Featured Poets and Writers Recommend Their Favorite APIA Writing

December 29, 2014

Over the last year, we've brought you poetry and fiction from many talented APIA writers, featuring them both on the blog and through The Hyphen Reader each month. As the year draws to a close, we thought we'd give those featured on our blog the opportunity to recommend some of their own favorite poems, essays, books and more by APIA writers.

Tina Bartolome (Issue 27: The Sex Issue, "End of the Line")
BookThe Bone People by Keri Hulme
"At once intimate and distant, like being inside someone else's dream without ever seeing their face. First book I ever read by a Maori writer. Exquisite."
Essay: "The Racial Justice Movement Needs Model Minority Mutiny" by Soya Jung
"Timely required reading for Asian American artists and activists, especially college-educated, climbing-ladder ones who want shiny new things and social justice at the same time."

Matthew Olzmann (Issue 27: The Sex Issue, "Astronomers Locate a New Planet")
BookAviary, Bestiary by Joseph O. Legaspi
"These are just excellent poems: well-made, striking, intimate and resonate."
Essay"Thank You" by Sejal Shah
"This is a moving essay, and I love how it uses the epistolary moment to wonder, to speculate, and to reach toward empathy."

Ching-In Chen (January, "Disagreement, Twins")
Book: not so, sea by MG Roberts
"A lineage of fragments and loose lines trace the rhizome of memory, the missive of dream, the flight and terror of body in migration, the omissions of narratives, the gifts of opening to questions."
Poem"Corona Mestiza" by Monica Ong
"[Ong's poem] pushes the boundaries of generations of imprints upon the skeleton of the page. I love the conversations between the shape that hits me first and the words at the corners of the black page."

Kirstin Chen (February, Soy Sauce for Beginners)
BookSnow Hunters by Paul Yoon
"I don't usually go for sparse, atmospheric novels, but SNOW HUNTERS truly took my breath away. The instant I finished reading it, I flipped back to page one and started all over again."
Essay"Working mom? My heart is trying to tell me something" by Vanessa Hua
"I've admired Vanessa's fiction for a long time, but I only recently started reading her personal essays and her wonderful blog. This essay is poignant and wry and, like the rest of her work, a real pleasure to read."

Michelle Peñaloza (March, "Daguerrotype" and "Family Kundiman")
BookCowboys and East Indians by Nina McConigley
"A must-read. These stories are poignant and insightful. Sad and beautiful, funny and startling."
Graphic Work"Claudia Kishi: My Asian-American Female Role Model of the 90's" by Yumi Sakugawa
"Yumi Sakugawa's work! I first found her online when a friend sent me a link to her comic about Claudia Kishi, of Babysitter's Club fame. Her work is delightful, smart, and moving."

Cathy Linh Che (April, "Projector")
BookThis Way to Sugar by Hieu Minh Nguyen
"I read this book in one sitting and wept. The writing is sharp, honest, and risky--highly recommended."
Poem"Look" by Solmaz Sharif
"Solmaz always challenges me with her work--to question, to look deeper, to look at larger structures at play. I am and always will be in awe of the work that she produces."

Chang-rae Lee (May, On Such a Full Sea)
BookCoral Road by Garrett Hongo

Eugenia Leigh (June, "Genesis" and "Deciding Not to Drown Today")
BookThe Dead Wrestler Elegies by W. Todd Kaneko"Love, loss, the mess that is the human condition—all hurtling at you in the most unexpected places: wrestling matches, plane yards. An exquisitely crafted, moving collection 'in search of clues / on how to be a man.'"
Poem: "The Vanishing" by Cathy Park Hong
"I'm lately mesmerized by Hong's increasing ferocity, between poems such as "The Vanishing"—"I'm cowed, / impoverished from cursing out, / swallowed in datamine's bowels, inter- / changeable as lint"—and her Lana Turner Journal essay, "Delusions of Whiteness in the Avant-Garde"—"Fuck the avant-garde. We must hew our own path." Thrilled to see Hong's literary power manifest as a call to arms for writers of color."

Ed Lin (July, Ghost Month)
BookWild Meat and Bully Burgers by Lois-Ann Yamanaka
"I love those kids. I love those kids trying to be adults. Love the pidgin and both kinds of awful things: what you can stop and what has to happen. This is one of those books I've bought over and over because I freak out when people say they haven't read it and I give them mine. Reaching that level of truth in storytelling is something I can only aspire to. It's such a shame Lois-Ann had to go through this bullshit. For everyone who had a hand in rescinding that prize, go directly to hell and do not collect $200 as you pass Go."
Poem"Tides" by Chiwan Choi
"I have to go to my man Chiwan Choi and the fearless verses of 'Tides.' There's a crazy and drunk poet wandering around in my heart and Chiwan articulates his saddest memories to come. Chiwan took some time off from actively writing poetry but he has recently "unretired," so please welcome him the fuck back."

Janine Joseph (August, "Chain Migration")
BookReliquaria by R.A. Villanueva
Poem"Swarm" by R.A. Villanueva
"The poems in this impressive collection are like the ceramic Hand Blasters that I, as a kid, would strike together to make loud, bright flecks in an unlit room. (In case it helps to remember what Hand Blasters are, here's a link.)"

Kimarlee Nguyen (September, "the ear of the sky")
BookVietnamerica by GB Tran
"This graphic novel will blow your mind. As a writer, I am obsessed with words. But I never really considered how words can also inform images and vice versa. GB's graphic novel shows just how powerful a single illustration overlaid with a single sentence can be. Gorgeous work."
BookGold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li
"I am embarrassed to say it wasn't until this year that I read any of Yiyun's work. This short story collection blew my mind."

Celeste Ng (October, Everything I Never Told You)
BookAmerican Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
"A graphic novel that's both a retelling of the classic Chinese Monkey King saga and a wincingly funny exploration of an American-Born Chinese teen's life--I wolfed it down in one sitting and became an instant Gene Luen Yang convert."
Essay"I Had a Stroke at 33" by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee
"This essay went viral for a reason: it's searingly, terrifyingly honest."

Denis Wong (November, "Second Chance")
BookCertainty by Madeleine Thien
"Although she's Canadian we can make an exception no? Recommended not only because line-by-line the book is beautiful, but because the story, which details war and loss in Malaysia, is ultimately about love."
Poem"Mr." by Nicholas YB Wong
"I really want to get the word out about Nicholas YB Wong, who has been a quietly brilliant poet for years. He may write about Hong Kong or America or Asia, yet his language holds an incisiveness that is universal."


Karissa Chen


Karissa Chen is Editor-in-Chief of Hyphen magazine. She also serves as the Senior Literature Editor.