Editors’ Corner: On Our Radar (March 2014)

Happy Thursday! A lot of relevant literary news has been making the rounds as of late, so we thought we’d do a quick roundup to keep you up to speed.

2014 Kundiman Prize Deadline Nears

The 2014 Kundiman Book Prize, co-sponsored by Alice James Books, is still accepting manuscripts for consideration until Saturday (3/15). If you’re an Asian American poet who’s been shopping around a full-length poetry manuscript, we encourage you to submit. Past winners have included Janine Oshiro (2010; interviewed on our blog here), Matthew Olzmann (2011; interviewed here), Cathy Linh Che (2012; featured in this Q&A), and Lo Kwa Mei-en (2013). More information, including guidelines, can be found here.

Updates: New and Forthcoming Book Releases by Contributors & Staff

Earlier this year, we previewed a few books that are forthcoming in 2014, and we were recently excited to learn that Tarfia Faizullah’s Seam has now officially been released and that Kristen Eliason’s Picture Dictionary is now available for pre-order on her publisher’s website.

In other contributor publication news, Craig Santos Perez’s third book, from unincorporated territory [guma’]is forthcoming from Omnidawn later this year, and Don Mee Choi’s translation of Kim Hyesoon’s Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream (of which we published an excerpt in Issue 6) was launched at AWP last month. Additionally, Luisa A. Igloria, whose latest collection Henry reviewed here, recently announced that she has two more books forthcoming: Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser, for which she won the May Swenson Poetry Award, and Night Willow, due out from Phoenicia Publishing (in Montreal) this spring.

New Book of Interest: April Naoko Heck’s A Nuclear Family

Every now and then, we come across a new book that we wonder why we didn’t know about earlier, and this is one of them: April Naoko Heck’s debut collection, A Nuclear Family, which was just released. I [Iris] have been a fan of Heck’s work for some years now, ever since I encountered some of her poems in the first issue of AALR.  She writes with clarity and surety, an ear for music, and an eye for lush visual textures, artfully interleaving and building up layers of image to form beautifully collaged, almost dreamlike, poetic landscapes. I was thrilled to learn that she now has a book. (I only wish I had known about it in January when I started putting together our 2014 preview/round-up!)

“The Honey Badgers Don’t Give a Book Tour” Launching This Summer

We were delighted to learn that four of our past contributors (Eugenia Leigh, Sally Wen Mao, Cathy Linh Che, and Michelle Chan Brown) have banded together to do a book tour this summer. Their first stop will be a launch party in NYC (at LouderARTS Bar 13), on July 14th; the remaining tour dates have not yet been announced, but you can follow their website to stay abreast of future developments.

APIA Lit Mag News

A news round-up here wouldn’t be complete without a few updates about recent developments from our colleagues at other APIA literary magazines. One thing is for sure: they’ve been busy.

Last month, Kartika Review released its 2012–2013 anthology (now available for sale on Lulu). Its pages contain work by our very own Mia Ayumi Malhotra and Henry W. Leung,  as well as pieces by a number of LR contributors, including Karen An-hwei Lee, Khaty Xiong, Lee Herrick, Michelle Chan Brown, Neil Aitken, Purvi Shah, R. A. Villanueva, Rachelle Cruz, and W. Todd Kaneko.

The AALR also just released its newest issue, themed around the topic of “Local/Express: Asian American Arts and Community in 90s NYC” and guest edited by Curtis Chin, Terry Hong, and Parag Rajendra Khandhar. LR contributors’ work abounds in its pages, as well: R. A. Villanueva, Ocean Vuong, Purvi Shah, Eugenia Leigh, and Cathy Linh Che all have work that appears in the issue.

Last, but not least, TAYO recently launched their fifth issue (which takes “Community” as its theme). They also posted this very thoughtful response to some of the reactions to their revised open submissions policy (in which they will now consider work that is not specifically themed around Filipina/o issues) on their blog. The issues that they address in their post highlight what I think is a very real dilemma for many publications serving specific communities of color: how does one navigate the balance between focusing on being a resource for those within the community while simultaneously remaining relevant within the greater literary conversation—enabling participation from and dialogue with voices from outside the community, as well? It’s a fuzzy line that’s not always easy to walk.

