Lantern Review: Issue 5

The Hybridity Issue

Still others consider the complex legacies of war and violence through the use of ekphrasis and lyric intervention. Amy Uyematsu, in her “Thriftstore Haiku,” applies a traditional Japanese form to the kitschy aesthetic of Roger Shimomura’s found sculptures in order to examine the trauma of Japanese American internment during WWII, while Esther Lee, in Daughters of Celluloid, layers photographs with hauntingly transparent clips of dialogue and image in order to hold family narratives of war up to a new light. Still too, in their “poem mashup” on pages 51–54, Ching-In Chen borrows the voices of two young Vietnamese artists, using a hybrid formal structure (the two poems, their source images, and their voices literally “bleed” together) to poignantly demonstrate the environmental and social legacies of war.

Carrie Green’s persona piece, written from the perspective of a nineteenth–century Chinese American gardener, explores the notion of “biological” hybridity as a metaphor for immigrant (and, it is implied, adoptee) identity and the acts of cultural and linguistic translation that constitute his daily existence. A similar type of accounting is employed in the excerpt from Jane Wong's Division by Zero. There, fragments of memory and image are arranged in a complex calculus of shapeshifting in which self, memory, and environment are ultimately indivisible: ghosts slip in and out of the voices of the living; the speaker, at some point, becomes one of the plants that she is observing.

We’ve chosen to complement the poetic explorations of hybridity in the issue with some truly fantastic visual art that layers and mixes multiple media: Karen An-Hwei Lee’s paper collage combines watercolor and ink with found elements, while the three pieces from Michael Marcinek’s “Re/Deconstruction” project (one of which appears on our cover) were created through a process of tearing, scanning, and repeatedly bleaching and re-toning silver gelatin prints—scanning at each stage along the way to record the process of decomposition—and then digitally layering these images together to form what he calls “a document of ephemerality.”

Finally, we’ve concluded the issue with an interview with poet/playwright/scholar Takeo Rivera and an excerpt from one of his choreopoems, Prometheus Nguyen, which interrogates systemic racial injustice through the story of two Vietnamese American siblings, the younger of whom experiences a traumatic splitting of herself into three simultaneous incarnations that represent her identity at different stages of her life. Rivera’s ear for sound and his sense of movement—both in terms of poem and stage—breathe powerful resonance into the voices of his characters, and his thoughtful reflections on both his craft and the political import of his work provide insight into the condition of the hybrid-subject-as-artist that could be used to contextualize the dialogues raised by the rest of the issue, as well.