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
Against the hills, a tall building with plank-walled rooms. / I, wishing for my wife and son like clouds far away, / My night is even longer under the bright moon.
We’re now accepting submissions to a new special issue of The Margins.
Celebrate our third class of Margins fellows—Mariam Bazeed, Rami Karim, Kyle Lucia Wu, and Yanyi—and hear them read with mentors Alexander Chee, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and Rachel Zucker.
June brings the poetry of the Sri Lankan long durée, South Korean domestic thrillers, number one Chinese restaurants, and new myths of old Morocco.
The moon appears / the small clip of a nail a paring knife / a chalk mark / left to linger in the sky
The author of Carceral Capitalism talks predictive policing, the limits of appeals to innocence, and the price of prisons.
We prayed for resurrections, / but the dead remain as memories that / seemed to shrink in the mind, / like an airplane appearing smaller / the further it gets from the ground.
I should say kholo, my mother’s brother. / I should say umja, my father’s brother / so you know which branch of the tree to cut. Or / cherish.
Religious supremacy, colonial erasure’s legacies, and seventy years of Palestinian resistance to occupation.
These four writers will spend the next year writing fiction about Iraq beyond war, creative nonfiction on diasporic women’s silences around trauma, memoir about legacies of abuse and the Cultural Revolution, and poetry of displacement and loss.
If I can learn its grammar and alphabet / hold its vocabulary in my mouth / then perhaps I can know something of history—my history.
Margaret Rhee, Ching-In Chen, Seo-Young Chu and Mimi Mondal explore the intersections of love, race, and technology in their writing.
These are all birth stories, but I will not tell you mine.
Pipedream: / I wondered what it would be like to strip away / slit eyes—sick of assimilation; the debilitating / task of tireless reinvention.
May brings Bollywood love poems, Hawaiian gothic fiction, and the literary legacy of indentured labor in the Caribbean.
Janice Lobo Sapigao, Raquel Salas Rivera and Adeeba Talukder remix translation through love letters, laws, and binary code.
The artist and writer behind South/South talks experiments in social fiction, sharing the secrets of strangers, and writing fictional telegrams by Luis Buñuel.
When I was born, my parents put me on a rug on the ground and stood / staring at me until the light outside dimmed and then there in the / darkening we three were quiet for a while
How the Japanese American poet, art critic, and performer helped shape Modernist poetry as he brought Japanese poetic forms into English
Confronting whiteness, the ghazal as an elegy to queerness, and talking to Valeria Luiselli about American immigration policy.
Belladonna* Collaborative, Brooklyn Public Library and Asian American Writer’s Workshop are proud to co-present Abdellah Taïa in conversation with poet and scholar Meena Alexander.
The author of America is Not the Heart talks commemorating the mundane in fiction, writing about working class queer women, and re-claiming the Bay Area in her novel.
Journalist Jennifer Crandall is re-claiming Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” through the voices and stories of the South.
I could live like this, I thought, lie here / and have my own kind of drifting blue.
That was the ﬁrst time I knew that there must have been others out there, just like me, who were sad and lonely and just wanted some kind of beauty in their lives and maybe for a boy to love them.
April brings post-Fukushima dystopias, memoirs of the writing life, post-modern meditations on alienation, mythic novels of the Iranian revolution, and more.
The author of Though I Get Home talks writing against censorship, non-traditional “immigrant stories,” and writing a novel to think through her life.
We wonder if this is what heaven is like—an old movie theater with thick velvet curtains that part, as the lights dim and the naked cherubs peering down from the blue and gold ceiling vanish, like comets.
Vi Khi Nao, Brandon Shimoda and Celina Su grasp at a new vocabulary for grief, placelessness, and healing in their poetry.
I want to make / change and am ready / for new challenge. / I can stay between white white lines.
The Hong Kong poet talks the Umbrella movement, being an outsider and an insider in Hong Kong, and how she translates the world.
Văn An had neglected ritual, not realizing that this was a land now full of ghosts left too long unmoored. That there might be consequences for forgetting to fear.
I dream my mother / unravels / hair out of my mouth / in English / she asks me / to speak Chinese / coils the hair / into a dark gloss / whorled / in her palm
50 years after My Lai, 15 years after Iraq, how much can history really teach us about how we make decisions today?
Hard to tell from your / Silence where you’re taking me. / But I’m guessing / It’s loin-deep in the place / Where they’re collapsing / Entire cosmologies into pulp and paper.
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Karissa Chen, Wendy Xu, Gina Apostol, Chaya Babu, and Alexander Chee joined us at AAWW to celebrate Go Home!
The author of Curry talks forced nostalgia, the commodification of curry, and playing with the tropes of South Asian literature.
I saw him before he saw me, staring off at a distant point. When he fixed on my face as I crossed the yellow lawn, he recognized me and grinned.
