LR News: National Poetry Month 2013 Giveaway Results


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:


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:


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.


Water Chasing Water by Koon Woon | Kaya Press 2013 | $14.95


In Koon Woon’s Water Chasing Water, a river appears in one poem and flows into the next, appearing there as rain, turning up in one place as an ocean and in yet another as a damp and soggy sadness. I was immediately reminded of lê thi diem thúy’s The Gangster We Are All Looking For, and there on thúy’s first page: “Ba and I were connected to the four uncles, not by blood but by water” (3).

Woon’s text gestures toward the meanings of water—as life-giving force, as connective tissue, as that which carries us. lê thi diem thúy explains that “In Vietnamese, the word for water and the word for a nation, a country, and a homeland are one and the same: nu’ó’c.” In Thai, the word for river (แม่น้ำ) is made up of the word for mother (แม่) and the word for water (น้ำ). For the diasporic fish/ghost/dish-washer in Woon’s poems, water connects places to other places, traveling from person to person and washing up memories and other debris.

As if glazed in the afternoon heat,
the blackberry brambles are still and
quiet, the steel rail expanding,
and once the roar of a rumbling freight
passes and dies, the slough,
quiet again with its currents,
becomes water moving on
in my unregulated childhood.

[. . .]

In the waters between us are
the gurgling sounds of childhood empires
and paper boats, and in the parcels of land
that sustain us, the memories of stickers
and hand-staining berries;
in nights of sleep,
a child’s reworking of paradise. (“As If,” 5)

Continue reading “Review: Koon Woon’s WATER CHASING WATER”

LR News: A Giveaway for National Poetry Month 2013

April 2103 Giveaway Post

Happy April! It’s national poetry month, and as usual, we’re celebrating both this month and next (APIA heritage month) on the LR blog with lots of Asian American poetry goodness. This year, for April, we’ll be running an installment of our annual Process Profiles series, and we’ve also teamed up with our friends at the Asian American Literary Review and Kaya Press to offer a giveaway that includes some truly awesome prizes.

First, though, we want to hear from you: what Asian American poets are on your reading list for this April, or what’s one poet whom you’d recommend to people who want to read more Asian American poetry this month? Leave a comment on this post by April 22nd with the name of at least one Asian American poet whose work you love, and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win a 1-year subscription to AALR, a copy of Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut’s Magnetic Refrain (reviewed on our blog here), and a copy of our very own Henry W. Leung’s chapbook, Paradise Hunger.

But the APIA poetry love doesn’t stop there! Those of you who follow us on Facebook might remember seeing pictures of the “Poetry Starter Packs” from our AWP display this year—little envelopes containing prompts and ekphrastic/found inspiration that we handed out to passers-by in the bookfair. Well, if you weren’t able to make AWP (or even if you picked up a starter pack there, but want more to share), here is your chance: we’ll be giving away bundles of 5 poetry starter packs—some to keep, and some to share—to each of the first ten (10) people to enter!

To help get you thinking, we thought we’d ask some of our Issue 5 contributors what Asian American poets they’ve been reading or whose work they’d recommend to others this month. Here’s what a couple of them said.

From Ching-In Chen:

 I adore Larissa Lai’s Eggs in the Basement because she generated/mutated the whole body of language/the story from the actual language that she is playing with: “I generated a body of source text in a ten-minute automatic exercise, separated it as neatly as possible into subjects and predicates and wrote the poem by repeating first all the subjects and and cycling through the predicates in the first half, and then reversing the procedure for the second. Strangely, the result is loosely the story of Freud’s Moses and Monotheism, in which two murders are committed by a collective: an initial one, which traumatizes the collective, and a second, which covers over the first and consolidates an violent and violated melancholy from which the group cannot escape.”  Next on my reading list is Paolo Javier’s The Feeling is Actual.  I witnessed Paolo’s live film narration of “Monty and Turtle,” on the Feminism Meets Neo-Benshi: Movietelling Talks Back panel at AWP recently, which explores the story of an Asian American artist couple, and loved what I saw!  After some discussion about the question about appropriation within neo/benshi practice, Paolo said that he dealt with this question by creating his own film clips to narrate to.  Though the film clips aren’t part of the book, his script is published in this book.

From Desmond Kon:

For a lecture I’m giving, I’m rereading Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry, edited by Timothy Liu and published by Talisman House in 2000. In my research, I discovered Liu’s lovely essay titled, “Making the Case for Asian-American Poetry”, on I also just received Iris A. Law’s chapbook of wildly intelligent poems: Periodicity. These are lyric gems, some persona poems, that thread the imagined voices of great women scientists like Marie Curie, Rachel Carson and Anna Atkins. Finally, to throw in some fiction, I’m reading Tash Aw’s newest novel, Five Star Billionaire. The book intertwines the lives of migrant Malaysian workers, trying to eke out a living in Shanghai – this “Paris of the East” is at once bright lights and dog-eat-dog. In fact, Tash Aw is doing a reading at this awesome and intimate bookstore BooksActually, and I’m really looking forward to hearing him talk about the writing of his novel.

