CHA Issue #24 goes live




The June 2014 Issue of Cha is here. We would like to thank guest editors Michael Gray (poetry), Royston Tester (prose) and Reid Mitchell (prose) for reading the submissions with us and helping us put together this edition. We would also like to thank Eddie Tay for a fine selection of book reviews. The issue includes an editorial by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming titled “A Touch Of Cruelty In The Mouth” and poems from David McKirdy’s new collection, Ancestral Worship.

The following writers/artists have generously allowed us to showcase their work:

Poetry: David McKirdy, Timothy Kaiser, Kenneth Alewine, Joshua Burns, Daryl Yam, Daryl Lim Wei Jie, Insha Muzafar, David W. Landrum, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Randy Kim, Zachary Eller, Divya Rajan, Mathew Joseph, Michael O’Sullivan, Tjoa Shze Hui
Fiction: Sarah Bower, Michael X. Wang
Creative non-fiction: Qui-Phiet Tran
: Smita Sahay interviews Tabish Khair, Usha Akella interviews Marjorie Evasco, Sharon Ho interviews the organisers of three Hong Kong poetry-reading groups
Lost tea: Jonel Abellanosa
Photography & art: Franky Lau (cover artist), Divya Adusumilli, Allen Forrest
Reviews: Grant Hamilton, Sarah Bower, Emma Zhang, Michael Tsang, Drisana Misra, Carolyn Lau, Cecilia Chan

Our next issue is due out in September 2014. We are currently accepting submissions for the Seventh Anniversary Issue and entries for the “Reconciliation” poetry contest and the “Hong Kong Isn’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon” section. If you are interested in having your work considered for inclusion in Cha, please read our submission guidelines carefully.



A Cha Poetry contest
This contest is run by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. It is for unpublished poems on the theme of “Reconciliation”.  


  • Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born poet. She is a founding co-editor of Cha
  • Jason Eng Hun Lee has been published in a number of journals and he has been a finalist for numerous international prizes, including the Melita Hume Poetry Prize (2012) and the Hong Kong University’s Poetry Prize (2010).


  • Each poet can submit up to two poems (no more than 80 lines long each).
  • Poems must be previously unpublished. 
  • Entry is free.
Closing date:
  • 15 September 2014
  • First: £50, Second: £30, Third: £15, Highly Commended (up to 5): £10 each. (Payable through Paypal.)
  • All winning poems (including the highly recommended ones) will receive first publication in a special section in the Seventh Anniversary Issue of Cha, due out in November/December 2014.
The prizes were generously donated by an expat reader residing in Hong Kong.
  • Submissions should be sent to with the subject line “Reconciliation”.
  • Poems must be sent in the body of the email.
  • Please also include a short biography of no more than 30 words.

Previous Cha contests:


Cha: An Asian Literary Journal is now accepting submissions for “The Ancient Asia Issue,” an edition of the journal devoted exclusively to work from and about Asia before the mid-nineteenth century.

From the beginning of the twentieth century, ancient Asia has contributed to the rebirth and re-imaginations of modern literatures, not only in English (from Ezra Pound to Gary Snyder) but in other western languages as well (Victor Segalen, Octavio Paz, Bertolt Brecht…). “The Ancient Asia Issue” of Cha seeks to revivify this tradition, featuring translations and original works of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and visual art from and about Ancient Asia, to be published in December 2013. If you have something interesting, opinionated, or fresh to say about the Asian past, we would like to hear from you. Please note that we can only accept submissions in English.
We are pleased to announce that Cha former contributor, translator and scholar Lucas Klein will be joining Cha as guest editor for the issue (see his biography below) and read the submissions with co-editors Tammy Ho and Jeff Zroback

The Reviews section will be devoted exclusively to books related to the theme of the issue. If you have a recent book that you think would be right for review in “The Ancient Asia Issue”, we encourage you to contact our Reviews Editor Eddie Tay at Books should be sent to Eddie before the end of May 2013.

If you would like to have work considered for “The Ancient Asia Issue”, please submit by email to by 20th June, 2013. Please include “The Ancient Asia Issue” in the subject line of the email. Submissions to the issue should conform to our guidelines.


LUCAS KLEIN is a  former radio DJ and union organizer, is a writer, translator, and editor. His translations, poems, essays, and articles have appeared at Two Lines, Drunken Boat, Jacket, and PMLA, and he has regularly reviewed books for Rain Taxi and other venues. A graduate of Middlebury College (BA) and Yale University (PhD), he is Assistant Professor in the Department of Chinese, Translation & Linguistics at City University of Hong Kong. With Haun Saussy and Jonathan Stalling he edited The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry: A Critical Edition, by Ernest Fenollosa and Ezra Pound (Fordham University Press, 2008), and he co-translated a collection of Bei Dao 北島 poems with Clayton Eshleman, published as Endure (Black Widow Press, 2011). His translations of Xi Chuan 西川 appeared from New Directions in April 2012, as Notes on the Mosquito: Selected Poems (for more, see here), and he is also at work translating Tang dynasty poet Li Shangyin 李商隱 and seminal contemporary poet Mang Ke 芒克.

