An Asian American Poetry Companion: Cozy Books For Fall (September 2022)

An Asian American Poetry Companion: September 2022. Cover images of ALMANAC OF USELESS TALENTS by MICHAEL CHANG, EXILEE TEMPS MORTS by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, THE SYMMETRY OF FISH by Su Cho, MANATEE LAGOON by Jenna Le, TOGETHERNESS by Wo Chan, THE RUPTURE TENSE by Jenny Xie, SISTER TONGUE by Farnaz Fatemi, and YOUR EMERGENCY CONTACT HAS EXPERIENCED AN EMERGENCY by Chen Chen
New and Notable Books by Asian American Poets (September 2022)

Every year, it feels like summer is too short. Before we know it, the weather is getting colder and the leaves are starting to change colors. Whether you’ve just gone back to school, just finished celebrating the Midautumn Festival, or are dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes, you can make fall even cozier by exploring these eight new and forthcoming works from the Asian American poetry community. 

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FROM THE LR COMMUNITY 

MICHAEL CHANG, Almanac of Useless Talents (Clash, September 2022)

If you enjoyed MICHAEL CHANG’s sensual epistolary poem in Issue 8.2, their forthcoming book, Almanac of Useless Talents, is a must read. Described by Clash as “part confessional, part experimental, and completely original,” CHANG’s decadent poems delve into a world of potent desire. 

Chen Chen, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency (BOA, September 2022)

Chen Chen’s poem “The School of a Few or a Lot of My Favorite Things,” published in Issue 9.1, will also appear in his second poetry collection, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced An Emergency. Tracy K. Smith notes that in the book, Chen writes “with humor, deep intelligence, and what feels to me like a luminous everyday philosophy.” An exploration of life as a queer Asian American in contemporary America, this book is one we are eagerly anticipating, and we hope you are too. 

Jenna Le, Manatee Lagoon (Acre, October 2022)

Issue 7.2 contributor Jenna Le is releasing her third full-length collection, Manatee Lagoon, which explores a Vietnamese cultural heritage in a politically fraught America. Matt W. Miller praises Le’s creative use of form, remarking that “with a lyricism that is sometimes the night-light you want, sometimes the lightning you deserve, Le masterfully weaves poems out of inherited forms and meters that are at once surgically precise and organically necessary.” We hope you’re as excited as we are to pick up this book!

MORE NEW & NOTEWORTHY PICKS

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Exilée and Temps Morts: Selected Works (UC Press, September 2022)

Wo Chan, Togetherness (Nightboat, September 2022)

Su Cho, The Symmetry of Fish (Penguin Random House, October 2022)

Farnaz Fatemi, Sister Tongue (Kent State U Press, September 2022)

Jenny Xie, The Rupture Tense (Graywolf, September 2022)

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What autumnal reads are making it onto your reading list this season? Share your recommendations with us in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


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Cover image of dayliGht by Roya Marsh

dayliGht by Roya Marsh (MCD x FSG Originals, 2020)

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

Please consider supporting a small press or independent bookstore with your purchase.

“Setting the Table With More Possibilities”: A Conversation with E. J. Koh

LR: A Conversation with E. J. Koh. On the left, a photo of the E. J. Koh, Korean American writer with chin-length hair, in profile against a white wall. She is wearing an oversized blue button-down top and red lipstick and looking back over her left shoulder. To the right of the Koh's photo is the cover of her memoir, THE MAGICAL LANGUAGE OF OTHERS, featuring an illustration of a woman with a branch of large white magnolia flowers obscuring her face.
E. J. Koh and the cover of her memoir, THE MAGICAL LANGUAGE OF OTHERS. Author photo by Adam K. Glaser

This summer, I had the privilege of speaking with E. J. Koh about her memoir, The Magical Language of Others, (Tin House, 2020) as well as her background in poetry and translation. Koh is also the author of poetry collection A Lesser Love, (LSU Press, 2017) and the novel The Liberators, forthcoming in 2023. Her poem “Hysteria” appeared in Issue 9.3 of Lantern Review. Read on for her thoughts on the power of language, writing in different modes and genres, setting the table with multifarious possibilities, and more. 

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LANTERN REVIEW: In your memoir, both your college poetry teacher, Joe, and college poetry mentor, Joy, comment on your initial poetry’s lack of “magnanimity.” At the section’s close, you write, “[Joy] encouraged me to look closely, and said poetry would teach me how to pay attention and show me how to care. I must choose love over any other thing. Then, the world would open up for me.” As you’ve continued to grow in your career and craft, even beyond the memoir, have you found this advice—that the practice of caring for one’s craft as a poet is ultimately an exercise in magnanimity—to be true? And is your goal to write one thousand love letters an extension of that same practice of magnanimity? 

E. J. KOH: The lesson came around again for my memoir. I had to reckon with the choices I was making on the page. I could put in a scene to argue for my disappointment, for who I’ve become because of what happened to me, but I replaced it with one that challenges how things could’ve been different from what I assumed to know. During a time it was difficult to love, I’d started writing love letters and hadn’t noticed a connection with my work. I wonder if my everyday life is the actual work, and the rest is an extension of how I am living. But writing the letters has given me other lessons. For one, the word stranger has become stranger to me.

LR: You recently announced that you will be publishing your first novel, The Liberators, in the summer/fall of 2023, which is really exciting news. Originally, you began your writing career as a poet, and you detail that journey in The Magical Language of Others. Has your background in poetry been influential as you’ve begun experimenting with prose? 

EJK: I was watching my old friend walk into my home, and I thought I saw another person they had been and yet another person they would be, all three of them walking together inside. I would read it on a page, and it could be called a device—a thing to be used—and it can be. But it is also life, isn’t it? Writing tries to do what our lives do so effortlessly. The form seems determined by the force.

