As the month-long celebration of Asian/Pacific American heritage moves quickly by, let’s not forget to take time to appreciate what this faction of the literary community has given. Countless writers continue to enrich American society with tales that merge history and customs with the modern world. Their culture, however American, remains connected to their homeland through generations storytelling. Contributions by Asian/Pacific Americans in literature deepen our understanding of a part of the world that most of us do not have access to. As readers, where do we start in our exploration of Asian/Pacific American literature? In celebration, here are a few offerings that bring a multitude of writers and artists together for your enjoyment:
Government sponsored websites such as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the Smithsonian give information on the history and various art forms that are indicative of the Asian/Pacific culture. Recordings of Asian/Pacific American poets can be found at http://asianpacificheritage.gov/audio.html. And The Smithsonian is full of educational lesson plans, events, and articles, as well as hybrid haiku/visual artifacts to view.
If it is contemporary literary arts you are interested in, well, you are in luck. Quite a few literary journals and magazines feature Asian/Pacific American writers and artists. No need to do a search; here is a short list to get you started:
1. Kartika Review serves the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) community and those involved with Diasporic Asian and Pacific Islander-inspired literature. They have featured original works by writers such as David Mura, Russell Leong, Min Jin Lee, Tess Gerritsen, Peter Bacho, Porochista Khakpour, Bryan Thao Worra, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, Don Lee, and Alexander Chee.
2. Lantern Review aims to provide a virtual space in which to showcase Asian American poetry and to engage with issues relevant to its production and dissemination. They welcome anglophone writers of all ethnic backgrounds whose work has a vested interest in issues relevant to the Asian diaspora in North America, as well as work created collaboratively in a community context.
3. TAYO Literary Magazine cultivates emerging poetry and prose, publishing writing that knifes, lifts, and strikes at the emotive truth of all things lost and adrift. They are dedicated to the creation, cultivation, and promotion of Filipino/Filipino American arts and culture, open to all work that cuts the insides and opens the heart. Work found on TAYO is contemporary and edgy.
As you embrace Asian/Pacific American heritage month, look within your community for organizations, churches, universities, and local writing groups that offer programs or celebrations. Get involved or experience something new.