Welcome to Lantern Review 9.3, the third and final issue for our 2021 season focused on “Asian American Futures.” When we chose “Reclamations” for this issue’s title, we noticed that our editorial notes for both Issues 9.1 and 9.2 had also included the word “reclaim.” Why, we wondered, did we keep returning to this word? To re-claim something implies that someone or something else has tried to claim it first. To reclaim is to take back. And in this ongoing pandemic, as anti-Asian hate crimes continue to plague our communities, much of the mental, emotional, and even creative labor assumed by Asian Americans is exactly this—the labor of taking back our narratives; of taking back the story this country tells about who we are, our worth, our place, our right to be here taking up space.
The poets in Issue 9.3 reclaim their individual and collective narratives with ferocity and clarity. These poems don’t ask for permission—they demand agency as they resolutely tell and retell their stories their way. Look at this story I’ve been told about my life, they say. Look at this story we’ve been told about our lives. Then, with incredible, oftentimes transformative revisioning, they urge us to look again.
The speakers featured in these pages fight to be heard, to be seen, to be believed. They push against the never-ending expectations put on them—to be the good daughter, to be the miracle baby, to be the “temptress, sister, victim.” Some of these speakers reinvent themselves by calling out what they are not—“not the enchanted Zulaikha,” “the opposite of Saraswati”—while others remake whole histories as they revisit their genealogy records, their childhood traumas, their births.
Every piece herein rises above others’ lack of imagination. Poem after poem offers its fresh retelling of an old story, even while daring to celebrate on the dance floor, “bodies reclaiming our bodies our hearts remembering our / ancestors.” By bringing these poems into conversation with each other through this issue, we ultimately hope to pass along to our readers—especially those in our Asian American community—the same call to take ownership of and reimagine your own narrative. We hope you’ll find within these pages not only inspiration, but also permission—to reclaim your own story, to determine what “Asian American Futures” looks like for you.
Peace and Light,
Eugenia Leigh & Iris A. Law
Lantern Review Editors