Welcome to Lantern Review Issue 7.2, a proud celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. We’ve curated the poems in this issue around the theme “home/lands,” in an acknowledgment of the diverse geographic and cultural landscapes that have shaped the APA community. “Home/lands,” a term inspired by the closing line of Leslieann Hobayan’s “Wedding Departure Haibun,” is also an acknowledgment of the ways that our relationship to “home” is fraught, interrupted, and sometimes even perilous. Forced migration, immigration, refugee resettlement, wartime incarceration—it is from these contexts that our Issue 7.2 contributors write, and as W. Todd Kaneko says in “The Birds Know What They Mean,” we can “speak / about history, as if orchards / have never been tangled // in barbed wire”—but, of course, they have. The reality of families “packed up, delivered / to a concentration camp in Idaho” is not only a past truth but an enduring present, and our history is rife with stories like this one, in which hostile terrain, forced upon incarcerees, must become home.
Yet from the fissures of these home/lands rise voices of tremendous resilience, lyric prowess, and even humor. Bound to ancestral lands by memory and kinship ties, the speaker of Bryan Thao Worra’s “Old Luggage” considers their “singed edge of the world” in tones that are both playful and poignant. The Burberry-clad speaker of Eileen R. Tabios’s “Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: Uppity Ilokano on Louboutin Vulvas” vamps it up in lacquered red soles, and, in Purvi Shah’s iterative sequence at the end of the issue, the poet examines the power of divine play (“lila” or “leela”), the site of creation and destruction, in which she engages with the “folding and unfolding of the cosmos.” Elsewhere in the issue, we also hear the contemplative yearning of Kaysone Syonesa’s “Minneapolis, 1990,” a somber remembrance of “lost yesterdays, unpromised tomorrows.” We hear from voices that are firmly planted in American soil, like Amy Uyematsu’s “over-Americanized sansei” speaker in “The Bachi-Bachi Buddhahead Blues,” who reflects matter-of-factly on what it means to live a life here inflected by cultural beliefs there. We feel, in Leslieann Hobayan’s “Wedding Departure Haibun,” the weightiness of “wings free to soar”—where departure represents bright possibility, a physical and lyrical launching point from which new life takes flight. And in the light of this expansiveness, we are led to the haunting images of “San Xavier,” Brandon Shimoda’s meditation on place memory and the ways that sixteenth-century Spanish conquest and migration bind distant places together.
Together with the stunning artwork of Kang Yoo A, Camino Santos, and Jenna Le, these remarkable poems represent a singular celebration of Asian Pacific American heritage. Through the narratives and lyric moments represented here, we remember our forebears and the ancestral lands that have shaped us. And, like the bold yet battered heart in Kang Yoo A’s print “Stars+Stripes+Barbs+Blood,” which graces our cover, the work featured in this issue rises from the rupture of home/lands in proud defiance—a reminder that, though our histories may be run through with barbed wire, the power of art allows us to reclaim what has been taken from us, carving out new spaces wherein our stories can be set free.
Peace and Light,
Mia Ayumi Malhotra and Iris A. Law
Lantern Review Editors