The Contemporary Asian American Canon
Reflecting on the 1974 publication Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers and the work of its editors, Frank Chin, Jeffrey Paul Chan, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong, the Winter 2018 issue of The Massachusetts Review is an ambitious special issue dedicated to Asian American Literature: Rethinking the Canon.
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials [pictured] and Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis, editors for this issue write in the introduction, “[. . . ] the present-day terrain of Asian American literature is characterized by a profound geopolitical diversity that encompasses to varying degrees and often divergent ends the multifaceted experiences of native-born, immigrant, and refugee subjects. Such diversity by way of location is matched by a complexity with regard to histories of racialization, war, displacement, and resettlement. Last, but certainly not least, as the work in this special Massachusetts Review issue makes abundantly clear, Asian American writing — despite conservative claims ‘otherwise’ — is an integral part of the U.S. literary canon.” Read the full introduction here.
In addition to the full TOC, which can be seen here, the editors have included A Poetry Portfolio, “in the spirit of” poet Fanny Choi’s address, “(B)Aiiieeeee!: The Future is Femme and Queer” (included in the issue). To the “cis-het male vision of Asian American literature,” the editors offer: “this folio invokes a decidedly different Asian American poetic landscape than [. . . ] Aiiieeeee! Its expansive focus includes queer, femme, gender nonbinary, mixed race, refugee, and adoptee poets of East, South, Southeast, West and Central Asian descent; its poems span diverse aesthetics, intersectional politics, and contradictory subjectivities. The guiding impulse is not merely illuminatory or inclusive, but decolonial. It asks us to see not only the erased but the practice of erasure and our respective roles in undoing that canonical violence – what more responsible reading and publishing practices might look like.”