Virtual Reading for APIA Month: Coming Soon

Lantern Review is excited to be participating in a first-of-its-kind virtual reading that will take place this May, in celebration of APIA Heritage Month. Curated by Kenji C. Liu (a past LR contributor and former poetry editor of Kartika Review), the reading will feature contributors from each of several APIA literary magazines, and will take place online in real time—through Google Hangouts. The details of the event are still being worked out, but we will be sure to Tweet and Facebook updates as we know more.

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That’s all we have for you today, but please continue to keep us updated on relevant literary news via Facebook and Twitter so that we can share it—we love hearing what you (and the poets you admire) have been up to!

Process Profile: Christopher Santiago Discusses “Tam”

Christopher Santiago
Christopher Santiago

Chris Santiago is a poet, fiction writer, critic, and teacher. His writing has appeared in FIELD, Pleiades, The Asian American Literary Review, Canteen, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and elsewhere. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and has been a finalist for both the Stony Brook Short Fiction Contest and the Kundiman Poetry Prize (for his manuscript Tula). Chris is completing his Ph.D. in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Southern California, where he is a Provost’s Ph.D. Fellow and ACE-Nikaido Fellow, and teaches literature & writing in the Thematic Option Program.

This April, we are returning to our Process Profiles series, in which contemporary Asian American poets discuss their craft, focusing on their writing process for an individual poem or poetic sequence of theirs. As in the past, we’ve asked Lantern Review contributors to discuss their process for composing a piece of theirs that we’ve published. In this installment, Christopher Santiago writes about his poem “Tam,” which appeared in Issue 5.

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I wrote the first draft of “Tam,” I think, out of anger. It’s an older poem, and I was in my early twenties and mad about a lot of things, but one of the things that really got under my skin was pop culture, and portrayals of Asians and Asian Americans in particular. Miss Saigon, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boubil’s Vietnam War redux of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, was the kind of cultural object that really drove me up the wall. The tale of Kim, a Vietnamese bargirl who commits suicide so that her son, Tam, can grow up in the States with his American ex-GI father, didn’t bother me when I first saw it as a teenager. But over the years, the memory festered—I won’t waste time explaining why—and only after I began to try to write seriously did it occur to me that this anger might be something I could use.

I was just starting out, and writing a lot of persona poems, partly because I felt that trying to get in someone else’s head allowed me to get outside of myself, and partly because I was (and still am) deeply interested in voice. My anger toward Miss Saigon—and texts that were like it—gave me energy, but it also made me inarticulate. As the poem unfolded, then, I felt the impulse to deflect, to approach the subject obliquely—from the point of view of Tam, who I imagined growing up haunted by the memory of his mother’s voice. That way, I reasoned, I could really poke holes in the musical’s phony premise, its false catharsis. I could build further into its world in a way that would, I hoped, reveal its glib and hollow heart.

After I wrote a few drafts, the poem sat on the back burner for years, until I started working a couple of years ago on a manuscript I’m tentatively calling Tula. I was happy to find “Tam” on an old hard drive, and happier still to find that one of my current obsessions had begun to take shape in “Tam” years before: my obsession with the way that unlearned languages haunt us. I never learned to speak Tagalog, or Ilonggo, or Bicolano—my mother tongues, or heritage languages—and I’m fascinated by the bits and pieces that I do know, the bodily traces of certain rhythms and intonations in the ears of 1.5 and 2nd generation folks like me. I’ve been reading these fascinating fMRI studies on the subject: the science, as far as I can tell, supports the intuition that Kim—her singular way of speaking—remains a part of Tam even after he can no longer recall (at least consciously) a single phrase of Vietnamese.

As for the poem, I still liked its bones, but thought perhaps it over-explained itself. I decided to strip it back, to let the silences bleed more, and to break the suite of episodes into shorter and more irregular fragments. I also hoped that reordering them might quiet some of the melodrama. I’d given Tam my anger, and think he deserved to feel it; some of it, I think, still bubbles up under the lid. But instead of belting his anger out under the spotlights, Tam mutters it under his breath. I hope that gives the poem at least a bit more bite and plaintiveness.