LR: Language, obviously, is a central focus in the book. It’s something you study and learn and then pull apart to reveal the intergenerational language used for trauma but also the healing in the language of love. And then, of course, the memoir itself is called The Magical Language of Others. In the book, you observe that “[l]anguages, as they open you, can also allow you to close.” How have you noticed language structuring, opening or closing, your relationships with others or with yourself? 

EJK: I was meditating every morning and evening. Some days for five hours. Like it was with languages, I was using meditation to close. I realized I was not waging peace but war. Isn’t it another thing to go outside—to go into those uncertain situations and places? So I try to use meditation, as with my language, to remain open. I welcome my fears because they work diligently to unravel me. I want to look at the things I’m scared of seeing. I want to hear my heart go pitter-patter.

LR: Your graduate workshop professor once said, “If you want to be a good poet, then write poetry. If you want to be a great poet, then translate.” You do a lot of translation work and released last year a cotranslation of Yi Won’s The World’s Lightest Motorcycle with Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bella. How was the process of translating the book as well as translating with a collaborator versus working by yourself? How has translation work in general strengthened your personal poetic practice?

EJK: With Marci, we are part of a sisterhood with Don Mee Choi, Emily Jungmin Yoon, Stine An, and more—along with our poet sisters in South Korea like Kim Hyesoon and Yi Won. So when I’m translating on my own, no matter how I may feel day to day, I cannot ever be alone. And when I meet a translator, I love them right away. A translator knows you so intimately. They can see into your heart. They know how to love you. As a translator, you have to do that with languages. Languages are thorny things, and the way they treat each other sometimes is awful, but there you are, as you were the day before, trying your best.

LR: The first chapter of the memoir, which opens with a letter from your mother, ends with an exhortation to be happy. This command, woven through many of the letters, sometimes reads like a responsibility or a burden. I ask too because I remember my father, when he wrote me letters while I was in college, also encouraging me to be happy, and I recall being perplexed. Happiness was never a present condition I actively sought out or remember being encouraged to be, the latter of which I feel like is a particularly Asian dilemma. Happiness is a prospect to be attained in the future by working hard rather than being happy now. This encouragement to be happy might feel particularly ironic for Asian American children pursuing vocations in the arts and letters (given many parents’ traditional attitudes towards these careers). Do you have any advice for young Asian American artists who may be grappling with parents’ sometimes contradictory expectations? 

EJK: Let’s set the table with more possibilities: They ask me to be happy, so I don’t want to be happy, not because it’s what I want but because I know it’s what they want, and I want what they don’t want, or, I can be happy only if things or people are different from what and who they are, and until then, I don’t want to consider being happy, or, I know I can be happy because I understand what it looks like when I’m not but it means they are right and I can’t be happy and wrong, or, I would rather be against someone who is outside the power of my happiness because it helps me separate myself, or, I want them to know they cannot make me happy, though it may be true I’ve given them power over me, or, when I focus on words like happiness and family, I can pick apart their meanings and put myself into them to see what I can or cannot fit, then decide from that, and so on, with new combinations and other possibilities. Nothing is wrong, these things are on the table, and looking at each one, and each one together, you can go beyond them. In the end, what others say for themselves or for you is outside of how you choose your relationship to yourself and the world. The outside can be a warden for the inside, and everything can crumble and [can] do so easily. But if you can go inside of yourself, the outside will catch up. Tell your heart to open and let go.

LR: For your PhD in English literature, you are specializing in Han studies and trauma. What, specifically, are you researching? Do you find that your academic research overlaps with your creative work? Where do you see the similarities between scholarship and creative work in your own personal experience? 

EJK: If you look up my poem “American Han” in Poetry magazine, you’ve read my dissertation. My advisor said this and we both laughed. I’m fifty pages into my dissertation, but it’s as if “American Han” didn’t end. I set the table—you can set anything on the table, but nothing can be taken off. So someone says to me, “You’re not Korean, you can’t feel han,” and for some reason, it excites me. I say then, “Please tell me more. Tell me about yourself. Tell me what han means to you.” They say, “There is original han. Original han is for original Koreans who live in Korea.” And I say, “I am listening because I know we can feel better about han together. Will you listen?” There is great darkness with han, yes, but there is also great relief. My research, like my work, means I don’t look away.

LR: Lantern Review’s theme for the season is Asian American Appetites. What’s something that you’re hungry for in the future of Asian American letters? 

EJK: [When I am] judging [contests], and I try not to unless I would be especially helpful because it’s another one of those tricky things, but I often read something right out of a pile and get stopped in the middle of it. I’ve read remarkable things by upcoming writers. Things so remarkable I sit up straight and say, “If only the world knew what incredible writers are coming for them. The years and lives it took for these writers to reach us. What things are being written and spoken so that our thoughts and feelings are no longer just our own, and we can be united again in our humanity.” That goes for fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, plays, graphic novels, translations, poems, scripts, young adult, letters, and more. I’m hungry for it all.

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E. J. Koh is the author of the memoir The Magical Language of Others (Tin House Books, 2020), Washington State Book Award winner, Pacific Northwest Book Award winner, Association of Asian American Studies Book Award winner, and PEN Open Book Award longlist. Koh is the author of the poetry collection A Lesser Love (Louisiana State U Press, 2017). Her debut novel, The Liberators, is forthcoming from Tin House Books in 2023.


