Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Lack of Asian-American Lit Mags at Colleges and Universities, Part II

A short while ago, I made a post commenting on the lack of Asian-American literary magazines at colleges and universities. And someone who came across the post recently asked me the following question: "I wonder if there is a way that an organization could be set up into helping campuses start their own Asian American lit mags?"

I thought it was an excellent but difficult question. I attempted an answer, and I am basing this post on the answer that I gave:

At this point, my best answer, which is not directly answering the question, is that I think that undergraduate and MFA students alike may start an Asian-American literary magazine without the existence of such a centralized organization -- by making the publication an online one. While it would be nice to have a print publication -- and personally, I like to read fiction and poetry on paper myself -- I think that an online publication would not only be more financially feasible but would most likely reach a wider audience than a print publication as well. Actually, I think that online lit mags are the wave of the future, even though print lit mags will never become completely obsolete.

It would definitely be nice if the college or university gives financial and/or infrastructural support to an Asian-American literary magazine, and I think that students should at least try to seek support from various sources at their respective colleges and universities. Possible sources of assistance include student organizations, faculty members, student governments, and the Dean's Office. In general, I would say that the broader the institutional support that an Asian-American literary magazine possesses, the more successful it will be and the longer it will last. It takes time and effort to start a lit mag, and if there are fiction and/or poetry student groups on campus, an undergrad or grad student who desires to start such a publication may want to contact members of these groups to find others willing to help out as editors and staff members. The Asian Student Associations at various colleges and universities are another potential source of funding and assistance.

Given the lack of Asian-American literary magazines out there, I would add that anyone who started such a publication at a university or college would be filling an important niche. Particularly if the Asian-American student population is not that large, I think that it may be a good idea to seek submissions on a national basis, and I would speculate that there would be a respectable number of responses. Such a publication could be limited to undergraduate and/or graduate students, depending on the preferences of the editor(s). Also, it may be useful to visit existing online literary publications to consult the formats of their websites and their guidelines...Anyhow, I think that it is possible for undergraduate and graduate students to set up Asian-American literary magazines, and that's my personal though definitely far-from-perfect take on things here.


Blogger Lee Herrick said...

Universities would surely be a good place for such publications, but various hurdles arise: the relatively small number of tenured APA faculty at universities; the many pressures of publication that may occupy time, as opposed to the soemtimes thankless task of editing & publishing a journal; funding (the eternal challenge). I wonder if individuals or small groups of poets &/or editors are more fitting---i.e. the APA Journal, disORIENT (back in the day), interlope, and others were independent. I think of Dave Eggers' success and other fairly popular indepdenet presses. I suppose it is often creative people working together (i.e. Kundiman).

Are you familiar with the Beloit Poetry Journal? It's well put together, saddle-stapled, and must be relatively inexpensive to produce. I can say one thing from experience (I have published and edited a journal,, for ten years)---the hard part is staying with it so it doesn't fold in three years. Making something last is, to say the least, very tough. But it's about time someone began something, right? Who will start the newest magazine?

8:37 PM  
Blogger Roger Pao said...

Lee, you've brought up a really important point here, which is that it is definitely not easy to edit and publish a poetry magazine. It truly is a labor of love. I don't know if whomever reads this post appreciates it, but it is amazing for a small literary magazine to last ten years. Congrats on the longevity of In the Grove!

Yes, I'm familiar with Beloit Poetry Journal, which is another publication that has been successful for quite a while now. I think that it's very possible to start an Asian-American literary magazine like BPJ or In the Grove, and I have to say that I'm at least somewhat surprised at the relative lack of such publications.

Here is an interesting little statistic from The Subject Index of Poet's Market 2007: "African-American" publications: 7, "Hispanic/Latino" publications: 4. (There is no "Asian-American" category in the Index.) Just some food for thought.

7:46 PM  
Blogger B.J. Ku said...

Excuse my naivete . . . especially from one who has just realized his own blindspot (after reading your site). But if I may, would you recommend any books or anthologies?

4:57 PM  
Blogger Roger Pao said...

Hello B.J., thanks for visiting! I posted a list of Asian-American poetry anthologies a while back, and here it is:

"1. Quiet Fire: A Historical Anthology of Asian-American Poetry, 1892-1970 (1996), edited by Juliana Chang
2. Breaking Silence: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian-American Poets (1983), edited by Joseph Bruchac
3. The Open Boat: Poems from Asian America (1993), edited by Garrett Hongo
4. Premonitions: The Kaya Anthology of New Asian North American Poetry (1995), edited by Walter Lew
5. Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (2004), edited by Victoria Chang."

I also mentioned that I would read the first and second anthologies for background on the history of Asian-American poetry, and the third, fourth, and fifth anthologies for contemporary Asian-American poetry. I think that anthologies are a great way to introduce yourself to the poetry of a range of different poets and figure out which poets' work that you would like to reader further.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Hoa said...

I edit an Asian-australian online literary journal called Peril it's at
It also contains poetry- and I started it because no one else was doing it in Australia! All I needed was two co-editors and a willing webmaster (my partner) and about $150 for the domain name and magazine software.
Why not give it a go?

8:44 PM  
Blogger Asian said...

The Asian American Literary Review is set to release its inaugural issue in April. Check out the Facebook group ( to see the advisory board, contributors, and events.

8:18 AM  

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