Our National Poetry Month giveaway will end at 11:59 PM EST on Monday, April 22nd. Winners will be announced the following week. Many thanks to our partners, Kaya Press and AALR, for their generous sponsorship, as well as to LR staff writer Henry Leung for donating a copy of his chapbook. We look forward to hearing from you, and hope that the comments that others leave in this thread will inspire you to read more Asian American poetry this April!


Iris & Mia

Review: Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut’s MAGNETIC REFRAIN

Magnetic Refrain by Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut | Kaya Press 2013 | $14.95

. . . Conjoined at the hip, we could
only pretend to be aligned but really
were so frantic to separate. You tried
to saw us in half, after I’d fallen asleep,
then I’d woken to what you’d done,
brilliantly. You’d bandaged the sopping
blood at the split bone and medicated me,
but still, I was pleased by our most recent
attempt at sovereignty. I could not
complain for lack of dishonesty.
It has never been that easy, keeping you
secret, when you keep dividing me.

(from “Dear Other,” series)


In Magnetic Refrain, transnational Korean American adoptee Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut speaks through folktales and fox-demons, inflatable dolls and war brides, defectors seeking asylum and mothers separated from their children by adoption and military partition, to explore the magnetism of twinning, the conjunction of self and other, and the continued return to the loss of never knowing.

Like the poems “The Unfilial Daughter” and “The Filial Son,” or “Venus and the Martian,” many pieces and personas in this collection mirror each other in their adjacency, like twins. The tension becomes a metaphor for the diasporic longing to come together, cross the water, and belong within a family history that straddles endless divisions.

As an adoptee with two birth dates and two different names, Schildkraut writes of the phantom parallel trajectory of a life that could have been lived, a loss that begins to haunt. Two sets of parents. Mother and other, “multiplying instead of living” (“The Lucky Bastard”). Schildkraut gestures toward a fantasy of joining these two trajectories, a fantasy in which one becomes two becomes one, becomes same.

Twins, siblings and lovers recur, wanting the m/other, “[taking] turns becoming invisible” and then “long[ing] to become visible, again” (“Family History”), “pulling her in half” (“The Twin She Never Knew”). The “magnetic refrain” of the book contemplates what holds two people together—a child to its family—and whether or not these magnetisms could be classified as “love.”

Schildkraut’s collection features many poems in the second person, but the point of view shifts in the final piece, “Vaguely Asian,” where the weight of her explorations via folklore and human/doll hybrids settles into a more personal narrative. Here, Schildkraut’s sharp voice struggles with the diasporic plight of not knowing, and what it means to be given up “out of love, for strangers in a foreign country” (“Oedipal”). Looking at an old scrapbook, she writes, “The pages for early memories from birth to early childhood, date and time of birth, are all left blank.” Visiting a Korean shaman, she asks herself, “What can she tell me about my other, early life in Korea that hasn’t already been made up out of thin air?”

“It’s a different kind of loss, to never know,” realizes Schildkraut. Her poems and personas literally and figuratively become inflated by longing. She ends “Vaguely Asian” with the following revelation regarding origin and place: “And even if those origins are obscured, the drive to search still remains like a lantern sending a fractured pattern of shapes against the wall at dusk, half-shadows, half-light.” These poems breathe into the shell of diasporic desire, and allow us to witness the speaker’s first flickering attempts toward animation and fullness.

* * *

Magnetic Refrain will be published by Kaya Press on February 4, 2013.

Editors’ Picks: APIA Writing Doesn’t End with May.

Perhaps it sounds obvious, but engagement with APIA art and writing shouldn’t be limited to the Month of May:  APIA writers and artists are, of course, producing and performing and publishing new and challenging works all year round.  Here are a few recommendations to get you started for the summer (in no particular order):

