“I don’t think that writers choose their subjects. I think they choose us. I think they step out of history books, off the sidewalk, or from a near future, and they say, ‘Hey, fool, you’ll be writing this one!'”
땀과 핏물과 진물이 뒤섞여 끈적한 그의 맨발이 젖어 번들거린다. || His bare feet, sticky with a mix of sweat and blood and ooze, glisten.
I dress devotedly. I devote my time to smoothing the knots in my hair. / I lace rum and cokes with devotion. My aloe vera plant sings devotion.
if I extradited myself from my body cleaved into infinite / particles you’d never step all over me at once
The slippers allowed her the pleasure of spatial recognition, an opportunity to go back in time and become the person cared for, rather than the one perpetually burdened with the responsibility of caring.
總有一次不想丟掉 / 太容易丟掉 || Don’t want to lose it this time / It’s too easy to lose
& if / you find yourself full of holes, the / way they beat fish at the markets, / think of the hands, damp & cherried / with rain, that once tore your mother / out of the house / she learned to dance in.
I loved them all and everything / they thought about so much and I was out / of my mind by then, not with grief or disgust / but with beauty
Facing my father’s Indian American fantasies
During the 1970s to the present day, Japanese American farmers and food retailers play huge roles in the development of California cuisine and farm to table movements.
For some of us, a food is not something we can so easily cast aside before finding a new fad to follow.
I am thinking / Of a burnt cathedral, which / Has nothing to do with actual death.
A snapshot of ISSUE Project Room’s creative collaboration between Jasmine Gibson, Fana Fraser, Sokunthary Svay, and Annie Heath
A new folio interrogating authoritarian attempts to control formations of self, family, school, and nation. Deadline October 7
her story—a bone-white line across her throat. / Given enough time, she says, are all stories / not ghost stories?
How can I explain the embrace of a ghost? Arms open and extended, not even arms. The whole body extended and open. But the embrace, arrested, is unconsummated.
we dog eating people / eating off each other / bear the vaguely dog / sounding name stairs
Is not house, not kitchen, not ceiling. Spanish chandeliers as old and intricate as iron.
Nepantla accomplishes the noteworthy goal of portraying a plurality of lives who’ve been here and who will continue to question why queer living matters right now.
I am // just trying to sleep. To feed. To fill / myself and grow larger from it.
What / saint-kissed relics shall I take with me, what shall serve as capstones for the / humble churches I’ll build in the parking lots of the American dream?
The author of If You See Me Dont Say Hi discusses the draw of the short story, writing with new vocabularies of race, and the immigrant communities of the Midwest.
O whose chant do I hear in these halls recalling my deeds, or my debts, the structure / of the cancer room, a storm that once wiped Laos clean of sin a thousand years ago?
We’re proud to announce a new program that empowers writers of color to witness and write about mass incarceration.
the / tangibility of absence: to put a ruined keep inside of someone / until it becomes skin
When I tell you that she’s a witch, I’m not saying like it’s a bad thing. What I / mean is that one time she went to see / someone and said that he was going to die and then he died / the Friday after.
no matter how desperately the world begs / for my blood / I still refuse to die. in this body, survival / is an outlier
A conversation on Marylyn Tan’s debut poetry collection, Gaze Back, plus a brief interview with the author
But tonight, the horses, there, / down among the beeches, know when I begin to yield / and do not move until I do, turning their heads / in the direction of my voice.
the hot air rising from the cooker / has tightening effect on your lovehole
You can describe a place / without knowing it. / At recess in March I choked / because the air tasted like fertilizer. / What’s the difference / between breathing a place / and being suffocated by it?
20 Thai Baht = 33 Philippine Pesos = 44 Indian Rupees = x bolt of fabric = y square vuông of rice = 15,000 Vietnamese đồng = 2,600 Cambodian Riel = 2.6 Malaysian Ringgit = 9,100 Indonesian Rupiah = unquantifiable sweat
I pulled the comforters out after. / You had sweat the bed; the room bloomed with / your sweetness. I thought / you can know / somebody for a long while and not know / their scent.
Sanggup menahan jerit, menukar peluh menjadi ringgit || [we’re] able to swallow shrieks, exchanging sweat to ringgit
The evolutionary resilience of fruit comes by virtue of landing far, far away from home. Send us your best nonfiction on ‘fruit’
easy to get cold out there in the desert at night. hard to maintain the skin sealed to the bones below, to the meat beneath against each blast & every impact.
