I am thrilled (and a little flabbergasted) to announce that an interview that Diane Goettel, Executive Editor of Black Lawrence Press, conducted with me about Lantern Review earlier this spring has been published as the Feature Article in the 78th issue of Sapling, Black Lawrence’s electronic small press newsletter. Diane has very kindly given me permission to share an excerpt of the interview here on the LR Blog this week.
Here is part of my response to her question, “How do you think Lantern Review adds to or informs the ongoing conversation about Asian American literature?”
. . . we’re constantly reframing and redefining our relationship to that which we call “Asian American poetry.” But it’s that very struggle, I think, that defines what we strive to be. Asian American literature is a complex and slippery entity: it grows and contracts, twists and turns, according to what creative work is being produced and which writers are being featured in publications. We realize that, even though we’re a tiny digital magazine, we hold a heavy responsibility, because we’re invested in the act of curation. What we choose to draw attention to . . . is what other people will read, and consequently, what they will converse about. But we hope never to be an entity that attempts to put fences around what “Asian American poetry” is or is not (to do so would be foolish). Rather, we’d like to try to be fluid in our approach to that conversation, and to be as widely representative as we can while still continuing to maintain a high standard of quality with the content that we publish. That’s one of the reasons that we have the blog. The journal is a place to curate small collections of fresh work, and we envision the blog as a place to discuss and to contextualize some of that work. We are also interested in helping to curate a sense of online community amongst writers & readers of Asian American poetry, and to highlight (through both our Community Voices feature and the blog) ways that different arts organizations and working collectives of artists are already doing some of that community-building work locally. We would like to promote a view of Asian American literature that is, at its heart, dynamic, fluid, inclusive, and collaborative. To answer your question more directly, we hope to contribute to the existing conversation by showcasing Asian American voices, by pushing existing definitions of what “Asian American poetry” is, or can be, and by providing spaces in which we can invite critical discussion and creative response.
And—because we’re currently in submissions-reading mode for Issue 3 and we are often asked what sort of poems we look for when putting together an issue—here are my responses to a couple of her shorter questions relating to our editorial process:
S: What is the first thing that you look for in a submission?
IAL: Solid craft, most of all. We like poems that surprise us, that sing or groove, that pop off the page, that resonate, that trick us, that haunt us. We like poems that feel finished (as opposed to “polished”—we realize that while some finished poems feel beautifully polished, others are not meant to feel polished at all). We also consider whether the poet has addressed their subject in a way that feels new, relevant, and appropriately complex (we’ve turned away poems that have felt too essentializing—or worse, orientalizing). We do like to feature a wide variety of aesthetics and perspectives under the umbrella of “Asian American poetry.” We do not consider a poet’s ethnic heritage or geographical location as one of our selection criteria (we are more interested in whether their work is engaging with relevant critical questions in a thoughtful, intelligent, and aesthetically brave, complex and powerful way). We like it when poets surprise us with their take on “Asian American poetry.”
S: What advice would you offer to poets and artists who are interested in submitting their work to Lantern Review?
IAL: Submit your best, most interesting work. Submit more than one poem in your manuscript, but don’t submit more than the guidelines recommend. If your poems have unusual formatting that you wish us to retain, submit in .pdf format, rather than as an MS Word document. Consider submitting collaborative pieces or translations (we are very interested in these, too, but haven’t yet seen many of them in our submissions pools for the last two issues). For visual artists, consider submitting pieces that you think might work well if the text of a poem were overlaid on it (we often like to pair images with text). Also, please do read our submissions guidelines carefully and follow them. It makes things easier for all parties involved.
To read the rest of Sapling #78 (available for a limited time as a sample issue) or to purchase a subscription , please visit Black Lawrence’s web site. Our thanks to Diane; it was a privilege and a joy to be able to converse with her about LR, and we are grateful to her for this amazing opportunity.