Six Questions for 2021 Guest Editor Eugenia Leigh

Photograph of Eugenia Leigh, poet with long, dark hair and thick-rimmed glasses. She is wearing a white, puffy jacket with a bright red vest layered on top and is standing in front of a moody seascape with rocky crags and crashing waves visible in the far distance.
2021 Guest Editor Eugenia Leigh

This season, we’re privileged to welcome Eugenia Leigh to our team as guest editor. Eugenia is the author of Blood, Sparrows and Sparrows (Four Way Books, 2014) and the recipient of fellowships and awards from Poets & Writers magazine, Kundiman, Rattle, and elsewhere. She’s previously served as poetry editor at Kartika Review and Hyphen magazine, and she’s also a past contributor to the magazine and the blog here at Lantern Review. As Eugenia will be working closely with us to curate and produce the magazine this season, we thought we’d take a minute to help you get to know her. Read on to learn about some of her favorite reads of 2020, the Word document she keeps on her desktop for inspiration, what “Asian American futures” means to her, and more.

LANTERN REVIEW: How did you come to poetry?

EUGENIA LEIGH: Like many children from dysfunctional, abusive homes, I was taught to lie about my life as a child. Given that my parents were also pursuing ministry work in Korean Christian churches, the lying was even more imperative to maintain the illusion of our nice family. This made for a pretty lonely childhood. In junior high, an English teacher gave us the assignment to adopt a poet of our choosing, create a report, and recite one of their poems from memory for the class. I chose Anne Sexton randomly with no knowledge of who she was, and I recited a posthumously published poem, “Red Roses”—a poem about child abuse, thinly veiled. I still remember reciting this poem to the class and feeling the electricity of being able to tell at least one small truth in this artful way. After discovering Anne Sexton and the confessional poets, I often turned toward poetry to process and work through a lot of my ongoing childhood trauma during my teenage years. I’ve grown comfortable admitting that before poetry became an “artistic pursuit,” poetry was first an important coping mechanism and survival tool for me.

LR: What’s something you wish you had known when you were just starting out as a writer?

EL: When I was a senior at UCLA, a dear older white male poet announced to our poetry workshop—after critiquing one of my poems—that “if you’re forty and you’re a poet, then you’re a poet. But if you’re twenty and you’re a poet, you’re just twenty.” I’m nearly forty now, and I can still recall the humiliation of that statement, which stayed with me longer than it should have. When I was starting out as a writer, I wish I’d known to block out the many toxic voices I allowed into my ever-anxious, ever-insecure mind. I wish I’d believed in myself and in my writing, and I wish I’d applied for every chance to learn, grow, and showcase my work. I wish I’d had Michelle Obama’s voice to quiet my imposter syndrome by saying, “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the UN; they are not that smart.”

LR: What interests or obsessions are driving your work right now? 

EL: A few years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and complex PTSD, and this has fueled a new interest in the ways mental illness intersects with intergenerational trauma, especially within Asian American (and more specifically, Korean American) families. As a new parent, I’m also interested in narratives that upend the curated, Instagrammable stories of parenthood and have been a little hellbent on putting the uglier bits of this life into my newer poems.

LR: What are some of your favorite poetry collections of the moment?

EL: A few favorite poetry collections from 2020 that I can’t stop thinking about or recommending to people: John Murillo’s Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry, Leila Chatti’s Deluge, Yona Harvey’s You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love, and Choi Seungja’s Phone Bells Keep Ringing for Me (translated by Won-Chung Kim and Cathy Park Hong). I’m also pretty obsessed with these 2020 nonfiction books by Korean American poets: Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings and E. J. Koh’s The Magical Language of Others—both of which made me cry multiple times. I feel actual gratitude that all these books are out in the world.

LR: What’s one writing ritual or self-care practice that helps sustain you?

