Process Profile: Andre Yang Discusses “Why I Feel the Way I Do About SB 1070”

Andre Yang | Photo by Mary Yang

Andre Yang is a Hmong American poet from Fresno, California. He is a founding member of the Hmong American Writers’ Circle (HAWC), where he actively conducts and participates in public writing workshops. He completed the Creative Writing (Poetry) MFA program at California State University, Fresno, where he was a Philip Levine Scholar, recipient of the Academy of American Poets-sponsored Ernesto Trejo Prize, and the Graduate Dean’s Medalist of the College of Arts and Humanities.  Andre is a Kundiman Asian American Poetry Fellow, and has attended the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, and recently completed an artist residency at the Ucross Foundation.  He co-edited How Do I Begin – A Hmong American Literary Anthology (Heyday, 2011), and his poetry has appeared in Paj Ntaub Voice, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and the chapbook anthology ‘Here is a Pen’ (Achiote Press).

For APIA Heritage Month 2012, we are revisiting our Process Profile series, in which contemporary Asian American poets discuss their craft, focusing on their process for a single poem from inception to publication. This year, we’ve asked several Lantern Review contributors to discuss their process for composing a poem that we’ve published. In this installment, Andre Yang discusses his poem “Why I Feel the Way I Do About SB 1070,” which appeared in Issue 3 of Lantern Review.

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In a way, I have been writing this poem all my life, and considering all the things I discuss in the poem, it really does span my life.  The poem was written to express my feelings about the inception and implementation Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, though I also wanted it to capture my thoughts on the interconnectedness of humanity.

I might not have written “Why I Feel The Way I Do About SB 1070” had I not met Francisco Xavier Alarcón at his Ce Uno One book launch in Sacramento, California.   I overheard Francisco saying he was attending the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference later that year in Washington D.C. (2011), and since I too was planning to attend the conference, I used that as a conversation starter and approached him.  He mentioned that while in D.C., he would be organizing two off-site Floricanto readings based on his Facebook page, “Poets Responding to SB 1070,” and that well-established poets like Martín Espada would be taking part in the reading.  Five minutes into the conversation, he asked, to my complete surprise, if I wanted to participate in the readings. I said I’d be honored, and told him I’d contact him when I felt I had a poem worthy of the purpose.

Continue reading “Process Profile: Andre Yang Discusses “Why I Feel the Way I Do About SB 1070””

Process Profile: Vikas K. Menon Discusses “Othertongue”

Vikas K. Menon

Vikas K. Menon is a poet and playwright whose poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as burntdistrict, diode, and The Literary Review, among others.  His poetry manuscript godflesh was a finalist for the 2010 Kinereth Gensler Award and a semifinalist for the Beatrice Hawley award, both from Alice James Books.   His poetry has been featured in Indivisible:  An Anthology of South Asian American Poetry and is forthcoming in The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry by Indians.  He is a board member of Kundiman, the first organization of its kind dedicated to supporting Asian-American poetry and is the Resident Playwright of Ruffled Feathers Theater company. 

For APIA Heritage Month 2012, we are revisiting our Process Profile series, in which contemporary Asian American poets discuss their craft, focusing on their process for a single poem from inception to publication. This year, we’ve asked several Lantern Review contributors to discuss their process for composing a poem that we’ve published. In this installment, Vikas K. Menon discusses his poem “Othertongue,” which appeared in Issue 3 of Lantern Review.

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My writing process is both fitful and fickle:  at the beginning of a writing session, I tend to move quickly among drafts to see which pieces pull me into further play.  This method has allowed me to elude the blocks that used to plague my writing life.  “Other Tongue” started in quick sketches; in this case, with a freewrite about my struggles with my parents’ ancestral tongue, Malayalam.  Malayalam is a Dravidian language that is outside of the Indo-European family of languages, and it is primarily spoken in the South Indian state of Kerala.  While I can comprehend Malayalam when it is spoken colloquially, I am otherwise illiterate in the language.  Since it was the language of intimacy used by my elders during my childhood, I am ashamed by my inability to speak it fluently.  But I can still revel in its aural pleasures and rolling cadences, its stark contrasts with English.  So I began writing into the texture of it, exploring the strangeness of its syllables in my mouth.  At the same time, I was working on a separate poem that explored my mother’s English, which is heavily inflected by Malayalam.  Finally, I realized that the two poems were linked by their exploration of the difficulties of articulation.  Despite that theme, paradoxically, the poem works quite well at readings: there is initial laughter at my mother’s malapropism that quickly turns to silent discomfort.  I like that sudden turn, something the poet and performer Regie Cabico does beautifully.

LR News: Issue Three has arrived! (And we’re off on hiatus).

LR Issue 3

It is with great pleasure that we announce the arrival of Issue Three of Lantern Review!

This stunning new volume, which features Julie Kim’s haunting black and white photograph “Still” on its cover, contains 52 pages of poetry and visual art as well as a powerful “Community Voices” section featuring work by poets from the Hmong American Writers’ Circle.  The issue also includes two selections (contributed by Rachelle Cruz and Kathleen Hellen, respectively) from our 2011 post-AWP Postcard Project, as well as a beautiful visual poem by digital artist and Kundiman poet Monica Ong. For the first time, we’ve also incorporated a tool that allows you to explore these visual poems more closely by clicking and zooming in on them. (This tool requires that Javascript be enabled in order to work, so if necessary, please take a moment to turn it on before entering the issue. Details about how to navigate the “zoom” tool are provided on the issue’s masthead).

Our stellar lineup of contributors also includes: poets Jen Y. Cheng, Wendy Chin-Tanner, Shayok (Misha) Chowdhury, Oliver de la Paz, Clara Changxin Fang, Kim Koga, Eugenia Leigh, Kim-An Lieberman, Vikas K. Menon, Pos L. Moua, Hong-Thao Nguyen, Melissa R. Sipin, Mai Der Vang, Andre Yang, and Sandra M. Yee, as well as visual artists Joseph Marconi Calindas, Michelle Chandra, and Natalia Ricotta.

To enter the issue, click here, or on the cover image at the top of this post.

We hope that you enjoy the issue, and would love to hear your feedback on both its content and its technical navigability—simply send us an email at editors [at] lanternreview(dot) com.  In the meantime, we are heading off on a late-summer Blog Hiatus (during which time we’ll be taking a break from posting to the blog, but will still be contactable via other means, like email and Facebook), and wish you all the best until we return on October 3rd.

Many thanks, as always, for your continued support of LR,

Iris & Mia
LR Editorial Board

LR News: Issue 3 Submissions Deadline Today


Just a quick reminder that our current submissions period closes today.  We’re still on the lookout for great original poetry and visual art to include in Issue 3, so please do consider sending something our way!

Click here to read our Submissions Guidelines.

The form will close tonight at midnight EST.

Good luck! We look forward to reading your work.


Iris & Mia

LR News: Issue 3 Reading Period is Now Open

Yes, that’s right!  We are now taking submissions for Lantern Review Issue 3. What better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than to write a few poems and send them our way?

A few hints:

  • When uploading files, try to avoid putting spaces or punctuation in the file names (the system has occasionally had problems with accepting such files in the past).
  • Visual artists should email us rather than use the online form (see the specific guidelines for this category).
  • Please query us if you have any questions or run into any technical difficulty with the submissions system.  We are happy to address your concerns as best we can.

The reading period will close on June 1st.

Click on over to the submissions guidelines page for more information. We look forward to reading your work!