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Paul Lai

I am thrilled to welcome everyone to the relaunch of Kartika Review. It has been a few years since we published an issue of new work. We went on an unexpected hiatus after our website got hacked at the end of 2013.

Many thanks to the previous editors of Kartika Review, especially my immediate predecessors Sunny Woan (managing editor), Christine Hyung-Oak Lee (fiction editor), Eugenia Leigh (poetry editor), and Jennifer Derilo (creative nonfiction editor), whose presence in the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) literary world has been sustaining for so many writers. As I went through the backlog of submissions, I saw multiple mentions in cover letters of the encouragement and attention that the editors had given the writers, both online and in person at writing conferences and other venues. In my mind, one of the most important things about Kartika Review has been the network it creates of editors and writers, fostering systems of support and connection that encourage writers to keep writing and to keep sending out work for publication.

I’d also like to give a heartfelt thanks to the many writers who sent in their poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction for consideration in the last few years, and I’d like to reiterate my most profuse apologies for the protracted delay in responding to these submissions. If you haven’t heard back from me via Submittable for something you sent in before January 1, 2017, let me know.

In the intervening years since our last issue, it has been wonderful to see that so many writers who shared their work in Kartika Review’s pages have continued to publish—both shorter pieces in journals, magazines, and anthologies as well as their own book-length publications. We missed being able to announce many publications via our Facebook and Twitter feeds, but we've begun sharing this news again. Please connect with us on social media to hear all the great news about our network of writers. And if you were published in our pages in the past and would like to let us know about what you're up to, feel free to share!


The publishing world for APIA writing has grown in the decade since Kartika Review’s first issue in 2007. Back in that first editorial, Founding Editor Sunny Woan noted the dearth of APA literary publications, especially with the end of APA Journal’s run in 2005. Today, we are lucky to have a handful of publications including (but not limited to) Lantern Review (focused on Asian American poetry), Asian American Literary Review (an incredible publication committed to assembling excellent topical issues such as their latest Open in Emergency special issue on Asian American mental health), Hyphen’s fiction and poetry sections, and Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s (AAWW) online magazines.

Equally important is recognizing the organizations that run workshops, residencies, publication competitions, author events, and many other programs to nurture APIA writers and their work. These organizations create networks of APIA writers to support each other and establish funding infrastructures. In New York City, AAWW has grown both in its physical and online presence under the guidance of Executive Director Ken Chen. In San Francisco, Kearny Street Workshop continues its decades-long support of the APA arts community. Focusing on providing Asian American writers with supportive workshop experiences and mentors, Kundiman has become an important anchor for Asian American poetry and literature since its founders Sarah Gambito and Joseph O. Legaspi ran their first workshop retreat in 2004. And across the country, local organizations and artists have helped establish APIA reading series, writers’ groups, book clubs, and other structures of connection.

APIA authors and other professionals have also been working in various nodes of the writing and publishing industries to help shape the kinds of writing that get workshopped, published, and read. From professors in MFA and undergraduate creative writing programs to acquisitions editors at publishing houses, from bloggers who highlight APIA authors for their readers to librarians who promote books and authors to their local communities, these people all help to bring APIA writing into people’s lives. Additionally, APIA authors and readers alike have created spaces for themselves in places where they have not felt welcomed or understood. In larger organizations, APIA affinity groups often emerge as a way for APIA authors to connect with each other. Not insignificantly, though, a lot of this work is unpaid, such as editorial work for independent literary magazines or chairing committees in professional organizations.

Kartika Review returns to this writing landscape—or writingscape, to borrow a portmanteau formulation from social theorist Arjun Appadurai—with the hopes of providing both a venue for writers to publish their work and a space for us all to engage with how we are collectively producing this APIA writingscape. What is important to remember is that this writingscape is in constant flux, and the discussions and concerns that shape what we recognize as APIA writing will change along with us and the world we live in. Similarly, the technologies that connect writers and readers, that allow publications to be created online and in print, that enable and impede the creation of our literature, will morph in different directions with each passing year. We must think broadly and deeply about all the ways that writing APIA stories connects to and is impacted by wide-ranging facets of our lives, from mundane realities like the need to eat each day to macro forces like wars and civil strife that lead to global migration.

Accordingly, Kartika Review will dedicate a section of each issue to the APIA Writingscape. This section will house author interviews, which we’ve always had in our pages, along with commentaries on various aspects of the writing world. These commentaries might take the forms of single-authored essays, roundtable discussions, collected voices, historical recovery projects of earlier writers, and more. As one model, consider David Mura’s essay, “The Student of Color in the Typical MFA Program,” which we were privileged to publish in our last issue in Fall 2013. I invite all people interested in fostering spaces for APIA writing to join in the conversation in this section.


With this issue, Kartika Review re-emerges as an online-first publication. Each new issue will be produced as a web-based publication only instead of being laid out as a print publication. The three issues for each year will then be collected into a print-on-demand anthology. I hope that this approach will facilitate readers’ access to the online content while also providing the unique joy of holding a print publication in your hands.

Finally, although I will forgo brief summaries of each poem, story, and creative nonfiction piece in this editorial, I want to thank all the writers for sharing their incredible work with Kartika Review. I invite you to read on and experience the startling insights, lyrical language, trenchant critique, and thoughtful narratives these writers present. Read on and experience each piece individually as powerfully-constructed works of art, but also take in the issue as a whole and see the panoply of writing in all its beautiful divergences and resonances.

Published March 15, 2017
© 2017 Kartika Review