Half-punk, half-easy listening, half-anti-authoritarian troublemaker, half-cheesy lounge music wannabe, how straddling two cultures has shaped my creative life
Love poems by Li-Young Lee, Belal Mobarak re-maps Queens in poetry, and Nuar Alsadi stands at the peephole.
Poets Jane Wong, Carlina Duan, Christine Shan Shan Hou, and Muriel Leung explore the ways histories impact the work of Asian American writing across time and space.
Two Durham-based activists talk about pulling down Confederate statues, the poetry of displacement and war, and the sustained work behind every protest
Having two eyes prevents us from simplifying things, from seeing everything around us two-dimensionally. I guess you could say that seeing through two eyes is what makes us human.
I was her American / daughter, my tongue / my hardest muscle / forced to swallow / a muddy alphabet.
The Chinese novelist in exile, the impossibility of authenticity in immigrant lit, Kristi Yamaguchi, unlaced, and more.
The world held us / In glass circles
My child, we all become white-haired soon enough.
This was the first time he had seen so many exiled Tibetans of his own flesh and blood in a foreign land. Though they were only a few feet away, it was as if they were separated by ranges of mountains.
From Anelise Chen’s experimental autofiction to Bao Phi’s explosive poetry, the AAWW staff shares their favorite books they read in 2017
What gets lost in translation in the myth of American benevolence during the Korean War
i have seen the line at the bottom of sky crack glimmers of clear light
Poet Chen Chen talks finding your family, queer Asian American poetry, and Journey to the West.
Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, Zain Alam, Yunique A. Saafir, and Muna Mire investigate the ways young Muslims fight state power.
Think about it: if rain accumulating above someone / resumes descent, where does it fall?
Janice Lee on becoming the badger, Navneet Alang on baby names, new hopes, and familial history, Maya Mackrandilal on culture shaping art.
I tell C no one loves me like a mother would. / C says no one loves a fragile queer. I choke / on the thread as it slices words out:/ Say Ma say Mother America say Mother India say love me like a mother won’t.
From its very beginning this story is fated to be exposed by the light.
In an increasingly divided world, translated literature brings us closer together. As the year draws to a close, we asked some of our favorite writers, editors, and translators for their recommendations.
Leftist Singaporean fiction, experimental love poems to robots, reimagining the Vietnam War, and more.
Patrick Rosal, Bao Phi, and Sokunthary Svay confront nationalist mythology with lyrical odes to the America we struggle against, and the one being built through struggle.
‘These were / all the gold coins that he laid by in a life of poverty, / saved up in the vault of his mind’
I remember / 亲爱的 / back then / how you robed / yourself in tall grass / & earthed your flesh / how your waiting / shrunk soldiers’ bayonets
Comedian Aparna Nancherla talks standup, battling anxiety, and pushing the envelope as a woman of color in comedy
Animals are strangely perceptive—in their instinct to survive, they find a home
‘What I / am—I’ve gone further than gambling, drug addiction, death— / I’ve killed the image of her daughter.’
Nobody can stop things if they want to go back to their roots.
A quest for Armenian coffee in the inauguration’s aftermath led one writer to ask, how much of ourselves do we need to let go in order to see ourselves in others?
Paisley Rekdal, Yanyi and Soyoung Yoon bring together nonfiction, brain science, trauma theory, poetry, and data visualization together to explore intergenerational trauma.
Cixin Liu on first contact, Viet Thanh Nguyen on Thanksgiving, the future of Mission Chinese, and new fiction from Rachel Khong.
When the tide rises, it is easy for the fish to prey on the ant, but when it ebbs, the fish becomes the ant’s prey.
‘Shayan closed his eyes and played for a couple of minutes. His touch was impeccable. His timing was flawless. His body movements were graceful. He ended on a C flat with his eyes still closed.’
Kimiko Hahn speaks on Asian American Acitivism; Kazim Ali confronts political grabs in poetry.
All my early life was tied up in tales of nasi goreng.
