Karissa Chen is Editor-in-Chief of Hyphen magazine. She also serves as the Senior Literature Editor. She is the author of the chapbooks, Meditations on My Name (Awst Press 2018) and Of Birds and Lovers (Corgi Snorkel Press 2013). Her fiction and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Catapult, Guernica, PEN America, Gulf Coast, and The Toast. She is a Fulbright scholar, a Kundiman fellow, and a VONA/Voices fellow. She is also the Fiction Editor at The Rumpus, a contributing editor at Catapult, and co-founding editor at Some Call It Ballin', a sports literary journal. She received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is currently working on a novel.
“The Play As a Gateway for Many Other Stories”: A Conversation with Lauren Yee on her play, Cambodian Rock Band
On March 11, Lauren Yee’s “Cambodian Rock Band” gave its final performance, closing early due to the increasing health threat of COVID-19. A play about generational trauma, genocide, family and music, the sense of foreboding was an eerie thing to watch amidst the impending chaos unfolding in real life. A week into lockdown, I spoke to Yee on the phone about the genesis of the show, how it can be a singular story that can launch the telling of other stories, how it fits into our current moment and how we can help Asian American theater in the coming months. (Minor spoilers ahead!)
On Wednesday, March 11, amidst increasingly concerning reports on the spread of COVID-19, I attended the Asian American Night performance of “Cambodian Rock Band” at the Signature Theatre in New York City — the last performance of the stage play before theaters across Manhattan went dark.
I grew up having soup with almost every meal. My mom knows how to make many kinds of Chinese soups — some take hours to simmer, and some are soups she can put together in 20 minutes. Chief among these soups is her chicken soup. It's both light yet comforting, the way homemade chicken soup always seems to be. It feels nourishing yet not overly rich. When I'm sick or simply when I miss home, I crave this soup. So eventually I asked my mom for the recipe.
Something we noticed as we scrolled through our social media feeds is that for many of us — those of us with the privilege of health, time and regular (if limited) access to groceries — sheltering in place means spending a lot of time cooking. We've seen photos of sourdough bread, fried chicken, homemade pizzas and more roll through our timelines as people experimented with new recipes and fell back upon old favorites.
As protestors gather across the country to denounce anti-Black racism and a police system that unjustly targets and victimizes Black Americans, many Asian Americans are wondering: how can we help?
When things are in crisis, I sometimes find myself questioning what the point of art is. As a creative writer myself, I wonder if focusing on literature is a frivolous thing — after all, there are bigger problems in the world. And yet. Who among us has not turned to a rapturous piece of music or an achingly good film or a breathtaking poem in times of fear or heartbreak or anxiety? Art heals the spirit and soul.
The following is a message from AACRE (Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality), a network of Asian American organizations dedicated to social justice that Hyphen is a proud member of, regarding COVID-19. Included is a link to a document of resources we hope our community will take advantage of, including links to resources to address health & wellness concerns, racism, work adjustments, building resilience and mutual aid, legal aid, advocacy, and more.
As this year draws to a close, we thought we'd highlight some of the writing, movies, books, shows, products and more created by the Asian American community that we loved from this year. Read on and support these creators, and comment below to add some of your own that we missed!
As the year draws to a close, Hyphen staff shares some of the stuff created by, performed by, achieved by, and featuring Asian Americans that we loved the most. From books to cosmetics to exhibits to films to cultural moments to restaurants, there's a little bit of everything here, showcasing the breadth of awesomeness of the Asian American community.
Comment below and let us know what some of your favorites of 2018 were!
The Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC) seeks skilled writing mentors to work with incarcerated API writers in developing original pieces for our second anthology.
Through mail correspondence facilitated by APSC, each mentor will empower an incarcerated writer to polish their work through feedback and guidance.
We’re looking for mentors who are:
Over the last two weeks, Hyphen's News & Politics team has profiled three Asian American candidates in three key districts. See below for their key platform stances and click onwards for more in-depth profiles of each candidate.
Searching, the new movie starring John Cho, is a first-of-its-kind thriller. Told entirely through computer screens (think iMessage texts, internet browsers featuring Gmail and Facebook, Facetime calls), the plot follows David Kim (played by Cho), a suburban dad searching for his teenage daughter (played by newcomer Michelle La). As he frantically uncovers clues through her email and social media, he begins to understand he doesn’t know his daughter very well at all.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, much has been said about people (mostly women) experiencing harassment in the face of power. Yet we wondered: how does intersectionality play into this? Do these incidents affect those in the Asian American community differently? And what about for those who don’t fit as easily into the gender binary?
Spotlight on 2018 Whiting Award Winners Patty Yumi Cottrell, Hansol Jung, Esmé Weijun Wang and Weike Wang
On March 21 in New York City, the winners of the 2018 Whiting Award were announced. Established by the Whiting Foundation in 1985, the award honors emerging writers in poetry, fiction, nonfiction and drama, and includes a monetary gift of $50,000 for each winner in support of their work. This year's winners included four Asian American writers: Patty Yumi Cottrell (fiction), Hansol Jung (drama), Esmé Weijun Wang (nonfiction) and Weike Wang (fiction).
This November, in celebration and honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, the literature section is featuring the work of 15 extraordinary Asian American adoptees. Their poems, stories and essays are a moving showcase of the ways in which they've confronted, examined and celebrated their identities and experiences.
