The Asian American Literary Review

The Asian American Literary Review is a space for writers who consider the designation “Asian American” a fruitful starting point for artistic vision and community. In showcasing the work of established and emerging writers, the journal aims to incubate dialogues and, just as importantly, open those dialogues to regional, national, and international audiences of all constituencies. It selects work that is, as Marianne Moore once put it, “an expression of our needs…[and] feeling, modified by the writer’s moral and technical insights.”

Published biannually, AALR features fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, comic art, interviews, and book reviews. Discover Nikkei will feature selected stories from their issues.

Visit their website for more information and to subscribe to the publication: www.asianamericanliteraryreview.org

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The Orient Express - Part 1

It’s the middle of the desert, and I’m surrounded by a lush and verdant rainforest, a jungle unlike any on earth. Palm trees tower above me. At my feet a lagoon meanders through the orchids and bromeliads and birds of paradise. The crash of a waterfall, cascading with furious force. Mist drifts through like a swirling visible breeze, condensing on a rainbow of tropical flowers. Above me spires a hundred foot high Plexiglas dome, the type of pod our forebears might end up living within, given the way we treat this planet like our own play pit to ...

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Poems: "Spark," "Distances" & "All day people poured into Asano Park"

Spark

Use room-temperature water, never ice. Skin holds heat,
you think you’re more burned than you are.
Your singed hair crimps and smells like eggs
that once cooked on the farmhouse’s old gas stove.
Bathwater runs faster than a sink’s, you kneel
to turn your face under the tub’s faucet.
If you’d followed directions, you’d be
in the pasture instead, palming sugar to the horses.

Which sent you reeling back, the oven’s flash
or pressure, the heat or fear? Obaasan fell forward
but that was different, that was a great wind, that was ...

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Poems: "Conversation with My Mother" & "Translation"

Conversation with My Mother

How much fabric was left?
         Not much. Boro-boro, Obaasan said. Shreds.

And your mother recognized her by the fabric
         Yes.

If the fabric was in shreds, she was almost naked?
         No, she wore white cotton undergarments.

And they still covered her body?
         They covered her body.

They weren’t torn like her blouse and pants?
         They covered her body.

What did the pattern of the fabric look like?
         I don’t remember, but it couldn’t have been beautiful.
         The emperor forbade decorative dress during the war.

So the pattern wasn’t pretty, not mountain peaks ...

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Poem: "The Leaf Book"

The Leaf Book

In the fall of third grade, when my teacher
assigns the leaf-book project—collect
and name at least a dozen tree leaves—
my dad drives our family to an arboretum,
he brings a field guide and we’re all leaf-picking,
all saying gingko, chestnut, walnut, buckeye.
Mama writes down American names,
learns too that rootbeer-scented sassafras bear
three kinds of leaves: mittens, gloves, and palms.

The night before my book’s due, he stays up.
He helps sort leaf after leaf, irons them
between waxpaper pages he’s cut.
By the circular light of a lamp
he ...

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Karen Tei Yamashita - Part 2

>> Part 1

Continuation of The Asian American Literary Review’s interview with Karen Tei Yamashita…

Kandice Chuh (KC): You write, “I’ve anticipated the end of the story without imparting the beginning. Knowing the story’s end does not necessarily imply completion of knowledge, for if many endings are possible, so also are many beginnings. History may proceed sequentially or, as they say, must proceed sequentially, but stories may turn and turn again—the knowing end kissing the innocent beginning, the innocent end kissing the knowing beginning” (326). There was some way that I think what you were talking about ...

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