It’s that time again, and we’re headed off to the second Smithsonian APA Literature Festival this weekend in DC! Come visit us in the Literary Lounge on Friday, where we’ll be giving away awesome stickers featuring some of our contributors, as well as (in keeping with this year’s festival’s theme of “Care and Caregiving”) little poetry care kits designed to provide literary inspiration, activities for creative renewal, and prompts for the writer in need of self-care. Whether it’s tenderness, solidarity, or play that you need, we hope you’ll take a kit home this weekend to nourish your own creative practice or to share one with someone dear to you. The activities and writing prompts included can easily be adapted to share with kids, as well—so if you’re a parent or a teacher of a creative young person, we hope you’ll stop by, too! (Iris will be behind the table and would love to have a conversation with you about APA poetry in the classroom or APA books for young readers.) See you in DC!
Get ready—the summer 2019 installment of our email newsletter, Lumen, drops on Friday, and it’s one for the books! For Lumen no. 7, we’ve asked some of our Issue 7.2 contributors to share the can’t-miss, APA-authored books that are top of their reading lists this summer. From Ocean Vuong to Seema Reza, this edition of Lumen is packed with fantastic reading recommendations. We can’t wait to dive into the titles they recommend ourselves—and hope you’ll discover a new favorite read or two, as well!
If you’re already subscribed to Lumen, you can look forward to receiving this season’s letter in your inbox on Friday morning. And if you aren’t yet a subscriber, not to worry; there’s still time to make sure you won’t miss out! Follow the link below or click on the image at the top of this post to sign up:
We hope this issue of Lumen provides you with some great inspiration—and would love to hear what’s on your reading list this summer!
Light and peace always,
Iris, Mia, and Irene
In honor of Pride Month, we’re sharing spoken word artist Arhm Choi Wild‘s poem “At What Cost,” an intimate exploration of the price of claiming queer identity in many Asian and Asian American communities, here on the blog. This powerful piece requires little explanation—but in keeping with our goal to be a space that seeks to highlight not just Asian American poetic production but also craft, process, and performance, we’ve also asked the poet to reflect upon about the writing of this poem and what it meant to her. Here is Wild—in her own words.
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I wrote this poem when I was living in Seoul in an attempt to relearn the language that I had lost for the sake of assimilating into my American privilege. I lived there for six months, a foreigner in my homeland, to gather any Korean that would allow me to talk freely with my mother. If I were more fluent in Korean, could she understand my queerness and therefore accept it? If I had the words to express how, despite her fears, I was loved by a chosen family, would she be able to open her heart? If I gained this depth, would that make up for the closet I had agreed to live in while living in Korea?
I started to wonder if the hyphen in my Asian-American identity meant that I was constantly working an equation: my homeland at the cost of my full self, physical affection at the cost of queerness. Though this poem doesn’t imagine the ideal world where we all are allowed to be ourselves without apology, I wanted to show how complicated the deals are that we broker in order to love not only the motherland but also the self that simultaneously belongs and remains a stranger. Pride is such an important month to celebrate because of these equations that often point to loss—and that we continue to strive to claim what is ours despite the potential of a closed door or a door that only allows part of us inside.
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Arhm Choi Wild
At What Cost
Gay people don’t exist in Seoul, South Korea
don’t get dragged behind cars or dream of lynching ropes
don’t scream underneath burning houses or the fire hose
don’t orgasm, don’t lose their teeth and then their dentures
don’t forget their tampons, don’t make love in the bathtub
and again on the floor because they have fallen in love twice
that day, don’t run a finger over a cheek, wake up for a second
to pull themselves closer, don’t pick up a hammer to bust in
an idea, don’t dream, don’t fuck, don’t say I love you, don’t
dream of fucking to say I love you, don’t skip brushing their teeth
don’t try to stay friends with their exes, because in Korea
gay people don’t exist.
But let me tell you what does.
Let me tell you what has come
from this homophobia
turned homo-blind on these streets
where glamorous ginkgo trees
A group of boys moves off the sidewalk
to give me space.
Boy on left with his hand in back pocket
of boy in the middle who reaches over
to brush the hair out of other boy’s eyes,
all three laughing,
all free to show love in this homo-blind world.
I walk past the boys, duck into a food stall.
It’s cold so I ask for the hot fish soup,
look up from styrofoam cup
to see a woman with her hand on the thigh of a friend,
a finger going up to wipe off a cheek and kiss it
all as part of the conversation
easy like punctuation marks, regular like periods.
