Lantern Review | Issue 8.1

Editorial Note

Welcome to Lantern Review 8.1, the issue marking the ten-year anniversary of our magazine. Featuring poems written by four of our past contributors, this volume serves as a look back at where we’ve been even as we continue to envision where the future might take us. For this issue, we’ve chosen the title “Remnants” after Vuong Vu’s poem depicting the War Remnants Museum in Vietnam. The building, he writes, “is never quiet at night. It murmurs.” Indeed, as Vu (whose work we first published in Issue 1) reminds us, the grim sterility of war artifacts so often belies the far-reaching effects of trauma, the brutal inheritance visited upon the bodies and memories of future generations. Yet in Issue 8.1, we encounter lyric, embodied selves who bear witness to what has transpired and to what may yet be possible. With their mantras, their stones and roots, their bottled fetuses and teeth, they voice a grief that is both personal and communal, brought on, at its worst, by the devastation of American militarized violence. These poems document the work that writers of color have always done, reaching across boundaries and timelines to unbury the shards of the past, building solidarities as they take up the task of constructing meaning from those very shards.

This notion of gathering meaning from remnants resonates deeply in Miya Sukune’s meditative oil paintings “Looking to the Horizon“ (featured on the issue’s cover) and “Marbles.” In both, we’re invited into scenes made significant by the presence of scattered ephemera. Potted plants, a bass drum pedal, marbles, a stone bust guide our eye through the composition of each scene before pulling the viewer beyond—to mountains in the window, to the artist’s own face in the mirror. Through objects that serve as remnants of the creative process, Sukune’s paintings invite the viewer to reclaim the narrative by looking and looking again.

In her fiercely tender poem “Ode to Phantoms,” Khaty Xiong (a past Issue 5 contributor) takes up another such task of reclamation, standing sentry over the speaker’s grieving father, “go[ing] back for the starlight lost in [his] bones.” In Xiong’s capable hands, we’re reminded that the acts of naming and remembering are powerful tools by which to reclaim memory. For, as Rajiv Mohabir (whom we first published in Issue 2) shows us, the postcolonial body can become a powerful site of creative rebirth. In Mohabir's poems “avadhū, māyā tajī na jāy” and “niś din khelat rahī sakhiyān sang,” “bone-fragments / erupting from ash are called pearls,” while wounds are remade into windows. Similarly, in “Never full, never empty—,” Luisa A. Igloria (whose work previously appeared in Issue 1) presents us with a portrait of a patchworked city stitched from diasporic remnants: multilingual meals shared in the shine of early morning, solace rooting across languages and tradition, among “the never here, never there” who live on the margins yet who may live blanketed in community. It’s a world forged by solidarities, the directive to “drink the soup when it’s scalding hot” and to always “make lots of it to share.”

Never before have we so urgently felt the need for radical solidarity among and between communities of color. Amidst the upheaval of this year, we turn to the powerful words of Audre Lorde, who speaks of poetry’s necessity in the context of intersectional feminism—how poetry “forms the quality of light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change.” Nothing rings truer for us today. As Igloria writes in “Mare Dolor,” “No one can speak directly // of what happened here” and yes, “[i]t hurts.” Yet these poems are what embody the ruins, sharpening the light by which we see ourselves and our work toward the possibility of change. And so we begin: here, in the ground, among the bone-fragments, the prayer beads, the ghost children. As Lorde says, may this light—“first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action”—bring us toward mutual survival and change.1

Peace and Light,

Mia Ayumi Malhotra and Iris A. Law
Lantern Review Editors

1. Audre Lorde, “Poetry is Not a Luxury,” in Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches by Audre Lorde, with a new foreword by Cheryl Clarke (Berkeley: Crossing Press, 2007), 37.