Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry
Issue 3 | Summer 2011
Welcome to the third issue of Lantern Review. The modes and aesthetics of the poems collected in the following pages range widely: from lyric free verse (as in Sandra M. Yee’s “Weather that Asks for the Lighting of Candles”) to the rhymed and metrical (as in Vikas K. Menon’s “Tell”), to the impishly avant garde (as in Jen Y. Cheng’s “Peas of the Seas”). They play with white space and buck the notion of titles (e.g. Kim Koga’s “[O metal wing lengthen these]”), blend visual and verbal mediums (e.g. Monica Ong’s “Corona Mestiza”), delve into serial prose (e.g. Oliver de la Paz’s “Dear Empire” group), and—at times—hang on the weight of a single image (e.g. Melissa R. Sipin’s “Love Is”). They are diverse, daring, and at times, strongly divergent; nevertheless, we’ve come to believe that this is our strongest, most complex issue yet.
As we were piecing the issue together, a number of recurrent themes emerged. Among the strongest of these was the motif of the body as both the vehicle by which language is produced, and as the object on which linguistic and geographic violence can be impose. In particular, images of the mouth—as the chamber in which speech and song are given substance—wend their way through the issue like a serpentine thread, so that we begin with the birth cries of Shayok (Misha) Chowdhury’s “Creation Myth” and end with Wendy Chin-Tanner’s defiant celebration of a flapping, disembodied tongue. The specter of race hovers uncomfortably over the body of works that comprise this issue, too. Yellowness—of face, of signs, of light—pervades many of the poems: see, for example, the orange “freeway flares” of Eugenia Leigh’s “Departure” and the “emergency pink” with which they paint the speaker’s hands; the yellow caution tape in Oliver de la Paz’s “Dear Empire [These are your inquests]”; and the trauma of yellow-face performance that Hong-Thao Nguyen probes in “Lattice Work.” The body is also explored through acts of mapping. From Kim-An Lieberman’s rendering of the body as a chart on which to plot physical decay, to Monica Ong’s superimposition of a map-like shadow on a brain scan, to the vaguely continental shape of Kim Koga’s “[O metal wing lengthen these],” the poems in this issue probe and transgress geographical, physical, and linguistic boundaries, smearing the distinguishing lines between page, diagram, and the surfaces of the body itself.
This issue also features several technical improvements upon previous issues. Because we have chosen to feature several visual poems—including two selections from our 2011 Postcard Project—we’ve employed a new function that allows you to click on any visual poem in order to enlarge and explore it more closely. We’ve also cleaned up the look of our printable versions in order to make them neater and more consistent with our overall visual aesthetic. These new features are just a first step toward our goal of developing a more streamlined, intuitive reading experience, and we hope to continue improving the design, interactivity, and accessibility of our layout in issues to come.