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Cover of THROWN IN THE THROAT by Benjamin Garcia

Thrown in the Throat by Benjamin Garcia (Milkweed Editions, 2020)

Please consider supporting a small press or independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

An Asian American Poetry Companion: Sizzling Reads For Summer (July 2022)

An Asian American Poetry Companion: July 2022. Cover images of LIGHT WAVES by Kirsten Shu-ying Chen, MOUTH SUGAR & SMOKE by Eric Tran, SEPARATION ANXIETY by Janice Lee, AND THOSE ASHEN HEAPS THAT CANTILEVERED VASE OF MOONLIGHT by Lynn Xu, O by Zeina Hashem Beck, THEY RISE LIKE A WAVE edited by Christine Kitano and Alycia Pirmohamed, IN THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY by Jane Kuo, THE LONELIEST WHALE BLUES by Sharon Suzuki-Martinez, TWO BROWN DOTS by Danni Quintos, and THE WET HEX by Sun Young Shin
New and Notable Books by Asian American Poets for July 2022

Summer just got even hotter with some exciting new works from Asian American poets. From a moving debut by a Lantern Review contributor to a middle-grade novel-in-verse, explore ten new and forthcoming works from the Asian American poetry community with us.

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FROM THE LR COMMUNITY 

Kirsten Shu-ying Chen, light waves (Terrapin, May 2022)

If you enjoyed Kirsten Shu-ying Chen’s otherworldly portrait of her mother “Life on Mars” in Issue 9.1, get ready for her debut collection, light waves, which expands upon the world of the poem. As Omotara James writes, “light waves simultaneously reminds us of what we already know and what we too often forget: there just isn’t enough time, and yet, an abundance of joy is everywhere, for each of us.” A tender exploration of the loss of a mother, this powerful book is not one to miss.

Christine Kitano and Alycia Pirmohamed, editors, They Rise Like a Wave: An Anthology of Asian American Women Poets (Blue Oak, June 2022)

This landmark anthology is the first to feature exclusively poetry by Asian American women and nonbinary writers. The book includes eleven past Lantern Review contributors: Allison Albino, Franny Choi, Đỗ Nguyên Mai, Jenna Lê, Karen An-Hwei Lee, Michelle Peñaloza, Preeti Kaur Rajpal, Eileen R. Tabios, Annette Wong, Jane Wong, and Shelley Wong. (Lantern Review cofounders Iris A. Law and Mia Ayumi Malhotra are also included in the volume.)

MORE NEW & NOTEWORTHY PICKS

Zeina Hashem Beck, O, (Penguin Random House, July 2022)

Jane Kuo, In the Beautiful Country (Quill Tree, June 2022)

Janice Lee, Separation Anxiety (Clash, August 2022)

Danni Quintos, Two Brown Dots (BOA, April 2022)

Sun Yung Shin, The Wet Hex (Coffee House, June 2022)

Sharon Suzuki-Martinez, The Loneliest Whale Blues (The Word Works, May 2022)

Eric Tran, Mouth, Sugar, and Smoke (Diode, July 2022)

Lynn Xu, And Those Ashen Heaps That Cantilevered Vase of Moonlight (Wave, April 2022)

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What’s on your summer poetry reading list? Tell us what titles you’ve picked up in the comments or on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram (@lanternreview).


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Cover image of DIGEST by Gregory Pardlo

Digest by Gregory Pardlo (Four Way Books, 2014)

Please consider supporting a small press or independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

“Lighting an Altar Space”: A Conversation with Jane Wong

Header graphic. At the top, the LR logo and the words "A Conversation With Jane Wong." Below, a photo of Jane Wong. A poet with medium length long, brown hair. She is wearing a blue shirt and looking into the camera, holding a bouquet of pink flowers against a background of warm wood. At bottom left is the cover of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything. The cover has white title text against a red background of a sunset. There is a girl in the air over the ocean reaching out towards a mythical creature with flowers for a mane.
Jane Wong and the cover of her recent collection, HOW TO NOT BE AFRAID OF EVERYTHING. Author photo by Helene Christensen.

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with poet Jane Wong about her latest collection How to Not Be Afraid of Everything, published last fall by Alice James Books. Read on to learn more about her experience with using writing as a way to process grief, turning written work into visual art, some of her writing rituals, and more!

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LANTERN REVIEW: In your most recent collection, How to Not Be Afraid of Everything, you maintain a strong focus on your life and experiences as a restaurant baby and mingle food consistently with themes of immigrant family life, generational trauma, and connection to your heritage. When did you first begin to write with your connection to food as an anchor, and how has the relationship between your writing and food changed throughout the years?

JANE WONG: Thank you for this lovely question! Yes! I grew up in a Chinese American takeout restaurant on the Jersey shore. I was surrounded by food and cooking my whole upbringing. I didn’t start writing about food until this second book—mostly because it felt so vulnerable to write about my family’s history with starvation, hunger, and (in my generation) gluttony. I had wanted to write letters to my missing ancestors, impacted by the Great Leap Forward, for over fifteen years and finally had the courage to do so. Though I was tasked to do lots of prep at the restaurant (my favorite being cutting wonton wrappers into strips for the fryer!), my mom always shooed me away from learning to cook—knowing how hard the restaurant life was. I didn’t really learn to cook Toisanese food until the pandemic—a time in which I desperately needed comfort, as we all did/do. I had such a hard time writing or reading in those early days of the pandemic; I’d make tons of soup and think, This soup is a poem!

LR: I was honored earlier this year to have attended an undergraduate Q&A session with you at the University of Pittsburgh. During the session, you mentioned that you’ve been writing since you were a child—for almost as long as you can remember. How have you consistently stayed motivated to pursue your passion? 