    Eddie Tay’s The Mental Life of Cities wins Singapore Literature Prize

    Congratulations to Cha‘s Reviews Editor Eddie Tay! His bilingual poetry collection, The Mental Life of Cities (Chameleon Press) is named a winner of the 2012 Singapore Literature Prize

    The 2012 Singapore Literature Prize recognises and honours Singaporean fiction books in each of the four languages – English, Mandarin Malay, and Tamil. Eddie’s poetry collection is the winner in the English category and he takes home SGD10,000 and a commissioned ceramic pot. You can read the writeup from The Straits Times here.

    Four poems from the collection were first published in Cha. They are “Night Thoughts”, “Country”, “White Pages” and “Cities”

    “Night Thoughts”, “Country” and “White Pages” were further discussed on the journal’s critique column, A Cup of Fine Tea.

    Once again, congratulations to our dear Eddie! We look forward to reading more poetry from you!

    Cha – Call for Submissions – Fifth Anniversary Issue (December 2012)

    [click image to enlarge]

    due out in December 2012.
    Cha: An Asian Literary Journal is now calling for submissions for its Fifth Anniversary Issue (Issue # 19).

    Please send in (preferably Asian-themed) poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, reviews, photography & art for consideration. Submission guidelines can be found here. Deadline: 15 September, 2012.

    Cha Associate Editors Arthur Leung (poetry) and Royston Tester (prose) will act as guest editors and read the submissions with co-editors Tammy Ho and Jeff Zroback. The issue will include the winning stories of our first flash fiction contest (open for submissions until 15 July) as well as a special feature on Hong Kong poetry, curated by Tammy. Please contact Reviews Editor Eddie Tay at if you want to review a book or have a book reviewed in the journal.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to write to any of the Cha staff at
    — , 

    World Voices: Eddie Tay | 11 August 2011

    Is there space for poetry in the mental life of people in Singapore and Hong Kong? How does one survive and thrive in these two ultra-modern, pragmatic and cosmopolitan cities and stay true to one’s artistic calling? How does one balance the contemplative, aesthetic and hermit- like endeavours of a poet with globalised Asian environments that celebrate business, busy-ness, and wi-fi connections?
    For the August edition of World Voices, HK-based poet, literature professor and reviews editor Eddie Tay will be reading from his recent poetry collection, The Mental Life of Cities, and talking about how he draws inspiration from urban life in these two frenetic Asian cities. 
    About Eddie Tay

    Eddie Tay grew up in Singapore and has been living in Hong Kong for the past eight years. As a poet, literature professor, researcher, and reviews editor of an online literary journal, he has come to see poetry (and literature) not just as words on a page, but as social and aesthetic impulses working their way through local and global communities.

    Eddie Tay is the author of three poetry collections, Remnants, A Lover’s Soliloquy, and most recently, The Mental Life of Cities. The first two collections consist of free translations of Tang Dynasty poetry as well as original poems, while his most recent collection which features bilingual poems is inspired by how English and Chinese intertwine and take root in the modern Asian cities of Singapore and Hong Kong. Colony, Nation and Globalisation: Not at Home in Singaporean and Malaysian Literature, his study of colonial and contemporary literature of Singapore and Malaysia, was published this year.

    Tay teaches children’s literature and the reading and writing of poetry at the Department of English, Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is a member of the Poetry OutLoud collective based in HK. He was a featured poet at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival 2011. He is also serving as Reviews Editor at the online journal, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal.


    Cha contributors in Asiatic

    The June 2011 issue of Asiatic is now live and we are very glad to see Cha‘s Reviews Editor Eddie Tay featured prominently in the edition. His latest poetry collection Mental Life of Cities is reviewed by Phillip Holden [pdf] whilst his academic work Colony, Nation, and Globalisation: Not at Home in Singaporean and Malaysian Literature is reviewed by Bernard Wilson [pdf].
    Eddie also has five new poems published in the issue. Each poem is accompanied by a photograph by the poet himself. The poems are: “end of tunnel”, “stations of the cross”, “modern concrete”, “glass city’ and “fence”. Read them here [pdf].

    The issue also includes Kirpal Singh’s review of Rabindranath Tagore’s Selected Short Stories (trans. Mohammad A. Quayum). Read the article here [pdf].

