Today’s installment of Summer Reads 2012 is the last of this year’s series, and a bit of a double-header. We have reads from two of our favorite LR Blog staff writers, Jai Arun Ravine and Henry W. Leung.
First, from LR contributor and book reviewer, Jai Arun Ravine:
Rachelle Cruz, Self-Portrait as Rumour and Blood (Dancing Girl Press), because it is about the aswang, a Philippine witch/vampire, and it has a bat/pterodactyl on the cover.
Javier O. Huerta, American Copia: An Immigrant Epic (Arte Publico Press), because it is about going to the grocery store and being checked out–by cashiers, cuties and INS agents.
Sarith Peou, Corpse Watching (Tinfish Press), because it is about being incarcerated and surviving the Khmer Rouge genocide, and for the amazing way it is bound.
And from LR book reviewer and “Panax Ginseng” columnist, Henry Leung:
I’ve been in Prague discovering the work of incredible Czech writers. I got to hear Ema Katrovasread her prodigious translations of Šrut’s poems, which are brief and profound pieces following an everyman figure named Novak; and I got to hear Klima read a very insightful essay from his collection, about consumerism’s impact on religion and spiritualism today. Lustig, I’ve been told, was dedicated to the teaching of writing through fables; he was a Holocaust survivor (one of his titles, Transport From Paradise, is a heartbreaking reference to the way that the concentration camp at Terezín was paradise compared to the others), and an enormously important writer during the Velvet Revolution (along with Klima, Kundera, et al); he just passed away last year.
Today’s installment in our 2012 Summer Reads series comes from Issue 1contributor Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé. He says:
I’m all over the place with this summer’s selections. Hughes gives me a great lens into the lives of Whitman, Capote and Styron, against the gritty backdrop of Brooklyn. Pavel’s lovely memoir, translated from the Czech, is just altogether charming! The third title helps me understand the ruba’i, a two-lined Persian poetic form, with each line split evenly into two hemistitchs. The ruba’i is also known as “taraneh”, meaning “snatch”. This will satisfy my sporadic return to more formalist sensibilities.
Welcome to our Summer Reads 2011 blog series! Throughout the summer, we will be featuring recommended reading lists submitted by Lantern Review contributors who want to share titles they plan to read and want to suggest to the wider LR community. This week features a set of reads from LR Issue 1 contributor Rachelle Cruz.
I am so lucky to host a poetics radio program (The Blood-Jet Writing Hour) because it allows me to invite poets I am curious about and/or admire. Although I feature poets of many different backgrounds, I seek to support and promote poetries of the Pacific Islands, Asia and their diasporas. Summer is also the time for me to catch up on some fantastic Young Adult (YA) literature, poetry blogs/websites, and anthologies (hello, Norton!).
Below is just a small selection from my very long Summer 2011 Reading List.
*FROM UNINCORPORATED TERRITORY [SAINA]
by Craig Santos Perez
Innovative, intertextual poetry that disrupts, navigates and de-navigates the histories of Guam (Guahan). I’ve just finished FROM UNINCORPORATED TERRITORY [HACHA] and I am excited to start Perez’s second book.
by Tamiko Beyer
(Meritage Press, 2011)
A fellow Kundiman poet who was also featured in LANTERN REVIEW! Her book seeks to interrogate queer motherhood, gender and the politics of adoption. Tamiko will be on the show with another Kundi, Hossannah Asuncion…
For APIA Heritage Month 2011, we are revisiting our Process Profile series, in which contemporary Asian American poets discuss their craft, focusing on their process for a single poem from inception to publication. This year, we’ve been asking several Lantern Review contributors whose work gestures back toward history or legacy to discuss their process for composing a poem of theirs that we’ve published. In this installment, Barbara Jane Reyes discusses her piece “13. Black Jesus” [an excerpt of her longer project “The City That Nearly Broke Me”], which appeared in Issue 1 of Lantern Review.
