An Asian American Poetry Companion: Must-Read Titles for Summer 2021

An Asian American Poetry Companion: May 2021. Clockwise from top left, cover images of: DIVINE FIRE by David Woo, A THOUSAND TIMES YOU LOSE YOUR TREASURE by Hoa Nguyen, DRAKKAR NOIR by MICHAEL CHANG, APPROPRIATE by Paisley Rekdal, THE GLASS CONSTELLATION by Arthur Sze, IMAGINE US, THE SWARM by Muriel Leung, SPARROWS AND DUST by Zilka Joseph, ELEVEN MILES TO JUNE by Ha Kiet Chau, IRON GODDESS OF MERCY by Larissa Lai, ANGEL AND HANNAH by Ishle Yi Park.
New and Notable Asian American Poetry Books for Early Summer 2021

Yet another Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is drawing to a close, but even in the face of the hatred that our Asian American community has faced this year, there is still so much to celebrate. This month’s Asian American poetry companion is jam-packed with recent releases to savor. We hope you’ll consider picking up a few (or all) of them to carry with you into the summer and beyond. After all, as we often remark, Asian American literary excellence doesn’t end with May!

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FEATURED PICKS:

MICHAEL CHANG, Drakkar Noir (Bateau, May 2021)

If you enjoyed MICHAEL CHANG’s lusciously textured epistolary poem in Issue 8.2, you’ll want to get your hands on a copy of Drakkar Noir, their prizewinning debut chapbook, out from Bateau this spring. Dorothy Chan writes, in praise of the book, that “CHANG gives us romp and runway fused with popular culture that leads into allegories of what it’s like to be queer and Asian American in America—in the world today—around people who want to slow you down. Drakkar Noir is a love letter to all queer Asian Americans that calls out performative allyship.” If you’re looking for an intimate read that speaks presciently to the present moment, you won’t want to miss this one!

Paisley Rekdal, Appropriate: A Provocation (Norton, February 2021)

Though Appropriate has been out since February, we wanted to save it for our May roundup because it seemed fitting to it feature during APA Heritage Month. In this thoughtful craft book, framed as a series of letters to a student, Rekdal tackles the thorny subject of appropriation with delicacy, investigating difficult questions of power and authenticity that come into play when writing about the experiences of others—and probing, ultimately, the limits of empathy. Rekdal writes with care and pragmatism; her nuanced approach to this tricky topic makes this, in our opinion, an essential read—not just for students and teachers but for anyone who writes.

Muriel Leung, Imagine Us, the Swarm (Nightboat, May 2021)

Muriel Leung’s second collection, which won the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize, is hot off the presses this month. A collection of essays in verse, Imagine Us, the Swarm considers the loss of the poet’s father. In so doing, Monica Youn writes, it “renders visible the liminal space of the Asian American, an occupied territory in which every silence, every potentiality, hums with the white noise of other people’s imaginings.” Given the context of our community’s continued struggle for justice, and in light of our theme this season (Asian American futures), this collection is one we can’t wait to read.

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MORE NEW AND NOTEWORTHY TITLES:

Ha Kiet Chau, Eleven Miles to June (Green Writers, April 2021)

Zilka Joseph, Sparrows and Dust (Ridgeway, April 2021)

Larissa Lai, Iron Goddess of Mercy (Arsenal Pulp, April 2021)

Hoa Nguyen, A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure (Wave, April 2021)

Ishle Yi Park, Angel and Hannah (One World, May 2021)

Arthur Sze, The Glass Constellation (Copper Canyon, April 2021)

David Woo, Divine Fire (U of Georgia, March 2021)

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What titles by Asian American poets are on your reading list this summer? We’d love to hear from you! Share your recommendations with us in the comments or on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram (@LanternReview).


ALSO RECOMMENDED:

Cover image of MIGRATORY SOUND by Sara Lupita Olivares

Migratory Sound by Sara Lupita Olivares
(U of Arizona Press, 2020)

Please consider supporting a small press or independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

An Asian American Poetry Companion: Fresh Collections for National Poetry Month 2021

Alt Copy: An Asian American Poetry Companion: April 2021. Clockwise from top left are cover images of: LAST DAYS by Tamiko Beyer, CONTINUITY by Cynthia Arrieu-King, CLEAVE by Tiana Nobile, PEACH STATE by Adrienne Su, IF GOD IS A VIRUS by Seema Yasmin, PROMETEO by C. Dale Young, THE SUNFLOWER CAST A SPELL TO SAVE US FROM THE VOID by Jackie Wang, and WHAT HAPPENS IS NEITHER by Angela Narciso Torres.
New and Notable Asian American Poetry Books for April 2021

It’s a heavy time to be celebrating National Poetry Month. In the face of continued violence, our Asian American community aches. And yet, as our guest editor this season, Eugenia Leigh, shared on Twitter with regard to our theme for the season, “The racist hate crimes against Asian Americans don’t get to silence us. We get to define what #AsianAmericanFutures looks like.” If the wealth of new poetry titles by Asian American writers hitting the shelves this year is any indication, then the future of Asian America looks bright. Poetry as resistance, as resilience, as vision, as voice, as witness, as document, as radical care, as light—that alone is something to celebrate.