‘Mine: thick & black, so coarse / when trimmed, the ends splintered / bare feet.’
That American thing · The good old good
Is it possible to write about travel while decolonizing the narrative?
Suppressed sexual violence in the name of revolution lay in the abyss of our consciousness.
Diversity in publishing, the lost history of comfort women, and Karen Tei Yamashita on her family history.
M. Evelina Galang tells the story of sixteen surviving Filipino comfort women in her new book, Lola’s House.
A graphic history of the American surveillance state, Illokano love poems, the imagined correspondence between Miguel Cervantes and Chinese Ming Emperor Wanli, and more.
Funny how it ends up that you’re the leftovers.
The masjid wasn’t even close to finished, but our fathers were starting from the top and were building their way down.
The literature of Arab dictators, Asian futurism, and America’s forgotten TV chef, Joyce Chen.
Young-ha Kim, one of the most talented and prolific Korean writers of his generation, made a rare appearance in New York to celebrate the launch of his latest novel, I Hear Your Voice.
The feeling of being claimed is halfway to feeling home, even if on the inside I’ve often felt like I didn’t quite belong.
They always had us at hello, the Americans.
‘Which poem can defeat / the fear of dying / a meaningless death / and how to write that poem / staring into the barrel?’
Patty Yumi Cottrell on the abyss, Leland Cheuk on battling cancer, and former Margins fellow Wo Chan on fashion and the body.
Danzy Senna and Katie Kitamura take on marriage and use it to hold a mirror to our turbulent emotional realities in their new novels.
Pray tell me, how much
are we paying for the sermon?
The gentrification of punk, Anelise Chen on her grandmother’s ghost, Jonathan Saha on the dangers of excluding Rohingya Muslims from their own identity, and more.
The author of A Good Country talks about the final novel in her Kurdish trilogy, tribal longing, and the work that entertaining literature does
Movimiento Cosecha organizers talk about life after DACA, vulnerability, and a border-traversing undocumented Spiderman
‘As if I could get un-situated / this airport a bubble hovering / in a void between celestial bodies / in but not of / the country I stand in.’
‘I ventured out one morning and, from the lawn, I stared at all of the green beaks. I tried to count all of them but there were more buried, slumbering birds in our garden than I knew numbers for. And I remembered how in winter they left us and the air was so quiet and empty.’
Through stories, essays, and poems, writers imagine new narratives that speak to Trump’s Muslim ban
Kamila Shamsie and Hirsh Sawney take on private grief in today’s political landscape in their new novels.
Asian American cyborg poetry, a rewriting of the historical legacies of the Vietnam War, reissues of Karen Tei Yamashita’s groundbreaking novels, and more from Asian diasporic writers this month.
showbiz etceteras · commercial spaces · newspapered ideas
On Marie Kondo and the painful joy of preserving family history
We don’t know what we need because we don’t know who we are. We don’t know who we are because we don’t remember who we were.
Kimiko Hahn, Monica Youn, Sally Wen Mao and Emily Yoon joined us for a night of poetry.
The author of Sour Heart talks about channeling childhood in her fiction, balancing the soft with the scratchy in her stories, and getting tokenized as an Asian American writer.
In the wake of the end of DACA, we’re sharing poems, essays and stories written for and about undocumented immigrants.
People judge me by my skin. My skin’s purpose in life is to prove them wrong.
Akhil Sharma and Kanishk Tharoor speak with Meera Nair about their celebrated short story collections.
The author of Goodbye, Vitamin talks about writing her first novel, charting lost memories, and bridging a life in fiction with a life of one’s own.
This week’s articles are about the current U.S. political climate–but don’t worry, we have some new tunes for you to enjoy, too!
Patty Yumi Cottrell, Eugene Lim and Anelise Chen take on the life-killing forces of capitalism, the political status quo, and suicide in their new novels.
This summer brings new Asian diasporic retellings of Antigone, the unlikely hero’s journey of an Asian American boy and his mecha, and a hybrid poetics of Japan’s violent history.