My family is no different.
My aunt walks down the street holding my hand
as cars rush by kicking up the dirty ginkgo leaves.
Later that day, another relative talks to me
with the help of her hand on my knee
because I can’t speak deep in Korean.
They touch me with no idea
of what a woman’s hands have meant to me,
how the ways they curl around a coffee cup
or flip through a book have turned me on.
In my motherland,
I don’t dare ask how to say “gay“
because I’m afraid the word
At what cost
can men get the affection
they need from other men?
At what cost
do I turn all past lovers into men,
Sarah into Samuel, Megan into Mark?
At what cost
will I come out to my family
and have them still see me?
It is for the cost of loving this country,
of finally feeling like I fit in,
like I have found the people
to whom I belong.
Gay people don’t exist in Korea,
and I am holding back a tongue
that could break this mirage
because seeing men not afraid to hold hands
and fix each other’s ties is too beautiful—
beautiful like a kiss
in the naked soft of morning,
beautiful like a mother
welcoming her daughter home.
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Arhm Choi Wild is a Kundiman fellow from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. She was a finalist for the Jake Adam York Prize in 2019 and has been published in the anthology Daring to Repair by Wising Up Press and in the magazines Barrow Street, The Massachusetts Review, Split this Rock, Foglifter, Two Hawks Quarterly, TRACK//FOUR, Peal, Otoliths, and Scholars & Rogues. She has worked as an
educator in New York City for the last six years and has competed in poetry slams and performed across the country, including at Brave New Voices, the New York City Poetry Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, the Michigan Theater, and Asheville WordFest.
Happy Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month! So much is already in motion this May—from Kundiman’s release of a special poetry folio in honor of the occasion to Penguin Books’s addition of four seminal Asian American literary works to their classics series—and over here at LR, we’re excited to be celebrating in our own way, too.
Later this month, we’ve got a brand-new issue focusing on APA history and literary lineage forthcoming, but first, a special APAHM edition of our newsletter, Lumen, featuring four prompts about writing into silence, drops this Friday, May 10th. During APAHM, when we often stop to consider the legacies of injustice and trauma that are written into our histories, it seemed appropriate to address what it means to grapple with silence in our craft, and we hope that the four exercises we’re sharing (each of which is inspired by a different Issue 7.1 contributor’s piece) will inspire and challenge you in your creative practice this May.
If you’re a Lumen subscriber already, you can look forward to seeing the new newsletter in your email inbox first thing on Friday morning. And if you’re not yet subscribed, there’s still time to get on the list to receive this quarter’s letter! Just follow the link below or click on the image at the top of this post to sign up.
A very happy May to you. We look forward to hearing how you might use the prompts we’re sharing in Lumen 6 to inspire your writing this APAHM month—and can’t wait to share Issue 7.2 with you in just a couple of weeks’ time!
Light and peace,
Iris & Mia
We’re thrilled to announce that, at long last, a brand-new issue of Lantern Review is now live! Issue 7.1, featuring poems by Allison Albino, Jason Bayani, Shamala Gallagher, Preeti Kaur Rajpal, Dujie Tahat, and Annabelle Y. Tseng, and artwork by Sudarsana Mohanty and Leah Oates, is themed around the notion of “transmission” and marks a shift in our publication format: rather than put out one longer issue a year, we’ve instead decided to begin splitting each season’s worth of published work into a series of three slimmer micro-issues, each of which will allow us to explore particular thematic, historical, formal, and/or demographic connections in a more focused manner than before. Issue 7.1, brimming with stunning works that echo with ghostly utterances in their explorations of trauma, prayer, language, family histories, and imagined futures, marks the first of three such themed micro-issues that we’ve planned for our 2019 season.
Additionally, the internet—and the world of online literary publishing—has evolved significantly since we last put out an issue, so for the magazine’s grand return, we’ve also decided to give it a visual facelift. In previous issues, we employed a non-scrolling layout that was intended to visually mimic the traditional two-page spread of a print magazine. In this next generation of the magazine, we’ve taken a step back from that approach. Instead, we’re celebrating the beautifully adaptable space of the browser window or mobile device screen as a visual medium unto itself. This allows us to treat each page of the issue as if it were a digital broadside, overlaying text and image and playing with layers of typography. In issue 7.1, you’ll see, among other innovations, Dujie Tahat’s haunting “when
Though five years have passed since we last read work and prepared an issue for publication, we are so encouraged to see the continuing strength and complexity of the work that is being put out by APA poets in the present moment. From Jason Bayani, an established poet with a touring show and two collections to his name, to Annabelle Y. Tseng, an undergraduate student at Princeton University, the accomplished contributors represented in Issue 7.1 exemplify the depth and diversity of contemporary APA poetry, and we could not be more proud to get to share their work with you.
