Editors’ Corner: Books We’re Looking Forward to in 2014 (Part 2)

Books We're Looking Forward to in 2014, Part 2

Today, just in time for the start of the year of the lunar new year, we’re finishing off our two-part roundup of books that we’re looking forward to in 2014.  Last week’s post (part 1) focused on recently published titles, while today’s (part 2) focuses on forthcoming books that are due out later this year.

Note: the books discussed below are divided by category according to whether they are currently available for pre-order, or whether specific details of their release have, as of this posting, yet to be announced. For each category, books are listed alphabetically by author.

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Available for Pre-order

Split by Cathy Linh Che (forthcoming from Alice James Books in April 2014)

Split is the latest winner of the Kundiman Prize (the previous years’ awards having gone to Mezzanines by Matthew Olzmann and Pier by Janine Oshiro). Cathy Linh Che is a poet who writes with clarity and shattering vulnerability. I heard her read from portions of Split, which intertwines histories of personal trauma with the inherited trauma of war and displacement, at last year’s AWP, and watched the crowd be visibly moved as she began to cry on the podium. Che said recently, in a feature on the Blood-Jet Radio Hour’s blog: “at a reading, a young woman called me ‘the crying poet.’ She’d witnessed me bawling my eyes out at not one, but two of my own readings. I was a bit embarrassed by the nickname, but now it is a moniker I am proud of! If a book or reading is moving, I tear up. It is how I determine whether or not a work is good. Does it move me? And after I put down the work, does it endure?” I very much respect this: here is a poet who is willing to own the porousness between her work and herself, who is willing to allow herself to be moved by both the process and the “read” experience of her own writing. I can’t wait to read Split. 

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Turn by Wendy Chin-Tanner (forthcoming from Sibling Rivalry Press in March 2014)

This is a special one for us here at LR. Wendy has been our staff interviewer for the past three seasons (she’s the one who’s been responsible for bringing you the insights of everyone from Garrett Hongo to Don Mee Choi), and we are so very ecstatic that she has a book forthcoming! We first got to know Wendy through her sonically rich, smart, politically-attuned poetry—we published a piece of hers in Issue 3 and enjoyed it so much that we made it the “closer” for the main body of the issue. Since joining the blog staff, she’s been a huge asset to the team, contributing colorful and extremely thoughtful interviews each month.  We were thrilled when we learned that Sibling Rivalry had picked up her book, and are very much looking forward to reading it in a couple of months’ time.

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Continue reading “Editors’ Corner: Books We’re Looking Forward to in 2014 (Part 2)”

Editors’ Corner: Books We’re Looking Forward to in 2014 (Part 1)

Books We're Looking Forward to in 2014, Part 1It’s the first month of the new year, and so much news about exciting new books has come across our desk of late that we thought we’d put together a couple of roundup posts in order to put some of the titles that we’re most looking forward to reading in the coming year on your radar.  In today’s post (part 1), I’ll be discussing six recently published titles (five full-length books and one chapbook) that have made top priority on my to-read list for 2014. Part 2 (which will follow next week) will focus on forthcoming books that are due out in 2014.

Note: the books discussed below appear alphabetically by author; the order in which they’re listed does not reflect any sort of ranking or order of preference. (We’re equally excited about all of them!)

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The Arbitrary Sign by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé (Red Wheelbarrow, 2013)

Desmond Kon is a two-time contributor to LR (his work appears in both issue 1 and issue 5), and both times that we’ve published him, Mia and I had a really hard time choosing just two of the poems he’d sent in each batch. Desmond’s work interests itself in philosophy, visual art, pop culture, and the sounds and textures of language: he is interested in dadaism and in other forms of the avant-garde, and has a unique gift for finding the music in both “high” language (such as academic jargon) and “low” forms of speech—slang, text speak, gossip column patter. The genius of his poems lies in their polyglot nature—the way that he mixes contrasting modes of speech and weaves easily in and out of a variety of languages. His pieces work because there is a delightfully haphazard quality to their approach, a lightness that plays against both the weight of the poems’ scale and subject matter and the deliberate care with which the poet has gathered, built up, and sculpted their many intricate layers of texture and pattern. Desmond, a highly prolific writer, has published multiple chapbooks (both in the US and in his home city-state of Singapore) and has a long list of journal and anthology credits to his name—and for good reason. I’ve no doubt The Arbitrary Sign—a philosophical twist on the form of the classic alphabet book—will be as delightful as the rest of his body of work.