JW: Oh gosh, thank you, Pranaya! That was such a great visit! Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a writer—which felt like such a risky profession for a first-generation child of immigrants! The public library was across the street from the restaurant (shoutout to the Monmouth County Public Library!), and my mom would drop me off there for hours. I ended up working as a page [at the library] all throughout high school too. I’d read all these books and so badly wanted to see myself reflected in them. (I rarely was.) I’d even write alternative endings to stories and slip them into books. I don’t know if it’s motivation [that drives my writing], but rather, just part of my soul. I try my best not to feel guilty about not writing (especially during the pandemic). I just know that, when I do write, I tend to feel better—emotionally, physically. It almost feels like there’s something inside me that so badly wants to blossom out. It’s vibrational—that creative energy. If it comes out as a ceramic bowl or a bowl of soup, I’m fine with that too. I guess I’m also attracted to what the written word can do—I want to keep jostling language and I want to surprise myself. I am also so grateful for my Asian American literary lineage and feel compelled to write to make our voices heard!

LR: Recently, you transformed your words into visual art in your exhibit NOURISH in Richmond, BC. Have you always envisioned your poetry taking physical form in some way, or was this entirely new territory? How did that creative process look—and how did the collaborative nature of it compare to writing alone?

JW: Yes! That was such a wonderful show, and I loved sharing space with [artist duo] Mizzonk, who was also a part of the exhibit. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to do a show at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle that I opened myself up to interdisciplinary art and installation work, though maybe I’ve always dreamt of making poems physically tangible. I love that a poem gets to have multiple lives—translating and retranslating it in so many ways and mediums. And thank you for speaking to the collaborative aspect of visual art too! I absolutely adored—at RAG and at the Frye—working closely with curators, installation experts, staff, etc. Honestly, it felt like magic to be able to have a vision and talk about what could be done to achieve it materially! It was also quite experimental. We’d try something out, then alter it, then try something totally different, etc. Lots of laughs, lots of excitement. 

LR: How has your creative process transformed as you’ve gained experience in the writing world? Do you have any writing rituals that you’ve used since you first started, or do you prefer working with ones you’ve created for yourself more recently?

JW: I love writing rituals. I tend to write via a large document I have on my computer (culled from notebooks/my notes app, etc.) called “The Compost Pile.” Have it be an image or a quote that inspired me, I have to start from this gathering space. I usually take 5–10 lines from that compost file and place them on a blank page. Then I write through them, with whatever is on my mind/in my heart. Some of those lines disappear, some of them transform. But they are imbued with what I am curious about. I love throwing those lines back into the compost pile too, so that images start to constellate across poems. I also eat lots of snacks when writing. I love seaweed. Chips. Salty things, mostly! I read before writing. I like to write dressed up. Like I’m on a date with myself.

LR: You experiment with punctuation and white space a lot in How to Not Be Afraid of Everything. This stands in contrast to your approach in your previous collection, Overpour. Could you talk a little bit more about experimenting with using space as a medium of communication? Have you found that it transforms the way you begin to put an idea onto paper?

JW: Yes! Love this question—and I’m humbled by your words since I really did want to push myself in this new collection formally (and continue to push myself in future writing). In thinking about all the themes in How to Not Be Afraid of Everything (rage, tenderness, matrilineal lineage, labor, hunger, intergenerational trauma and joy, the feminist body, etc.), I knew I had to take some risks that could speak to fragmentation, nonlinearity, strangeness. For instance, for “The Long Labors,” I really wanted that poem to feel like a dense block of tofu on the page. I wanted to feel the weight, the intensity, the exhaustion of that poem. Because labor is real. Because I come from that labor; I feel that labor in my body. And while that poem exists in that form on the page, I also wanted to translate it via performance to give it a more felt life. I cut words from the poem via rice paper and made my mom’s dumpling recipe and “cooked” my poem. I used to fold dumplings at the restaurant (muscle memory), and it felt so good to tie writing with food in this way.

LR: You write about your family and their struggles in How to Not Be Afraid of Everything. Could you talk about the process of integrating their stories with your work? Did you talk to your family specifically for this project before putting the poems down on paper as a draft? 

JW: Thank you for this tender question! I like to say that I did some deep listening, like under the earth, with the worms kind of listening. I did not interview my family; I could never do that. Their history with the Great Leap Forward is a painful one, and I couldn’t possibly ask my grandparents to talk about it; I respect their silence. I did, however, listen whenever my grandfather or grandmother spoke about food and what they did/didn’t have. I listened to my mother casually say that she loves eggs because she used to get one on her birthday, if she was lucky. I wanted to be honest about my struggle writing about their stories—that, in many ways, I couldn’t possibly know, I couldn’t possibly understand.

LR: Immigrant families tend to carry a different type of grief and trauma. As the daughter of an Asian immigrant household myself, I’ve found that writing about the histories I cannot experience has allowed me to better process that grief, as well as connect to my heritage with a new outlook, but it’s still difficult. Did writing about your family and their struggles allow you to do the same, and do you have any advice for second-generation writers who are trying to write into generational trauma? 

JW: Yes, yes, thank you for sharing, Pranaya. It did help (and still is [helping me]) process grief in a new way. It allowed me to confront that which scares me (my family’s history with hunger, the terror of toxic men) with surprising moments of rage and resilience . . . and ultimately love. Writing to my lost family members felt meditative to me. Like I was lighting an altar space of communication. “After Preparing the Altar, the Ghosts Feast Feverishly” came out of me spiritually. When my ghosts answered my letters, I felt a deep sense of calm and joy. I think the advice I would have would be to listen closely, to be tender to yourself and to your ghosts. And to admit and be okay with not being able to fully understand that grief or that history. But that, in trying to write about it, there is light. 

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Jane Wong is the author of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything (Alice James Books, 2021) and Overpour (Action Books, 2016). A Kundiman fellow, she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships and residencies from Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room, the US Fulbright Program, Artist Trust, Hedgebrook, Willapa Bay, the Jentel Foundation, and others. Her debut memoir, Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City, is forthcoming from Tin House. She is an associate professor of creative writing at Western Washington University.