How the fight against displacement calls for New York City’s Asian immigrant communities to defect from the “model minority” narrative.
There are countless ways / to justify company. Hunger, overdue balance, whatever. / Cartoon savage licking the throne clean. / & isn’t that what you always wanted? / To be filled & emptied?
Writers Q.M. Zhang and lê thị diễm thúy speak with Hua Hsu about their fragmented, hybrid works that explore themes of immigration, grief, and fatherhood.
Anelise Chen’s latest mollusk column, the painful search for Asian American identity, “anti-blah” writing and more are featured in this week’s link roundup.
In all the books I love, the hero doesn’t strike first. But then again, none of the heroes look like me.
The writer talks about her new memoir, Olive Witch, subverting her identity, and the tenuous link between memory and writing.
Novelist Shanthi Sekaran speaks with Race Forward’s Rinku Sen and Kavita Das about how our immigration system threatens families of color
Half a century on, what does it mean to be part of ASEAN?
Writers Gina Apostol, Ninotchka Rosca, Alex Gilvarry and Melissa R. Sipin joined us for a celebration of legendary Filipino writer Nick Joaquin
For eleven / years I lied about where I’m from, / ashamed by the music of endings, // that deep hollow bell. How much of my yearly / tax is spent to bomb the dirt / that birthed me?, is a question // I never wanted to consider.
Rahul Mehta and SJ Sindu read from their debut novels, Marriage of a Thousand Lies and No Other World
On data, food, and criticality under capitalism and the State.
Reads that encourage us to resist complacency and keep searching for new ways of thinking and being in the world–all in the name of self-determination.
Ashok speaks to Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto about her new creative endeavors, Tokyo versus New York, and what gets lost in translation.
Lisa Ko reads from her debut novel; Ed Lin and Jade Sharma read their stories of Asians who don’t fit the model minority stereotype.
What the parallels between the violent murders of The Walking Dead’s Glenn Rhee and Vincent Chin tell us about being Asian in America.
On building bridges in liminal spaces, and carving new pathways through the unknown.
‘Children are playing soldier. / Fetuses ripped from wombs dangle / in nearby trees. Yet he opened his mouth / and a flood of love melodies poured out.’
On accountability – as readers, writers, and members of society.
Watch Thi Bui read an excerpt from her illustrated memoir The Best We Can Do with the help of some audience members.
pink spam injected into the bloodstream / won’t make one minnesotan, / the difference of an exporter and importer, / colonizer and the colonized with a nine digit ssn
Thirty five years ago, Asian America’s faith in the justice system was shaken. Have we forgotten the lesson?
This month in Asian diasporic lit brings new queer desi stories, “badass letters to comicdom,” and love songs from down and out Asian American country music stars.
Writers Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Violet Kupersmith, and T Kira Madden speak to each other about mixed-race identities in life and literature
Marwa Helal reads two poems at the Workshop, including her paen to the Palestinian American rapper DJ Khaled.
On mollusks, writing craft, and writing against whiteness.
Every spring, a deer must shed antlers used for fighting and each bone branch grows back with the thought of my partner’s return this season, and yet.
The writer and teacher speaks on navigating Mississippi’s racial politics and his experience in public education as “forged in violence.”
The poet talks about her debut collection, sharing silenced histories in her writing, and being a “wild girl poet.”
The two poets talk about their literary family trees, poetry as a protective force, and the changing landscape for Muslim American writers.
‘In my sleep, I dreamt of how terrible it would be to not find my way home.’
but this is boring. let’s talk / about something else. people are only lines / written with water it’s not that serious. i just want to drink / my coffee. i just want to think about roses i misheard / the words as a laugh, beautiful like a song of roses
May brings in queer Taiwanese cult classics, erotic manga and the fictional saga of a Palestinian family through the years.
‘This drought of silence / that does not feed me. I mean, I refuse / to hold his vanity. And demand to know / myself better. Cull his soul but only / for memory, carve a history / for myself in which my reflection / alone can be seen.’