Process Profile: Esther Lee Discusses DAUGHTERS OF CELLULOID

Esther Lee
Esther Lee

Esther Lee has written Spit, a poetry collection selected for the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011) and her chapbook, The Blank Missives (Trafficker Press, 2007). Her poems and articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Lantern Review, Ploughshares, Verse Daily, Salt Hill, Good Foot, Swink, Hyphen, Born Magazine, and elsewhere. A Kundiman fellow, she received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Indiana University where she served as Editor-in-Chief for Indiana Review. She has been awarded the Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize and Utah Writer’s Contest Award for Poetry selected by Brenda Shaughnessy, as well as having been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and AWP Intro Journals Project. Currently, she pursues a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Utah and lives with her fiancé, Michael, and their dog and three cats in Salt Lake. Starting this fall, she will begin teaching as an assistant professor at Agnes Scott College.

This April, we are returning to our Process Profiles series, in which contemporary Asian American poets discuss their craft, focusing on their writing process for an individual poem or poetic sequence of theirs. As in the past, we’ve asked Lantern Review contributors to discuss their process for composing a piece of theirs that we’ve published. In this installment, Esther Lee reflects upon the excerpt of her project Daughters of Celluloid that appeared in Issue 5.

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(if his plate would not record the clouds, he could point his camera down and eliminate the sky)

—John Szarkowski

If there is a hegemonic familial gaze, imposing rigid familial ideologies, then mothers are most cruelly subjected to its scrutiny.

—Marianne Hirsch

HandsExcerpts of this Process Profile are pulled from a craft talk titled, “Double Exposures: Photographic Fictions and Traumatic Memories” given at Virginia Tech. All photographic images are ones I’ve taken or borrowed from family albums.

My hope is to invite you into a constellation of influences—and mostly questions—I’m working with and exploring in this work-in-progress, tentatively titled Daughters of Celluloid. This constellation includes the works of writers and artists who meditate on, thematize, and/or employ photography, as well as those whose works investigate the complexities of trauma and representations, in particular, of trauma not directly experienced first-hand. So a kind of assemblage, if you will, one that is part wax, part string, part etched glass.

In Daughters of Celluloid, the narrator finds that her mother’s enigmatic past is pocked with speech, presented as fragmented anecdotes, suggesting recessed narratives of trauma and dislocation. To borrow a phrase from the French novelist and Holocaust writer, Henri Raczymow, memory is “shot through with holes” and underscored by potential absences of family photographs wherein large swaths of time and space have seemingly vanished, losing any semblance of continuity. As a result, the narrator finds herself attempting to photograph the mother, grappling with how the camera can both fix and unfix them. In doing so, they disrupt their unspoken ways of looking, complicating the myths of familial memory and, ultimately, searching for what Alison Bechdel describes in her graphic novel, Are You My Mother?, as a “mutual cathexis” between mother and daughter, wherein they can recognize each other’s invisible wounds.

Continue reading “Process Profile: Esther Lee Discusses DAUGHTERS OF CELLULOID”

Editors’ Corner: On Our Radar (January 2013)

Good morning, and Happy New Year! We’re back from our holiday hiatus!

We thought we’d start off 2013 with a quick editorial roundup of a few exciting  news items that have been on our radar as of late, but which we didn’t have an opportunity to bring to your attention over the break:

Kundiman Poetry Retreat Applications Open

New fellow applications for the 2013 Kundiman retreat are now open, until February 1st. This year’s retreat will take place from June 19–23 at Fordham University, and its star-studded faculty lineup will feature Li-Young Lee, Srikanth Reddy, and Lee Ann Roripaugh. Why should you apply? Well, because the retreat is an experience like no other for anyone who considers themselves an Asian American poet. (And who wouldn’t want to chance to work with Li-Young Lee or Srikanth Reddy?) To learn more about the application process, visit the Kundiman web site. (And if you’d like to read some firsthand accounts of what the retreat’s like, you can read about Henry’s and my first experiences there in this 2011 post).

Contributor Eugenia Leigh to helm poetry section of Kartika Review

We recently learned that Issue 3 contributor (and guest reviewer) Eugenia Leigh will succeed Issue 2 contributor Kenji C. Liu as poetry editor of Kartika Review after the latter’s having stepped down from the position late last fall. To Eugenia: our congratulations on the new position—we are excited to see where you will be taking KR next; and to Kenji: cheers on a job well done, and best of luck with all of your future endeavors.

