Digital Broadsides: R.A. Villanueva’s “Vanitas,” Designed by Debbie Yee

Download the "Vanitas" Broadside
"Vanitas" Broadside (Click to visit the download page)

Happy Friday, everyone! As we explained in our update on Monday, we’re celebrating National Poetry Month this year by offering a series of free Digital Broadsides, designed by Asian American designers (many of whom are poets themselves), and featuring poems from past issues of LR. Today’s broadside, which showcases R.A. Villanueva’s “Vanitas” from Issue 4, was designed for us by the talented Debbie Yee, a poet, Kundiman Fellow, and print artist who lives and works in San Francisco.  Debbie’s design for “Vanitas” is available for download in two formats—as an 8.5″ x 11″ printable .pdf, and as a desktop wallpaper (in three different sizes, to fit screens with 4:3, 16:10, and 16:9 aspect ratios, respectively). Click here to visit our new “Digital Broadsides” page, where you can download the broadside in your format of choice.

As a multi-disciplinary artist, Debbie often combines her interests in the visual with her writing and knowledge of bookmaking in order to produce beautiful short-run chapbooks and other pieces of literary art. For her latest project, which is funded by a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, she has committed to giving away 100 copies of her own handmade chapbook, Handmade Rabbit Society, in exchange for each recipient’s sharing the name of a self-published or small- or micro- press chapbook that he or she has purchased in the last 18 months. The goal of this exchange project, Debbie writes on her web site, is to turn more “people on to the chapbook format and [introduce] the work of emerging poets and writers.” You can read more about Debbie’s project and find out how to participate on her site, Linocat.

We hope that you’ll take a moment to download, print, and post Debbie’s beautiful interpretation of “Vanitas” somewhere where others can see and encounter it—perhaps a bathroom stall, a classroom, a bulletin board, a door, a refrigerator.  If you post a copy somewhere public or have stories to share about what happens when you do, we’d love to hear about it.  Send us an email (editors [at] lanternreview dot com) with a photo and an explanation, or, if you’re on Facebook, upload a picture of where you hung the broadside, and tag us! (@Lantern Review).  When National Poetry Month is over, if we gather enough stories and photos, we’ll do a little feature post highlighting some of our favorites here.

LR News: Happy National Poetry Month!

PB 1 - Vanni Taing
Pocket Broadside #1 - Vanni Taing

April is National Poetry Month, and as usual, we are celebrating it on the LR Blog with two new special projects.

Digital Broadsides for National Poetry Month

Whereas in the past, we’ve run a prompt contest during April, this year, we’ve decided to do something a little different. Because, in our view, National Poetry Month is as much about encouraging the reading of poetry as it is about encouraging the writing of poetry, we wanted to produce a project that would enable the sharing of  Asian American poetry beyond the confines of our magazine and blog.  To that end, we’re thrilled to be able to announce our very first series of Digital Broadsides.  Every Friday during the month of April, in lieu of  a regular prompt, we’ll be offering a free, downloadable broadside featuring a poem that’s appeared in a past issue of LR.  Each broadside has been designed by a different Asian American artist (most of whom are also poets and LR contributors), and will be offered in two different formats: as a desktop wallpaper, which we hope will inspire you to write each time you open your computer,  and as an 8.5 x 11 printable .PDF, which we hope you’ll print out, post, and share.  You can look out for the first of the series—featuring poet/artist Debbie Yee‘s design for R.A. Villanueva’s poem “Vanitas” (from Issue 4)—this Friday, when we’ll release it on the blog.

Pocket Broadsides on Tumblr

The Pocket Broadsides project (about which I wrote extensively in my AWP reflection post) is now on Tumblr!  Since many of the Pocket Broadsides are miniature poems, we thought that April would be the perfect time to launch an online archive of the project. Starting today, we will be posting images of up to two pieces a week—of both the Pocket Broadsides we brought to AWP (in serial order), and the visitor-written pieces that we received in exchange.  The series kicks off with Pocket Broadside #1, a short poem by LR Issue 1 contributor, Vanni Taing.  At least through the month of April, we’ll be posting notices on the LR blog each time we post a new poem to Tumblr, but to read each Pocket Broadside as soon as it’s released, please add pocketbroadsides.tumblr.com to your list of RSS subscriptions. If you’re on Tumblr yourself, please follow us and re-post!

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That’s all of our special announcements for April.  We hope you’ll join us in helping to spread the word about Asian American poetry this month—both through the Digital Broadsides and by linking to and re-posting the Pocket Broadsides as they appear on Tumblr.

Do you have any special celebrations or project planned for National Poetry Month?  We’d love to hear about them.  Drop us a line in the comments or via e-mail.  If we like your project and you’re documenting it online, we’ll link to it on Facebook or Twitter, and maybe even post about it here!

Weekly Prompt: Tamiko’s Prompt (National Poetry Month Contest 1st Place Winner!)

