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Keeping Tabs: Alien(ation)

Poetry mixtapes, music for aliens, Asian American science fiction and more.


This week we’re bringing you sounds from across the diaspora, short fiction, and the underside of the “model minority” myth. We’re thinking about the rawness of sounds that come in response to unbelonging, the richness of diasporic voices, and the weight of familial expectations. Please join us, read along, and listen.

A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong

Alyssa Wong’s “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” is nominated for the Nebula Award in Short Fiction this year. This intricate tale follows Hannah and Melanie, two sisters who together explore the repercussions of trauma and the deep ties of family.

The day I ended the world, the very first time, my plane touched down early and I sprinted to catch a cab before the impending monsoon swept the city. This time around, I made it four miles from the house before a six-car pileup—tires slick, drivers panicked in the storm—stopped traffic entirely. It took everything in me not to shunt the water aside in front of everyone else, to stumble into neck-deep currents and anchor my feet to the asphalt below. It took forever to get home, and when I did, Melanie was not there.


The Poetry Mixtape by Tommy Pico

Tommy Pico revives his tradition of making “poetry mixtapes”–a collection of poems from different poets–a practice he began on his Tumblr and is re-starting with a new Tinyletter featuring poems by Kaveh Akbar, Wendy Xu, Roberto Montes and more. Here is an excerpt from his first selection.

“Fat Fuck” by Diamond Forde

Tell me again I’m the one who eats
everything, then feed me everything
I’ve been given: fat fuck. moose knuckle.
flabby ass. cankles.

Tell me my belt wraps the world’s waist

then beat me with it.


Now That’s What I Call Alien(ation) by DJ Haram

New Jersey-based DJ Haram brings together musicians from across the diaspora in a mixtape titled “Now That’s What I Call Alien(ation)” to address feelings of unbelonging in the world of the internet.

What is more alienating than thinking through the presence of borders, entitlement, belonging, and authenticity of music and it’s makers? Lol. Sonic histories are often portrayed in a deceivingly joyful way. Doing being generally very, very far away (“Doing being” is this anarchist meme from MKE when some flustered chief police jawn described some agitators as “doing being out of control”). The more I learn, the emptier a dream of a peaceful local music reality is carved. This mix is about the sound experiences of profound alienation but also unique comfort.


The Myth of Asian-American Success and How Invisibility Becomes Institutionalized by New York Magazine

This closer look at the demographic breakdowns surrounding the “model minority” myth among Asian Americans highlights the discrepancies between ethnic subgroups in Asian America.

When politicians talk about race and diversity in America, Asian-Americans are noticeably absent from the conversation. Their portrait is one-dimensional: wealthy, educated, successful. But looking more closely at the numbers, you see a different picture altogether.


The Aesthetics of the Alt-Right by M. Ambedkar

M Ambedkar dissects the aesthetic of the Alt-Right, a political ideology that has arisen under the tenants of misogyny, racism, anti-semitism, and nativism.

…criticism, analogy, and metaphor are insufficient tools for combating neo-fascism; however the aesthetic nature of contemporary fascism is, in a sense, an undeniable affirmation of the power of propagandic images in today’s visual culture. The right has outpaced the left in terms of how deftly they have used these images and have thus built a coalition of large swaths of voters in the US and Europe. Thus, the knife is probably not the best tool either; the most optimal tool for combatting neo-fascism is the image, the algorithmic sorting mechanism, and the narrative, all of which can be employed as a means of redirecting society from performances towards politics.


And, as always, here are some anti-Trump resources and news for you:

Weekly antidote to despair: Here’s a rundown of recent, small victories for the #resistance.

Lamba Legal has opened up an online hotline for trans students to report harassment and receive legal help.

Read this informative interview with a lawyer about the implications of Trump’s moves against trans rights will mean going forward.