Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry

Issue 4 | Winter 2012

Editors' Note

Welcome to Lantern Review Issue 4. In a way, this is our most ambitious issue yet, coupling dramatic modulations in tone and voicing with intense lyric interludes and hybrid, genre-bending forms. In assembling these pages, we worked to build an arc that was expansive enough to account not only for the “small souls,” but also for the “legends” (as Bryan Thao Worra puts it in “Pen/Sword”) that populate our communities. Thus, we have placed the refracted personal “Narrative[s]” of Janine Joseph's and Tarfia Faizullah's speakers alongside the calculated meditations of Sushil Sivaram’s “Apple Farming” and R.A. Villanueva’s finely tuned lyricism in “Vanitas” and “You Will Drown for Poems.” In keeping with our goal of creating an issue that would represent a wide range of voices, we have also chosen to showcase work by three teen artists (Jenny Lu, Susan Li, and Kathy Tran) who participated in the Asian American Writers' Workshop-hosted summer program, “Double Exposures: Documenting War at Home.” By including these young women's poems and photographs in both the Community Voices section and the body of the issue itself, we hope to convey the urgency and importance of the vibrant creative work that is being done—not only by adult artists, but also by youth—to collectively probe histories of violence and injustice that have affected our communities.

Also of note is that a number of the poems that appear in the following pages are excerpts from larger, ongoing projects whose concerns expand far beyond the scope of the issue itself. When juxtaposed here, however, these pieces—taken from Timothy Yu’s ongoing series “100 Chinese Silences,” Neil Aitken’s explorations of the life of Charles Babbage, and Purvi Shah’s contributions to the multimedia Kundiman performance “Together We Are New York: Asian Americans Remember and Re-vision 9/11”— speak to one another, creating a dynamic index that samples the many issues informing Asian American poetry today.

Finally, we’re pleased to have been able to intersperse several of Darwin Cruz’s black and white photographs throughout the issue. When read in context, his images serve to undergird and, at times, complicate the poems that they accompany. In bridging Shah’s poems about New York and Margaret Rhee’s new media piece “Materials,” for instance, Cruz's photograph “Sardines” transforms a constellation of urban voices into an image of tightly compressed bodies “viewed” through the open door and window of a Japanese subway train, providing a unique visual frame for the critical themes that reverberate within Rhee’s radical interrogation of “Bodies: The Exhibition.”