EL: I keep a Word document on my desktop called “Anthology of Quotes”—an ongoing collection of inspirational quotes to keep me going when I want to quit. I read through it when I feel unable to continue writing. A lot of Audre Lorde in there, some philosophers, even some from contemporary actors or anonymous quotes floating around Instagram. And one Bible verse (though I’ve completely forgotten its context now): “They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands’” (from the book of Nehemiah, chapter 6, verse 9).

LR: In keeping with this season’s theme, what does “Asian American futures” mean to you? 

EL: When I think of “Asian American futures,” I imagine new generations of Asian American poets putting to paper what our parents, grandparents, and ancestors could never bring themselves to say. I envision poetry that refuses to wait around for permission. Poetry with an urgency that matches the times. Poetry that cost the poet something to write.

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We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Eugenia to our editorial team for the season! For more from her, check out her website—or head on over to read our previous interview with her, right here on the LR blog. (And don’t forget to send us your own takes on “Asian American futures”! Our regular open submissions period closes on February 11th.)

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Cover of YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO TO MARS FOR LOVE by Yona Harvey

 Yona Harvey, You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love (Four Way Books, 2020)

Please consider supporting an indie 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.

Submissions FAQ: What to Know When Sending Us Your Work

Submissions FAQs: What to Know When Sending Us Your Work (LR: lanternreview.submittable.com, Asian American Futures). Background image: black-and white photo of a wooden dock pointing out over open water. On the horizon are hills shrouded in misty fog. (Photo by Simone Mattielli on Unsplash)
All your pressing questions answered: read on below before you submit!

Our first submissions period of the season is officially open as of this morning! Over the years, we’ve been asked a lot of really great questions about our submissions process, so today on the blog, we thought we’d take some time to answer a few of the most frequently asked. First time sending us work? Or new to lit mag submissions in general? 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. 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 paintings in traditional mediums (like watercolor, oil, acrylic); lino or woodblock prints; collage; and abstract photos that we can juxtapose with poems and maybe even use as cover art. We’re fond of moody, monochrome 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? Can I send you work during both reading periods this year?

You’re welcome to submit to both categories in a given reading period! However, please submit only once per category during that period. Additionally, this year, our second reading period (Mar/Apr) is reserved for Asian American writers and artists aged 14–24 only, while our current reading period (Jan/Feb) is for Asian American poets and artists of any age. We ask that you please respect these categories and only submit during the appropriate reading period.

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 2020 should not submit this year.) Otherwise, past contribs are welcome to submit again!

5. Do I have to be Asian American for you to publish my work?

Our mission is to highlight Asian American poetry and art. At the present moment, that means we’re prioritizing 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.)

6. How many poems should I send?

Our guidelines specify a maximum of four poems totaling no more than 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 if you’re also sending your work to other journals, however—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 your work.

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

Unfortunately, we don’t accept unsolicited submissions via email. 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 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!

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

“Previously published” means that a piece has previously appeared in a published periodical (such as a literary journal), anthology, chapbook, or 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.) However, if you’ve simply performed the poem at an event, posted it on your blog, or shared it on your personal social media, we don’t consider it published. 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 and ask!

9. 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.

10. Submittable says that you are not accepting submissions, but the deadline hasn’t passed yet. What’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—but the good news is that the form will always reopen (and the counter will reset) with the start of the next calendar month. Should this happen before the end of January, we are so sorry—but please don’t worry! The form will be up and running again on February 1st.

11. 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.

12. Given the theme, “Asian American futures,” does my work have to be about the future? Does it have to be about being Asian American?

Your work never has to be “about” being Asian American. We love getting to highlight the enormous diversity of topics and themes that contemporary Asian American poets are writing about—we’re so much more than boba and rice! Regarding the “future” part of the 2021 season theme, if you’re submitting to our Jan/Feb open submissions period, then, yes, we ask that the pieces you send have the future in mind in some way. If you’re 14–24 and submitting to our Youth Folio (Mar/Apr), then your work does not need to specifically be about the future—we consider that you (and your perspectives) already are the future of Asian America.

