Credo: Author Summi Kaipa 

Summi Kaipa received a master in fine arts degree in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is the author of three chapbooks, small books of poems or stories. Kaipa served as a board member and literary curator for two San Francisco nonprofits, the Alliance of Emerging Creative Artists and New Langton Arts. She was the founder and editor of Interlope, a magazine featuring innovative writing by Asian Americans. She lives in Berkeley.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

My father, who died six years ago, had a profound influence on my life. We had a very close relationship. He was passionate about learning and, though he wished I would follow in his footsteps as a doctor, I think he admired me for having the guts and talent to become a writer.

Is there a “golden rule” by which you live?

There are too many to name just one. Don’t be a misanthrope. Take public transportation whenever possible. Keep a stocked pantry.

Where or to whom do you turn to in tough times?

Several years ago, when I was planning my wedding, I once complained to a friend that the guest list was too long. She reminded me of how lucky I am to have such a large network of friends and family, many of whom are not more than a few miles away.

Where do you find inspiration?

Travel has always been a great way for me to have my perspective of the world disrupted and to look at things afresh. Also, I love to read and to think about how books come together. But I never have enough time for it. One day, I’m going to take a year off and just read.

Is there something about you that people would find surprising?

I was born in Detroit and spent most of my childhood in Arkansas (when [Bill] Clinton was the governor). I had a strong Southern accent as a child, but it disappeared within a month of moving to California. I also know 90 percent of the dialogue from the movie “The Karate Kid.” My brother and I watched this movie over 200 times when we were children. I recently wrote a poem about that movie as part of a series on films that have influenced my life.

How and when did you become a writer and editor?

I first began to identify as a “writer” when I was a graduate student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. It was at this time that I became very interested in Asian American authors.

Tell me about the anthology, “Indivisible: Contemporary South Asian American Poetry” which you co-edited. What countries do the writers’ represent? what themes do they write about?

Indivisible is a collection of poems by forty-nine writers who are ethnically South Asian — Bangladeshi, Indian, Nepalese, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan — but have either come to the United States as immigrants or, like me, were born in the United States. But the poems are also about what it means for these authors to be American: to grapple with the American dream, to grow up with Billy Holliday, to exist in the multicultural community of America, and to be targets of ethnic stereotyping and violence, especially after Sept. 11.  

About The Author

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