For a sneak peek at The Arbitrary Sign, head on over to Kitaab to read six of the poems that appear in the collection.

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Kala Pani by Monica Mody (1913 Press, 2013)

This is a book I’ve been looking forward to for a long while now. Monica wrote for us as a staff reviewer from 2010 through 2011, and we later had the privilege of getting to publish a poem of hers in issue 4. Her work is deeply invested in myth and parable, and the textures of her writing are rich and sinuously complex—by turns liquid and transparent, and by others, knotty and grotesque. She has an exceptionally keen ear for music and magic, both of which suffuse her work.  I had the pleasure of getting to read and workshop portions of Kala Pani back in 2009. It is a hybrid piece (partway between poetry and prose) that takes up the narrative of a group of world travellers who converge around an ancient tree.  In it, the poet deftly plies together the fibers of what at first appears to be an allegory-like story, only to tease and unspun these threads mid-strand and remake them again (differently) in the next breath. What I admired most about the manuscript when I saw it in workshop was the way in which the tapestry of the piece’s language shatters and shifts at a moment’s notice—like quicksilver. Monica is a brilliant critical thinker, in addition to being a talented poet, and it shows in the deeply intelligent nature of her writing: though she is keen to investigate notions of trauma,  geography, time, race, gender, spirituality, etc., her writing neither preaches endlessly nor holds to an overly simplistic view of the political: rather, she holds questions up to a mirror, testing them on a knife’s edge. She recognizes that the notions of place and identity are inherently fraught with instability, and she both celebrates and problematizes this complexity: the characters of which she writes transform and bleed into one another, metamorphose and cycle back to avatars of themselves, over and over again, in many different ways. It’s been a couple of years since 1913 first announced that it had acquired Kala Pani, and now that the book is finally out, I can’t wait to read the finished product.

Excerpts of Kala Pani can be found at The Volta, the Boston Review, and Lies/Isle.

Continue reading “Editors’ Corner: Books We’re Looking Forward to in 2014 (Part 1)”

LR News: National Poetry Month 2013 Giveaway Results

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Thank you so much to all of you who entered our 2013 National Poetry Month giveaway!  This weekend, we put the total number of entries (comments) received through a random number generator, and let it choose the number of the winning comment for us:

NPM2013GiveawayResult

And the winner is  . . .

Noel Mariano (comment #13), who writes that he is currently in the midst of reading Barbara Jane Reyes’s Diwata and re-reading Bino Realuyo’s The Gods We Worship Live Next Door.

Here’s a screenshot of his comment:

NPM2013GiveawayWinningComment

Noel will receive a 1-year subscription to the Asian American Literary Review (courtesy of AALR), a copy of Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut’s Magnetic Refrain (courtesy of Kaya Press), and a copy of Henry W. Leung’s Paradise Hunger (courtesy of the author). Congratulations, Noel!  We hope you’ll enjoy your prize!

Also as promised, each of the first ten commentors to have entered the contest will receive a bundle of five of our poetry starter packs. These lucky ten people are, in the order in which their comments were received:

  1. Rumit Pancholi, who’s reading Li-Young Lee and Garrett Hongo.
  2. Cathy Linh Che, who adores Srikanth Reddy’s Facts for Visitors.
  3. R., who has Myung Mi Kim and Barbara Jane Reyes on the top of their list.
  4. Roberto Ascalon, who’s reading Jon Pineda and looking forward to Jason Bayani’s Amulet.
  5. Michelle Penaloza, who recommends both Eugene Gloria and Luisa Igloria.
  6. Luisa Igloria, who wrote of her love for Paisley Rekdal’s work.
  7. Michelle Lin, who’s enjoying Kimiko Hahn’s The Narrow Road to the Interioat the moment.
  8. Rachelle, who’s reading Brynn Saito and Jason Bayani, and is waiting for Manila Noir (ed. Jessica Hagedorn)
  9. Jane Wong, who recently finished (and loved) Lynn Xu’s Debts and Lessons and also recommends the work of Cathy Park Hong (having recently read Engine Empire) and Myung Mi Kim.
  10. Kristen Eliason, who says she visits and revisits For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut by Takashi Hiraide, Mad Science in Imperial City by Shanxing Wang, and Incubation: A Space for Monsters by Bhanu Kapil.