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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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Cover image of DON'T CALL US DEAD by Danez Smith

Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf, 2017)

Please consider supporting an indie 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 2021 Season: “Asian American Futures”

Call for submissions information graphic. LANTERN REVIEW. Call for Submissions: Asian American Futures. Regular Submissions (Asian American poets & visual artists): Jan 11–Feb 11. Youth Folio Submissions (Asian American poets & visual artists 14–24): Mar 11–Apr 11. lanternreview.submittable.com. (Black-and-white background photo of a wooden dock extending out over water into a foggy horizon; photo by Simone Mattielli on Unsplash.)
Save the date! Our first 2021 reading period opens soon.

It’s hard to believe that 2020 is nearing its end. (And what a year it’s been!) As we look ahead to 2021, we’re excited to announce that some changes are coming to LR’s magazine in the new year.

To begin with, we’re beyond delighted to announce that guest editor Eugenia Leigh will be joining our team for the duration of the 2021 season. Eugenia is an award-winning poet, the author of Blood, Sparrows and Sparrows, a seasoned teaching artist, and former poetry editor at both Kartika Review and Hyphen. She’s also a past LR contributor and has written in the past for our blog. Eugenia will be helping to co-curate the magazine, and you also might hear from her via our social media from time to time. We’re so excited to get to collaborate with her next year, and hope you’ll join us in giving her a warm welcome!

Additionally, in 2021, our magazine will center around the theme of “Asian American Futures.” For the first time, we’ll also be having two separate reading periods: from Jan 11–Feb 11, we’ll accept regular submissions, and from Mar 11–Apr 11, we’ll be inviting young Asian American writers aged 14–24 to submit their work to a special youth folio.

We’ll post again to remind you when the first submissions period goes live on the blog starting next month. But in the meantime, here is the official call. We hope you’ll read it through, save the date, and consider sending something our way!

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2021 Open Submissions (Jan 11–Feb 11): “Asian American Futures” 

As we enter 2021, many of us face uncertainty or grief, but the new year gives us a chance to dare to hope. And there is so much to hope for in the Asian American community, from the leadership of young Asian American activists on the protest lines to the rising profiles of Asian American artists, writers, and scholars on the national and global stages. This season, we’re hoping to publish poetry and visual art that embodies the spirit of a “love letter” to the future of Asian America. Maybe you have something to say to the young people in your life. Maybe you look at Kamala Harris and see a glimpse of your own childhood dreams or even the dreams you haven’t yet dreamed. Or maybe you’re thinking about the work we still need to do: about climate change, police brutality, anti-Asian racism, incarceration at the border, rising food insecurity, the model minority myth. Maybe you’ll channel the prophetic, the visionary; maybe you’ll see glimmers of hope in the ordinary. However you interpret this call, we look forward to hearing what you have to say. Please read our guidelines and tips carefully and send us your work by February 11th.

This call is open to all poets who identify as Asian American. We especially welcome submissions from poets who identify with marginalized groups within the Asian American community. If you are a young poet aged 14–24, we encourage you to send us your work during our Youth Folio submissions period (from March 11th–April 11th) instead.

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Youth Folio Open Submissions (Mar 11–Apr 11): “Asian American Futures” 

Young Asian American writers are the embodiment of our present and future. For the first time ever, we are actively seeking open submissions from you: Asian American poets and visual artists aged 14–24. We have grown increasingly in awe of the passion, conviction, and creativity of young people in our community, and we feel inspired to offer this space as our love letter to you. We hope to create a folio filled with your own “love letters” to the futures you will claim, embody, become. Send us your best work on any topic—past, present, or future. It can be about things political, or it can be an expression of where you are now, what makes you tick, your personal hopes and dreams. We can’t wait to hear from you. Please read our guidelines and tips carefully and send us your poems or visual art by April 11th

This call is for Asian American poets aged 14–24 only; if you are 25 or older, please submit during our open submissions period (from January 11th–February 11th) instead. We especially welcome submissions from poets who identify with marginalized groups within the Asian American community.