    • Read Eddie Tay’s Cha profile.
    • Philip Holden’s fiction was published in Issue #4 of Cha.
    • Kirpal Singh contributed a review to Issue #9 of Cha.

    Ways of walking through a wood

    Re-reading Eddie’s poem “Whose Woods These Are”, I am reminded of what Umberto Eco says in Six Walks in the Fictional Woods:1

    There are two ways of walking through a wood. The first is to try one or several routes (so as to get out of the wood as fast as possible, say, or to reach the house of grandmother, Tom Thumb, or Hansel and Gretel); the second is to walk so as to discover what the wood is like and find out why some paths are accessible and others are not. (p. 27)

    Eco is not only talking about woods. He is comparing walking through a wood to going through a narrative text. There is a model reader of the first level: he or she wants to know how the story ends; but there is also a model reader of the second level, whose intention you can guess.

    Eco might have picked up this metaphor from Frost, who we all know applied walking in a wood to life. Which kind of walker are you?

    Both illustrations above are by Gustave Doré: the first depicts a scene from Red Riding Hood and the second, Divine Comedy — “Dante in the Dusky Woods”.

    Speaking of Red Riding Hood, Eco mentions an ‘alchemical interpretation’ of it:

    [A]n Italian scholar has tried to prove that the fable refers to the process of extracting and treating minerals. Translating the fable into chemical formulas, he has identified Little Red Riding Hood as cinnabar, an artificial mercury sulfide which is as red as her hood is supposed to be. Thus, within herself, the child contains mercury in its pure state, which has to be separated from the sulphur. […] The wolf stands for mercurous chloride, otherwise known as calomel (which means “beautiful black” in Greek). The stomach of the wolf is the alchemist’s oven in which the cinnabar is transformed into mercury. (pp. 91-92)

    However, Eco points out a flaw in this theory, which was identified by Valentina Pisanty. Why is Red Riding Hood still wearing a red hood instead of silver hood when she comes out of the beast’s belly?

    1Eliot’s collection of essays, published in 1922, was titled The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism.

    Poetry Jam | Hong Kong International Literary Festival | Friday 11 March

    Poetry doesn’t get better than this!

    “Visiting and local poets read their own and others’ work in a sticky, noisy and unpredictable mix, ring-mistressed by Viki Holmes. Ticket price includes a $30 drinks voucher redeemable at the door.”

    Friday, 11 March 2011
    Poetry Jam

    19:30 – 21:30
    Fringe Club
    This Friday, if you are in Hong Kong, you should attend Poetry Jam, an evening of poetry organised by Poetry OutLoud Hong Kong, hosted by Viki Holmes. The event is part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival 2011. Eight Cha contributors will be reading — click the images below to read their works in Cha.

    Other participating poets include Akin Jeje, Gillian Bickley, Jason Polley, Nashua Gallagher, and more. 

    Cha contributors in The Hong Kong International Literary Festival 2011

    Cha contributors Martin Alexander, Andy Barker, Viki Holmes, Wena Poon, Xu Xi, Louise Ho, Leung Ping-Kwan and our Reviews Editor Eddie Tay will be appearing in The Hong Kong International Literary Festival 2011 (8-18 March). More details can be found here.

    Sapling interviews Eddie Tay

    Eddie Tay, Reviews Editor of Cha, is interviewed by Sapling, a weekly newsletter about the world of independent publishing published by Black Lawrence Press. Each issue of Sapling is packed with useful information including

    a literary contest currently accepting submissions; a profile of a literary journal or magazine; a profile of an independent press; an interview with a writer or editor (topics range from how to craft a convincing pitch to whether an MFA is integral to becoming an established author); a Q&A, where BLP editors will answer questions submitted by readers (recent example: What should poets look for in a contract?); and a closing note featuring the successes of our subscribers. 

    You can subscribe to Sapling here.

    In Eddie’s interview (see below — courtesy of Sapling), he talks about what he looks for in book reviews, the Hong Kong literary scene, A Cup of Fine Tea, his opinion on ‘real Asia’, the important thing about Cha for him, his different roles as reviews editor, events organizer, academic and poet, and lastly, the books that impressed him in 2010. 

    Cha’s Ode to Hong Kong

    [Click the images to enlarge.]
    From Issue 1 [Link]

    From Issue 1 [Link]

    From Issue 1 [Read the entire poem]

    From Issue 2 [Read the entire poem]

    From Issue 3 [Read the entire poem]
     From Issue 9 [Read the entire poem]

    From Issue 12 [Read the entire poem] [The poem is discussed here]
    When I go back to Hong Kong, I wish to campaign for putting poetry, both Chinese and English, in public transport. Larger versions of these images for non-commercial purposes can be obtained from Cha editors for free. Please contact