Panax Ginseng: Two From Dancing Girl Press

Panax Ginseng is a bi-monthly column by Henry W. Leung exploring linguistic and geographic borders in Asian American literature, especially those with hybrid genres, forms, vernaculars, and visions. The column title suggests the English language’s congenital borrowings and derives from the Greek panax, meaning “all-heal,” together with the Cantonese jansam, meaning “man-root.” This perhaps troubling image of one’s roots as panacea informs the column’s readings.

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Rachelle Cruz’s Self-Portrait as Rumor and Blood and Jane Wong’s Dendrochronology

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The cover of Rachelle Cruz’s Self-Portrait as Rumor and Blood (2012) features a skeletal exhibit of animal skulls and fangs, together with a spread-winged bat cleaved in half at the book’s spine. The back cover is a folded double of the front, which means we never see the bat’s torso or head (is it a bat at all?), only its bony limbs and the webbing between them. Jane Wong’s Dendrochronology (2011) features a floral-wreathed frame; within it, standing against a bright background suggesting a mirror or window, is a wolf turning to regard the viewer. Since these covers already work with mirror images, I’d like to hold these two chapbooks from Dancing Girl Press up to one another like mirrors, to see whether a rabbit hole might be found in the reflections’ depths. Consider the titles as well: a “self-portrait” fixes the artist’s gaze on herself, though the resulting image is of course only another depiction or illusion distorted by the medium, a rumor of sorts; and “dendrochronology” refers to those hypnotic concentric rings coded within the trunk of a tree, those layers expanding outward with time which we trace back to examine in cross sections.

In both chapbooks, the poems work within landscapes of violence and preservation. The central figure of Cruz’s Self-Portrait is the mythical Aswang of Filipino folklore, a placeholder for many ghoul/monster archetypes; here, she uses it as an object of savage exoticization, and as a mirror. These lines of verse prefigure the chapbook,

 There was a girl who wanted to become an aswang

She didn’t know why aswang

While living in one country

another split her chest open

Continue reading “Panax Ginseng: Two From Dancing Girl Press”

Staff Picks: Favorite Reads from 2012 (and Other Recommendations for the New Year)

Every year around the holidays, we post a roundup of books recommended by our staff writers to the LR Blog. The end of the current year is now fast approaching, and so in continuation of our tradition, here is a list of titles we enjoyed reading in 2012 and wanted to share with you:

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Rules of the House
RULES OF THE HOUSE

Rules of the House
by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa
Apogee Press, 2002
Recommended by Mia: “I recently started teaching full-time, so I haven’t had much time to read poetry… but I’m slowly working through Tsering Wangmo Dhompa’s Rules of the House. I’ve been savoring every poem because Dhompa has this way of leveling the reader with the slightest detail, all the while developing complex arcs that echo and extend throughout the book.”

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The Pillow Book
THE PILLOW BOOK

The Pillow Book
by Jee Leong Koh
Math Paper Press, 2012
Recommended by Wendy: “Inspired by the example of eleventh-century Japanese author and court lady Sei Shōnagon, Jee Leong Koh collects his miscellaneous jottings in his own pillow book. Written in the genre called zuihitsu, which compromises both prose and poetry, these observations, lists and anecdotes on life in Singapore and New York are, in turn, humorous, reflective, satirical, nostalgic and outrageous.”

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GARDENING SECRETS OF THE DEAD

Gardening Secrets of the Dead
by Lee Herrick
Word Tech Editions, 2012
Recommended by Wendy: “[In Brian Turner’s words]: ‘Lee Herrick’s Gardening Secrets of the Dead is a lyric exploration of the fractured and fragmented landscape of the self, where the body is a song composed of many selves. Whitman revised, the poems ‘celebrate and assemble/ from around the world’ with a voice that is politically engaged and rooted in compassion.'”