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We’re excited for the new things to come in 2021: for Eugenia’s partnership, for our new youth folio, and to read what you have to say about the future of Asian America! Please stay tuned for more updates in early January. In the meantime, we’re sending our warmest wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy new year.

Peace and Light,
The Editors

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WHEREAS by Layli Long Soldier

Layli Long Soldier, Whereas (Graywolf, 2017)

Please consider supporting an indie 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.

LR Issue 8.2 Is Here!

Cover Image: LANTERN REVIEW Issue 8.2, “Recoveries” (featuring a film still from Cindy Nguyen’s “Tokyo Glances”: blue-tinted photo of a waist-up, silhouetted figure in profile, wearing a white shirt and with short hair against an overcast sky. In the backdrop, a skyscraper with glass windows and another brick skyscraper to the side.)
Lantern Review Issue 8.2, “Recoveries”

It’s our pleasure today to announce that Issue 8.2, our second and final issue of the 2020 season, is live! Titled “Recoveries” after a line from antmen pimentel mendoza’s poem “Ode to the Moon, the Earth’s Only Satellite, with Years of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” this issue speaks to the notion of survival, enacting creative resistance in the face of trauma and inviting us to consider how the work of the artist may chart new paths through the processes of healing and regeneration.

When we first chose the work that appears in Issue 8.2, we had no idea how 2020 would play out, nor how prescient these pieces would feel in the midst of the present moment. In addition to mendoza’s poem, Issue 8.2 features striking cover art by Cindy Nguyen, as well as powerful poems by MICHAEL CHANG, Tiffany Hsieh, and Heather Nagami. As we put the issue together over the course of the last two months, we were struck anew by these singular pieces and how they seemed to speak with even greater urgency to our current reality, transgressing boundaries of time, form, and geography to insist upon being heard above the fray. Today, we’re excited to finally share them with you.

We hope you’ll enjoy Issue 8.2. And as always, we’d love to know what you think—leave us a comment below or let us know on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter: @LanternReview.

Wishing you peace and light always,
The LR editorial team

Click here to read Lantern Review Issue 8.2: “Recoveries.”

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Cover of WADE IN THE WATER by Tracy K. Smith

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Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf, 2019)

Please consider supporting an independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an APA–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 book by a non-APA-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

Poetry Toolkit: Holding Space for Grief & Healing in the Classroom

Header image. Poetry Toolkit: Holding Space for Grief & Healing in the Classroom. Gray and white text on a yellow watercolor-textured background. Black-and-white LR logo in the corner.

As I (Iris) write this, my heart is weary. Just last week, only one of the three police officers involved in the shooting of Breonna Taylor was charged—and not for her murder. The evening of that announcement, I spoke with a friend who lives in Louisville. She told me: we are tired, we are frustrated, we are angry. Still, there is no justice.

California, the state where I live, is still burning. Last week, I read about Kao Saelee, a Mien refugee whose family fled to the US when he was small. During the last two (also incredibly devastating) wildfire seasons, Saelee worked to control the blazes as an inmate firefighter. This August, on the day he was released from prison, California transferred him not to his sister’s waiting car but to ICE detainment. Still, there is no justice. 

And still, around us, pandemic rages. The government moves to erase systemic racial injustice from history textbooks. Egregious human rights violations continue to be visited upon the refugees incarcerated at our border. And on and on and on and on.

For a while now, we’ve wanted to share some tools for making space for grief and healing through poetry. We know that many of you are teachers working with young writers during this deeply difficult (even traumatic) year. As educators ourselves, we know how creative writing can sometimes allow students needed space and permission to process, to breathe. And as poets, we know how the act of writing into grief can sometimes offer us just enough self-compassion and strength to go on. That sometimes, in the midst of suffering, poetry allows us not just catharsis but also access—to hope, to meaningful remembrance, even to joy.