Madding Mission Journals and ECRITUREartefacts by Desmond Kon

Issue 1 contributor Desmond Kon recently launched two lines of literary art “objects”: Madding Mission Journals and ECRITUREartefacts. I’ve long been a fan of Desmond’s hand-lettered art as well as of his poetry, and both of these collections of goods, which feature stylish typography, quirky poem-snippets,  and the occasional cheeky illustration (like a mug featuring a bar of soap, a lemon, and a high-heeled shoe), feature both of his talents to full effect. Congrats to Desmond on this new and exciting venture. Check out his line of blank journals here, and his shop of other literary goods here.

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That’s all the news we have for you this morning. Regular content on the blog will resume later this week; check back on Wednesday for our first contributor post of the New Year, in which Wendy Chin-Tanner interviews Lao American poet (and Issue 4 contributor) Bryan Thao Worra.

Summer Reads: Jai Arun Ravine & Henry W. Leung’s Top Three

Today’s installment of Summer Reads 2012 is the last of this year’s series, and a bit of a double-header. We have reads from two of our favorite LR Blog staff writers, Jai Arun Ravine and Henry W. Leung.

First, from LR contributor and book reviewer, Jai Arun Ravine:

Rachelle Cruz, Self-Portrait as Rumour and Blood (Dancing Girl Press), because it is about the aswang, a Philippine witch/vampire, and it has a bat/pterodactyl on the cover.

Javier O. Huerta, American Copia: An Immigrant Epic (Arte Publico Press), because it is about going to the grocery store and being checked out–by cashiers, cuties and INS agents.

Sarith Peou, Corpse Watching (Tinfish Press), because it is about being incarcerated and surviving the Khmer Rouge genocide, and for the amazing way it is bound.

And from LR book reviewer and “Panax Ginseng” columnist, Henry Leung:

Paper Shoes – Pavel Šrut
Between Security and Insecurity – Ivan Klima
A Prayer For Katerina Horovitzova – Arnošt Lustig

I’ve been in Prague discovering the work of incredible Czech writers. I got to hear Ema Katrovasread her prodigious translations of Šrut’s poems, which are brief and profound pieces following an everyman figure named Novak; and I got to hear Klima read a very insightful essay from his collection, about consumerism’s impact on religion and spiritualism today. Lustig, I’ve been told, was dedicated to the teaching of writing through fables; he was a Holocaust survivor (one of his titles, Transport From Paradise, is a heartbreaking reference to the way that the concentration camp at Terezín was paradise compared to the others), and an enormously important writer during the Velvet Revolution (along with Klima, Kundera, et al); he just passed away last year.

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For more, read Jai’s “dern, 1” and “dern, 2” in Lantern Review, Issue 1, as well as Henry’s “Question for a Painter.”

To see the rest of this series (and find out what else our contributors have been reading this summer), click here.

What have you been reading this summer? Leave us a comment or drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter to let us know.

Summer Reads: Cathy Che’s Top Three

Cathy Che, whose multimedia workshop “Double Exposures: Documenting the War at Home” was featured in Issue 4: Community Voices, brings us today’s list of Summer Reads 2012. She writes:
Paisley Rekdal’s Animal Eye (University of Pittsburgh Press)–I just read a galley copy last week and loved it! I loved the way the poems moved–they never settled for the simple epiphany, but kept working and working, sometimes doubling back and reinventing themselves.

D.A. Powell’s Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Graywolf Press)–I’m a native Californian, and I love the way that Powell maps the landscape of Northern California, looking closely at its history of immigration, exploitation, personal histories, etc.

Cathy Park Hong’s Engine Empire (W.W. Norton)–I haven’t read the book yet, but ALL my friends have recommended it to me.
Bonus: Natalie Diaz’s When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press)
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To see the rest of this series (and find out what else our contributors have been reading this summer), click here.

What have you been reading this summer? Leave us a comment or drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter to let us know.

Summer Reads: Monica Mody’s Top Three

Today’s reading list, part of our 2012 Summer Reads series, comes from Issue 4 contributor and former Lbook reviewer Monica Mody. Her recommended reads:

1. Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability. Art: Durgabai Vyam, Subhash Vyam; Story: Srividya Natarajan, S. Anand (Navayana)

Breathtaking reworking of the graphic novel form by the Pardhan Gond artists Durgabai Vyam and Subhash Vyam, which opens out the story of BR Ambedkar’s life into a multilinear, multi-layered narrative about how caste oppression continues in contemporary India.

