Once upon a time (2008 to be exact), the Asian American activist group, Thymos, decided to create a book of Asian American writing. The idea behind this community book project was to take responsibility for telling our own stories. The anthology compiled the real experiences of Asian Americans. We wanted people to tell their stories in their own words; communicate perspectives that challenge or transcend mainstream stereotypes; or simply relate something uniquely personal as an Asian American.
These experiences could be profound. They could be prosaic. But we wanted the stories to always remain true to their source and inspiration.
The Call for Submissions Began in 2008
What does it mean to be an Asian American in the twenty-first century?
From the mainstream perspective, tired stereotypes about Asian people as model minorities, asexual techno-geeks, hypersexual dragon ladies, or perpetual foreigners still persist–though often concealed behind politically correct slogans like colorblindness and diversity.
One racial obstacle that Asian Americans thus face is the inability to claim an identity and culture that are defined by the Asian American community itself, rather than how mainstream society defines us. Whether it’s dealing with popular stereotypes or the effects of racism, many such issues ultimately stem from a lack of power.
This includes the power to express our lives, histories, and beliefs in a manner that is true to our lived experiences. And in an era where the media has vast influence to shape the very nature of Asian America for both ourselves and others, this is more important than ever.
With the support and encouragement from Oregon Poet Laureate, Lawson Inada, we invited Asian Americans to submit their stories; selected pieces were published in the anthology.
We used the following submission guidelines:
1. Writer should identify as an Asian American and be affiliated with Oregon in some way either directly or indirectly. Participation in activism, civic/volunteer work, or general membership in the Asian American community is preferred but not required.
2. Submissions can involve written work of any type including personal essays, analytical articles, fiction, or poetry. Submissions can be also visual in nature such as photographs, drawings, etc. All photos should be in black and white.
3. Written submissions should be no longer than 20 pages typed, 12-point font, and double spaced.
Questions: Contact Larry Yu or Valerie Katagiri, Anthology co-editors
Writing Workshop was held to Encourage Submissions
On May 3, 2010, Ed Lin held a free Writer’s Workshop, presented by the Asian American Journalists Association–Portland and Thymos, co-sponsored by Friends of Portland Chinatown. Ed worked with attendees find their writing muse.
Ed Lin is a New York-based novelist who wrote Waylaid, This is a Bust, and the recently published Snakes Can’t Run. His novel Waylaid became the award winning movie “The Motel” by Michael Kang and starring Sung Kang.
We had a fun Launch Party!
The launch party for Where Are You From?: An Anthology of Asian American Writing! was on October 22, 2012; it was free and open to the public. Our Anthology was a community project that took more than 4 years to complete. Although created primarily as a volunteer effort, proceeds from book sales offset some of the expenses that were incurred along the way (as well as paid for the Launch party).
Lake Oswego Library reading: April 16, 2013 7pm – https://www.ci.oswego.or.us/library
Alist interview: http://alist-magazine.com/home/a-conversation-on-asian-american-men-and-masculinity/
For questions and other information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.