This week, we’re featuring the prompt submitted by the grand prize winner of our National Poetry Month Prompt Contest (sponsored by Kaya Press) . . .

(::drumroll::)

Tamiko Beyer!

We loved the freshness of Tamiko’s exercise, and the way that it challenges the writer to combine the particular vocabulary of one activity with the extremely close, almost manic, focus, of an “obsession.”  As poets, we all have obsessions to which we find ourselves returning again and again, and Tamiko’s prompt provides a great way to step out of the boxes we draw for ourselves in order to approach a familiar topic from a new angle.

Prompt: Obsession

  • First, make a list of your obsessions – the topics you find yourself writing or thinking about again and again.
  • Now, think of a specific thing that you know how to do well – knitting, rock climbing, photoshop, fixing cars, etc. Make a list of as many words specific to that activity – the specialized vocabulary of it – that you can think of.
  • Finally, choose one of your obsessions (not related to the activity you chose) and write a poem about it, incorporating as many words from the second list as you can.

Tamiko will receive a copy of Lisa Chen’s Mouth, courtesy of the folks at Kaya Press. Congratulations, Tamiko, and thanks once again to all who submitted!

Signing off for this National Poetry Month,

Iris & Mia

Weekly Prompt: Aaron’s Prompt (National Poetry Month Prompt Contest Runner-Up)

This week, we’re featuring the prompt submitted by LR reader Aaron Geiger, whom we’ve chosen as the first runner-up in our National Poetry Month Prompt Contest (sponsored by Kaya Press).  We really enjoyed the genre-bending nature of this exercise and thought it was a fun and unusual approach to the challenge of writing narrative poetry.

Prompt:

Find one of your favorite short stories or essays; perhaps even one you might have written. Make sure it is a story that you know, or that you are going to read thoroughly. Deconstruct the elements of the story into a form suitable for a poem that is no longer than 20 lines.

Rules: you must maintain one of the plot devices, and you can only use words that appear in the story. The purpose here is to show how dense and vibrant poems are, and how much they can  convey with a few carefully chosen words. Can you recontruct the “essence” of a short story or essay in a poem?

Thanks once again to all who submitted, and congratulations, Aaron!

Happy Good Friday, and (early) Easter, to those who are celebrating this weekend.  We’ll see you on the other side of Monday morning.

Weekly Prompt: Chris’s Prompt (National Poetry Month Prompt Contest Runner-Up)

This week’s prompt features the idea submitted by LR reader Chris, whom we’ve chosen as the second runner-up in our National Poetry Month Prompt Contest (sponsored by Kaya Press).

Chris’s prompt was short, but we felt that it aroused a number of interesting possibilities.  It made me, in particular, think of the “beautiful witch” archetype that’s present in so many myths, legends, fairytales, and folklore (from the Greek sirens to Snow White’s stepmother)  and which is often sinisterly underwritten by the deep-seated fears of people in power (men, whites, imperialists, US ‘nativists’, etc.) about those who are ‘under’ them (women, racial or political minorities, colonized and indigenous peoples, immigrants, etc.).  In some cases, especially under colonial rule (and here I am thinking particularly of the line of questioning that Barbara Jane Reyes explores in her books Poeta en San Francisco and Diwata), culturally powerful local figures have been forcibly re-coded as demons, monsters, exiles by imperial powers. How the faces of those obscured behind such imposed masks of monstrosity might be reclaimed, even amidst the violence cast upon them by history, is something with which many writers of color, women writers of color, immigrants and descendents of immigrants, colonized peoples and descendents of colonized peoples, must wrestle on a daily basis.  Chris’s prompt thus resonates with me in the sense that it asks us to explore the possibility of celebration,  even from within (and, in fact, despite) a position in which individual identity has been marginalized by culturally- or socially-imposed images of monstrosity.

Prompt:

Take something that (or someone who) is frightening and write a poem about why it (or he or she) is beautiful.

If you’d like to investigate the approach I’ve described above a little further, here are a few books that deal with rehabilitating the voices of figures who carry the weight of  “monstrosity” in some way :

Poeta en San Francisco (Barbara Jane Reyes, Tinfish 2006)
Diwata
(Barbara Jane Reyes, BOA 2010)
Habeas Corpus
(Jill McDonough, Salt 2008)
Brutal Imagination
(Cornelius Eady, Putnam 2001)

(Know of more collections that we should add to this list?  We’d love to hear your recommendations; please let us know about them in the comments!)

Congratulations to Chris, and thank you once again to all who submitted!  Stop by next week to see who we’ve chosen as our first runner up.

Weekly Prompt: Janet’s Prompt (National Poetry Month Prompt Contest Runner-Up)

Thank you to all those who submitted prompts to our National Poetry Month contest!  We’ve chosen three runners-up and one winner, and will be announcing them week by week as we post the ideas that they submitted.