1. Takeo Rivera’s GOLIATH (dir. Alex Mallory). This powerful one-act choreopoem about the implications of the Iraq War, which began life as an original student play at Stanford, is making its New York City debut tomorrow, thanks to the brilliant creative talents of its playwright (Takeo Rivera) and its director (Alex Mallory).  Takeo is one of those rising-star-types whose work is impossible to miss once it’s entered your periphery: his aesthetic roots lie in the brave activism and the rhythmically-compelling sonic and dramatic gestures of spoken word, and his critical approach to his subject matter is thoughtful, complex, and blade-sharp (he has a Masters Degree in Modern Thought & Literature and is about to enter a PhD in performance studies this fall).  Alex (GOLIATH’s director), is also a forced to be reckoned with: she’s been directing productions and workshops in New York for a couple of years now, and before that, in college, she honed her chops by directing a number of major student productions and by founding The Stanford Theatre Activist Mobilization Project.  Alex was also the major force behind bringing GOLIATH to the Big Apple.  GOLIATH has been newly revised for the New York stage and will be playing at the Robert Moss Theater for the next two weeks. If you’re living in New York City or will be in its vicinity during the next few weeks, I urge you to see this play. I t’s not something you want to miss!  [See the teaser trailer above].

2. “We Axe You to Speak”: Kartika Review’s first poetry reading.   Yes, folks.  Kartika Review’s inaugural reading event is tonight (6 to 8 pm at the SF Public Library, 100 Larkin St), and I highly recommend it (though I’m sad that I’ll have to miss it because I’m not on the West Coast).  Barbara Jane Reyes, Eddy Zheng, Margaret Rhee, Shelley Wong, and Kenji C. Liu.  Great lineup.  Landmark event.  To those of you in the Bay Area: GO.  You do not want to miss this if you can help it.

3. “I Got My”  Music Video ft. Jin [Magnetic North and Taiyo Na].  Bao Phi posted on Facebook that this “is not a music video – more like an Asian American family reunion, or maybe a map. Whatever it is, it’s a gift.”  One can’t help but agree: so many landmark APIA faces!  The video was created for APIA month, but its awesomeness, of course, extends far beyond the month of May alone.  Here’s the video:

Continue reading “Editors’ Picks: APIA Writing Doesn’t End with May.”

Announcing Our 2011 National Poetry Month Prompt Contest

In anticipation of National Poetry Month this April, the LR Blog is once again going to be holding a prompt contest.  This year, we are pleased to partner with the generous folks at Kaya Press, a unique small press that focuses on cutting-edge work by Asian diasporic writers.  Just as with last year’s contest, the top four prompts that we select (three runners-up and one first-place winner) will be featured on the LR Blog on the Fridays of each full week in April, beginning on the 8th.  The winners will be announced in reverse order, beginning with the third runner-up and ending with the first-place winner.  This year’s grand prize (courtesy of Kaya’s sponsorship) is a copy of Lisa Chen‘s Mouth, which our staff blogger Henry will be reviewing later this spring.

Here’s how it will work:

1) Leave a comment on this post that includes the text of your prompt.  Entries must be posted by 11:59PM EST on Thursday, March 31st. Comments on this post will close after that time. Please leave some form of basic contact information in your comment (preferably an email address), so that we can get in touch with you if you win.

2) During the first full week of April, we’ll be choosing the four prompts that we like best.  The winner and all three runners up will have their entries featured as Weekly Prompts on the LR Blog during the four Fridays from April 8th – 29th.  In addition, the winner will also receive a special grand prize that has been graciously offered  by Kaya Press: a copy of Lisa Chen’s Mouth. We will announce the runners up and winner week by week, starting with the third runner-up and culminating with the winner, so keep on checking back in April to see if your entry has been featured.

3) A few ground rules: You may only enter once. Please submit only poetry prompts.  Keep all prompts appropriate: anything of a bigoted, demeaning, or nasty nature will not be considered; we’d also appreciate it if you could please try to keep your prompts somewhat PG in nature, as when choosing prompts we always try to look for flexible exercises that can be adapted for use with either adults or kids.

That’s it!  We look forward to reading your entries.  And while you’re at it, please do take a moment to check out Mouth or of the other titles on Kaya’s web site.  Many thanks to Publisher Sunyoung Lee, Lisa Chen, and Kaya Press for their generosity.

Event Coverage: Reflections on AWP 2011

Ken Chen speaks at the AAWW's Friday Panel

(A note: this post is a reflection on some of the on-site events that we attended during AWP this year. Mia will write more about our off-site reading in a later post).

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a month since AWP 2011 ended, and here we are—as usual—egregiously late with the update.  Nevertheless, this year’s conference was a colorful and thought-provoking experience for us, and we would be amiss if we did not share at least a taste of what we took away from it with you.  At last year’s AWP, we got our feet wet, so to speak, meeting and connecting with a host of amazing poets, and soaking in every bit of Asian American poetry that we could.  It was an exciting and effervescent time for us—we were just starting to get LR off the ground, and we were looking ahead at how our project might find its space amidst the community that was already out there.

Continue reading “Event Coverage: Reflections on AWP 2011”