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Cover image of All This Time by Cedar Sigo

All This Time by Cedar Sigo (Wave Books, 2021)

Please consider supporting a small press or independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

An Asian American Poetry Companion: Mesmerizing Reads for APA Heritage Month (May 2022)

Header image. An Asian American Poetry Companion: May 2022. Cover images of Time Regime by Jhani Randhawa, Becoming AppalAsian by Lisa Kwong, Wanna Peek into My Notebook? by Barbara Jane Reyes, Spooks by Stella Wong, Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong, Girl 2.0 by Nora Hikari, The Convert's Heart Is Good to Eat by Melody S. Gee, Dear God, Dear Bones, Dear Yellow by Noor Hindi, The Trees Witness Everything by Victoria Chang, You Cannot Resist Me When My Hair Is in Braids by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, That Blue Trickster Time by Amy Uyematsu, As She Appears by Shelley Wong.
New and Notable Books by Asian American Poets for May 2022

Our Asian American Poetry Companion series is back, bringing you new titles that you won’t want to miss this May! Get ready to celebrate APA Heritage Month with a deep dive into some mesmerizing new books from Asian American poets. 

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FROM THE LR COMMUNITY

Melody S. Gee, The Convert’s Heart Is Good to Eat, (Driftwood, May 2022) 

Melody S. Gee returns with her latest collection, The Convert’s Heart Is Good to Eat. If you enjoyed her poem “And So More” in Issue 7.3, The Convert’s Heart Is Good to Eat may be the perfect thing for you to pick up this month. Out now from Driftwood Press. 

Barbara Jane Reyes, Wanna Peek into My Notebook? Notes on Pinay Liminality, (Paloma, March 2022)

Issue 1 contributor Barbara Jane Reyes reclaims Pinay spaces through her exploration of diasporic Pinay poetics in this collection of lyric essays. If you enjoyed her two most recent collections, Letters to a Young Brown Girl and Invocation to Daughters, you’ll definitely want to pick this new volume up as well. Out now from Paloma Press. 

Amy Uyematsu, That Blue Trickster Time, (Bateau, March 2022)

Amy Uyematsu’s newest collection affirms Asian American identity in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching back into her own family’s experience of incarceration during World War II and lifting up strong female elders from across time. If you enjoyed her poems “Thriftstore Haiku” in Issue 5 or “The Bachi-Bachi Buddhahead Blues” in Issue 7.2, be sure to put this collection down on your reading list for the spring. Out now with What Books Press. 

Ocean Vuong, Time Is A Mother, (Penguin Random House, April 2022) 

Ocean Vuong’s much-anticipated second collection, Time Is A Mother, is finally out from Penguin Random House! LR readers have been enjoying Vuong’s work since Issue 1, long before his novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, catapulted him into the national spotlight. If you enjoyed his previous collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, you’ll be sure to enjoy diving into his powerful return to poetry this spring.

Shelley Wong, As She Appears, (YesYes, May 2022) 

If you enjoyed Shelley Wong’s poem “Rivets and Cables” in Issue 6, get ready for her debut collection, As She Appears. Wong writes for queer women of color, rethinking the many different ways in which women take up space, and inviting them to appear as they are. As She Appears is available now from YesYes Books.

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MORE NEW & NOTEWORTHY PICKS

Victoria Chang, The Trees Witness Everything, (Copper Canyon, April 2022)

Nora Hikari, Girl 2.0, (Seven Kitchens, March 2022)

Noor Hindi, Dear God, Dear Bones, Dear Yellow, (Haymarket, May 2022)

Lisa Kwong, Becoming AppalAsian, (Glass Lyre, April 2022)

Jhani Randhawa, Time Regime, (Gaudy Boy, April 2022)

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, You Cannot Resist Me When My Hair Is in Braids, (Wayne State UP, March 2022)

Stella Wong, Spooks, (Saturnalia, March 2022)

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What titles are you putting on your reading list for APA Heritage Month? We’d love to hear more about what you’re starting the summer off with! Share your recommendations with us in the comments or on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram (@lanternreview).


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Cover image of Broken Halves of a Milky Sun by Aaiun Nin

Broken Halves of a Milky Sun by Aaiún Nin (Astra House, 2022)

Please consider supporting a small press or independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

An Asian American Poetry Companion: Refreshing Reads for Spring (March 2022)

An Asian American Poetry Companion, Mar 2022. Cover images of: DREAM OF THE DIVIDED FIELD by Yanyi, NOTES FROM THE BIRTH YEAR by Mia Ayumi Malhotra, ALL THE FLOWERS KNEELING by Paul Tran, THE PURPOSE OF ALL THINGS by Jireh Deng, RETURN FLIGHT by Jennifer Huang, CONSTELLATION ROUTE by Matthew Olzmann, NIGHT SWIM by Joan Kwon Glass, CUSTOMS by Solmaz Sharif, BEAST AT EVERY THRESHOLD by Natalie Wee
New and Notable Books by Asian American Poets for Spring 2022

Our Asian American Poetry Companion series is back with more exciting reads to pick up—perfect for a warm spring day. Today, we’re thrilled to be bringing our readers nine fresh recommendations of new and forthcoming works from the Asian American poets that we know and love.

* * *

Jireh Deng, The Purpose of All Things, (Self-Published, December 2021) 

Jireh Deng’s The Purpose of All Things may be the perfect thing for you to pick up this spring if you enjoyed their piece “Towards Fidelity” in Issue 9.2. Poems from Deng’s debut chapbook have been featured by the Human Rights Campaign, CSU Long Beach, and more. The Purpose of All Things features both poetry and artwork throughout the collection; available now.

