Five Questions for LR Editorial Intern Irene Hsu

Irene Hsu Headshot
LR Editorial Intern Irene Hsu

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.

* * *

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.

LR News: Happy October! (We’re back!)

Welcome back to another new season here on the LR blog! It’s been quiet here for a bit while we’ve taken our summer hiatus, but it’s October now, and we’re back—with wealth of exciting new content lined up for the months ahead.

This season, you can continue to expect more razor-sharp book reviews, interviews, and column posts contributed by our team of talented staff writers, as well as intermittent editorial updates about the progress of Issue 6, which we plan to release in early 2014.  (Friday Prompts, unfortunately, is on hold for now, while we make some adjustments to our workflow in order to make managing the blog more sustainable for the editorial team). This month, we’ll kick off with Jai Arun Ravine’s dual review of two recent chapbooks by Hoa Nguyen and Ji Yoon Lee, respectively.  In the weeks that follow, you can also look forward to an interview that Wendy Chin-Tanner conducted with Molly Gaudry and a fresh reflection on the purpose of poetry from Henry W. Leung’s column, “Panax Ginseng.”

As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions, and would love to hear your updates. What are you reading, and what are you writing and thinking about as the last vestiges of summer fade from view and autumn begins in earnest? Have you published somewhere recently? Are you participating in any upcoming APIA literary events that you think we should know about? Leave us a comment, shoot us an email, or tell us on Facebook and Twitter; we’d love to hear from you.

Happy October!

Peace and Light,

Iris & Mia

LR News: We’re Back!

Welcome back to the Lantern Review Blog’s 2012–2013 season! We’re happy to announce that we are returning with the same team of talented staff writers who were with us last year, so you can expect the same, high quality of interviews, reviews, and column posts as usual. We’ve also decided to make a few changes to our look and format for this season.

Change in Format of Editorial Posts

Last year, with the volume of regular staff contributor posts that we were putting up every month, we found ourselves with less ability to focus on our editorial columns  than in the past. As a result, our readers were treated to a regular array of Friday Prompts, but not much in the way of other editorial content, such as coverage of events and news about contributors. In the interest of reintroducing some variety, we’ve decided to consolidate most of our editorial posts into a single column, “Editors’ Corner,” which will appear (approximately) every other Friday, and will cover a broader range of content than we have been able to feature in the past.  We’ll still be posting prompts on some Fridays, but they will appear less frequently than before, and will be interspersed with other prescient topics of interest—such as thoughts on publishing; meditations on balancing work and writing; observations about teaching; books we’ve been reading lately; readings we’ve attended, etc.

Contributor News Moved to Facebook and Twitter

In addition to introducing our “Editors’ Corner” column, we’ll also be moving most of our updates about contributors and friends (which we previously featured in “Friends & Neighbors” posts) to our social media outlets: Facebook and Twitter. The LR community has grown by leaps and bounds in the past three years (for which we are infinitely grateful), and as it has grown, we’ve begun to discover that the format of posting contributor news to the blog has made it difficult for us (of which there are only two, both with full-time day jobs!) to feature everyone’s recent news in a timely manner. In order to ensure that we are able to get the word out more efficiently about as many of our contributors’ activities as possible, we’ve decided that it would be more effective to announce news on Facebook and Twitter as we become aware of it, rather than waiting until we have enough tidbits to make up a blog post. If you have recent news of a publication, reading, award, or other event that you would like us to feature, please do share it with us, either by tagging us on Facebook, Tweeting us, or sending us an email. We’ll do our best to share and retweet any contributor news that comes across our radar organically during the work week, and will also be sure to pass on news about calls for submission, new releases of APIA Lit mags, and readings or events of interest as we become aware of them.

The Blog Gets New Clothes; More Coming Soon

We’ve given the blog a bit of a design update in anticipation of an overall site redesign that we plan to release with Issue 5 (which we hope to complete soon).  What do you think of the new color scheme and header font? Let us know in a comment or email!

* * *

That’s all of our recent news for now. Our regular schedule of contributor blog posts will begin on Wednesday, when we’ll post Wendy Chin-Tanner’s interview with Lee Herrick.  Please keep your eyes peeled for news about Issue 5, and in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to let us know any thoughts/questions you might have about the changes discussed above.