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Ascension
ASCENSION

Ascension
by giovanni singleton
Counterpath Press 2012
Winner of the 81st Annual California Book Award for Poetry
Recommended by Jai: “Comprised mostly of a daybook written during musician and spiritual leader Alice Coltrane’s 49-day transition between death and rebirth, giovanni singleton’s Ascension rings with unexpected cadences. As a soul ascends, what settles and rattles at our feet? From day to day, where are the stillnesses? These are the questions this book leads me to ask, as singleton takes us ‘way back to // where every sound / was a story and // every silence / epic.'”

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"Almost Heaven"
“Almost Heaven” (MANOA 23.2)

Almost Heaven: On the Human and Divine
[Volume 23.2 of Manoa]
Recommended by Henry: “This is volume 23.2 of Manoa, the volume that came out in 2011 just prior to ‘Sky Lanterns,’ with beautiful glass-plate negatives of Hawaii, and featuring writers on a variety of illusory paradises not limited to the Pacific. The essays especially are worth checking out!”

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Yours,
YOURS,

Yours,
by Kristen Eliason
Dancing Girl Press, 2012
Recommended by Iris
: “I’ve been reading a lot of chaps this year (they’re perfect for short amounts of time, so I can read one on my lunch break), and this one is an absolute gift. Living overseas in the wake of a momentous tragedy, Eliason’s speaker grapples with her alienation and grief in a series of heartbreakingly spare missives—quiet snapshots in whose white spaces the rawness of loss seeps through. Eliason has a talent for lyric invocation, but the real power of this chap, for me, really lies in the spaces of absence that pit and fragment her text—the things she allows her speaker to leave unsaid.”

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Self-Portrait as Rumor and Blood
SELF-PORTRAIT AS RUMOR AND BLOOD

Self-Portrait as Rumor and Blood
by Rachelle Cruz
Dancing Girl Press, 2012
Recommended by Iris:
 “Another fabulous Dancing Girl title. Notable for the courageous viscerality of its voice, Cruz’s chap is tonally very different from Eliason’s, but also intensely powerful. Cruz’s speaker is a shape-shifter, slipping easily in and out of voices and narratives from across time and space in order to weave together a portrait that glistens as much with sinew as it does with the force of its story.”

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Staff Publications: The LR Blog staff has also had a particularly busy year in terms of our own individual writing lives, and since this post is the one time a year that we get to feature the staff, we thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to share some of their recent and forthcoming publications with you. If you follow the blog regularly and are curious about our bloggers’ own poetic work, we hope you’ll consider adding a few of these titles to your future reading lists, as well!

  • Jai Arun Ravine’s collection, แล้ว and then entwinewas published by Tinfish in 2011.
  • Henry W. Leung’s Paradise Hunger won the 2012 Swan Scythe Press Poetry Chapbook Contest, and was published this fall.
  • Mia A. Malhotra has a sheaf of poems in the Fall/Winter issue of AALR.
  • Iris A. Law’s chapbook, Periodicityis forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in February.
  • Wendy Chin-Tanner’s first collection, Turn, is forthcoming from Sibling Rivalry Press in March 2014.

Continue reading “Staff Picks: Favorite Reads from 2012 (and Other Recommendations for the New Year)”

Friends & Neighbors: Rounding Out the Summer

Our friends and contributors have been busy this summer!  Here are a few bits of exciting news that have floated our way these past few months:

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Kuwento for Lost Things [ed. Rachelle Cruz and Melissa Sipin] is accepting submissions

Kuwento for Lost Things Anthology
KUWENTO FOR LOST THINGS Anthology

LR Contributors Melissa Sipin (whose work is forthcoming in Issue 3) and Rachelle Cruz (whose work appeared in Issue 1 and who has a postcard poem forthcoming in Issue 3), are co-editing an anthology of phillipine mythology called Kuwento for Lost Things, and are accepting submissions of poetry, prose, and visual art through January 15, 2012.  Submissions guidelines are available here. Please help their project get off the ground by liking or following them on Facebook or Twitter, respectively, and by sending some work their way! Visit their web site here: http://kuwentoforlostthings.wordpress.com/

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Angela Veronica Wong wins a Poetry Society of America NY Chapbook Fellowship

Many congratulations to Issue 1 contributor Angela Veronica Wong, whose chapbook Dear Johnny, In Your Last Letter, was selected by Bob Hicok for a 2011 PSA New York Chapbook Fellowship! A short writeup about Veronica and the other Kundiman fellow who won this year (Alison Roh Park) that appeared on Poets & Writers ‘ contest blog  last week featured a short video clip of Veronica reading at LR‘s joint AWP reading with Boxcar Poetry Review this past February. (Read the article here).