Joan Kwon Glass, Night Swim, (Diode, March 2022) 

Joan Kwon Glass continues the exploration of mourning and reconciliation she began in her January chapbook, How to Make Pancakes for a Dead Boy (Small Harbor, 2022), with her full-length poetry collection, Night Swim. If you’ve already read and enjoyed her work in Issue 9.1, look forward to more in this collection, out from Diode this month. 

Mia Ayumi Malhotra, Notes from the Birth Year, (Bateau, March 2022)

Our associate editor and cofounder, Mia Ayumi Malhotra, provides a tender new lens on motherhood in her new chapbook with Bateau, Notes from the Birth Year. You’ll definitely want to pick up this collection of exploration and reflection this month. 

Matthew Olzmann, Constellation Route, (Alice James, January 2022) 

Matthew Olzmann’s work has been on our readers’ radars from the very beginning, his first contribution having been in Issue 1. If you enjoyed either of his previous collections (Mezzanines or Contradictions in the Design) or the vivid imagery and haunting musicality of his poems in Issue 6, Constellation Route may be your new favorite; out now from Alice James. 

MORE NEW & NOTEWORTHY PICKS

Jennifer Huang, Return Flight, (Milkweed, January 2022)

Solmaz Sharif, Customs, (Graywolf, March 2022)

Paul Tran, All the Flowers Kneeling, (Penguin Poets, February 2022) 

Natalie Wee, Beast at Every Threshold, (Arsenal Pulp, March 2022)

Yanyi, Dream of the Divided Field, (One World, March 2022) 

* * *

What titles are you looking to pick up this season? We hope to hear more about what you’re diving into this spring! Share your recommendations with us in the comments or on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram (@lanternreview).


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Cover image of THE RENUNCIATIONS by Donika Kelly

The Renunciations by Donika Kelly (Graywolf Press, 2021)

Please consider supporting a small press or independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

2022 Submissions FAQ: What to Know When Sending Us Your Work

Black-and-white photo of a bowl on a plain white background, overlaid with the words: "Submissions FAQs: Asian American Appetites, Lantern Review open submissions. March 15–April 18, 2022, lanternreview.submittable.com." Photo by Konrad Wojciechowski on Unsplash.
Check out our FAQs below, then head on over to Submittable to send us your work!

[Note: We’ve updated our FAQs for our 2022 season. Please read carefully; some things have changed since last year!]

Our final reading period (ever) is officially open as of this morning! So today on the blog, we thought we’d take some time to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions we get about submissions. First time sending us work? Before you head on over to check out our official guidelines on Submittable, we encourage you to take a quick read through the following.

1. What types of poems do you publish?

We love poems that surprise and challenge us; that are musical and filled with vivid, concrete imagery; that play with language in new and interesting ways; that take risks; that have something distinct to say. We tend to prefer unrhymed, free verse poems. Note: we no longer publish translations. To get the best idea of what we publish, we encourage you to read through a few of our past issues.

2. What kind of art are you looking for?

For visual art, we’re looking for abstract photos and digital or traditional work in mediums like watercolor, oil, acrylic, lino or woodblock, or collage. We like to choose images that we can easily juxtapose with text, either in the body of the magazine or as cover art. We’re fond of moody or earthy color palettes, striking contrast, and interestingly textured play with shadow and light. As stated above, the best way to get an idea of the type of art we publish is to look at our past issues.

3. How many times can I submit? Can I submit to both the poetry and visual art categories? 

You’re welcome to submit to both categories in a given reading period! However, please submit only once per category. We aren’t able to accommodate (and will not read) additional entries submitted in the same category.

4. If I’ve been published by LR before, can I submit again?

We ask contributors to wait one calendar year/season after publication before submitting again. (This means that anyone we published in 2021—including in our youth folio issue—should not submit this year.) Otherwise, past contribs are welcome to submit again!

5. Is there going to be a youth folio submissions period this year?

No, there will not be a separate submissions period for youth this year. But if you’re a young poet or artist between the ages of 14–24, you’re still more than welcome to submit during our regular reading period. We’d love to see your work!

6. Do I have to be Asian American for you to publish my work? Does my work have to be about being Asian American?

Our mission is to highlight Asian American poetry and art. That means we prioritize work from writers and artists who identify as Asian American. We also realize that “Asian American” is a broad and complex category—but bottom line, if you self-identify as Asian American, we want to see your work. (And if you don’t, we’d ask you to respectfully refrain from submitting.)

As for the second question—your work never has to be “about” your race, culture, or ethnic identity. We love getting to highlight the enormous diversity of topics and themes that contemporary Asian American poets are writing about!

7. How many poems should I send?

Our guidelines specify a maximum of four poems totaling no more than eight pages. (Please don’t send more than that; we won’t be able to read the extra poems.) But within that limit, feel free to send as many or as few as you’d like! It is often a good strategy to send at least a couple pieces if you’re also sending your work to other journals, though—that way, if one of your poems gets snapped up by another magazine first, we still have something to choose from if we want to publish you.

8. Can I email you my work instead of using Submittable?

Unfortunately, we only accept unsolicited submissions via Submittable. If you experience a problem with our Submittable forms, feel free to ask us about it via email, but we’ll still eventually ask you to submit your work via Submittable. This is actually a good thing for submitters—it’s easier for us to keep track of submissions when they’re all in one place, so by sending your work via Submittable only, you help ensure that we won’t accidentally miss or lose your work!

9. Your guidelines say that a poem can’t be previously published. What counts as “previously published”?

To us, “previously published” means that a piece has previously appeared in a published periodical (such as a literary journal), an anthology, a chapbook, or a collection (book), whether in print or online. This includes self-published chapbooks and books. (As a literary magazine, we claim standard first North American serial rights, and rights revert to you upon publication.) We realize there are lots of ambiguous cases out there, though, so if you’re ever unsure whether a piece that you intend to submit counts as “previously published,” please don’t hesitate to send us an email (editors [at] lanternreview [dot] com) and ask!

