Perhaps it sounds obvious, but engagement with APIA art and writing shouldn’t be limited to the Month of May: APIA writers and artists are, of course, producing and performing and publishing new and challenging works all year round. Here are a few recommendations to get you started for the summer (in no particular order):
1. Takeo Rivera’s GOLIATH (dir. Alex Mallory). This powerful one-act choreopoem about the implications of the Iraq War, which began life as an original student play at Stanford, is making its New York City debut tomorrow, thanks to the brilliant creative talents of its playwright (Takeo Rivera) and its director (Alex Mallory). Takeo is one of those rising-star-types whose work is impossible to miss once it’s entered your periphery: his aesthetic roots lie in the brave activism and the rhythmically-compelling sonic and dramatic gestures of spoken word, and his critical approach to his subject matter is thoughtful, complex, and blade-sharp (he has a Masters Degree in Modern Thought & Literature and is about to enter a PhD in performance studies this fall). Alex (GOLIATH’s director), is also a forced to be reckoned with: she’s been directing productions and workshops in New York for a couple of years now, and before that, in college, she honed her chops by directing a number of major student productions and by founding The Stanford Theatre Activist Mobilization Project. Alex was also the major force behind bringing GOLIATH to the Big Apple. GOLIATH has been newly revised for the New York stage and will be playing at the Robert Moss Theater for the next two weeks. If you’re living in New York City or will be in its vicinity during the next few weeks, I urge you to see this play. I t’s not something you want to miss! [See the teaser trailer above].
2. “We Axe You to Speak”: Kartika Review’s first poetry reading. Yes, folks. Kartika Review’s inaugural reading event is tonight (6 to 8 pm at the SF Public Library, 100 Larkin St), and I highly recommend it (though I’m sad that I’ll have to miss it because I’m not on the West Coast). Barbara Jane Reyes, Eddy Zheng, Margaret Rhee, Shelley Wong, and Kenji C. Liu. Great lineup. Landmark event. To those of you in the Bay Area: GO. You do not want to miss this if you can help it.
3. “I Got My” Music Video ft. Jin [Magnetic North and Taiyo Na]. Bao Phi posted on Facebook that this “is not a music video – more like an Asian American family reunion, or maybe a map. Whatever it is, it’s a gift.” One can’t help but agree: so many landmark APIA faces! The video was created for APIA month, but its awesomeness, of course, extends far beyond the month of May alone. Here’s the video:
4. The 2011 Kundiman Retreat Reading. We always recommend Kundiman events here at LR, of course, but I’m afraid that this particular recommendation also comes mixed with a bit of shameless self-promotion: Henry Leung and I are going to have the privilege of participating in this year’s retreat as first-time fellows, and we’re incredibly excited to be able to write and perform alongside both the other new fellows and the corps of returning fellows. This year’s headlining faculty members are Kimiko Hahn, Jon Pineda, and Karen An-hwei Lee. We’ll giving a reading at Fordham Lincoln Center on June 17th at 7 pm (I’ll try to follow up with more details later). Come hear us on Friday, stay overnight, and catch GOLIATH’s closing performance on Saturday for an awesome NYC weekend full of APIA literary and performing arts!
5. The HYPHEN Magazine Blog. Hyphen is a hub for all things related to Asian America—and it covers everything from pop culture to food to books to politics in an incredibly sharp, politically-astute way. I am just a little obsessed with their feed (which I follow via Facebook). If you don’t already follow this magazine, you need to. Stat. End of story.
6. The Open City Blog. This is the Asian American Writer’s Workshop’s most recent online project. In their own words:
AAWW’s OPEN CITY: Blogging Urban Change is an interdisciplinary neighborhood blog and community project coordinated by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW). Five commissioned writers, called Organizing Fellows, are working with community organizations and neighborhood folks in Manhattan’s Chinatown/Lower East Side (LES), Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn to collect oral histories and interviews, offer commentary about gentrification, neighborhood change, and produce new creative work around these themes.
Later on in their “About” statement, they conceptualize their project as an “urban tryptich,” and the sites of their written observations and engagement as a “constellation” of portraits that—while never complete—is ever-evolving. I love the way that this describes both the historical and creative work of documentation, and the way in which their chosen medium (a collaborative blog) reflects these dual impulses towards collectivity and fluidity. (I also, incidentally, love their choice of url—”Open the City”—which comprises a call to action, rather than a titular placeholder).
7. Kaya Press’s forthcoming releases: Kaya Press has recently put up two forthcoming titles for pre-order: Water Chasing Water by Koon Woon and Lament in the Night by Shosôn Nagahara. I’m not sure exactly when these two books will actually become available to ship (the web site doesn’t say; if anyone knows this information, please do let us know and I’ll update this post to reflect it), but I’m particularly intrigued by Water Chasing Water. The cover art is extraordinary, and the description (which includes a quote by Bob Holman in which he calls the poet “Li Po in drag, the voice of New America” and which then goes on to characterize this new collection as a continuation of “his exploration of loneliness and memory with poems and essays that seek out “‘his light / Without which existence is not detectable'”) sounds absolutely tantalizing.
7. APIA-relevant Lit Mags: I’d be amiss not to include this on my list. Doveglion has recently put out a few new essays (in installments), and AALR‘s lovely, thick second issue came out this spring (it’s sitting at the top of my book queue, awaiting a read). I’ve no doubt that our friends at Kartika and Cha are busily working on new issues, too.
And of course, keep your eyes open for Lantern Review Issue 3! (Don’t forget: our current submissions period closes tomorrow at midnight EST).