Ever since I read Celeste Ng’s first novel, Everything I Never Told You (Penguin Books, 2015), I’ve been anticipating her next one. Little Fires Everywhere, due out September 12, 2017, from Penguin Press, does not disappoint. Revolving around two families, the Richardsons and the Warrens, in the idyllic town of Shaker Heights, the book examines class, race, privilege, and the fears and hopes that drive people to take extraordinary actions.
"I've yearned for so much of my life to know more about my family" — A Conversation with Laura Chow Reeve
When Laura Chow Reeve’s short story, “1,000-Year-Old Ghosts,” came through the slush last year, I knew immediately I had found something special. It is a beautiful story, about memories and language and culture and family, offered up with an unusual twist: the family pickles memories. I accepted the story a mere week after it was submitted and published it that June.
We have a confession: we hate "best of" lists. Thousands of books are published every year and to try to whittle those books down to a few "best" seems near impossible. Whether a book is good/important/groundbreaking/heartbreaking or not is subjective, and we recognize that. We recognize it's ridiculous to claim to create a definitive list.
It's that time of year again! As has been the tradition for the last couple of years, we asked the writers we've featured over the past year to tell us their favorite poems, essays, fiction, books, and other literary endeavors by APIA artists. We believe that the APIA literary world is a community — and the best way to support each other is to read each other. So take a look and see who some our favorite writers recommend!
By Justin Chin
In the harsh glare of an easily
reprehensible life. The channel changer is lost
in the crack of an infinite sofa.
Everything falls apart, everything breaks
down, torn into a million
fragments, Jericho everyday.
I want to be the blameless
victim in this canceled puppet show,
the marionette every mother loves, the one
souvenirs are modeled from.
Every month, through our lit section and through The Hyphen Reader, we offer you new writing by Asian American poets and prose writers that we think you should be reading. Now, as the year draws to a close, we gave our writers a chance to recommend some of their favorite pieces and books by Asian American writers!
Read below to see what your new favorite writers are reading and loving!
It's our second birthday! Yes, the Hyphen Reader was started in October two years ago! Crazy how time flies... but I hope you've been enjoying our curation!
October brings us an excerpt from Alexandra Kleeman's acclaimed debut novel, a haunting poem from Monica Sok, and a review of Hyphen's former music editor's debut novel (which we excerpted a few months back!).
Margaret Rhee's robot poems are quirky, lovely, and full of humanity. They're just strange enough to make the reader consider our connections from a new angle, but suffused with enough longing and emotion to resonate. The two poems featured in Issue 28 are only several of a series of robot poems Rhee has been working on. We asked her to give us a reading of the two poems, and then had her answer a few questions about her work.
While Christine Hyung-Oak Lee's story "Permission to Marry" doesn't seem obviously linked to the theme of "R/Evolution," a closer read of the story sees the many ways in which the parents -- and their younger generation -- have to constantly re-evaluate how to deal with their changing world and the small rebellions they enact in the face of these changes. History and memory play a big role in her characters' lives. We invited her to read a small excerpt of the story, and then sat down and asked her a few questions.
The creators of APIA Writers for Ferguson invite additional writers and scholars to sign the open letter in a show of solidarity with Michael Brown's family, Ferguson, and the African American community.
A conversation with Ken Liu on his award-winning story, "The Paper Menagerie" and his upcoming translation project, The Three-Body Problem.
The first thing you notice when you dive into "End of the Line" is how the voice of the narrator pops. Tina Bartolome, herself a native of the Bay Area, grabs us with a teenager girl's sass and surety, and from there on, she never lets us go. We see the world through the eyes of a girl on the precipice of becoming a woman, journeying with her as she rides towards a tense sexual encounter that will change her. Tina read an excerpt of this story for us, and then answered a couple of questions we had for her.
Matthew Olzmann's poems are equal parts humorous, quirky, fantastical and emotional. When you enter an Olzmann poem, you often have no idea where he's taking you, but stick with his lines and before you know it, you've been sucker-punched and wishing for more. This is true of the poem he has in Issue 27, "Astronomers Locate a New Planet", which takes us to an imagined world made of diamonds and into their lives, unpacking into a love poem for our times. We chatted with him briefly about his poem, his new book Mezzanines, and his relationship to Asian American literature.
Brynn Saito is the author of poetry collection The Palace of Contemplating Departure, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award and forthcoming from Red Hen Press in March 2013. Her poem, “Alma, 1942” is featured in Hyphen Issue 26. We asked her to record a reading of her poem, and then talked to her a little bit about the poem, her forthcoming book, and her thoughts on the direction of Asian American poetry.
"Alma, 1942" by Brynn Saito
Online Exclusive: An Audio Excerpt of “Deliveries” and a Short Conversation with Author T Kira Madden
T Kira Madden is a writer and photographer in New York City whose fiction have been published in venues such as The Fiddleback, elimae,and Fourteen Hills. Her short story “Deliveries” is featured in Hyphen Issue 26. We asked her to read an excerpt of the story for our website, and then chatted with her briefly about the haunting story, as well as her thoughts on fiction writing and Asian American literature.
Excerpt from "Deliveries" by T Kira Madden
Back in November, we announced the winner of the 2011 Asian American Short Story Contest, co-sponsored by Hyphen and The Asian American Writers' Workshop. A runner-up and several honorable mentions were also selected. Stories were judged by Yiyun Li and Porochista Khakpour.
You may now view the full text of many of these stories online. Check it out, and congratulations again to all our winners!
The experience of hearing a poem read out loud can be an entirely different one than reading the words on the page. Here, we offer you audio recordings of Patrick Rosal and Ocean Vuong reading their poems “Guitar” and “Despite Everything, My Dancers,” featured in Hyphen’s Issue 25.