I was the writer in my life / and where did it get me / is not a line from an Army manual
slipper/sandal/house shoe/ flip flop: send your best original writing or original translation on this shared (in)significance to TLP by July 14
52 years since it was first published, the groundbreaking novel No-No Boy has been reissued by Penguin Classics. The new edition features an introduction by Karen Tei Yamashita.
hong kong a neon neckline, long hair glittering / with ship-lights, crystal balls, storm velvets. / it’s her life, yet I had come, and grown / my hair, and happened upon the eastern sun / like a moon.
The scholar and author of Empire’s Tracks discusses a history of the American West through Chinese workers, white supremacist violence, and the division of the working class along racial lines.
The author of Empire’s Tracks talks anti-imperialist immigrant movements, the alternate history of the Transcontinental Railroad, and the rumor of U.S. sovereignty.
Now, I’m lost in the woods thinking of Noy. / Is she still in Seattle? Does she has her pastry shop? / In Minnesota, I gather what is gone, capturing a spirit.
On the 150th anniversary of the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad, Paisley Rekdal revisits the legacy of the Chinese railroad workers who reshaped the American West.
After her death, the class continued to meet every week until the end of the semester. What else could we do?
As I celebrate Meena Alexander’s life, and revisit her books, I’m acutely aware of my mistaken impression that there would be so much more time in the future to get to know one another better.
Malayalam, English, Arabic, French: Meena Alexander inhabited all these languages, reminding her of the many homes she had lived in and experienced.
The author of Severance talks apocalyptic immigrant narratives, co-opting consumerism, and the disease of remembering.
I read and re-read Atmospheric Embroidery so that I could ask her something that would be of interest. But I did not get to ask those questions. Her answers are in the poems.
The opening lines of Manhattan Music are, of course, like a poem: “A summer ago I thought I would lose my mind. Riding the subway. Up and down. Down and up…”
As I looked at her notes from my papers in her class and her emails to me, I realized she had so much belief in my work. She was a teacher who had so much belief in her students.
Meena was the very first poet I discovered who named places and sounds and smells and sights from Kerala, the emerald green, southern-most coast of India.
I came into this world in an Allahabad hospital / In the absence of reliable ghosts I made aria / I watch your hands at the keyboard / Memory is all you have.
Meena Alexander taught us that our stories required narratives that were true to the ruptures of our lives.
In mining the contours of being elsewhere, Meena Alexander widened the narrow passage between her birth and her death.
Meena Alexander’s work shimmered with beauty but always—always—the tension of violence quivered just beneath
If I dissolve when the push of the world comes in on me, I know now it is a form of longing, or rather, a longing for form
Essays and remembrances for the late poet, scholar, and essayist Meena Alexander (1951-2018)
i had a twin who was 95% water. a twin who latched its mouth onto my heart and drank me dry.
Sakit lelah aku tidak lain dan tidak bukan harga hidup senang aku kini || My asthma is the cost of the middle-class life I live now
៦០០០០រៀល! មើលទៅបង! បង្កងធំៗណាស់! || 60,000 KHR. Big ones! Look at them, sister!
một cây vải đổi lấy mười vuông thóc || one bolt of fabric for ten vuông of unhusked rice
Instinctively, one / wants to be the native plant in its ancestral loam, / one wants a resistance to the sun, to shun full rainfall / for a flash of morning dew, or at very least, grow / some throwaway limbs.
Immigrant courtroom dramas, Chinese dystopic climate fiction, the indigenous literature of Micronesia, and Asian American cyborg poetics.
Grandfather would have bought the Ilish—not wincing at the 1200 rupees per kilogram
รองเท้านักเรียนคู่นั้นยี่สิบบาทเองหรือ || These school uniform shoes are only twenty baht?
The author of Miracle Creek on courtroom dramas, the unrealistic expectations placed on mothers, and writing an immigrant whodunnit
Mamsa! Sitenta’ng kilo! || Jack fish, seventy pesos a kilogram.
I practiced my Urdu in the bathroom with you / as I sat in the tub; only so long before an American / mermaid can stand without floating on into sea foam.
In a new portfolio from A World Without Cages, eight incarcerated writers explore the underworld.
The author talks her long career as a novelist, her obsession with adolescence, and the disruptive process of writing her latest novel, Trust Exercise.
I could become / a better citizen, but then who would be left to / speak for me?
if only we could learn / to stop // looking back / for each other.
I am buried by my own guilt and shame for a crime that impacted the victim, my family, and my community.
I reside in purgatory awaiting judgment. A seven-level structure, seven stories of nothing.
The Buddha has been in this prison for as long as any of us can remember. He has always been here, watching over our Sangha meetings, sitting with us in practice.
Sometimes you wonder if there really is a place called heaven nearby. You will ask yourself which would be better: Death? Or 38 years in prison?
three Novembers ago we found a comic that told us / if you want to say thank you, don’t say sorry. / I have held my breath ever since.