The below prompts (each based on poems by writers of color—some APA identified, some not) and their variations are written with teachers and students of particular age ranges in mind. But you could write into any of these prompts (regardless of how they’re labeled) outside an academic context, as well.

Continue reading “Poetry Toolkit: Holding Space for Grief & Healing in the Classroom”

Six Questions for LR Editorial Intern Karen Zheng

Photo of Karen Zheng by Ray Ren (Poet with short hair and brown-rimmed glasses, wearing a black-and-white striped buttoned shirt and standing in front of a background of ivy)
LR Editorial Intern Karen Zheng (Photo by Ray Ren)

This fall, we’re privileged to welcome Karen Zheng onto the LR team as our editorial intern! Karen is a first-generation, queer, Chinese American undergraduate student at Dartmouth College studying English and creative writing (poetry). She is interested in exploring her intersectional identity in her creative work and, in her free time, hosts and produces the podcast Mx. Asian American. Karen will be helping us out behind the scenes with getting Issue 8.2 ready for publication, prepping social media content, and contributing to the blog. 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 Karen’s love for Ocean Vuong’s and Jericho Brown’s work, the activities that help her recharge when she’s not studying or writing, and more.

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

KAREN ZHENG:  I started writing poetry in middle school. In seventh grade, we were studying Langston Hughes and Edgar Allan Poe. One of the assignments in that unit was to write our own poems. I remember we were studying Hughes’s “Mother to Son” and analyzing the crystal stair. We had to write something that was similar, using the same metaphor of stairs. After I wrote a draft and showed it to my teacher, Ms. Mickish, she told me that I had talent and encouraged me to pursue poetry further. Ever since then, I’ve been writing. 

LR: What obsessions drive your writing and other creative work? 

KZ:  One of my poetry professors, Vievee Francis, always talks about a poet’s obsession, something that the poet always goes back to, writes about, and thinks about. For me, my obsessions lie in my Asian Americanness, queerness, and other childhood trauma that came with the intersectionality of those two identities. I also dabble in other creative work like podcasting and dancing. In my podcast, I aim to highlight others in the Asian American community as role models because I never had those growing up. 

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

KZ:  Ocean Vuong is my all-time favorite poet. His memoir, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, is so painfully beautiful. Other poets that I really enjoy are Danez Smith, Victoria Chang, Chen Chen, Matthew Olzmann, Terrance Hayes, Illya Kaminsky, Tyehimba Jess, and Jericho Brown. Recently, I’ve been obsessed with Jericho Brown’s The Tradition.

LR: Go-to karaoke song? 

KZ:  I’m actually the mic hogger at karaoke, but I usually only sing Chinese songs. I always have to sing《其实都没有》by 杨宗纬.

LR: Self-care is so important for creatives, especially during these times! What’s your favorite self-care tip? 

KZ: “Relax” is probably the best tip in general. I have trouble relaxing. I get restless during breaks. Reminding myself it’s okay to watch a few more episodes of a show, to journal, to draw, to color, or to space out every once in a while is crucial. Allowing myself to indulge in these activities really helps me to refuel and recharge. 

LR: Who are your APA role models? What are your hopes for the future of APA lit? 

KZ: Honestly, there are so many role models out there. All the poets I just mentioned, those who are doing nonprofit work, entrepreneurs, fitness influencers, etc., etc. Here, I’d like to talk about the Asian Hustle Network. Asian Hustle Network is a Facebook group where hustlers, young professionals, entrepreneurs, creatives, and business owners from the Asian American community can come together and share their stories. Everybody there is so inspiring. It gives me hope for the community to continue growing and changing the world. My hope for the future of APA literature is for us to break into the “canon” and have APA literature be taught in schools, inspiring and influencing future generations. 

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We hope you’ll join us in warmly welcoming Karen to the LR team. We’re excited to have her on board this semester and can’t wait for you to hear more from her soon!