2. Speaking of Siva, translated by A.K. Ramanujan (Penguin)

Translations into English of the vacanas, i.e. bhakti poems, of four 10th-12th century Virasaiva saints from Karnataka, along with a wonderful introduction by Ramanujan.

3. India: A Sacred Geography, by Diana L. Eck (Harmony)

Eck meticulously and soulfully persuades that the landscape of India is “living, storied, and intricately connected” through pilgrimage practices.

Also I’ve been keeping track of the books I buy/borrow/receive (and read) as I travel through India this summer—this list might also be interesting to LR readers.

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For more, read Monica’s “Myth of Spirits” in Lantern Review, Issue 4.

To see the rest of this series (and find out what else our contributors have been reading this summer), click here.

What have you been reading this summer? Leave us a comment or drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter to let us know.

Summer Reads: Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé’s Top Three

Today’s installment in our 2012 Summer Reads series comes from Issue 1 contributor Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé. He says:
I’m all over the place with this summer’s selections. Hughes gives me a great lens into the lives of Whitman, Capote and Styron, against the gritty backdrop of Brooklyn. Pavel’s lovely memoir, translated from the Czech, is just altogether charming! The third title helps me understand the ruba’i, a two-lined Persian poetic form, with each line split evenly into two hemistitchs. The ruba’i is also known as “taraneh”, meaning “snatch”. This will satisfy my sporadic return to more formalist sensibilities.

 By Evan Hughes, published by Henry Holt and Company

By Ota Pavel, published by Penguin Books

Translated by Peter Avery & John Heath-Stubbs, published by Penguin Classics

Many thanks to Desmond for sharing these titles!

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For more, read Desmond’s “first falling, to get here, ferric by foot” and “: craquelure at the interiors :” in Lantern Review, Issue 1.

To see the rest of this series (and find out what else our contributors have been reading this summer), click here.

What have you been reading this summer? Leave us a comment or drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter to let us know.

Summer Reads: W. Todd Kaneko’s Top Three

Today’s list (the third installment in this year’s Summer Reads series) comes from Issue 2 contributor W. Todd Kaneko. He writes:

here’s a list for you [. . .]

Let Me Clear My Throat by Elena Passarello (Sarabande Books)
Murder Ballads by Jake Adam York (Elixir Press / Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry)
Galerie de Difformite by Gretchen E. Henderson (Lake Forest College Press)

Writers I know, writers I don’t, books that are new, books that are new to me, essay, poem, labyrinth, ventriloquist test, dead people, QR codes, famous screams, history lessons, fake choose your own adventures, pages and pages of bad-assery.

Any reading list that promises “pages and pages of bad-assery” sounds intriguing to us!  Many thanks to Todd for sharing these titles.

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For more, read Todd’s “Northwest Poem” in Lantern Review, Issue 2.

To see the rest of this series (and find out what else our contributors have been reading this summer), click here.

What have you been reading this summer? Leave us a comment or drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter to let us know.

 

Summer Reads: Maria Allocco’s Top Three

This week’s list comes from Issue 1 contributor Maria Allocco, who writes that the three titles she’s most excited about this summer, “in order of digestion,” are:

Shamanism As A Spiritual Practice for Daily Life
By Tom Cowan (Random House)

In my quest to meet my Guides and power animals, I plan on using this as a guide. As I have been in San Francisco now for almost a decade, I may fully initiate myself by buying a bongo.

Beneath The Lion’s Gaze
By Maaza Mengiste (Norton)

Maaza read an excerpt at a VONA reading in Berkeley last week, and I started her book over a badass organic burrito that night.

A Course in Astral Travel and Dreams
By Beelzebub

Lucid dreaming was one of my favorite nighttime activities in college. Now I hope to journey again, sans the 25 page paper interruptions.

Many thanks to Maria for sharing her list with us!

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For more, read Maria’s poem, “Downstairs,” in Lantern Review, Issue 1.

To see the rest of this series (and find out what else our contributors have been reading this summer), click here.

What have you been reading this summer? Leave us a comment or drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter to let us know.