We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeremy Ra and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jeremy, what’s your definition for success?
Success, though largely determined by the gaze of others, is a private achievement. Even though the word carries a cold capitalistic overtone, it stems from the values that our parents instill in us, and thus operates in the primal dimensions of self-discovery. How do we come into our own when what we were told to pursue wasn’t our idea in the first place?

Many conversations addressed whether we are on certain career paths because we were supposed to versus because we wanted to. Simply put, everyone’s trajectory is different. Through connecting with others and learning about their lives, I painfully felt how everyone else is also a hero in their own stories. This fuels my creativity.

That’s why true success ultimately feels like a private thing because empathy, the love you have for others who are on different timelines or paths, becomes central to not judging yourself too harshly by a superego that reflects the superficiality of the world. By understanding the inevitability of others, being swept up in their throes, paradoxically I found a hard-won freedom that continues to both entice and restrain.

It is trite to say this, but it was worth reminding myself to love, until I understood what it was to love – not just your lover or family, but to harbor a love for humanity. In that way, I feel I am fumbling toward success all the time.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Even though writing is an isolated act, revision is not. The biggest challenge for me in becoming a poet and not remaining a poetaster was finding a writing group that I trusted. Indeed, the thrill of community is intoxicating – to see how much better your poems can get with critiques – and how much a notebook serves as your faithful confidant, one that can catch your flitting brilliances (which may not turn out to be so great at all). The world-at-large also started re-evaluating the work-life balance due to the pandemic, which creatively I have benefited from – this, I admit, is also a symptom of wearing glasses that are way too rose-tinged, they’re hot pink.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First stop is a meal at Formosa Cafe – nothing feels more noir than holding a cocktail in the trolley. Museum run (Getty, The Broad, Hammer, LACMA).
A gay bar in West Hollywood, and street dog afterward.
A drive through Mulholland at sunset.
Dumpling run in the San Gabriel Valley.
Long Beach.
Comedy show at the Largo.
Classical concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
Taco truck.
Huntington Garden.
Ramen in Little Tokyo.
Vroman’s.
The gin martini at Musso & Frank.
Lastly, Soban, a small Korean restaurant, where Jonathan Gold’s picture still hangs prominently on the walls – this is the city where the biggest impetus for cultural dialogue was borne of hunger.
Who dares to call us vapid when we’re so full?

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
If I am a poet possessing of any merit today, it is because of the continuing mentorship and support of Suzanne Lummis, Eric Morago, Nicelle Davis, Alison Turner, Bill Ratner, Hanna Pachman, Aruni Wijesinghe, Tracy Jones, Susan Browne, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Dorianne Laux, and Ron Koertge, among others.

And, of course, all my unnamed loved ones who housed me in their boundless kindness despite my being a poet.

Website: https://www.freshoutofcontext.com/

Instagram: @hyperphantom

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/jeremy-y-ra-apc-8562351a

Facebook: Jeremy YS Ra

Image Credits
Jen Yu, for the animation Alexis Rhone Fancher, for the author photos Mei Xian Qui, for the artwork Andrew Lopez, for the white jacket photo

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