He emerged in my “For the City That Nearly Broke Me” series, which I started writing after this prompt: “Write about the city that saved you. Write about one that nearly broke you.” Rachelle Cruz posted this prompt on her blog while she was a PEN Emerging Voices fellow.
I’ve never excavated Manila, my birthplace; it eludes my understanding, it’s always spitting me out. That’s how I see it, and so I wanted to find a thwart-proof way in.
There is a general disdain Filipinos have for dark skin; we claim those precious few drops of Spanish blood. In this desire for whiteness, it’s ignored that much Spanish blood entered the Filipino via colonial rape.
The term “Buffalo Solider” has been around since the 1860’s, and refers to US cavalry and infantry regiments of African American soldiers. There are legends about the term’s origin, but I can’t get over the historical significance of African American men as animals. Moreover, these Buffalo Soldiers fought against Native Americans in the “Indian Wars,” and against the Filipinos in the Philippine American War. People of color pitted against one another in America’s formative wars of conquest. Some defected from the US military, became Katipunan/Philippine freedom fighters, as “posters and leaflets addressed to ‘The Colored American Soldier’ described the lynching and discrimination against Blacks in the US and discouraged them from being the instrument of their white masters’ ambitions to oppress another ‘people of color’.”
And of course, “Buffalo Soldier” is a Bob Marley song, whose form the poem borrows. It’s a narrative of transnational displacement, an anthem of survival and resistance:
And he was taken from Africa,
brought to America.
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival.
Say it was a buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta.
Buffalo soldier, in the heart of America.
It’s all of these displacements and reorientations that have allowed me to start the excavation.
* * *
Excerpt from “13. Black Jesus”
After Bob Marley
The indio who carved me knew the drum and the heart are one.
He knew the song for hunting, the waiting song, the calling song.
He knew the song for planting, the song of earth’s open hand.
He knew the song for walking, the river water song.
Buffalo Soldier, Carabao Brother,
Stolen from the Americas, brought to the islands,
Sharpening machete, crouching in the jungle,
Born into slavery, son of revolution.
We are delighted to announce that LR Contributor Asterio Enrico N. Gutierrez’s poem, “Death poem exercise 64,” which originally appeared in Issue 1, has been selected for the 2010 Best of the Net Anthology. Asterio’s poem was one of only twelve selected by guest judge Erin Belieu for this year’s Anthology (it appears alongside contributions from such luminaries as B.H. Fairchild and Claudia Emerson), and we are absolutely ecstatic to see his work honored in this way.
(To read Asterio’s poem in Best of the Net 2010, click here).
(To read Asterio’s poem as it originally appeared in Issue 1 of Lantern Review, click here).
It’s been a little over a month now since AWP 2011 in Washington DC — and this post is more than a little overdue! Nonetheless, here it is: our reflection on the very first gathering of Lantern Review contributors, readers, and editors. Our off-site reading, co-hosted by Boxcar Poetry Review “in celebration of the little online magazine,” took place on Friday, February 4th at Go Mama Go!, a lovely, eclectic art supply & gift shop (ceramics, antique soda bottles, shot glasses, bright paper umbrellas) whose owner greeted us with a warm, “Are you here for the Chinese poetry?” when we first walked into the door. “Well… yes?” we said, though really we were there for so much more.
Realizing that a gathering of people interested in Asian American poetry could perhaps be mistaken for enthusiasts of Chinese verse, we decided that this was an appropriate place for our reading to begin: with an assumption that would, as the night progressed, be stretched and proliferated across a variety of subjects, styles, personalities, and identities. We heard from lovers, from daughters and sons, from fighters and artists, ethnic selves, queer selves, and — at times — just plain selves confronted with the complex reality of living in the twenty-first century.
We had the pleasure of hearing seven different Lantern Review contributors, all of whom read poems published in either Issue 1 or Issue 2 alongside other pieces prepared for the event. Though most of us had never met before, there was a wonderful camaraderie in the room — after tipping the microphone down a few inches, Issue 2 contributor Kathleen Hellen joked that, being a little-ish person, she loved little-ish poems and planned to share a few with us.
