Nurturing Asian American Literature

August 25, 2009

Print Asian American literary journals are few and far between these days. While the Kartika Review -- launched in 2007 -- seems to be trucking along, the beautiful South Asian literary journal Catamaran Magazine, published with funds from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, recently announced that they are suspending publication until further notice.

"We write at this time to inform you that the economic crisis of recent months makes it impossible for us to continue to publish the magazine. Like institutions of higher education across the country, the University of Connecticut is forced to work with significantly reduced funds. Catamaran is a casualty of this unfortunate situation. We hope very much that we will be able to resume publication in the near future, once we have identified alternate sources of funding. In the meantime, we trust that you will keep us in mind and do whatever you can to facilitate Catamaran's rebirth."

The Asian American Writers' Workshop -- our partners in our semi-annual short story contest -- are also facing difficult times and asking for help. Now, as we've talked about here before, AAWW is the granddaddy of Asian American literary arts organizations. They offer workshops, readings and publish quality books and anthologies. I had my first literary internship at AAWW's offices back when I was a sophomore in college and the experience was an important one in wanting to be a part of the literary universe. Here's part of a message from AAWW Executive Director Ken Chen:

You're a reader, staying up past your bedtime, devouring stories and poems at a time when most Americans no longer read for fun. And you're a particularly uncommon reader--one who believes Asian Americans offer something unique to American culture. ... We believe in showing every American, no matter what the color of her skin, that the Asian American story is a central chapter of the American story. We are asking you to invest in our efforts to build a national home for Asian American ideas. This year, the Workshop faces a perfect storm that's left us fighting for our survival.  While the recession has affected everyone, we were also hit with a lawsuit from our landlord, who sued to evict us for a more profitable tenant. We've successfully settled the suit, but just as the Workshop began as a grass-roots community of friends, we once again depend on you--the individual readers and writers who've made the Workshop what it is--to step in and nurture us. I ask you to click here and donate today.

Check out a longer version of this letter here. I really see AAWW and literary journals like Catamaran as our partners in bringing Asian American voice to the forefront of public conversations about this community. Spread the word and lend support.