The author of Sorry to Disrupt the Peace reflects on writing out of desperation, Fiona Apple, and the novel as a ghostly space.
Before I could go back to the Philippines in real life, I did so on paper, through my first novel.
I meant / to just take a photo of you. Forgive // my trespasses, my negatives, / but remember them. My ghosts // were asked to lay in their bed, / and so said: I am not like them // I am not. This is the blood I’ll leave / behind on bark to bark.
At this point I will disobey and say / you are free to go if you choose. Choice is a complicated part of describing / Palestinian heroes or terrorists.
The award-winning writer talks about her new acclaimed short story collection, the anxiety of exile, and figuring out which narrative you belong to.
Oh Mars, you mistook me / for someone / I briefly was. / Girl alight / with impending loss, / vessel for bearing / out an arch / -itectural illusion. A wall / isn’t truly built / to exclude, but to instate / something worth defending.
Ashok Kondabolu speaks to Vijay Iyer about an alternate history of jazz, opening institutional spaces, and the resistance and defiance within music.
‘No words of a Savior are news to a Woman. / No words of a resurrection sound gospel[-enough] / when you are both the Crucifixion and the Crowd.’
Three generations of Cambodian women in my family wrestle with the inherited trauma of the Khmer Rouge
Scotch-taped at the mirrors’ edges were photographs of birthdays, family vacations, running in the rain. Their edges had curled from sixteen years of steam from hot showers and baths.
‘Skin molted like a lazy adder/while sinew pooled like glue.//Bone fractured next/like desert rose glass/then melted too.’
April’s releases by Asian diasporic writers include new works from Samrat Upadhyay, Durga Chew-Bose, and Mai Der Vang.
A local art exhibit turns a feminist gaze on Muslim and Sikh women’s head coverings.
A day without a hate crime, Asian-American activism in 1970s Los Angeles, worlds made possible by the NEA
‘We do not want to hover like a line of fog, a river’s shadow, but slower: shadows in conversation, gentle only when we don’t bother expecting to be heard.’
Christine Hyung-Oak Lee talks about her new memoir, the restorative power of writing, the doubling that haunts her life, and why Slaughterhouse-Five is a permanent part of her mind.
From Hari Alluri’s electrifying poetry to Patty Yumi Cottrell’s dark absurdism, March is a month filled with exciting new releases from Asian diasporic writers.
‘When I held him in my palm, I learned to love what made me. From time to time, I think about my father, his country, clean hands. I like to think of his hands as clean. I like to think I owe nothing to his body.’
The newspapers were quick to christen the members of the underground movement with new names: subversives, communist insurgents, terrorists, guerrillas, rebels. Yet in my mind, they were simply family.
‘A man kisses a pigeon and another kisses a dog and / both times I look away to gather the spikes of trees into a / dripping faucet.’
Language boundaries and the quest for diversity, empowerment, and the need for Feminism and International Women’s Day
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan illustrates the life of Japanese feminist writer Raichō Hiratsuka and her magazine dedicated to empowering women
Carving a subversive current in the cinematic status quo, the deep roots of Islamophobia in America, and the political power of laughter.
The sun sieves through the canopy— / rivers are relenting. My soul seats itself // for the first time. Where it is quiet, it becomes cold. / There is nothing I must do but die— // what joy to let go of all things—what ease to give up.
The author of How I Became a North Korean speaks about the power of fiction to give clarity to the world.
Poetry mixtapes, music for aliens, Asian American science fiction and more.
An interview with the Muslim American writer and activist about how Trump has unintentionally made America great
‘First memory of English: my father orders spaghetti from a waitress. / Foreign flowers blossom in his mouth and I’m spellbound in Urdu. // On Friday afternoons, cars spill across a bleached suburb. / Not far from the mosque, look! Crooked lines of devout Urdu.’