This week, we’re featuring, as one of our runners-up, a prompt derived from an idea that was submitted by LR reader Janet.  We were intrigued by Janet’s entry, an exercise which involved plugging elements of one’s memory of a childhood meal into the form of a recipe, and have elaborated upon and expanded that idea slightly to produce this week’s prompt.  (The text of Janet’s original exercise can be found here).

Prompt:

Write a poem that recalls the recipe for a meal from childhood or which uses such a recipe to frame your memory of that meal. Be sure to include, besides the actual ingredients that went into that recipe, descriptions of more intangible elements, such as the people, the place and emotions that were present when you ate that meal.

Congratulations to Janet, and thanks again to everyone who entered our contest.

Please check back again next Friday to see a prompt from our next runner-up!

LR News: April 2011 Happenings (National Poetry Month Edition!)

It’s National Poetry Month! T.S. Eliot may have famously proclaimed April to be “the cruelest month,” but here at LR, plenty of exciting things are happening (yes, even despite the giant, fat snowflakes that I woke up to this morning here on the East Coast):

National Poetry Month Contest Prompts (sponsored by Kaya Press)

In celebration of the urge to translate idea and image into line and stanza, we will be posting a prompt submitted by one winner of our National Poetry Month Prompt Contest on each successive Friday of a full week in April, beginning with the 3rd runner-up on the 8th, and leading up to the Grand Prize winner on the 29th.  Our big winner will receive a copy of Lisa Chen’s Mouth, thanks to the kind generosity of Kaya Press.  Many thanks to all those who submitted a prompt!  Please check back every Friday to see whether your submission has been chosen!

Reading Period for Issue 3

Looking for something to do with your responses to the contest-winners’ prompts?  You’re in luck, because we will be reopening our reading period to submissions for Issue 3, starting next week.  Time to dust off the poetry hat and get your revising on!

Continued Postcard Project Posts (Postmark Deadline: April 15th)

If you took home a postcard from AWP or received one in the mail, now is the time to send it in! Please don’t forget, our postmark deadline is April 15th.  We will continue to post cards as we receive them.  (A reminder that we also plan to choose a couple of postcards to feature in Issue 3, and participating in the Postcard Project does not preclude your submitting through our regular reading period, so if you’re hoping for an extra chance of your work being noticed this time around, sending in your postcard poem in addition to submitting through our electronic system is one way to go!)

Interviews with Oliver de la Paz and Sarah Gambito

We are very excited to have the honor of being able to publish interviews with two Asian American literary luminaries, Oliver de la Paz and Sarah Gambito, on our blog later this April. Be on the lookout for our staff writers’ interviews with these two distinguished poets.

. . . and More.

As always, we’ve got our regular columns (Sulu DC, Becoming Realer), but we’ve also got a few surprises up our sleeves, so keep your eyes peeled!

Happy Poetry Month,

Iris & Mia.

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.

Weekly Prompt: Kenji’s Prompt (National Poetry Month Prompt Contest Winner!)

Congratulations to Kenji, the winner of our 2010 National Poetry Month Prompt Contest!

Here’s a slightly paraphrased version of his winning prompt.

Writes Kenji: “This one is not mine originally, but it’s one of the best ones I’ve ever tried. It comes by way of poet Suheir Hammad.”

Prompt:

Close your eyes and think about a time in your life that was extremely difficult.  Imagine the scene in as much detail as possible. Now, holding that moment of difficulty in your mind, search the scene and find one aspect of the situation or your environment that was beautiful. It could be environment and sensory – a sound, color, texture, lighting – or it could be an insight, perspective or emotion that existed at the same time as the difficulty.

Write about that beautiful aspect of this scene of difficulty for 15 minutes.

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We liked the creative possibilities of the paradoxical tension that this prompt asks the writer to explore: not beauty in spite of difficulty, nor a romanticized celebration of difficulty, but the strangeness by which a moment of difficulty can take on aspects of the beautiful.  Exploring this sort of tension in a poem may have the potential to open up an image or brief narrative moment to strange, surprising, and ever more complex associations.

Kenji will be receiving a signed copy of Monica Youn’s Ignatz.  Congratulations to him, and many thanks to all who participated!

Weekly Prompt: Steph’s Prompt (National Poetry Month Contest 1st Runner-Up)

This week prompt is from Steph, the reader whose prompt we’ve chosen as the 1st runner-up in our National Poetry Month Contest:

Prompt: Find a childhood toy and write about the first memory that comes to mind. Also consider the toy’s colors, textures, heft, etc.

We thought this was an interesting take on the exercise of writing about an object as a memorial trigger (I’ve done this before with vegetables and with household items like hangers and lightbulbs, but never with toys, which have a peculiar relationship to memory as both mute witness to and the subject/object of memory).  There are so many ways that you could spin it: a textural list poem, a persona poem, an ode, a poem in the form of an advertisement, an epistolary poem, etc.

Many congratulations to Steph!  Please check back next Friday when we reveal our first place winner and the recipient of a signed copy of Ignatz.