Interview with a Hopeful: GENCONTROLZ and Vietnamese Literature
By Kayley Stanbridge
This issue, we speak with Ann, a fellow publishing hopeful. Ann, is originally from Vietnam and is currently in her first year of university at UCL studying BA Language and Culture (Italian and Japanese). One project that she has been working on is an interview and review for Asymptote journal. Ann explains that “it is a review of a multimedia exhibition put together by Vietnamese writer/poet/editor Nha Thuyen at the beginning of this year. It focuses on the exploration of what it means to write in Vietnamese.” Another project Ann has been working on is running an online magazine with her friend called GENCONTROLZ, where Ann works as Head Editor, “our magazine aims to give new creators a chance to get published and to give voice to those whose first language isn’t English.”
On what inspired Ann to start these projects, Ann explains “I started the interview project because I fell in love with the poems that these artists have published online and I wanted to give them more publicity. I also just saw that Asymptote at the time was looking for blog submissions, and this is a journal I really admire.” As for the GENCONTROLZ magazine, Anne explains “this was a passion project that started off this March. At that time, I needed something to do, to distract myself a bit from the craziness of exams. So, when a friend called me to propose the project, I gladly accepted. It was a way for me to do the things I love and get to know more people. I met so many new friends through this project and without them, I really wouldn’t really be here! And it was through working on this project that I decided I wanted to pursue publishing in the first place.”
Ann has been working on GENCONTROLZ magazine for several months and has been working on her interview and review for around a month. On challenges that she has faced working on these projects, she explains, “for the interview, there were several obstacles I had to overcome. The first was actually to be able to get in contact with the artists, it was really hard to find their Instagram or Twitter accounts. Once I was able to contact them, it was a question of how we could match up our schedules for the interview; some of them were happy doing a zoom interview, while others preferred that I send them the questions. The time difference between the UK and Hanoi didn’t help either and it meant that I had to wake up earlier on my side in order to sync up our availability. But, I managed to get some key responses that helped me build my review of the exhibition.”
Ann stresses “time difference was also a challenge for the magazine, as the team is composed of students from around the world, from America to the UK, from Malaysia to Indonesia to Vietnam. Quite a few times I would wake up to several messages of updates from my team, and I had to get used to being able to work immediately as I woke up in London.” Along with this, Ann had to make sure that she was spending enough time tending to her university work, so it has been rather hectic, but overall, she has been enjoying the process.
On skills that Ann has developed, she tells us “one of the main skills I was able to develop during this time was time management: I had to juggle a lot of things at once and in a time frame that I was not particularly used to.” Ann also thinks that working on these projects has helped her to develop her communication skills and enabled her to put herself out there in ways that will help her a lot in the future.
In terms of goals for these projects that Ann would like to achieve over the next months, she explains “for the magazine, in the coming month we are aiming to publish our first podcast. We are also hoping to use our social media to help other writers, by posting internship opportunities, job vacancies and other magazines that are open for submissions.” Ann also explains that “[they] are also working towards creating a multilingual chapbook as well, where a piece of writing is translated into a few different languages and all would be placed next to one another. Along a similar line, we are also aiming to make our website multilingual, and have launched a Vietnamese version recently.”
In terms of Ann’s ideal role in publishing, she explains that being an editor in trade publishing is rather attractive, but she is also interested in the publicity and rights departments. Ann has also considered going into literary translation and has been translating short poems from Vietnamese into English, and vice versa.
On what appeals to Ann about the industry, she tells us “I personally want to be able to share with the world more of Vietnamese literature, beyond the war narrative. If I could have a foot in the industry, I feel like I would have more opportunity to do so.”
GENCONTROLZ magazine is currently open to submissions for the autumn issue and will be soon open for the winter issue in December. Send these to: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find Ann on Instagram at @annsannotations and Twitter on @phuonganh2513, or visit her blog here.