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FEATURED PICKS:

Cynthia Arrieu-King, Continuity (Octopus, April 2021)

Cynthia Arrieu-King has not one, but two new books out this spring. In addition to her lyric essay, The Betweens (Noemi, March 2021), her latest collection, Continuity, hits shelves this month. Arrieu-King has observed that she envisions Continuity as the second half of a “double album.” While her previous collection, Futureless Languages, looks ahead, Continuity dips into the past, excavating histories of war and inherited trauma. Laura Jaramillo describes the poems in the collection as “sonically soft and visually holographic, sensorially pleasurable and richly melancholy.” If you’ve enjoyed Arrieu-King’s previous books as much as I have, then Continuity is sure to be a title you won’t want to miss.

Tamiko Beyer, Last Days (Alice James, April 2021)

Our theme for the season is “Asian American Futures,” a notion that issue 1 contributor Tamiko Beyer’s newest collection, Last Days, embodies wonderfully. Featuring a group of charismatic young revolutionaries and their struggle to navigate a post-apocalyptic world, Last Days celebrates hope, resilient joy, and the beauty of human interconnectedness. Beyer writes with the deep tenderness, empathy, and breathtaking lyric clarity that is a hallmark of her work. I had the chance to preview the collection earlier this year, and it’s been one of my favorite reads of 2021 so far.

Tiana Nobile, Cleave (Hub City, April 2021)

The title of Tiana Nobile’s first collection, Cleave, is a contranym—a choice that, per the Southern Review of Books’s interview with the author, nods to the complexity of her experience as a transnational adoptee. Accordingly, Cleave mixes research with personal history to interrogate the legacy of transnational adoption. The result, writes Cathy Park Hong, is a “mythic origin story that is beautiful, melancholic and powerful.” I’ve enjoyed reading individual pieces from Nobile’s project in the past and admire the way she’s combined meticulous craft with an unflinching sense of vision. Now that Cleave is finally out in the world, I can’t wait to dig into the collection in its entirety!

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MORE NEW AND NOTEWORTHY TITLES:

Adrienne Su, Peach State (U of Pittsburgh, March 2021)

Angela Narciso Torres, What Happens Is Neither (Four Way, February 2021)

Jackie Wang, The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void (Nightboat, January 2021)

Seema Yasmin, If God Is a Virus (Haymarket, April 2021)

C. Dale Young, Prometeo (Four Way, February 2021)

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We hope you’ll consider giving one of these books a read this month. As always, if you are able, we encourage you to support small presses and local independent bookstores (especially BIPOC-owned bookstores) with your purchases. And we’d love to hear from you! What Asian American poetry books are on your radar this April? Share your recommendations with us in the comments or on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram (@LanternReview).


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Cover image of Sonia Sanchez's COLLECTIVE POEMS

Sonia Sanchez, Collected Poems (Beacon, 2021)

Please consider supporting an independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an Asian American–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-Asian-American-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

A December APA Poetry Companion: Warm Books for Winter

An APA Poetry Companion: December 2020. Cover images of MON by Mina Khan, FUGITIVE ATLAS by Khaled Mattawa, WOMEN IN THE WAITING ROOM by Kirun Kapur, PINK MOUNTAIN ON LOCUST ISLAND by Jamie Marina Lau, FABLESQUE by Anna Maria Hong, SOME GIRLS WALK INTO THE COUNTRY THEY ARE FROM by Sawako Nakayasu, PHONE BELLS KEEP RINGING FOR ME by Choi Seungja (trans. Won-Chung Kim and Cathy Park Hong), SALAT by Dujie Tahat
New and notable APA poetry books for December 2020

As it gets deeper into winter, here are some exciting new and forthcoming releases to warm your spirit.

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FEATURED PICKS

Anna Maria Hong, Fablesque (Tupelo Press, Sep 2020)

Anna Maria Hong’s second poetry collection, Fablesque, was the winner of Tupelo Press’s 2017 Berkshire Prize. The book connects old animal fables with women of the modern world, weaving in trauma and rebirth in the context of the #MeToo era. We’re delighted to see this collection on the shelves and hope you’ll look for it, too. 

Sawako Nakayasu, Some Girls Walk into the Country They Are From (Wave Books, Oct 2020)

Another book we’re excited about is Sawako Nakayasu’s first poetry collection in seven years. Some Girls Walk into the Country They Are From follows a cast of “girls” who embody various representations of the female diasporic subject. We can’t wait to dive into the pages of this book and hope you’ll check it out as well. 

