Welcome to Lantern Review Issue 9.1, the first of three issues illuminating the theme of “Asian American Futures.” When we announced the submissions call for our 2021 season, we were holding the idea of “Asian American Futures”—a phrase that both exhilarated and unsettled us—loosely. “Futures” is a topic anyone with an imagination can get behind. But what does it mean to qualify “futures” as being “Asian American”?
Cathy Park Hong writes in her critically acclaimed essay collection, Minor Feelings, “The paint on the Asian American label has not dried. The term is unwieldy, cumbersome, perched awkwardly upon my being.” And yet it feels important—necessary, even—to challenge the Asian American community to write toward a future defined specifically as our future, whatever that may mean. As Asian Americans across the United States reel from reports of increased hate crimes and acts of dehumanization against us, the urgency of this task grows.
What we received from dozens of poets and visual artists was a reclamation of our humanity. Resounding tributes to our rich and varied pasts in concert with hard-earned visions of our futures. Issue 9.1 found its title, “Horizons,” in Bethany Swann’s poem “I pass through the blue focal planes, a scene of desire.” “Horizons” encapsulates the spirit of these poems with delightful precision: the place where the earth meets the sky as a metaphor for the place where the past meets the future. We begin this issue on Kirsten Shu-ying Chen’s rocket ship with the speaker’s mother in tow in “Life on Mars” and end with Joan Kwon Glass’s “How We Fly,” which marvels at a daughter who “doesn’t feel Korean” yet interprets Iron Man as a squarely Asian American narrative: “He tries to do his father’s work / but doesn’t let it hold him back.”
What a privilege it was to curate this issue, to bear witness to numerous Asian American voices doing our ancestors’ work, reclaiming their stories, while marching resolutely away from the confines of that past toward a new world we’re forging together. We can’t wait for you to experience this first installment in the triptych we have planned.
Peace and Light,
Eugenia Leigh & Iris A. Law
Lantern Review Editors