Hal Y. Zhang

oubliette, poem, issue 48, September 2019

Hal Y. Zhang is a former physicist who splits her time between the east coast and the Internet. She writes at halyzhang.com, and her science fiction chapbook Hard Mother, Spider Mother, Soft Mother was published by Radix Media.

Get to know Hal Y. Zhang...

When did you start writing?

Before I can remember concrete ages, around six. I started a story on the adventures of a cat and a dog, but didn't make it past page one. I've only been slightly better about finishing stories since then.

When and what and where did you first get published?

Jurassic Jaws Jones, a mostly lighthearted flash story about artificial intelligence generating art in Nature Futures, in 2017. It was the third story I ever finished, I believe, written in one hour and fueled by a blaze of inspiration. I wish all my writing could be like that, in one continuous stroke, which is why I enjoy writing poetry and flash so much.

Why do you write Science Fiction and/or Fantasy?

It's a natural outgrowth of my imagination, I think. And studying physics put a lot of neat ideas in my head that I'm still working on crafting narratives out of. But really, there's something speculative about every story. The act of conjuring people and scenarios, making metaphors linking disparate things that nevertheless make sense—there's a lot of magic in that.

What are you trying to say with your poetry?

I think of my poems as simulacra of my mind at the moment they're written, since I generally finish each one in one sitting. I'm not necessarily trying to say any particular thing but just letting my fingers autocomplete the words, the keyboard an ouija board communing with myself, if you will. With "oubliette", I saw in my mind a metallic gray egg calmly lowering itself onto a swing set and set out to describe how the world would react to that.

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