Interview with Brian Guan
BRIAN GUAN is a writer from the SF Bay Area. A 2023 YoungArts award winner and Scholastic American Voices Nominee, he currently serves as Alameda County’s Youth Poet Laureate and editor-in-chief of teen literary magazine The Dungeness Press. His original play, “Good”, debuted in LA last July.
“When I first discovered writing, it was revelatory. For me, that euphoria is still there.”
The editors of Eucalyptus Lit recently had the privilege and opportunity to speak with Brian Guan, the current Alameda County Youth Poet Laureate. His work “on july” features in Issue 1, Interconnection.
How did you start writing?
In elementary school! I was such a reader in elementary school. I miss that sort of raw, unfiltered passion (I'd like to think it's still here—just buried under too much schoolwork and teen LinkedIns). But that love for stories made me want to tell them, too. When I first discovered writing, it was revelatory. For me, that euphoria is still there.
How do you find your inspiration? What is your creative process?
Reading! Universal experience, I know, but experiencing Ocean Vuong’s writing for the first time actually changed my brain chemistry. He's so good, and everyone knows he is, but that doesn't really stop him from just being such an amazing writer. The way his fragmentation takes flight. Also Maggie Nelson’s interiority. Also Pitchfork. Also other teen writers... also crushes and California and life and humanity as a body. My creative process is really just to stay up late, write somewhat incoherently, and build off of that.
What genres do you mainly write? Why these?
Prose, poetry, playwriting. Prose I grew up with. I think every young writer starts with it. Then I got into dramatic script. I love playwriting for its colloquialisms and the humanity it demands. Poetry I didn’t really find until high school. Now I realize just how much rhythm and imagery inform everything I write. So here I am.
Do you have a favorite author or work that you've read?
Lucia Berlin’s “Stars and Saints” is just gorgeous.
What have you been up to recently?
I was just named my county’s Youth Poet Laureate, and I'm so beyond excited for that. I’m trying to integrate myself deeper within my community. The Bay is gorgeous, actually, which I took for granted, and I think Youth Poet Laureate will allow me to explore facets of my home I haven’t experienced before. Running my lit mag! Which is chaotic and good, even though there’s always, always something to finish. Though we manage.
Taking the BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit]. I love the BART.
How do you plan to interact with writing in the future, beyond high school?
I plan on writing. I hope I don’t stop.
What advice do you have for young writers?
Submit everything! The best opportunities you’re offered are always the ones you don’t expect to get. Also, writing is so subjective and you will not care about that rejection in two years. Write! It’s what we love to do.