How do I tell you that I have done this before? / How to build a diorama of what I am not.
March is a month packed with Southern gothics, Partition diaries, postcards from the future, and books that re-map the universe.
The floor broke apart / the tasbeeh into ninety / nine beady reflections / and my mother is still / able to fake a surprise / when she can’t locate / them all.
I keep the butts of my clove cigarettes in a candy tin. I pound it shut, hide it away. So it stays a secret.
Bob Dylan in China, womanhood beyond identity politics, and toughing it out in Cairo.
Writers Weike Wang and Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi read and discuss their compelling and unusual coming-of-age novels with Madhu Kaza.
I am the last of them—a woman with her own dreams, not salvaged from the cloud-based data lake that I created.
I remember exactly where I was when I found out Ren Hang killed himself.
We’ve put together a round-up of books inspired by Go Home!, our new anthology of new Asian diasporic writing.
The Shanghai Literary Review editors and contributors talk about their creative process, translingual practice, and literary journal publication.
Satyam was all alone in a strange town with no one to ask for help. His family had made a mistake. They had been greedy. They wanted too much for their own good.
Writers Yang Huang and Kirstin Chen talk histories of the Cultural revolution, betrayal, and the importance of craft
One lover was bold and touched / me once behind a door, but it was her cousin / Vandie, the one who never looked at me, that I loved. // One lover was kind, so kind, in kissing / me at all.
North Korean poetry, slavery and life insurance, and the photography of Japanese incarceration.
Against the mainstream imaginary of North Korea as irretrievably unknowable, Krys Lee and Barbara Demick discuss what it means to tell and imagine stories from there.
The American War author and journalist talks climate change fiction, writing in the age of Trump, and reinventing America in his novel.
Older immigrants talk as if Reagan invited them to dinner. / The dream never showed, but we can paint chain link white.
The making of a Muslim intellectual, remembering Asma Jahangir, and the urbanization of Chinese fiction.
She felt her frozen image splitting, cracking a webbed pattern over her. She fell like shards of ice and glass sprinkling, twinkling, and shattering like diamond rain upon her mother.
Writers Gayle Romasanta and Dawn Mabalon are on a mission to write the first Filipino American history book for children.
They might spend most of their days in the sky, / but every evening they remember / to come back to earth.
Li-Young Lee grapples with God, Kim Fu goes to summer camp, Krystal A. Sital uncovers family secrets, and more.
Hala Alyan, Hayan Charara and Marwa Helal explore the boundaries between personal and political, as well as what a home looks like amidst conditions of war and displacement.
I lay my head down on a pillow pilled / with characters, yellow tracks and traces / of the name I was given.
The doll stares at its owner, eyes sparkling with cruelty. It wakes the baby up, hands her the toy block. The baby, as though possessed, crams the toy in her mouth.
In their new poetry collections, Chen Chen and Eunsong Kim offer up new possibilities for kinship and survival.
Remembering the Pulse nightclub shooting, Liu Jian’s latest film, the coded gaze of art history, and more. We also continue our Black History Month series.
The author of Everything Here is Beautiful speaks about sisterhood, refusing categorization, and writing about mental health.
The usual / drama of chiaroscuro, / how it begins / in medias res for the sake / of the viewer.
I am tempted to reframe the flashing atrocities of memory and imbue them with significance—to stave off the cold trickle of fear like germs in the abstract.
Black History Month, the value of remembering, and the often silent heroism of existence.
Margo Jefferson, Hari Kunzru, and Kevin Nguyen talk cultural appropriation, how race haunts America, and pop music’s complicated legacies.
Dina Nayeri, Rami Karim, Alia Malek, and Roja Heydarpour discuss the complex nature of home: a place that elusively remains in flux through return and exile.
Viet Dinh, Oki Sogumi and Janani Balasubramanian talk about care work and connections amidst premonitions of disaster and ecological collapse.
For some reason, all of Warhol’s portraits show Mao from an angle that reveals only one of the Chairman’s ears.
The author of Chemistry talks mad scientists, model minority, and defending your imagination as a writer of color.
Studio Era music makes me want to dress fancy and pretty; leave the house in gorgeous armor, but I know too well the earth’s hunger and I will not satisfy it. Today I leave my house and I make sure no one can call me faggot.
Three NYC imams, the Aegean sea, and one writer’s passage toward a new relation to faith
Radical Taiwanese American poetry, Yasunari Kawabata’s final manuscript, a novel of the Sri Lankan refugee crisis, and more.
Can Xue, the foremost—and coolest—writer of the Chinese avant-garde makes a rare appearance in New York alongside Porochista Khakpour.
Do you want to write while developing a community of writers of color? We’re offering master classes and multi-session workshops from nine talented instructors.
but really every word sounds like the sun/ sweltering in the middle of Santacruzan
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