To enter the issue, click here or on the cover image at the top of this post. We’d love to hear what you think, so leave us a comment here or reach out to us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to let us know. As ever, we’re grateful to our stellar editorial intern Irene Hsu for her invaluable contributions at every stage of putting this issue together, to our gracious and understanding contributors—both for the gift of their work and for waiting patiently for us to work through a myriad of bugs before we finalized the new layout—and to you, our amazing LR community, for your steadfast support. We can truthfully say that without your urging and encouragement, the magazine’s return may never have happened.
A very happy first week of March to you, and endless thanks once again.
Peace and Light,
Iris and Mia
It’s late in the season, but if you still have a poet friend for whom you want to find a last-minute present this year, you might be wondering what to give them.
Well, this Friday, in our last Lumen newsletter of the year, we have you covered. In this quarter’s letter, we will be sharing five ideas for giving a thoughtful, unique gift to a poet. Here’s a sneak peek:
“If you’re anything like me [Iris] when it comes to giving gifts, you like to give objects or experiences that will be truly meaningful—that will support and encourage the recipients in pursuing their passions. So how does one choose a thoughtful gift for a poet that will do more than collect dust after the thank-you note is sent? In keeping with the principle that gift-giving is not about the money spent, here are some ideas of how to give gifts to poets (or any writers, really) that will inspire and support them in their vocation—whether during the holidays or at any time of year.”
Whether you’re shopping for a poet or you are a poet whose loved ones occasionally ask you for gift ideas, we hope this issue of Lumen will help provide some inspiration. And if you’re still not subscribed yet—you still have four more days to do so before the newsletter drops! Just click here to sign up.
We hope you have a happy and healthy end of 2018. Cheers to the end of yet another year of fantastic Asian American poetry, and here’s to a new year full of still more brilliance—ever more light—in 2019!
Light and peace always,
Iris & Mia
[Edited on 12/1/18: We’ve extended our deadline to December 3rd to accommodate some possible technical difficulties with our form that may have occurred on Friday. Our sincere apologies if you had trouble with our form last night. You now have one more weekend to send us your work!]
Happy Thursday, LR family! We’re coming at you this brisk fall morning with a quick reminder that our open submissions period closes tomorrow evening (November 30th). Our thanks to everyone who has submitted so far; it’s been so exciting to watch your poems, translations, and visual art pour in over the course of the last couple of months, and we can’t wait to dig in and start reading in December. And if you haven’t yet sent us anything, now’s your chance! Head on over to our Submittable page and send us your best before the end of tomorrow. We look forward to seeing your work!
Ready to send us something? Click here to submit your work via Submittable.
It’s now a good solid month or two into the new academic year, and just in time to get ahead of that mid-semester slump, the fourth issue of Lumen is dropping on Friday! Following up on Lumen No. 3, in which Iris shared some of her favorite middle-grade and YA books for young APA readers, in Lumen No. 4, Mia writes about books for younger children that she has enjoyed reading and sharing with her family. Here’s a sneak preview of some of her thoughts on the matter:
”It’s a privilege to raise children in a literary landscape that includes such a wealth of talented APA children’s authors. . . . As a parent, I want nothing more than for my children to read books that enrich the imagination, that broaden their capacities for empathy, and that expand their worlds to include unfamiliar places and ways of living, while also affirming their lived experiences and the experiences of those around them. “
If you’re not already subscribed to Lumen, you’re in luck! Not only are there four more days to subscribe before the newsletter hits inboxes this Friday, October 5th, but we are also celebrating by randomly giving away a copy of Mia’s new book, Isako Isako, to one of our subscribers. All you have to do to enter is the following:
- Be subscribed to Lumen by 11:59 pm PDT on Thursday, October 4th. (If you’re not yet a subscriber, you’ll need to sign up first, but existing subscribers are also eligible to enter!)
- Leave us a comment on this blog post with your name and the title of a contemporary kids’ or teen book by an APA author that you wish you’d had as a kid. (It can be a picture book, an early reader book, a middle-grade book, or YA book of any genre.) [UPDATE on 10/4/18: We’re now expanding the giveaway to our social accounts, too! See today’s posts on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts for instructions specific to each. Lumen subscribers can enter more than once, on more than one platform (as well as on the blog)—so fire away! We look forward to hearing from you.]