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Craig Santos Perez’s poetry CD, Undercurrent, now available on iTunes

UNDERCURRENT (Craig Santos Perez & Brandy Nalani McDougall)

Issue 1 contributor Craig Santos Perez and Brandy Nalani McDougall have released a poetry CD called Undercurrent that features audio recordings of both artists reading their own poems.  Craig’s contributions are taken from his two collections, from unincorporated territory [hacha] (2008) and [saina] (2010).  Undercurrent is available for download on iTunes, or for purchase through Amazon.  An electronic version of the liner notes can be found on Craig’s blog.

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Jai Arun Ravine’s first book available for order

Jai Arun Ravine's แล้ว AND THEN ENTWINE (Tinfish 2011)
Jai Arun Ravine's แล้ว AND THEN ENTWINE (Tinfish 2011)

Congratulations to Issue 1 contributor Jai Arun Ravine, whose first poetry collection, แล้ว and then entwine has been published by Tinfish! Doveglion has printed Jai’s reflections on the process of writing the book and its guest editor, Craig Santos Perez, has written about editing it on his own blog.  More information about ordering แ ล้ ว and then entwine can be found on Tinfish’s web site.

Continue reading “Friends & Neighbors: Rounding Out the Summer”

Summer Reads: Issue 1 Contributor Rachelle Cruz

Welcome to our Summer Reads 2011 blog series!  Throughout the summer, we will be featuring recommended reading lists submitted by Lantern Review contributors who want to share titles they plan to read and want to suggest to the wider LR community.  This week features a set of reads from LR Issue 1 contributor Rachelle Cruz.

She writes:

I am so lucky to host a poetics radio program (The Blood-Jet Writing Hour) because it allows me to invite poets I am curious about and/or admire.  Although I feature poets of many different backgrounds, I seek to support and promote poetries of the Pacific Islands, Asia and their diasporas.  Summer is also the time for me to catch up on some fantastic Young Adult (YA) literature, poetry blogs/websites, and anthologies (hello, Norton!).

Below is just a small selection from my very long Summer 2011 Reading List.

Books:

*FROM UNINCORPORATED TERRITORY [SAINA] by Craig Santos Perez
(Omnidawn, 2010)

Innovative, intertextual poetry that disrupts, navigates and de-navigates the histories of Guam (Guahan). I’ve just finished FROM UNINCORPORATED TERRITORY [HACHA] and I am excited to start Perez’s second book.

 

*BOUGH BREAKS
by Tamiko Beyer
(Meritage Press, 2011)

A fellow Kundiman poet who was also featured in LANTERN REVIEW! Her book seeks to interrogate queer motherhood, gender and the politics of adoption. Tamiko will be on the show with another Kundi, Hossannah Asuncion…

Continue reading “Summer Reads: Issue 1 Contributor Rachelle Cruz”

Summer Reads: Issue 1 Contributor Rachelle Cruz

For our Summer Reads series, we’ve asked contributors from Issue 1 to share what they’ve been reading or plan to read this summer.  This installment features Rachelle Cruz’s summer reading list.

Rachelle says,

“Here’s my long list.  A mix of poetry and mystery (I work at a specialty mystery bookstore):

A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield

Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski

Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman

Dawn Light by Diane Ackerman

Transformations by Anne Sexton

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

Delivered by Sarah Gambito

Toxic Flora by Kimiko Hahn

I-Hotel by Karen Yamashita

So Much Things To Say by Kwame Dawes”

Many thanks to Rachelle for sharing her list with us.  You can read her poem “I Am Still Alive” in Issue 1 of Lantern Review or find more of her on the web at rachellecruz.com and on her radio show, The Blood-Jet Writing Hour.