We were thrilled to see everyone’s responses. There was a wide range of names mentioned in the thirty-four comments that were left on the original post; Ching-In Chen, Kimiko Hahn, and Li-Young Lee topped the list at 4, 3, and 3 mentions each, while a number of other poets (Jason Bayani, Tarfia Faizullah, Bhanu Kapil, Myung Mi Kim, Karen Llagas, Barbara Jane Reyes, Ocean Vuong, Lynn Xu, and Andre Yang) were mentioned twice. Other writers who showed up on people’s lists included: Arthur Sze, Karen An-Hwei Lee, Dilruba Ahmed, Angie Chuang, Cynthia Dewi Oka, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Kenji Liu, David Maduli, Pos L. Moua, Soul Choj Vang, Ka Vang, Sesshu Foster, Angela Torres, Matthew Olzmann, Koon Woon, Allen Qing Yuan, Beau Sia, Amy Uyematsu, Russell Leong, Mitsuye Yamada, Joel Tan, Tsering Wangmo, Lee Herrick, Hiroshi Kashiwagi, David S. Cho, Bao Phi, Ed Bok Lee, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Sasha Pimental Chacon, Burlee Vang, Ishle Yi Park, Sally Wen Mao, Lo Kwa Mei-En, and Hoa Nguyen. (To read about these recommendations  in more detail, click here to see the original post). Many commentors also took the time to leave detailed remarks about the work of the poets they’d mentioned. Their recommendations have definitely nudged us to add several names and  titles to our reading lists, and we hope they’ve inspired you, too!

Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you so much again to everyone who entered, as well as to our generous sponsors, AALR, Kaya, and Henry Leung. A very happy tail end of National Poetry Month to you all!  We’ll see you on the flip side, in May, when we’ll continue our celebration of Asian American poetry with more special content for APIA Heritage Month.

Staff Picks: Holiday Reading Recommendations 2011

It’s become a little bit of a tradition for us to post a list of books recommended by the LR Blog writers and editors just before the holidays.  In keeping with that tradition, we’ve surveyed the staff team and have put together a list of  titles that we enjoyed reading this year and think that you might like, too. Here are our end-of -year Staff Picks for 2011:

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PEOPLE ARE TINY IN PAINTINGS OF CHINA
PEOPLE ARE TINY IN PAINTINGS OF CHINA

People are Tiny in Paintings of China
by Cynthia Arrieu-King
Octopus Books, 2010
Recommended by Iris:

“I lost my father in late 2010, and the delicate—almost brittle—transparency of this collection (which has much to do with fathers and familial heritage) struck me to the bone.  Arrieu-King’s language is beautifully evocative, but economical; her poems are rendered with slim, decisive strokes that are as breathtaking for their clear-eyed, precise minimalism as they are for their wry, sharply observant (at times downright blunt) commentary.  Acts of mathematical counting, division (or inability to divide, as in the case of the poem titled “Prime Numbers”), and serial repetition are motifs in the collection, as are colors, lenses or frames of vision, the contours of landscapes and language. Taken together, these themes serve to magnify and illuminate the speaker’s gaze as she negotiates what it means to claim a multiracial, transnational identity in a world that irrationally desires, even demands, perfectly divisible, concrete forms.”

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ARDENCY
ARDENCY

Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels
by Kevin Young
Alfred A. Knopf, 2011

Recommended by Mia:
“Kevin Young’s latest book, Ardency, is at once epic and lyric, documentary and wholly imaginative.  Written from the perspective of various figures involved in the Amistad rebellion of 1839, the three sections of this book, ‘Buzzard,’ ‘Correspondence,’ and ‘Witness: A Libretto’ unfold in a dramatic reimagining of this moment in history.  While it’s true that with this collection, Young ‘[places] himself squarely in the African American poetic tradition pioneered by such writers as Langston Hughes’ (as the Washington Post claims on the book jacket), he also uses it to reinvent the tradition.”