- Lumen subscribers may enter as many times as they like—each new comment that is left with a book title will count as one entry (though the same person may not repeat the same book’s title for more than one entry). After the giveaway closes, we’ll randomly choose one winner amongst the entries and will get in touch via the email address with which the winner is subscribed to Lumen.
[UPDATE on 10/5/18: Congratulations to Rachelle Cruz, our randomly chosen giveaway winner! Rachelle shared with us on Instagram that she wishes she’d had Ellen Oh’s Spirit Hunters when she was a kid. Thanks for the recommendation, Rachelle—we can’t wait to check out this spooky, October-appropriate tale. We’ll be in touch soon to coordinate sending you your prize copy of Isako Isako.]
We hope you’ll discover a new title or two to share with your favorite little ones in Lumen No. 4. In the meantime, we look forward to hearing about the books you wish you’d had when you were a kid!
Light and peace,
Iris & Mia
This fall, for the first time ever, we’ve been privileged to welcome an editorial intern onto the Lantern Review team. Irene Hsu is an emerging Bay Area poet with an impressive resumé, including an English degree from Stanford, past internships at Graywolf and the Loft Literary Center, reporting experience for The New Republic, and publication credits in AAWW’s The Margins and on the Loft’s blog, Writers’ Block. In addition to her editorial duties in helping to run the magazine, Irene has been managing our Twitter account, and she’ll also be contributing to our blog from time to time. (You might have seen her first blog post for us—a roundup of fall APA poetry collections—last week.) We feel extremely blessed to have Irene’s talent, passion, and sense of vision on board, and because you’ll likely be hearing a lot from her over the course of the next several months, we thought that it would be fun to help you get to know her with a little Q&A. Read on to find out how a Gabrielle Calvocoressi collection shaped her earliest forays into poetry, the name of the song that she’d love to perform in an “Aggretsuko-style” karaoke showdown—and more.
* * *
LANTERN REVIEW: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you come to poetry?
IRENE HSU: I thank the stars for one generous and intelligent mentor, Teresa Kim, who sent off my high school self with Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart. This collection forever shaped my understanding of poetry as a place for observation and a vehicle for time travel. Like many high-functioning kids, I grew up with a misguided sense that I was constantly running out of time to get from point A to B—without quite knowing where I was going, where I was coming from, and what I was allowing myself to fall into. In a significant way, poetry rescued me. Reading and writing poetry gave me a space to be more thoughtful, critical, and imaginative. It gave me permission to return and refashion. In college, Solmaz Sharif, Essy Stone, NoViolet Bulawayo, and Kai Carlson-Wee introduced me to other writers like Tracy K. Smith, Sharon Olds, Aracelis Girmay, Terrance Hayes, among others, who reconfigure sight, breath, and meaning to slow down and interrogate drawn boundaries. When I understood there was this literary ecosystem, I wanted to be a part of it, to learn how it ticked, and to tend to the corners that made transformative reading and profound writing possible.
LR: What obsessions drive your writing?
IH: Right now, this quote from Jenny Zhang: “Why doesn’t anyone consider the fact that when you are a second-generation immigrant and you speak this very specific mixture of Chinese and English, that’s also a dying language? After I die, my children, if I have children, they won’t speak that blend of Chinese and English.” I’ve been thinking about what it means to document and celebrate this fleeting and unstable space of bilingualism. It’s not simply a question of vocabulary, but also of grammatical nuance and non-standard accent that disappear because they are eradicated and, if not, looked down upon. I’ve been trying to cherish the fact that, long before I myself knew, my tongue and my mouth knew that they were not beholden to any one dialect or place.
LR: What are your favorite poets, poems, or poetry collections of the moment?
IH: I find myself returning to poems that also double as stories vignettes, essays, and even films. Sally Wen Mao’s [short story] “Beasts of the Chase,” Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, Yanyi’s poems from The Year of Blue Water, Danez Smith’s “Dinosaurs in the Hood,” Richard Siken’s “You Are Jeff”—poems that aren’t afraid to challenge narrative. Poems that use rhythm, word choice, image, and timing to rewrite and overwrite the dominant logics that shape the most intimate of moments.
LR: Go-to karaoke song?
IH: At the moment, Rina Sawayama’s entire album RINA. But I especially would be down for an Aggretsuko-style showdown with the daredevil power pop anthem “Take Me As I Am.”