Contributor Rajiv Mohabir impressed us with his unexplained passion for whales, even pulling off his fleece to show the back of his t-shirt. Sure enough: whale.
To be perfectly honest, in preparing for this event I had no idea what — or who, rather — to expect. Sure, we had a list of readers and printed programs, but in curating the poems for our two issues, I’d developed certain notions of “who” our contributors were: Poet X, author of Poem Y, was surely this kind of person, or at least that’s what I thought after spending so much time with their persona on the page. But would I be proved mistaken when I met them in real life?
Seeing the men and women “behind the issues,” however, playing the wonderful game of matching poet face to poetic voice, was a fabulous experience. At this event, a community that had previously existed only as a textual (and virtual!) reality became, for the first time, embodied in flesh: jeans and scarves, breath and lungs and vocal chords. Hearing these contributors’ voices for the first time, particularly when each poet read their LR piece, was phenomenal. Personas that previously existed only as textual markings on a computer screen became live presences, embodied on stage before our very eyes.
This could be an overreaction — the online magazine, and indeed the publishing world itself, has been around a long time, and “meeting your editor/contributors for the first time” is terribly old news. For us, however, newly minted and only in our second year, the event was a wonderful success. A true celebration of the little online magazine. We’re grateful to our contributors, particularly those who were there with us at Go Mama Go! on the 4th, and to all the other readers and writers who make this virtual and literary community a living network of flesh-and-bone people around the nation. Thank you for your support, and for joining us in exploring the open-ended question of Asian American poetry.
Also, thanks to Iris’ foresight and inner documentary filmmaker, you can hear clips of their readings below:
A quick update and reminder to those who either picked up an LR Postcard Project card at AWP or requested one in the mail: please don’t forget to write your response poem and send it back to us! April 15th (the postmark deadline) is fast-approaching, and the sooner you send in your responses, the earlier we’ll be able to feature them on the blog.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns regarding how the project is meant to work, please do not hesitate to send us an email: editors [at] lanternreview (dot) com.
A warm welcome to all those who are joining us for the first time after encountering us in D.C.! We are back from AWP, and we’re getting ready to roll once again over here on the blog. The conference and reading went wonderfully (look out for more about our experience in our upcoming post-AWP reflection posts), and we were delighted to be able to hand out 103 postcards as part of our 2011 Postcard Project.
For those of you who are just joining us, or who didn’t catch the explanation that we posted before the conference, the LR Postcard Project is a special venture that we’ve devised in order to encourage creative responses to the poems that we’ve published so far in Issue 1 & Issue 2. We made up a series of 116 uniquely-numbered postcards, featuring either pre-selected “shimmery bits” (quotes, excerpts, lines, images, what have you) from poems that appeared in our first two issues or a blank front (where you could fill in your own favorite “shimmery bit” from an LR poem), and asked people at AWP to take one home, to write a response to their chosen excerpt in the form of a poem on the back, and to mail it back to us by April 15th. The idea here is that we will post the cards that we receive to the blog (as they come in) and that we’ll even choose a few that we particularly like to publish in an upcoming issue.
You can expect to see more about the project—including reminders, and (hopefully!) responses, in upcoming weeks, but for those of you who were not able to make it to the conference, we wanted to offer you the opportunity to participate, as well, and so we are going to give away our 13 remaining postcards (all of which are of the fill-in-yourself variety) to the first 13 commentors on this post. Here are the rules:
Leave a comment on this post with your name, a contact email address, and the title of your favorite poem from Issue 1 or 2 of LR.
We will contact the first 13 (human/non-spam/individual) commentors for their mailing addresses and will send them each a postcard via snail mail.
If you receive a card, all you have to do is to inscribe a short quote or excerpt from a poem in Issue 1 or 2 on the front of the card, write a poem on the back in response to that quote, stick on a postcard stamp, and send it back to us by April 15th.