Panax Ginseng: The Shallow Underworld of This History

Panax Ginseng is a monthly column by Henry W. Leung exploring the transgressions of linguistic and geographic borders in Asian American literature, especially those which result in hybrid genres, forms, vernaculars, and visions. The column title suggests the congenital borrowings of the English language, deriving from the Greek panax, meaning “all-heal,” and the Cantonese jansam, meaning “man-root.” The troubling image of one’s roots as a panacea will inform the column’s readings of new texts.


Literasians Panel (Photo credit Elezanbee Vue)


For APIA Heritage Month, the SOMArts Gallery in San Francisco ran an exhibit from May 3-25 curated by Jennifer Banta: “The Future Is NOW: Asian America On Its Own Terms.” I parsed the exhibit’s title as a reconception of time (“future,” “now”) through geopolitical space (“Asian America”) and voice (“its own terms”). There were two art installments in the exhibit which I regarded as conceptual centerpieces. The first was “Are we there yet?” by Truong Tran: a small, woven boat suspended over a blue panel with “Are we there yet?” repeated across it in a splash of font sizes. The woven boat here is a ruralized image of the refugee immigrant (i.e. “boat people”) juxtaposed to the refrain of the suburban child in a car’s backseat—two generations of passengers condensed into one locus of space and voice. Across from this piece was another, “Red Lips” by Su-Chen Hung: a pool of water gurgling from a covered and endless source, rippling outward from beneath red tasseled “lips.” In this post, I’d like to show the engagement with “now” to be a convergence of past, present, and future all at once by looking at a literary panel held in the gallery space, and by considering the work of two poets recently featured on the LR blog, Garrett Hongo and Andre Yang.

The panel was titled Literasians and took place on May 24th. Kartika Review editor-at-large Christine Lee Zilka moderated a discussion between Sandra Park, Aimee Phan, Lysley Tenorio, and Andre Yang. Though the art fixtures were not commented upon directly, they were very present as the event’s backdrop. The panel’s description, “writers converging on the APIA literary continuum,” was in line with the thematic use of spatialized time, with “continuum” referring at once to a linear series and a dimensional whole. The panelists spoke on one end of the gallery while the water bubbled from “Red Lips” on the other end. Lined up behind the writers was “Most Wanted” by Taraneh Hemami, a series of face portraits elevated and blurred. And even farther back was a timeline chronicling APIA art exhibits shown at this site since 2002. All this contributed to making the space one of historical synchronicity.

Continue reading “Panax Ginseng: The Shallow Underworld of This History”

Friends & Neighbors: Recent Releases

When the AAWW announced the winners of its 2011 Asian American Literary Awards last month, we were thrilled to hear that Issue 3 contributor Oliver de la Paz’s Requiem for the Orchard had been named 1st finalist in the poetry category (after Kimiko Hahn, who won for Toxic Flora, and before Molly Gaudry, who was named 2nd finalist  for We Take Me Apart).  But Oliver is not the only one of our friends and contributors who has had exciting news this season.  Here some recent publications and releases that have shown up on our radar these past few months:

* * *

Marc Vincenz’s The Propaganda Factory (Argotist EBooks 2011)


Contributor Marc Vincenz’s new e-book The Propaganda Factory was released by Argotist EBooks this past August.  In this short collection (which includes “Taishan Mountain,” a poem that first appeared in LR issue 2), Marc weaves together layers of history and geography through an ever-shifting range of lenses that take us from the level of the microscopic to the realm of the galactic at a moment’s notice.  It is available for download here.

Kim Koga’s ligature strain (TinFish Press 2011)


Issue 3 contributor Kim Koga now has a chapbook (ligature strain) out with TinFish.  In this linked sequence, which was published as #6 in TinFish’s current retro chap series, Kim floods the page and the mind’s eye with feverish, liquidly intense imagery that involves birth, echolocation, pink and white flesh, and lots of fetal beavers (yes, the actual animal).  Be on the lookout for more about ligature strain later this month.

Continue reading “Friends & Neighbors: Recent Releases”

LR News: Issue Three has arrived! (And we’re off on hiatus).

LR Issue 3

It is with great pleasure that we announce the arrival of Issue Three of Lantern Review!

This stunning new volume, which features Julie Kim’s haunting black and white photograph “Still” on its cover, contains 52 pages of poetry and visual art as well as a powerful “Community Voices” section featuring work by poets from the Hmong American Writers’ Circle.  The issue also includes two selections (contributed by Rachelle Cruz and Kathleen Hellen, respectively) from our 2011 post-AWP Postcard Project, as well as a beautiful visual poem by digital artist and Kundiman poet Monica Ong. For the first time, we’ve also incorporated a tool that allows you to explore these visual poems more closely by clicking and zooming in on them. (This tool requires that Javascript be enabled in order to work, so if necessary, please take a moment to turn it on before entering the issue. Details about how to navigate the “zoom” tool are provided on the issue’s masthead).

Our stellar lineup of contributors also includes: poets Jen Y. Cheng, Wendy Chin-Tanner, Shayok (Misha) Chowdhury, Oliver de la Paz, Clara Changxin Fang, Kim Koga, Eugenia Leigh, Kim-An Lieberman, Vikas K. Menon, Pos L. Moua, Hong-Thao Nguyen, Melissa R. Sipin, Mai Der Vang, Andre Yang, and Sandra M. Yee, as well as visual artists Joseph Marconi Calindas, Michelle Chandra, and Natalia Ricotta.

To enter the issue, click here, or on the cover image at the top of this post.

We hope that you enjoy the issue, and would love to hear your feedback on both its content and its technical navigability—simply send us an email at editors [at] lanternreview(dot) com.  In the meantime, we are heading off on a late-summer Blog Hiatus (during which time we’ll be taking a break from posting to the blog, but will still be contactable via other means, like email and Facebook), and wish you all the best until we return on October 3rd.

Many thanks, as always, for your continued support of LR,

Iris & Mia
LR Editorial Board