Dao Xiong writes to Axxel Xiong from inside a Minnesota prison.
South Korean female divers, Malay sorceresses, three generations of Palestinian women in Bay Ridge, and poetry on the multiplicities of the self through queer and trans perspectives.
In prison, most relationships are transactional. Rey, for some reason, shows love to everyone on the cellblock.
each maple and golden locust / weighs heavy with coverings of Christian / white snow concealing / impurities of earthen made bark
What do you like he tries again / and I think of landscape, the early fog / ridden hills of San Francisco when eucalyptus / unfurl like children waking to the light.
Not an assumption; not a name you learned to remember, not a fleshy shape or a face you already recognized
In English, you choose to be gender-neutral. In Indonesian, it’s a gift from the language.
Bạn sẽ gọi quê hương bằng một đại từ nào? Tôi sẽ gọi đó là một ám ảnh | What pronoun would you use to call your birthsoil? I would call it a haunting
“Magic and writing, it’s all misdirection, defamiliarization, and at its best, the ahhhhh moment of surprise.”
A changing consciousness within Mu Dan’s poetry stirs a listening in his translator
By what divine aberration did our souls divide into two, unaware of the splitting?
夜來沉醉卸妝遲 || With night you sink drunk slow to undo/ your hair
Can I call my death “I”?
was it a gentle human hand, or black-furred / long-clawed
How the blurring of a relationship may point to a more fertile ground lying between the lines, in which multiple desires can co-exist.
An introduction to the folio, featuring 누가, 네, nhân vật, con, chanh, …, 그 (kû), 님 (nim), 형 (hyeong), tôi, em, chúng ta, một ám ảnh, I, [ ], [who?], 我 (wo), kau, aku, dia, ia, you, and a selfsame similarity
The author of The Collected Schizophrenias speaks to the challenge of telling truths when writing about a disorder that lies over and over again
The shaman wore long white sleeves rippling & / Minuscule in the bone-dry distance. / I jerked & righted the wheel / Plying invisible waves of hot sea
New Chinese science fiction, the poetry of Vietnamese displacement, Asian American mental health and racial melancholia, and a newly translated Korean fairytale classic.
I write myself into the fiction / whether you see me or not.
The Korean feminist poet talks undermining patriarchy, the Korean literary world’s #MeToo, and why the material is more honest than matters of the soul
A Sikh American law student writes about working with detained Sikh migrants.
If you lie / on the table, you subject the table to a terrible guilt. / It is no longer a table people can eat on. If you stand / next to the table, the table senses its mortality.
Over and over / from some small / dark pit, / it spun out / a whole world / for itself
I am careful with my words unless they are not in English, / am I not? (不好意識打擾各位可是我不想再禮貌了。) / My mother is careful with her words only when they are in English.
Here, the mangled text that will / become a poem — loose language — / blueprint for a reckoning.
Queer Palestinian poetry, assassins of Seoul crime fiction, a history of post-1949 Chinese exile, fantastical Afghani-American fables, and the poetics of Filipino American food.
My father was always the magician, / not I. One swift pull and / the silk streamers would spill / from his mouth, flooding the floor.
“To occupy this space, this body, is disorienting and at times disturbing, because you are never quite sure whose gaze truly sees you beyond the projections and assumptions and desires.”
Banknotes / dropped, jawbones dropped, and it was truly / unnerving, to watch the white people / stare at me, mouths / twitching in awe or pity, / or both.
These four writers will spend the next year queering nature writing, reflecting on the struggle between intellectual- and animal-self, experimenting with the boundaries of lyric to find a home in the body, and telling a family’s story of a century of urban upheaval in Brooklyn
My father the frycook, his father / the same. Their hands so oiled / everything they touched / flamed. Like Midas if Midas / loved fire not gold.
Did you take my mother’s hand or ghost / the altar in her bedroom first?
The author of An Ocean of Minutes talks the terror of time travel, immigrant fiction, and capturing grief in writing.
In five works from our initiative A World Without Cages, writers witness life inside.
but your leaves are changing in here / as all the fallen do
“When I was initially describing this book I was like, ‘It’s about young women failing. Just failing, a lot, at life.’ That was my elevator pitch.”
Always / propelling the thing forward, not leaving us to rest. / Below: the infinite world, // all its ligaments, all its creatures.
How might a children’s book explain prison abolition?
The AAWW staff, interns, and fellows select their favorite books, music, film, and art from 2018.
A marketplace writing prompt to explore the languages of exchange **Submit by February 18, 2019 (new deadline)**
I often ask myself what I am learning or bearing witness to by being here. What is in front of me and why. I frequently have no answers to my questions.