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Seeing the Body by Rachel Eliza Griffiths (Norton, 2020)
Please consider supporting a BIPOC-owned indie bookstore with your purchase.

As an APA–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-APA-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

An August APA Poetry Companion: Books to Celebrate the End of Summer

Header Image: An APA Poetry Companion, August 2020 (Cover images of the following books: W. Todd Kaneko, THIS IS HOW THE BONE SINGS; Sumita Chakraborty, ARROW; Jihyun Yun, SOME ARE ALWAYS HUNGRY; Kimberly Alidio, : ONCE TEETH BONES CORAL :, Barbara Jane Reyes, LETTERS TO A YOUNG BROWN GIRL; Aimee Nezhukumatathil, WORLD OF WONDERS; Sachiko Murakami, RENDER; Angie Sijun Lou, ALL WE ASK IS YOU TO BE HAPPY)
New and Notable APA Poetry Reads for August & September 2020

As the summer winds down and the academic year ramps up, here are just a few August and September books by APA poets that we’re excited to crack into.

FEATURED PICKS

Kimberly Alidio, : once teeth bones coral : (Belladonna*, Aug 2020)

We were delighted to learn that Issue 2 contributor Kimberly Alidio’s new book, : once teeth bones coral :, is out this month from Belladonna*. Alidio’s deft syntactical and structural play appears to be in full force in this new collection, about which Cheena Marie Lo writes, “Alidio’s poems reveal the ‘luminous familiar,’ traces of the interior that make visible the simultaneity of histories and futures, the possibilities inherent in queer connection, kinship, and refusal. These fragments are precise and expansive, and will resonate for a very long time.”

W. Todd Kaneko, This Is How the Bone Sings (Black Lawrence, Aug 2020)

Another book that we’re excited to see hit shelves this month is two-time contributor W. Todd Kaneko’s This Is How the Bone Sings. Kaneko’s second collection, This Is How the Bone Sings interrogates ancestry and fatherhood through myth, legend, and history, including the poet’s family’s experience in the Minidoka concentration camp during WWII. We’ve long admired the striking imagery and music of Kaneko’s work, and this new book promises to be no exception. (As a bonus, Kaneko’s poem “The Birds Know What They Mean,” which we published in Issue 7.2, appears in the book. If you enjoyed that piece as much as we did, we hope you’ll check out the collection, too!)

Barbara Jane Reyes, Letters to a Young Brown Girl (BOA, Sept 2020)

We’ve been looking forward to Issue 1 contributor Barbara Jane Reyes’s latest collection, a series of epistles addressed to young (especially Filipina/x) women of color, for months now. At a time when mentorship and the importance of literary lineages (especially feminist, WOC lineages) have been top of our minds, Reyes’s book seems especially timely. Writes Asa Drake in her review of the book for Entropy, “These are poems about what we give ourselves, rendered in language to assure the young brown girl writing in America that she is not alone. What is a mixtape if not a love letter that confirms we have all existed in the world, and we have been listening, perhaps together?” This is one love letter that we can’t wait to read.

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MORE NEW AND NOTEWORTHY TITLES

Sumita Chakraborty, Arrow (Alice James, Sep 2020)

Angie Sijun Lou, All We Ask Is You To Be Happy [Chapbook] (Gold Line Press, Aug 2020)

Sachiko Murakami, Render (Arsenal Pulp, Sep 2020)

Aimee Nezhukumatathil, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments [Essays] (Milkweed, Aug 2020)

Jihyun Yun, Some Are Always Hungry (U of Nebraska, Sep 2020)

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What new and notable books are on your reading list this month? Share your recommendations with us in the comments or on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram (@LanternReview).

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Just Us: An American Conversation by Claudia Rankine  (Graywolf, Sep 2020)
Please consider supporting a Black-owned bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review is committed to promoting diverse voices within the literary world. In solidarity with the Black community and in an effort to amplify Black voices in poetry, we’re sharing a different book by a Black poet in each of our blog posts this summer.