‘did I ever tell the teacher / we invented a new language that a pair of six year olds spoke fluent / appeasement she pointed to the globe told me to tell him / this is the world and that is America’
Representing friendship between women of color, making your mom’s stir-fried tomato and eggs recipe, finding strength in the face of relentless fear, and more.
Chinese American writer H.T. Tsiang’s final novel is a Marxist, feminist, pro-immigrant satire of the American Dream. It was published 80 years ago.
‘Cracking the spine, we eat // With fingers mixing and mashing, / ladling for one another, / Karaili, pommecythe, cur-he, / spooning and sliding into our mouths, / Wiping the leaf green.’
Muslim Ban CliffsNotes, honoring the late, great Bharati Mukherjee, why Fred Korematsu’s story still matters today, and more.
‘My wishes are fulfilled with less searching. / My lover rises with a little waiting. / His fresh moustache conquers the cosmos. / Colored by evening, his mole deceives fate.’
Barry Jenkins on Wong Kar-wai, Monica Youn on historical instability, Sara Ahmed on white feminism, and more.
Palestinian American community organizer Aber Kawas reflects on #IMarchWithLinda and putting the spotlight on those who are less visible
‘I roam. Sometimes in solitude; sometimes in a crowd. But unlike a dog, I do not die a little each day, subdued to the loyalty of my master. I die all at once if it must be.’
Delivered on Inauguration Day 2017
Inauguration preparation, deconstructing “Asian America,” cleaning up the mess together, and anti-fascist poetry.
‘When we bury someone, cremate them, mark their grave, thousands of miles from their place of birth, we are in some ways promising that we will return to them and that we will return them.’
‘how to write a thank you letter / how to write a sorry letter. how to write / a letter saying please i’d love / my money back, or haven’t i given / you enough? how to write i love / you i love / you and isn’t that / enough?’
Ashok talks to artist Andrew Kuo about the history of painting, making his own Wu-Tang shirts, and Linsanity
‘The pain entered / me the way the moon / disarms the daya slick blade. / I offered myself as water, / studied its errancy. / What a good citizen, / I thought.’
‘If you spark a flame and turn / it upside down, / you will find it is still / a flame.’
From two World Wars and Partition to 9/11 and India’s Modi, the search for stories that help find our way out of the dark
‘I was still getting used to the place—how quiet the suburbs are, how calculated in their quietude.’
Equipment for frigid temperatures, self-protection in the digital form, tools for resistance, and more.
There are no refractions today / by the pepper flakes— in the glass. // The snails slept by the snap pea hooks / and cradles— I salted them. // Sometimes I drank / from a vapored gas— / I made ellipses with my glass.
Author Jade Chang talks about her new novel ‘The Wangs vs. the World,’ subverting righteous immigrant stories, and asshole as an endearing term.
More resources for safeguarding, taking precaution, approaching danger, and more.
In video games, the fear of the sudden propels you forward. Not so in life.
‘The Daily Show’ correspondent Hasan Minhaj talks to Ashok Kondabolu about his new one-man show, ‘Homecoming King,’ running away from John Kasich, and the role of comedians in the age of Trump.
Another set of resources for transformation, joining resistance movements, building other worlds, and more.
Dissecting the violence of state, warfare, and language
‘i contour my face with sand & it is war paint on the wrong body. i puncture my nostril with steel & that is a war crime on the wrong body.’
‘My father likes silence and the past. // He votes for losing candidates (he is so unwilling to love charismatic men.) / He believes in the things we are given, like decency.’
Additional resources for community protection, healing, security, action, and more.
Karen Ishizuka’s ‘Serve the People’ tells the story of a radical period in Asian American activism, and compels us to ask, where does that lead us now?
Poets Claudia Rankine and Hoa Nguyen speak with Rigoberto Gonzalez about the urgent need for poetry as a force for political change.
‘these games draw lines / between crowds / i am one of many / who wonder, / how come the silicon valley / squats on san josé?’
Resources for support, safety, care, resistance, and more.