Dujie Tahat, Salat (Tupelo Press, Jan 2021)

Issue 7.1 contributor Dujie Tahat brings us a new collection, Salat, for the start of the new year. In it, he takes prayer as form. Hanif Abdurraqib writes that Tahat’s poems add “history, image, and narrative flair. [The poet] weaves all of these things together like a song, summoning people to a holy space.” If you’ve enjoyed Tahat’s work in the past as we have, you’re sure to enjoy this upcoming release as well.

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MORE NEW AND NOTEWORTHY TITLES

Kirun Kapur, Women in the Waiting Room (Black Lawrence Press, Oct 2020)

Mina Khan, MON (monuments monarchs & monsters) (Sputnik & Fizzle, Oct 2020)

Jamie Marina Lau, Pink Mountain on Locust Island (Coffee House Press, Sep 2020)

Khaled Mattawa, Fugitive Atlas (Graywolf, Oct 2020)

Choi Seungja (trans. Won-Chung Kim and Cathy Park Hong), Phone Bells Keep Ringing for Me (Action Books, Oct 2020)

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We hope you’ll enjoy some of these picks—and even share them with friends and family—this winter. What else is on your reading list? Share your recommendations with us in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (@LanternReview).

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Cover image of KONTEMPORARY AMERIKAN POETRY by John Murillo

ALSO RECOMMENDED

John Murillo, Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020)

Please consider supporting an indie bookstore with your purchase.

As an APA-focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-APA-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.

An October APA Poetry Companion: Books to Curl Up With for Fall

An APA Poetry Companion: October 2020. Cover images of MAPS FOR MIGRANTS AND GHOSTS by Luisa A. Igloria, RAIN IN PLURAL by Fiona Sze-Lorrain. BESTIARY by K-Ming Chang, THIS IS THEN THAT WAS NOW by Vijay Seshadri, STRIP by Jessica Abughattas, THE VOICE OF SHEILA CHANDRA by Kazim Ali, WHAT HE DID IN SOLITARY by Amit Majumdar, and UNDERWORLD LIT by Srikanth Reddy
New and notable APA poetry books for October 2020

As the leaves change colors and fall, here are a few September and October books by APA poets and writers we’re excited to dig into. 

FEATURED PICKS

Kazim Ali, The Voice of Sheila Chandra, (Alice James Books, Oct. 2020)

We’re excited to see that Kazim Ali has a new poetry collection out, The Voice of Sheila Chandra. Named after a singer who lost her voice, the book weaves three long poems together to make a central statement that Ilya Kaminsky says is “far larger than the sum of its parts.” Sam Sax describes the collection as “part research document, part song, part deep excavation of the soul.” With that kind of ringing endorsement, this book is certain to be one we’ll enjoy. 

Luisa A. Igloria, Maps for Migrants and Ghosts, (Southern Illinois University Press, Sep. 2020)

Two-time contributor Luisa A. Igloria, who was recently named poet laureate of Virginia, also has a new book out this fall. Maps for Migrants and Ghosts explores the diasporic experience and brings in the poet’s own personal history, from the Philippines to her immigrant home in Virginia. We’re big fans of Igloria’s work here at LR, and we look forward to reading her latest.

Srikanth Reddy, Underworld Lit, (Wave Books, Aug. 2020)

Wave Books describes Srikanth Reddy’s Underworld Lit as “a multiverse quest through various cultures’ realms of the dead.” A serial prose poem, the book takes readers on a “Dantesque” tour from professor’s classrooms to Mayan underworlds and beyond. We’re excited to dip into this epic journey in verse and hope you’ll check it out, as well.

Fiona Sze-Lorrain, Rain in Plural, (Princeton University Press, Sep. 2020)

Issue 6 contributor Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s fourth book of original poems, Rain in Plural, just hit shelves last month. In this collection, she uses language to uncover questions of citizenship, memory, and image. We love Sze-Lorrain’s lush, musical sensibilities and have covered several of her previous books on the blog. If you’ve enjoyed her work in the past, you’re sure to enjoy Rain in Plural, too!

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MORE NEW AND NOTEWORTHY TITLES

Jessica Abughattas, Strip, (University of Arkansas Press, Oct. 2020)

K-Ming Chang, Bestiary, (Penguin Random House, Sep. 2020)

Amit Majmudar, What He Did in Solitary, (Penguin Random House, Aug. 2020)

Vijay Seshadri, That Was Now, This is Then, (Graywolf Press, Oct. 2020)

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We hope youll curl up with some of these picks this upcoming fall. What else is on your reading list? Share your recommendations with us in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (@LanternReview).

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ALSO RECOMMENDED

Cover image of EVERY DAY WE GET MORE ILLEGAL by Juan Felipe Huerrara.

Every Day We Get More Illegal by Juan Felipe Huerrera (City Lights Publishers, 2020)

Please consider supporting an independent bookstore with your purchase.

As an APA–focused publication, Lantern Review stands for diversity within the literary world. In solidarity with other communities of color and in an effort to connect our readers with a wider range of voices, we recommend a different collection by a non-APA-identified BIPOC poet in each blog post.