LR: In an ideal world, where do you envision the future of Asian American poetry ten years from now?
IH: I imagine Asian American poetry not just as an ever-growing field of profound, creative works, but also as a robust system of support and cycle of mentorship for growing writers and readers. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have mentors who, at crucial times in my life, have willingly taken me under their wings, coached my writing, and encouraged a diverse reading diet. I want this for anyone who even remotely considers making writing and reading a significant chunk of their life. I want there to be a space for everyone who wants to be a part of this, wherever they are—in a city, in a suburb, in a small town.
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We hope you’ll join us in warmly welcoming Irene to the LR team. We are so excited to be working with her this season and can’t wait for you to read more from her in the months to come. For more about Irene and to read some of her writing, visit her website, irnhs.squarespace.com.
Happy Monday, Lantern Review community! This morning, we’re coming at you with a huge piece of news: as of today, we’re officially knocking the dust off the magazine and are finally (yes, finally!) opening our doors to submissions for our 2019 season. We can’t tell you how good it feels to be able to announce this; it’s our first open reading period in a really long time.
We know this is a development for which many of you have been patiently waiting, so before we say anything else, we’d like to take a moment to thank you—both for your patience and for your continued belief in us and in our work. It’s been your confidence in our mission and your encouragement that has continued to sustain us in these past few years while we’ve been slowly retooling our editorial focus and workflow. And while we can’t say that we’ve got everything figured out (because—let’s face it—we haven’t), we’ve come to realize that more than anything else, it’s the magazine whose absence everyone (including us) has felt the most. The one question that so many of you have faithfully, persistently continued to ask us—at readings, at conferences, at every event we’ve been to in the past four years—has always been this: “When are you going to start taking submissions again?”
Well, we’ve been listening. And we hear you. So today, we’re thrilled to be taking that first step toward bringing the magazine back. I think we can all agree that it’s about time.
Here are the logistical details. Our fall 2018 reading period officially opens today and will run until November 30, 2018. As in the past, we are looking for original poetry and new translations in a wide variety of voices and styles. And we are also eager to receive submissions of visual art and photography. To get a feel for the type of work we like, we suggest that you take a look at our archives—especially our most recent two issues (issue five and issue six).
One more important detail: In the past, we solely accepted submissions through our own, proprietary portal; however, in keeping with current digital practices in the literary world, we’ve decided to adopt Submittable as our new submissions platform going forward. The “Submit” links on our main site and blog will now take you to our Submittable page, where you can find both our guidelines and forms with which to submit your poetry, translations, and artwork. For the first time ever, you’ll also be able to better track your manuscript through our screening process—and we can now even accept multiple files at once for art submissions.
Whether you’re a past contributor or you’ve never submitted to us before, we hope that you’ll consider sending us a poem or two! And just in case you might still be on the fence, here are a few compelling reasons why we think you should send us your work:
Reason #1: It’s free!
We don’t like the idea of missing out on exciting new poetry and artwork just because of a submission fee, so you won’t have to pay to send us your work. Submitting to the magazine during our open reading period is completely free.
Reason #2: We love featuring newer voices alongside more established ones.
We’ve been blessed to have our pages graced by the likes of literary powerhouses like Oliver de la Paz, Amy Uyematsu, Luisa Igloria, Barbara Jane Reyes (among others!) in the past. But we’ve also enjoyed getting to publish emerging writers’ work—Ocean Vuong, for example, is highly successful today, but when we first published his work, he was still several years away from his first full-length collection. All this to say: We love getting to help our readership discover (and, hopefully, fall in love with) newer voices as well as more established ones. We’re conscious of trying to remain an accessible platform for writers with strong poetic voices at every stage of their careers.
Reason #3: We care about design and accessibility.
The visual impact of a poem matters to us. As does the user’s experience of navigating through it online. We love to work with our contributors to ensure that even pieces that float words across white space in complex formations are laid out in a way that honors the poet’s original vision. We don’t just throw the text of your poem into a preset blog template—we hand code each issue to ensure as much consistency among our readers’ experiences as possible, regardless of what browser or device they may be using. Furthermore, as we code, we keep in mind the fact that some of our audience may be using voice readers—and for future issues, we hope to be able to improve upon this further to create an even more accessible reading experience for all.
Intrigued? Head on over to our new Submittable page and send us your best. We can’t wait to read your work!
Cheers to new beginnings,
Iris and Mia