To constellate; archipelago. // Portmanteau & neologize. // To fix a golden / foil across the mouth— // a burial mask / to keep the evil out. // To raise walled cities / stone & green with rain.
As Election Day approaches, remembering the story of my parents’ immigrant survival, from Japanese internment to community activism, proves more important than ever.
Memories between oceans, migrations across seas, bodies of water, trout on land, and more.
From comfort food to college applications, this zine showcases the stories of undocumented women from the Asian Diaspora
Novelists Malka Older and Jennifer Marie Brissett discuss the ins and outs of writing speculative fiction
The author of ‘Deceit and Other Possibilities’ on mischievous writing, how journalism feeds fiction, and getting to that “good place” in a short story
‘Here is language, say / it is one you know. Hyphenate / when you can. Steal inquiries, / steel for confusion. Be content / in the discontent of the hyphenation.’
Mapping displacement, resisting settler colonialism, assembling planes, flying south for the winter, and more.
Did she look up, see the lettering on his nametag, N-A-D-A-R-A-J-A, and think to herself, “A Tamil I don’t know? In Findlay, Ohio?”
Writers Jaswinder Bolina, Ching-In Chen, Bich Minh Nguyen and Timothy Yu reflect on their writing processes
Why I flirted with the truth when writing my novel in the first person
When Pearl River Mart closed earlier this year, it signaled long-expressed concerns over gentrification and rising rent prices in Manhattan’s Chinatown. What will its reincarnation bring?
‘A body on all fours, you / prefer crawling over standing, / your face permanently tilted / down, your eyes only seeing / the ground. How beautiful / the view is.’
Resisting co-opting and assimilation with language, un-fixing meaning, connecting natural disasters, and more.
The author of ‘The Loved Ones’ on what we have a right to expect from novels, love beyond blood family, and moving through anxiety and envy as writer
Writer and activist Jeff Chang talks about code switching, his new book ‘We Gon’ Be Alright,’ Asian American spectator status, and President Obama’s favorite comic book store in Honolulu.
‘A family as triangle. Drifting lines. This [mother- father-child] triangle will never be reassembled.’
A return to ghosts, negotiating art and music, borders and bars, political aesthetics, and more.
‘I glanced curiously at the stranger. He looked old and frail. The sky outside the window seemed darker with his figure in profile. Though he was sitting next to us, he appeared to be somewhere else entirely.’
Out of a full-time job and wondering if his first book would ever hit the shelves, Ed Lin briefly ventured out before the camera
Wading through piles of litter, trying to reclaim a car, object relations, lobsters, and more.
‘Night, she tries to define herself but forgets / her skin is already inked into a script.’
Writing magic and mermaids, negotiating boundaries and borders, combatting immigrant detention, living in disaster, and more.
Sonny Liew’s The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye questions Singapore’s accepted national narratives.
‘Dark, dark, too dark a dark everywhere / Lovers drooping their necks / Dark as though picking up that darkness / And, again, inside that darkness / There are wolves and dogs on the prowl’
An interview with Bay Area poet, teacher, and artist Mg Roberts on interpreting graffiti, fragmented immigrant narratives, and how everyday is an opportunity to revise
Urban university politics, labor strikes, skateboard tricks, probably-canned broth, and more.
How the steering wheel / points nowhere except towards itself. / And such is the spinning of the mind: / everywhere. When we drove into new / cities it was only a different shape of haze.
Growing into community action, genealogy, dystopia, and more.
‘Bonita, that engineer from Spain who always worked late, must have gone home already. Yong looked down at his ironed shirt and felt disappointed—if he had done the third floor half an hour earlier he might have seen her.’
Writer Ayesha Siddiqi talks to Ashok Kondabolu about growing anti-Muslim anxieties, her new job at Viceland and what keeps people up at night.
‘No motions./A tonic in page display tufts,/call me switch-foot, a check away from homeless./You get there. Intentional.’
The author of The Fortunes talks about immigrant survival, our multiple selves, and who tells and receives the Chinese-American story