn to when things were looking bleak? Something that lifted you away and to a different place for a while?

Poetry is often a well of endless comfort, especially the work of poets like Diana Khoi Nguyen, Natalie Diaz and Jennifer Chang. At the start of the pandemic, I found myself unable to read. I felt depleted. But I found myself turning to The Slow Down, a podcast that was hosted by the poet Tracy K. Smith, and is now hosted by Ada Limón. Each episode is only a few minutes long, with a short essay and poem. They are intimate and a balm—a special way to start each day—and it feels as though Smith and Limón were speaking directly to me.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I take long drives or walks when I need a reset or to solve a writing problem. My brain is the most quiet when I’m driving and I’m simply in a state of observation. I think this started when I was a teenager taking long drives late at night down route three, across the Connecticut River. It’s where all the books or articles or TV shows or films that I’ve consumed over the past day or week or month settle in, and I’m able to ask myself, What do I make of all of this? and really am able to interrogate my thoughts.

Who made reading important to you?

My high school English teachers!

Where is your favorite place to read? 

The hammock on my front porch. Or, in bed, lost in a book until four in the morning.

Tell us your best book-receiving experience. 

After my mother died when I was a freshman in high school, my English teacher, Blakes Lloyd at Glastonbury High, gave me a copy of Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life. I was stunned by Dillard’s sheer talent—and that becoming a writer and pursuing a creative life was something possible. As a thirteen year old kid, this opened up my entire world.

What are you reading now? 

Elif Batuman’s The Idiot; Celeste Ng’s Our Missing Hearts; Sarah Thankam Matthew’s All This Could Be Different. 

 

 


Bio

Kat Chow is a writer and a journalist. She was a reporter at NPR, where she was a founding member of the Code Switch team. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and on RadioLab, among others. She’s one of Pop Culture Happy Hour’s fourth chairs. She’s received a residency fellowship from the Millay Colony and was an inaugural recipient of the Yi Dae Up fellowship at the the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat.

 

 

 

Synopsis

Kat Chow has always been unusually fixated on death. She worried constantly about her parents dying—especially her mother. After her mother dies unexpectedly from cancer, Kat, her sisters, and their father are plunged into a debilitating, lonely grief. With a distinct voice that is wry and heartfelt, Kat weaves together a story of the fallout of grief that follows her extended family as they emigrate from China and Hong Kong to Cuba and America. Seeing Ghosts asks what it means to reclaim and tell your family’s story: Is writing an exorcism or is it its own form of preservation? The result is a new contribution to the literature of the American family, and a provocative and transformative meditation on who we become facing loss.

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