In 2017, we stop a deportation flight to Cambodia with thirty fathers, brothers, and sons on board. A few months later, many of them are deported anyway.
From the border cities of Juárez and El Paso to America’s courtrooms, Sasha Pimentel’s For Want of Water is not a collection to chart a way home. It’s a way to claim one.
what I don’t get is why / you choose to come here
To launch our initiative A World Without Cages, we consider the literature of incarceration with writers like Brandon Shimoda, Nina Sharma, and Zaina Alsous.
as I bear loneliness in the shrieks of iron, it carved / my residence registration on a hole-punch
The illustrator and comic artist talks the spiritual side of fashion, pho dresses, Claudia Kishi as an Asian American style icon, and her new book, Fashion Forecasts.
This is a rectangular dream / which inevitably brings forth a rectangular waiting / a floating country can’t pillow a broken dream / and I’ve never dared say goodnight
The / day you died, the windows of our house were / open to let the breeze in. You said that it was / nothing.
It wasn’t the kind of place you’d notice as a casual passer-by, but one you could only find if you were looking for it.
A fitting end to my crazy stalker-ish experience with Dancing with the Stars
Tonight, too, there are turning lines…/ I say I do not know, do not know.
The art of queer diaspora, surreal stories of contemporary China, journeys into the history of the Philippine-American War, and the story of the subcontinent through bodies of water.
love you because i / hate your lovers loving your peripheral love
Taking advantage of opacity, Girl E goes for it and punches indiscriminately.
As soon as they touch your saliva, the filaments dissolve. Their structure can’t sustain the contact. The sweetness is the taste of collapse.
Nine artists talk zine fests, artistic influences, and the growing world of queer Asian zine makers.
Near the bottom of your hollow mouth, / Your cut tongue gathers lizard scales / Like a sunken bucket in an algal well.
The majority of Palestinians live outside of the occupied territories, awake within a paradox: If it is a demand of land that tethers us, what do we make of those millions of us without a memory of the land to cling to?
A two-minute stare-down with their father’s deathbed occurs. As though the thing will explain itself.
David Palumbo-Liu talks with Dao Strom about the mythologies of Vietnam, folk music’s political history, and making space for empathy in writing.
into such sen / sitivity of it / such sense / could not say
She kissed a fingertip and touched it to the frayed edge of a small sketch of her face. It was all she had left of him, a drawing that he had made of her.
Ultrasound waves / pulse between fluid, tissue, and bone一 / the embryo echoes.
Astra unwrapped her long spindly fingers and weighed his member with a chilling fascination.
“When people ask me how much of the book is autobiographical, I often tell them, ‘Well, you know the story where the man turns into a suitcase? That’s my uncle.'”
She’s here to see us off. / Her voice is the softest ligature, unthreading. / Why are you saying goodbye to everyone except for me who raised you?
I will outrun the smell of wet decay, your Mekong river in a Gatorade bottle.
After a sperm whale sucks in a squid, it will vomit out its beak.
An introduction to the Transpacific Literary Project’s pieces of Plastic through a weaving of voices and questions to come
The author of Half Gods talks self-orientalism, writing in the diaspora, and the art of the short story.
There was a longing / in the carvings of the / knife my mother held / against the fruit. She / peels with quiet / permission.
Jeff Yang’s poetry of placelessness, Perumal Murugan’s controversial fiction, Anita Felicelli’s timeless Tamil short stories, and Nasser Hussain’s experimental sky writings.
Marilyn Chin talks bad girl haikus, pissing off your ancestors, and her new career-spanning collection, A Portrait of the Self as Nation.
Fatimah Asghar’s insistence on joy is a refusal of the demand that marginalized writers flatten trauma for the white gaze
May our dead no longer speak to us / Our language now kneaded into other woes / with rancid stars a meager pittance / and false kingdoms rich in violent blows
“There is something inherently powerful in adoptees speaking up and telling our own stories. And I will always believe that to be true.”
I always thought I’d find you / throned in the moon-drenched water my wonder / woman your palms curled upward like lotus skins
The conversations, stories, and works of literature and scholarship that inspired our most recent special issue “Camp.”
Who’s keeping count of what’s given against what’s stolen? / There’s nothing I can’t trace back to my coarse immigrant blood.
The dreams only start after camp, after I take my first swim with Appah. I watch him with binoculars as he moves farther and farther out into the deep.
The campus was haunted and we all knew it. That summer we flinched around every corner, put our hands out in front of us when we turned off the lights.