Continue reading “Staff Picks: Holiday Reading Recommendations 2011”

Staff Picks: Holiday Reads 2010

Last year, we asked our staff writers to recommend books that they’d read in the last year and thought were worth passing on.  This year, we’ve decided to continue with this tradition.  In light of that, here are our holiday staff picks for 2010 (poetry, prose and more—yes, we read more than poetry!)

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Race and the Avant-Garde: Experimental and Asian American Poetry Since 1965 | Timothy Yu | Stanford University Press (2009)

Recommended by Mia: “This is one of the key critical texts on my reading list for the holidays.  I’ve only skimmed the first few chapters, but thus far have found Yu’s argument compelling, his analysis rigorous, and his wide-ranging knowledge of Asian American and Language poetry in the United States to be informative to my own work—not to mention useful in historicizing these two movements/moments in contemporary poetry!

From the Tinfish Editors’ Blog: ‘Using a definition of the avant-garde that has less to do with aesthetics than with social groups composed of like-minded artists, Yu argues that Asian American poetry and Language writing formed parallel movements in the 1970s. […] Both presented themselves in opposition to the mainstream; both were marked by questions of form and racial identity. Both meant to create art out of social groups, and reconstitute the social through the reception of their art.'”

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Radiant Silhouette: New & Selected Work 1974-1988 | John Yau | Black Sparrow Press (1989)

Recommended by Mia: “Yau is one of the two major poets that Timothy Yu addresses in Race and the Avant-Garde (Theresa Hak Kyung Cha is the other), so I’ve been reading through his New & Selected Work for an introduction to the thematic and aesthetic scope of his early career.  He’s a fascinating figure in Asian American poetry and, as Yu points out, ‘might best be read as a restoration of the links between politics, form, and race that characterize the avant-garde Asian American poetry of the 1970s [… providing] the first opportunity for most readers to recognize […] the presence of that avant-garde back into the very origins of Asian American writing.'”

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Man on Extremely Small Island | Jason Koo | C&R Press (2009)

Recommended by Iris: “Jason Koo’s style is very different from my own, but this book (his first collection) managed to completely charm me with its quirkiness.  The voice of the book’s primary speaker manifests a world-weary exhaustion that is, on the surface, darkly melancholic and painfully self-deprecating.  He obsesses over his dirty apartment while eating a tuna sandwich, dreams about floundering clumsily through an encounter with Lucy Liu, envisions himself stranded on an island in the middle of an ocean, worrying about the size of his nose.  But beneath the speaker’s (at times endearingly hyperbolic) self-consciousness lies a striking vulnerability and a luminous ability to evoke the fantastic within the mundane: BBQ chip crumbs echo the ‘fine grains / of my slovenliness,’ becoming ‘barbecue pollen,’ and later, ‘orange microbes’ (9); Lucy Liu becomes a motherly goddess figure who guides him through a secret mission, ‘pulling you after her diving into the stage,’ which becomes the arena for an undersea showdown complete with battleships, lingerie models, and harpoons (22) , the island transforms into the kneecap of a giant woman who ‘has no nose. Just a space where mine / can fit’ (77). Part Frank O’Hara, part tragic hero of his own sardonic comic-book series, the speaker’s sense of humor, whimsy, and wonder, as transmitted by Koo’s craft, paint a picture of a world that reinvisions the now-archetypal image behind John Donne’s famous ‘No man is an island’ with simultaneous irreverence and tenderness. ”

Continue reading “Staff Picks: Holiday Reads 2010”

Summer Reads: Issue 1 Contributor Subhashini Kaligotla

For our Summer Reads series, we’ve asked contributors from Issue 1 to share what they’ve been reading or plan to read this summer.  In this, our last installment, Subhashini Kaligotla shares about her summer reading plans.

Subhashini tells us,

“Since I am very interested in long poems but have succeeded in writing them only by putting together sections or fragments, I thought it would be useful to read Paisley Rekdal, who is a master of the long poem that marries lyric and narrative quite skillfully.  So I am looking forward to reading her Six Girls Without Pants and The Invention of the Kaleidoscope.

