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New Lit on the Block :: Immigration Diaries

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Immigration Diaries is a new online journal of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and visual art founded by Yawen Yuan. Yuan lived in Shanghai until she was nine years old when she then moved to New York City. She recounts that for many years after immigrating to the United States, she felt lost and alone in her experiences. Yuan says that after listening to authors like Min Jin Lee, who immigrated from Korea at a young age, both felt more comfortable in their own experiences. Yuan would like to help others the way listening to Lee helped her by creating a place to share immigration stories and experiences.

Immigration Diaries became a place where experiences and journeys could be compiled so that others who feel the same way, or know of those feelings, could know that they’re not alone,” says Yuan. “The name Immigration Diaries represents our initiative to document the stories of immigrants and those who have been affected by immigration. Most of these stories, and art related to these stories, are buried in the collective consciousness of immigrants of all kinds.”

Immigration Diaries publishes works on a rolling basis, and all submissions are reviewed by Yawen and other editors in order to ensure that the piece is qualified for publishing. “The most rewarding part,” Yuan shares, “has been connecting with people who love to write but haven’t found a consistent outlet to share their work or their life experiences. Typically, those who submit have found the existing work inspiring, and are excited to become part of the Immigration Diaries community.”

Immigration Diaries is an open-access online publication where readers can find a diverse array of work from a global perspective. “We are not only featuring immigrants to and from America,” Yuan says, “and not all of our submissions are written by immigrants. The work we have featured so far has been a reminder of how broad the experiences of national origin, identity, and immigration can be. We hope readers stay interested in the rich blend of essays, poetry, fiction, and representative artwork.”

Some recent contributions include “Secrets of My Great Grandparents” by Lois Perch Villemaire, “Oh, Brother” by Sharon Citrin Goldstein, “Generations” by Margaret D. Stetz, “How Jozef Korzeniowski became Joseph Conrad” by Inga Piotrowska, “From Byker to Botany Bay, 1950” by James Orrock, and “Tellers and Trainer” by Murali Kamma.

Looking to the future, Yuan says, “The publication aims to continue to provide a platform for writers to submit both fiction and also nonfiction. We hope that as Immigration Diaries grows, more writers will feel comfortable submitting their personal stories of experiences that have shaped their lives. As we continue to grow, we will feature pieces through newsletters, and we hope to hold essay contests with significant prizes to champion writers for their excellence.”

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