LR News: LR on Sundress’s Publishing Roundtable

Sundress Roundtable logo: three cartoon speech bubbles of different shapes—one pale blue, one pale purple, and one pale green—with the words "Sundress Roundtable" overlaid on the foremost (purple) bubble.
Sundress Roundtable: So You Want to Start a Literary Journal (Part 1 | Part 2)

Recently, I [Iris] had the opportunity to participate in a two-part roundtable on Sundress Publications’ blog with a few other literary journal founders. As we just celebrated the tenth anniversary of LR‘s first issue this summer (and are almost at eleven years in existence on the internet—our blog first went live in fall of 2009), it was especially meaningful to get to look back and reflect on our early years. It was also fascinating to hear from the other editors about their publications’ stories and how, like us, many of them began their journals in response to a felt need or representational gap in the literary landscape. For Mia and me, the work of creating and publishing LR has felt as much like a journey of self-discovery (for us as writers, editors, teachers, collaborators, and friends) as it has been an opportunity to serve by carving out a space for our community, and it was lovely to hear and learn from what others have figured out—about themselves, about editing, about running a journal, about literary impact and community—along the way. Our thanks to Sundress Publications and to panel coordinator Marci Calibretta Cancio-Bello (from Print-Oriented Bastards) for the opportunity, as well as to fellow panelists Sarah Clark (from ANMLY, beestung, Bettering American Poetry), Sarah Feng (from COUNTERCLOCK Journal), and Luther Hughes (from Shade Literary Arts) for their insights!

To see our conversation, head on over to these posts on Sundress’s blog:

Sundress Roundtable: So You Want to Start a Literary Journal, Part 1

Sundress Roundtable: So You Want to Start a Literary Journal, Part 2

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If you’ve ever founded a journal yourself, what are some of the things you’ve learned along the way? (Or if you’re thinking of starting a journal, what questions do you have?) We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a note in the comments in the comments or on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram (@LanternReview).

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The Tradition by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon, 2019)
Please consider supporting a Black-owned bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review is committed to promoting diverse voices within the literary world. In solidarity with the Black community and in an effort to amplify Black voices in poetry, we’re sharing a different book by a Black poet in each of our blog posts this summer.

10 Years of LR | Process Profile: Lee Herrick on “The House Is Quiet, Except”

In celebration of our magazine’s ten-year anniversary, we’ve been catching up with past contributors via our process profile series. Today, in the last of this summer’s series, Issue 6 contributor Lee Herrick reflects back on his poem “The House Is Quiet, Except.”

LR: Celebrating 10 Years, 2010–2020; Process Profile: Lee Herrick. Photograph of Lee Herrick (Asian American poet with short hair and dark-rimmed glasses standing against a background of greenery).
Issue 6 contributor Lee Herrick (Photo by Curtis Messer)

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When my daughter first touched a book, she slid her tiny finger along the soft, padded page of the picture book like it was a kind of miraculous discovery. By the time she began to read, she often sat with her legs crossed on the ground near a bookshelf while she read. Once, on the occasion that inspired this poem, she was reading and whispering the words into the air, and it struck me: What might she be discovering? What worlds is she entering?

In “The House Is Quiet, Except,” I imagined her future life like I imagine most parents imagine about their children. More than anything, I want her to be happy and to have the fortitude to make it through the unhappy times. I hope she knows that she is loved. I hope she will find love or that love finds her, whatever form it takes. I don’t know if she will ever need saving, but I want her to know that books can save us in times of despair, isolation, or doubt, and that there is something living or holy inside of a book, like there is inside of us. She’s a teenager now, and she is still a voracious reader. It calms me to know how she loves books.

Watching my daughter read is watching her world grow. I think of the hundreds of years before us, the hundreds of years after us, and the gift of the present moment—how these merge into a good book and surge through us, our lives.