The other part of my summer list includes an old favourite—Nick Flynn’s Some Ether—and a few other books that also handle family narratives and loss in a collection of lyric poems: Marie Howe’s What the Living Do; Donald Hall’s The Painted Bed; Gregory Orr’s Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved; and Kevin Young’s Dear Darkness.”

Subhashini’s poem “Sydney Notebook” can be found in Issue 1 of Lantern Review. Many thanks to her, and to all of the Issue 1 contributors who have shared their reading lists with us this summer.  We hope that this series has inspired you to explore new titles and poets in your own summer reading queues.  Now it’s your turn: what is the best book that you’ve read this summer, and why?  We’d love to hear; tell us about it in the comments below.

Summer Reads: Issue 1 Contributor Jai Arun Ravine

For our Summer Reads series, we’ve asked contributors from Issue 1 to share what they’ve been reading or plan to read this summer.  This installment features reads from Jai Arun Ravine.

In an email, Jai enumerated the following books:

“Found” – Souvankham Thammavongsa
“Small Arguments” – Souvankham Thammavongsa
from unincorporated territory [saina]” – Craig Santos Perez
Lake M” – Brandon Shimoda
Chimney Swift” – Jason Daniel Schwartz

Thank you Jai, for sharing this list with us.  Jai’s poems “dern, 1” and ‘dern, 2” can be found in Issue 1 of Lantern Review.

Summer Reads: Issue 1 Contributor Eileen R. Tabios

For our Summer Reads series, we’ve asked contributors from Issue 1 to share what they’ve been reading or plan to read this summer.  This installment features a list of titles that were recommended to us by Eileen Tabios.

Writes Eileen,

“For another venue, I came up with a Summer reading list in poetry here . . .

From above list and for LR — I can recommend the following Asian American titles:
Juvenilia by Ken Chen (Yale University Press)
Far far above the typical poet’s first book. Admirably — and effectively — ambitious. Sophisticated. Will make you fall in love
Bending The Mind Around The Dream’s Blown Fuse by Timothy Liu (Talisman House)
Simply: Magnificent!
Texture Notes by Sawako Nakayasu (Letter Machine Editions)
Intelligent luminosities!”
Many thanks to Eileen for sharing these titles with us!  Her poem “DISASTER RELIEF (#2)” can be found in Issue 1 of Lantern Review.  She can also be found online at her blog, “THE BLIND CHATELAINE’S KEYS.”

Summer Reads: Issue 1 Contributor Tamiko Beyer

For our Summer Reads series, we’ve asked contributors from Issue 1 to share what they’ve been reading or plan to read this summer.  This installment features a list sent to us by Tamiko Beyer.

Says Tamiko,

“Here’s what’s on my reading stack right now:

Cascadia, by Brenda Hillman
Incendiary Circumstances, by Amitav Gosh
Ida, by Gertrude Stein
the ecolanguage reader, edited by Brenda Ijima
The Mill on the Floss, by George Eliot
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami (finally!)
Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip
And chapbooks by Jason Bayani and Bushra Rehman, which I got from the authors at the most recent Kundiman retreat!”

Many thanks to Tamiko for sharing these titles with us.  Check out her postcard poem in Issue 1’s special feature on Kundiman, or follow her online at her personal web site, www.wonderinghome.com, and at the Kenyon Review blog.

Summer Reads: Issue 1 Contributor Rachelle Cruz

For our Summer Reads series, we’ve asked contributors from Issue 1 to share what they’ve been reading or plan to read this summer.  This installment features Rachelle Cruz’s summer reading list.

Rachelle says,

“Here’s my long list.  A mix of poetry and mystery (I work at a specialty mystery bookstore):

A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield

Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski

Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman

Dawn Light by Diane Ackerman

Transformations by Anne Sexton

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

Delivered by Sarah Gambito

Toxic Flora by Kimiko Hahn

I-Hotel by Karen Yamashita

So Much Things To Say by Kwame Dawes”

Many thanks to Rachelle for sharing her list with us.  You can read her poem “I Am Still Alive” in Issue 1 of Lantern Review or find more of her on the web at rachellecruz.com and on her radio show, The Blood-Jet Writing Hour.