10. What are simultaneous submissions? What if my work gets accepted somewhere else while it’s still being considered by Lantern Review?

Simultaneous submissions are pieces that are currently being considered by more than one journal or contest. LR allows submitters to send in simultaneous submissions, but should a piece be accepted elsewhere, you must immediately contact us to withdraw it. The easiest way to do this is to message us on Submittable or to add a note to your submission indicating which piece is no longer available.

11. Submittable says that you are not accepting submissions, but it’s not after April 18th yetWhat’s going on?

This probably means that we’ve maxed out our submissions limit for the month. Submittable limits small publications like ours to a certain number of total submissions per calendar month. Once we’ve received that number of submissions, the form automatically shuts down for a time. Unfortunately, this is not something we have control over (we’re so sorry!)—but the good news is that the form reopens (and the counter resets) with the start of each new calendar month. Should this happen before the end of March, please don’t worry! The form will be up and running again on April 1st. During the month of April, we’ll keep things open until 11:59 PM PDT on April 18th, or until we max out our April limit—whichever is sooner. Note: This is why we recommend that you submit earlier in the reading period if possible. We tend to have fewer submissions in the first couple of weeks (i.e., the March portion of the reading period). If we receive too many submissions after April 1st and you wait until it’s closer to the 18th, you may get cut off before you have the chance to submit.

12. How soon will you get back to me?

We aim to get back to you within about eight weeks’ time after the submissions period ends. However, we’re a very small team, and occasionally, there may be delays. We ask for your patience while we go through the pile; please know that we haven’t forgotten you if you don’t hear from us right away after submitting—we’re working through as quickly as we possibly can.

13. This is LR‘s last season. If I get published this season, what will happen to my work after 2022 is over?

The LR team plans to keep our website and archives available online for as long as we’re able, even after we officially close our doors. Eventually, we hope to look into a more permanent solution for archiving the magazine and blog, but for now, contributors can rest assured that their work will remain available right here on our website for at least a couple more years yet.

14. I have a question about my submission! How do I reach you?

If you’ve already submitted your work, you can contact us by sending us a message via Submittable. If you haven’t submitted yet, please reach out to us via email at editors [at] lanternreview [dot] com. (To ensure that your message is received, please do not contact the editors or staff via their individual social media or websites. All LR-related queries should be directed to us via either Submittable or our official LR email account.)

* * *

We hope this helps to clarify our submissions process a bit! We encourage you to send in your work early and to carefully read both our general guidelines and the guidelines for your category (poetry or art) before hitting “Submit.” And as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out via email (editors [at] lanternreview [dot] com) or on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram (@LanternReview) should you have any questions. We look forward to reading your work!

Click here to Submit to Jan/Feb Open Submissions: Asian American Futures (Powered by Submittable)

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Please consider supporting a small press or independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

Introducing Our 2022 Season: “Asian American Appetites”

LR 2022 submissions promo graphic. Black-and-white photo of a bowl on a plain white background, overlaid with the words: "Lantern Review: Asian American Appetites, call for submissions, March 15-April 18, 2022, lanternreview.submittable.com." Photo by Konrad Wojciechowski on Unsplash.
Save the date! Our 2022 reading period opens soon.

Get your submissions ready! Our annual reading period opens on March 15th. As with last year, our 2022 season will center around a theme—this year’s is “Asian American Appetites” (more on that below).

This morning, with a mixture of sadness and deep satisfaction, we’re also announcing that this season will be Lantern Review’s last. We’re so gratified by the work we’ve gotten to do in the Asian American poetry world over the course of the last twelve years, and the time has come for us to move on. Until then, though, you can expect another vibrant season of celebrating Asian American poetry. Please keep an eye out for the official opening announcement in a week or so. But in the meantime, here is our 2022 call.

* * *

2022 Call for Submissions (Mar 15–Apr 18): “Asian American Appetites”

For Lantern Review’s finale season, we seek poetry and visual art that responds to the theme “Asian American Appetites.” Though LR is coming to an end, our appetite remains whetted for the future of Asian American poetry. So tell us: What are you hungry for? Personal or political, literal or figurative, we want to hear it all. Bring us your lists, your letters of desire and despair, your secret recipes and spells, your dreams, your hauntings, your prayers, your political hungers and private longings. However you interpret this call, we look forward to hearing what you have to say. Please read our guidelines carefully and send us your work. We will be accepting submissions from March 15th through April 18th (or until we hit our Submittable limit, whichever is earlier). 

This call is open to all poets who identify as Asian American. We especially welcome submissions from poets who have never been published by Lantern Review before and/or who identify with historically marginalized groups within the Asian American community.

* * *

Please save the dates and consider sending something our way. We can’t wait to see what you’ll bring to the table for our final issue!

Peace and Light,

The Editors


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Please consider supporting a small press or independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

Six Questions for LR Intern Pranaya S. Ayyala

Close portrait of Pranaya S. Ayyala, Indian American poet, wearing a deep ocean blue sweatshirt and standing in front of a background of a gray bedroom. Her wavy brown hair is golden under the sunlight, falling a couple inches past her shoulders. She is wearing brown lipstick and large, light pink glasses. She is looking directly into the camera with a smile.
LR Editorial Intern Pranaya S. Ayyala (Photo by the poet)

Happy New Year. Starting this month, we’re privileged to welcome Pranaya S. Ayyala onto the LR team as our spring editorial intern! Pranaya is an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, where she is pursuing a minor in creative writing and a major in accounting. A poet and avid bibliophile, Pranaya will be contributing to our Asian American Poetry Companion series on the blog, as well as writing and helping out behind the scenes as we gear up towards submissions for our 2022 season. As you’ll be hearing from her from time to time, we thought we’d take a minute to help you get to know her. Read on to learn about some of Pranaya’s favorite recent reads, the superpower she wishes she had, the advice she’d give her younger self, and more.