The biggest challenge in this poem was cutting it down, finding enough precision but letting it breathe enough. Speaking to the joys and wonders of fatherhood but not getting lost in sentiment. The last line of the poem was imagined, partially. I can’t be sure there was a light around her body. But I can’t be sure there wasn’t.

I wrote this poem almost as a meditation, and it became the last poem in Scar and Flower.

With her permission, when I read the poem to an audience, it’s often the final poem. There’s a hopeful finality that also opens back up at the end of a good book. I wanted this feeling in the poem, too. 

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Lee Herrick is the author of Scar and Flower and two other books of poems, Gardening Secrets of the Dead and This Many Miles from Desire. He is coeditor of The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books, 2020). His poems appear widely in literary magazines, textbooks, and anthologies such as One for the Money: The Sentence as Poetic Form; Indivisible: Poems of Social Justice, with an introduction by Common; Here: Poems for the Planet, with an introduction by the Dalai Lama; California Fire and Water; and Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, among others. Born in Daejeon, Korea, and adopted to the United States at ten months, he served as Fresno Poet Laureate from 2015–2017. He lives in Fresno, California, and teaches at Fresno City College and the MFA Program at Sierra Nevada University.

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Forest Primeval by Vievee Francis (Northwestern University Press, 2015)
Please consider supporting a Black-owned bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American-focused publication, Lantern Review is committed to promoting diverse voices within the literary world. In solidarity with the Black community and in an effort to amplify Black voices in poetry, we’re sharing a different book by a Black poet in each of our blog posts this summer.

Issue 8.1: Celebrating Ten Years of LR

Cover Image: LANTERN REVIEW Issue 8.1, "Remnants" (featuring Miya Sukune's oil painting "Looking to the Horizon": scene from an artist's workshop with a bass drum pedal, succulent, stone, eraser, paint brushes, and palette on a paint-streaked wood table. On the window and hanging from it are a sand dollar, a small statue, a spherical glass suncatcher, and another potted plant. Out the window, we can see snowcapped mountains and trees in the distance.)
LANTERN REVIEW Issue 8.1: “Remnants

We’re so very excited this morning to announce the release of our tenth-anniversary issue—Issue 8.1, “Remnants.” Featuring new poems by four of our past contributors (Rajiv Mohabir, Khaty Xiong, Vuong Vu, and Luisa A. Igloria) in addition to artist Miya Sukune’s stunning oil paintings, this slim but powerful volume serves as a celebration of past, present, and future.

Over the past ten years, we’ve had the opportunity to publish the poetry, prose, translations, and artwork of 107 writers and 27 visual artists in the magazine’s pages—as well as countless more curated writing prompts, interviews, reviews, process profiles, reflections, and featured poems (written by a combination of staff and guest contributors) for our blog. We’re incredibly indebted to you, our community—the readers, contributors, staff, partners, family, and friends who’ve read and commented on the blog and magazine, submitted work, subscribed to our newsletter, attended our events, volunteered your time and resources, visited our table at book fairs and literary festivals, and shared our content. 2020 feels, by all accounts, like a strange and difficult year in which to be celebrating anything, but as we reflect back on where we’ve come, we can’t help but feel both immense gratitude and renewed determination for the road ahead. The past ten years have only served to strengthen our deep belief in the necessity of poetry and in the rich, vibrant beacon that is the APA literary landscape. We look forward to continuing the work of highlighting and celebrating APA poetry—in concert with our community and in solidarity with others—in the years to come.

Thank you for your support throughout the years, and cheers to the future of APA poetry! We hope you’ll enjoy Issue 8.1.

Enter Lantern Review 8.1: “Remnants”

With peace, light, and unending gratitude,

Iris & Mia
LR Editors

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Cover Image: CATALOG OF UNABASHED GRATITUDE by Ross Gay

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay (U of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)
Please consider supporting a Black-owned bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review is committed to promoting diverse voices within the literary world. In solidarity with the Black community and in an effort to amplify Black voices in poetry, we’ll be sharing a different book by a Black poet in each of our blog posts this summer.