Happy November! (And if you are a U.S. voter, don’t forget to cast your vote tomorrow!)

Light and Peace Always,

Iris & Mia

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:

* * *

 

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.”

* * *

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”

LR News: Introducing Our 2011-2012 Staff Writers!

Today, the LR Blog is pleased to officially welcome our new team of Staff Writers for the 2011-2012 school year:

  • Interviewer Wendy Chin-Tanner, who is new to our team this year, will be chronicling her conversations with different Asian American poets from month to month.
  • Returning Staff Writer Henry W. Leung will be transitioning out of his previous role as a reviewer, and into a new position as a Columnist.  His new column, “Panax Ginseng,” will explore themes of transnationalism, multi-lingual blending, and hybridity in texts of both poetry and prose.
  • Returning Staff Writer and Columnist Kelsay Myers will continue to reflect on her experiences in the M.F.A. program at Saint Mary’s College of California through her column “Becoming Realer,” and will also occasionally contribute other content (such as interviews).
  • Reviewer Jai Arun Ravine, who is also new to our team this year, will be writing about different, recently-published books, chapbooks, and/or issues of literary journals each month.

We feel privileged to be able to welcome (or, in the case of our returning writers, welcome back) such a strong, cohesive team. We have an exciting lineup of posts planned for this fall, and are confident that you will enjoy the content that Wendy, Henry, Kelsay, and Jai will be contributing to the blog. To read more about each individual Staff Writer, please see their bios on the updated Blog Masthead. You’ll see the first of our staff-written posts for the year (an interview conducted by Wendy Chin-Tanner) appear later this week.

Cheers to the new year, and a warm welcome (once again) to our new team.

Iris & Mia
LR Editorial Staff

LR News: We’re Back! September 2010 Updates.

Dear LR Friends and Fans,

At long last, we are back from hiatus!  Here are some lovely new changes that we have implemented during the course of our absence:

Reading Period for Issue 2 is Now Open

That’s right; we’re now accepting submissions for our second issue, to appear sometime during the winter.  Please take some time to review our updated guidelines first, as we have changed a number of policies since our last reading period.  Here’s the link.  Our new submissions deadline is November 29th.

* * *

New Staff Bloggers

LR welcomes five brand new staff bloggers to its team this fall:

Reviewer Henry W. Leung will be giving us the scoop on new books and issues of literary journals.

Columnist Simone Jacobson will cover the monthly Sulu DC series and will keep us up to date on the spoken word circuit in her column, Sulu Spotlight.

Graduate Student Correspondent Kelsay Myers will be chronicling her experiences in the M.F.A. program at Saint Mary’s College of California.

Staff Writers Kevin Minh Allen and Monica Mody will be treating us to a variety of different kinds of content, including reviews, interviews, posts about recent chapbooks, coverage of events in the Seattle area, and investigations of avant-garde and experimental work.

LR Blog veteran Mrigaa Sethi also returns to revive her column, Writing Home.

Please see the updated Blog Masthead for their bios.

Though we will miss the members of our team who have decided to move on to other things, we are extremely excited about to welcome Henry, Simone, Kelsay, Kevin, and Monica on board this fall.  We have an exciting lineup of posts planned for the next few months.  Look for them starting later this week.

* * *

A New Look for the Blog

We mentioned it earlier, but we’ve given the LR Blog a bit of a facelift, in order to make it cleaner and easier to navigate.  What do you think?  Leave us a comment to let us know.

* * *

Main Site Under Construction, Where’s the Community Calendar?, and Thanks.

You might have noticed that, among other wonky inconsistencies, some of the information on the Main Site is a little out of date and the Community Calendar is currently offline.  Not to worry; we are in the midst of updating the site, and the Calendar will return soon (as early as October, hopefully).  Our editorial team is still working under a few temporary role readjustments in the wake of some unexpected changes to our personal lives.  Though we are running a little farther behind schedule than we had originally anticipated, please rest assured that we are doing our best to get everything back in working order as soon as possible.  Thank you for the grace you showed us during the extension of our hiatus; we are commensurately grateful for your continued patience with us during this time.

Always,

Iris & Mia
LR Editorial Staff