Tonight, when you return, you / will be an American and I will still be a girl who needs / a translator to read in my mother’s language, my mouth full / of so few shapes. I fall into the habits of my mother, it’s true.
We’re looking for creative work about life in jail, prison, and immigrant detention.
For a film that positions itself as a watershed in the Asian American rom-com canon, when tasked with illuminating romance’s political valences, Crazy Rich Asians pulls up short.
The author of Ponti talks female ghouls, writing away from the male gaze, and inhabiting trauma through storytelling.
Send your translations & writing on “The Pronoun” to the Transpacific Literary Project by October 28, 2018
This is my small sphere. / I’ll make good, stay folded in myself. I promise / to memorize the bramble and texture of garden walls.
She is girl. She is gravel. She is grabbed. She is grabbed like handfuls of gravel.
Borders and exclusion are the flip side of identity. They are all components of the question: “Who belongs?”
Mama runs inside to bang on the bathroom door and yell Chinese vocabulary words at me—yellow light, borrowed light, get in the car, open. I dip my head underwater so every word sounds like a vowel, oceanic and slow.
Salman Rushdie’s newest, Marie Lu’s anticipated sequel, Khaled Hosseini’s illustrated short, and Emily Yoon’s sharp-edged poetry.
A collection of essays, poems, and stories by Asian American writers that trouble, expand, and redefine the space of the camp
Fingers caked with wet / rice break backs and bellies, / pluck gills, / scrape eggs, tear limbs / Tita takes our legs– / cracks them / under a glass jar for us. / We suck shells ’til twilight.
A personal history of race and the American outdoors, from Chicago’s Red Summer to Japanese American incarceration
Woman who puts up her hair comb holds / up the sky. There is the legend and probably a lie.
The poets talk creative collaboration, gardening, epistolary poetry, and the intimacy of sentences.
From a crevice in a severed rock / birds with long beaks were tearing out earthworms. / My pain was without a wound / and in the bodies of the frayed, torn-out worms / there was no pain.
Celebrate Women in Translation month by reading the work of under-translated women writers.
because I love you, I will gut this distance / with nostalgia, because grief can taste of sugar if you run / your tongue along the right edge
Poets write back to the literature of Partition on its 71st anniversary
Tadao Tsuge’s visionary punk manga, Fatimah Asghar’s Partition poetry, Ling Ma’s anti-capitalist zombie satire, and Etel Adnan’s apocalyptic aphorisms.
On Poetry magazine’s trans and gender non-conforming poets issue and the costs of being included
Not all rainbow: here, tender orange, / there, rusted brown, the underside / gelatinous and white. Then the bones.
Moroccan surrealist poetry, Dickensian Korean American fiction, Chinese mythology made new, memoirs of a post-Marcos Philippines, and more.
Min Jin Lee talks with Lillian Li about researching and revising a novel, her relationship to her readership, and what’s next in line after Pachinko.
The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is now accepting applications for the 2019 Margins Fellowship.
There is uncertainty in your future, a woman on the street told me. I can see it. You will be very unhappy, very soon.
The dysthemic artificial intelligence scientist took a book of poetry off the shelf and sat on her couch. What was she ushering in and what was a grand program for which she was simply helpless agent?
The stallion: one win short / of the triple crown. My intonation: / one stress too many for an apology— / all the times I got it wrong. Minoru, / Minoru—both are gone.
With only the moonlight, we could barely see what we’d tag. All around my tag were faded names, names we didn’t bother to read in the dark—our graffiti forebears. One day, we too would be unread.
The overlooked poetry of the Tang era, Indian American exile fiction, a biography of the first Japanese American novelist, and new Asian American dystopias.
i say i’ll be / dressless, skinless, curated / and pickled. i say i’ll give it / all up for a chance to be warm.
We are our skins; we are our hides. But my skin, and the skin of others like me, has been torn. It is at the site of this gash that our identity coheres, that our identity is espied.
Dickson Lam talks about cultural memory, cross-generational trauma, and familial separation in his new memoir Paper Sons.
Mythologies have their way of explaining the basic human condition: that there will always be some where or thing you wish to get to or back to.
What a review of Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds tells us about critics’ narrow perceptions of immigrant and war-affected identities
Ask if he knows, what the first champagne mango of the summer / tastes like, its golden juices flowing over some farmer’s / cigar paper skin.
Lillian Li talks about immigrant sacrifice, humor, learning from Asian American literature, and her debut novel, Number One Chinese Restaurant.
A policeman found the boy minutes later. A shaman, / a monk, a priest, and a poet are still pouring over / his soul.
CUNY’s legacy, the limits and violence of Asian American success stories, and what’s at stake in the fight for accessible public education