LANTERN REVIEW: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you come to poetry? 

PRANAYA S. AYYALA: I’ve been writing poetry since I was fifteen, and I must admit, it wasn’t very good poetry at the beginning. It’s taken me time to fully create my own meaning for what poetry is in my life and my work, but I’m getting there! I’ve begun to experiment with my work, learning as much as I can about the art form. Taking formal courses to analyze other work has really helped me find my style and redefine writing for myself. Overall, I’ve started to see poetry for the vast form that it is and am finding joy in considering myself not only a writer, but also an artist of words!

LR: What obsessions or thematic interests drive your writing? 

PA: When I first wrote poetry, I found myself using my own experiences as themes, but as I’ve grown, I’ve found my writing encompassing the stories that others haven’t had a chance to tell. Stories about the generations before me and stories about the women of my family and my culture. These themes have led me to put topics that my culture often tiptoes around on the page—talking about bodies, trauma, and the immigrant experience—and how that melting pot of cultures within us interacts with America and society as a whole today.

LR: What are your favorite poets, poems, or poetry collections of the moment?

PA: I’ve currently been enjoying Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Ada Limón’s The Carrying, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, and Jane Wong’s How to Not Be Afraid of Everything.

LR: If you could have any superpower, what would it be? 

PA: I think a superpower I’d love to have is super-keen observation! Writing has consistently been one of the biggest aspects of my life since I was eight years old, and I’ve come to understand it as a sort of painting using my words. Observation and detail are key—to find the extraordinary in ordinary moments—and then to put a piece together and put it out into the world on its own journey. I’d love to remember those mundane but special moments in the same detail that I experienced them.

LR: What’s something you wish you could tell your younger self?

PA: I wish I could’ve been told earlier about how poetry and writing are art forms too—that I am allowed to follow as many or as few rules as I want when I am creating for myself. It’s this realization that helped me use my poetry as a medium as opposed to trying to write something “pleasing” to read, because after all, who defines whether art is pleasing or not? Or that it needs to be pleasing at all? It would have been nice to know that my writing is simply allowed to be. 

LR: Who are your Asian American role models? What are your hopes for the future of Asian American literature?

PA: Some of my Asian American models are people I’ve met fairly recently, actually! I think people like me, who grew up looking to writers as superheroes or celebrities, tend to think that writers aren’t normal people. I’ve learned otherwise these past few months. Working with Iris, Mia, Indrani, and talking to other Indian American writers has been life changing. I’ve also gotten the chance at university to work with other Asian American women, whom I really look up to as well. Poetry has given me a community whose welcoming nature I will never forget—I think it will always be one of those “mundane but special” moments! I really hope that Asian American literature maintains this same sense of community. I think we’re a super special group of people, and I think my biggest wish is that the younger generation will not have to seek us out with any special effort, that we can visibly be there to teach them that they are just as amazing and that there are people out there doing the work that they might want to do in the future as well.


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Cover image of THE CARRYING by Ada Limon

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Please consider supporting a small press or independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

Announcing LR Issue 9.3 (Asian American Futures: Reclamation)

Cover image of LANTERN REVIEW Issue 9.3, Asian American Futures: “Reclamation,” featuring Sophia Zhao's mixed-media piece "Flavor": two figures with dark, cheekbone-length hair sit on the grass in front of a brown-sided, black-shingled building. The figure in the foreground, wearing black pants and a multicolored blouse printed with gingko leaves, clings to a wooden frame of a table on which a white rice bowl sits. The figure in the background, wearing all black, eats from the bowl with a pair of wood chopsticks. Behind them, birds fly against a red sky. Interspersed around them are collaged photographic images of two people eating lunch with chopsticks and the tiered roofs and steps of historic buildings in Asia.
Lantern Review Issue 9.3: “Reclamation.”

Happy Thursday! This morning, we’re incredibly excited to announce the release of our third and final volume focused on the theme “Asian American Futures,” Issue 9.3: “Reclamation.”

Featuring powerhouse poems by Franny Choi, Đỗ Nguyên Mai, Seelai Karzai, Megan Kim, E. J. Koh, Rita Mookerjee, and Cat Wei, as well as stunning cover art by Sophia Zhao, this issue wraps up our 2021 season with a triumphant bang. As guest editor Eugenia Leigh writes in the editorial note, the voices herein “reclaim their individual and collective narratives with ferocity and clarity. These poems don’t ask for permission—they demand agency as they resolutely tell and retell their stories their way. Look at this story I’ve been told about my life, they say. Look at this story we’ve been told about our lives. Then, with incredible, oftentimes transformative revisioning, they urge us to look again.” Indeed, the work in Issue 9.3 has made us want to revisit these powerful stories again and again—and as a team, we’re proud and honored to get to share it with you this morning.

Many thanks again to all of our amazing contributors, to Eugenia, to our fantastic staff readers, and most of all to you, our steadfast readers and community, for making this groundbreaking season possible. What a privilege it has been to explore what Asian America’s collective future(s) might mean in so many different ways throughout the year—and we couldn’t have done it without you.

We hope you’ll enjoy the bounty that Issue 9.3 has to offer, and as always, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a note in the comments or on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram (@LanternReview) to tell us what you think!

Wishing you a warm year’s end—and a happy and healthy 2022.

Peace and light always,

The LR editorial team

Read Lantern Review Issue 9.3: Asian American Futures, “Reclamation.”


Cover image of HERE IS THE SWEET HAND by francine j. harris

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Please consider supporting a small press or independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.