An Answer to Darkness

A Feature with Kundiman

Kundiman is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing generations of writers and readers of Asian-American literature. Through readings and workshops; Kavad, an intergenerational community-based storytelling program; an annual retreat; and a Youth Intensive program for high school students in The Bronx, Kundiman creates an affirming and rigorous space where Asian-American writers can explore, through art, the unique challenges that face the new and ever-changing diaspora. They see the arts as a tool of empowerment, of education and liberation, of addressing proactively the legacy we will leave for our future and ensuring that Asian-American stories reach broad audiences throughout the country. To learn more, visit www.kundiman.org.

Diagnosis, by Ansley Moon

First sight of blood. Pain,
pain. Pain. An elbowed
girl carves an indentation

            nightly with her sharp hip.

Illness makes its own song,
reverberates—

Crossing, by Dao Ling

a bow to bear
a cross to bridge
it was rainmaking on a
vulva
velvet
night
there was a man
who made me feel
                                         safe

like a candle
in a bough
of a bursting tree
there were arrows drawn in caves
the woods thinly drawn
                                         like a womb
the perpetual gate
biding her time
and a finger
across the tip
of blue electric fire
there was an opening
no, a parting
no, a silence made
of circles & discs
rings & knots
                                         a web strung
of a million
poppy petals
barring my bones
from going                    with him.

Memory is a Gentle Blessing, by Arhm Choi Wild

So be careful.

For you the day at the park was proof
that emotions are the play things of men
but for him, it was just another Saturday afternoon.
You’re allowed to say no. You’re allowed
to think of yourself
over his ego.

You have been pretending for a long time
that you’re like everyone else
so stop berating and squeezing
and talking to an empty sky.
No one is counting, but I’m sure
you’ve done your time.

Memory is a gentle blessing—
all you will forget
when you’re standing at the altar
looking at her face,
all the bruises belonging
to someone else by now,
the names you were called
flecking off like old paint,
your mother’s eyes holding something new
and yes there’s that time, and also that one
that makes you think that this goodness is a lie

but how else can you remember
that you deserve to stand here
if only because of all
the blood you have left behind
trying to be worthy
of wanting something
just because your tongue insists
on wrapping around its name.

Questions, by Elaine Wang

What is the answer to injustice?

More action more love
More understanding more awareness
More consequences more laws

The answer is more more more always more

Justice is a roaring hunger god
never appeased

So once again we raid
the hornet’s nest
Once again they lay their eggs
into our soft, larval bodies

Generation, by George Abraham
Ansley Moon, Dao Ling, Arhm Choi Wild, Elaine Wang, George Abraham

Ansley Moon is the author of the poetry collection How to Bury the Dead (2011) and the recipient of awards and fellowships from Kundiman and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, among others, as well as a recent finalist for the Jake Adam York Poetry Prize and the Great Indian Poetry Collective Emerging Poets Prize. She lives and works in New York.

Dao Ling writes poetry and creative nonfiction, among other genres, to contribute to the abundance and diversity of truths in our world. She has a received a poetry fellowship from Kundiman as well as a Pushcart Prize nomination for her work. Her writing most recently appears in On She Goes, Taiwan’s Centered magazine, and Racist Sandwich podcast. As an inaugural participant of Spotify’s Bootcamp for Women of Color podcasters, Dao Ling is working on a writing and audio documentary in which she and her grandmother talk story about how the China-Taiwan and U.S.-Mexico borders have shaped their lives.

Arhm Choi Wild is a Kundiman fellow who holds an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. She was a finalist for the Jake Adam York Prize in 2019 and has been published in the Daring to Repair anthology and in Barrow Street, The Massachusetts Review, Split this Rock, Foglifter, Two Hawks Quarterly, and other magazines. She works as an educator in New York City and has competed in poetry slams and performed across the country, including at Brave New Voices, The New York City Poetry Festival, and the Bowery Poetry Club. She can be found on Instagram and Twitter @arhmcwild or at www.arhmchoiwild.com.

Elaine Wang has been published in Elastic Magazine, Memorious, Sunstar, Spires, Analecta, cahoodaloodaling, Hot House, Zero Ducats, the Lantern Review, FreezeRay, and Front Porch (now Porter House Review). She was part of 92Y’s #wordswelivein project, 7x7’s Exquisite Corpse (in collaboration with Kenji Liu), and recently part of Unmargin’s “Incantations” (www.unmargin.org/incantations). She is a Kundiman Fellow and 2014 and 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Born and raised in Texas, she now lives in Los Angeles.

George Abraham is a Palestinian-American poet and Bioengineering PhD candidate at Harvard University. They are the author of Birthright (Button Poetry, 2020), and the chapbooks the specimen’s apology (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019) and al youm (TAR, 2017). They are a Kundiman, Watering Hole, and Poetry Incubator fellow, winner of the 2018 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize, and recipient of the Best Poet title from the College Union Poetry Slam International. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming online in The Paris Review, Tin House, LitHub, Boston Review, and The Rumpus, and anthologies such as Bettering American Poetry and Nepantla.

Arthur Asa

Arthur Asa was born in Monterrey City, México. He speaks less and draws more every day. As it should be.


First Featured In: No. 14, summer 2019

The Survival Issue

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