Henry W. Leung, reviewer for Lantern Review, has written an extensive review of the current edition of Cha (Issue #12); the review is now available on the LR blog.

Henry emphasises, among other things, the Asian-themed poetry (‘Most of the poems in this issue fit the “Asian” label easily enough[.]’) and the translations (‘I laud Cha for being international and diglossic, because the presence—or shadow—of other languages encourages us to confront our own more objectively.’) in the issue as well as our critique column, A Cup of Fine Tea:

If you followed the links to these poems, you’ll know that many are paired with commentary or reviews in the correlating blog, A Cup of Fine Tea, emphasizing the dialogue that small-press literary journals are intended to be.

In the review, works by Annie Zaidi, Clara Hsu, Eddie Tay, Fiona Sze-Lorrain, Helle Annette Slutz, Kim-An Lieberman, Marco Yan, Inara Cedrins and Peters Bruveris, Phill Provance, Steven Schroeder and W.F. Lantry are discussed, some very favourably. 

Henry also poses an important question to Cha editors in his review: as an Asian journal, should we be more aware of publishing pieces that fit the “Asian” label? Of course, “Asian” can be roughly interpreted at least two ways: 1) Asian-themed works and 2) works by Asian writers/artists. However, in his discussion, Henry suggests that content comes before authors’ racial make up or current location, as he points out that Annie’s and Marco’s poems, “Diaphragm” and “Remembrance” respectively, ‘don’t immediately fit any distinct cultural categories’, despite the fact that Annie is from Mumbai and Marco lives in Hong Kong. Henry reminds us, then, that a piece of work by an Asian-born or Asian-based writer does not by default make it “Asian”. I agree there is a distinction.

The discussion of “Asian-ness” reminded me of Jeff‘s editorial written for the second anniversary issue of Cha (Issue #9), in which he contemplates on the notion of “Asian writing community” in today’s globalised world:

I also had no sense of the diversity of the Asian writing community. When we began, I assumed that Asian writers were those found on the continent, locals, maybe a handful of expats. I have come to realise that this definition was far too narrow—that in a globalised world the idea of Asian writing must be more inclusive and fluid, must encompass the perspectives of writers from the diasporas, travellers to the region, even people with an interest in the continent. Asia it turns out is everywhere. All you have to do is open your doors. How else can one run a Hong-Kong based journal from a house in London?

Admittedly, the passage above does not cover works by ‘foreigners’ that are not in any way thematically relevant to Asia — a concern raised by Henry in his review of Cha. Looking through the journal’s archive, I can say that the prose pieces are all Asian-related while in other categories we have not been as strict. For example, in our selection of poetry, “Asian” is far from the first criteria that we use to judge a piece. Why is that? Henry has drawn our attention to a point that we will certainly be thinking some more. What are people’s thoughts on this?

Thank you, Henry and Lantern Review, for reading Cha so attentively and sharing your thoughts with us!

Also read “Cha A Literary Review Debate”

Meet Steven Schroeder

Steven Schroeder, who told us he’s already expecting the first snow in Chicago, has appeared in Cha several times. His poems “Guidebook Says” and “A Water Planet” were published in the first anniversary issue (“Guidebook Says” was also discussed on A Cup of Fine Tea), while his poetry sequence “Shenzhen, Three Times” was featured in Issue 8 of the journal. In the September 2010 issue of Cha, we will be publishing a poem from his collection A Dim Sum of the Day Before: “You Can Smell Roads”. Our Consulting Editor Reid Mitchell, who is reviewing the book for the issue, described the poem:

It is set in a city “growing / unfamiliar fast,” presumably Shenzhen. The newly rich are displacing the traditional dwellers: “Now / oyster fishermen’s huts have given way to tents, and you know they will not be here long.”

Bio: Steven Schroeder is the co-founder, with composer Clarice Assad, of the Virtual Artists Collective (a “virtual” gathering of musicians, poets, and visual artists) that has published five poetry collections each year since it began in 2004. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in After Hours, Concho River Review, the Cresset, Druskininkai Poetic Fall 2005, Macao Closer, Mid-America Poetry Review, Poetry East, Poetry Macao, Rhino, Shichao, Sichuan Literature, Texas Review, TriQuarterly, Wichita Falls Literature & Art Review, and other literary journals. He has published two chapbooks, Theory of Cats and Revolutionary Patience, and five full-length collections, Fallen Prose, The Imperfection of the Eye, Six Stops South (reviewed in Cha), A Dim Sum of the Day Before, and (with Debby Sou Vai Keng) A Guest Giving way Like Ice Melting: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Laozi. He teaches at the University of Chicago in Asian Classics and the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults.

one by one OUTLOUD 5 May

one by one

one person:

one poem ~ story ~ song…

the following poets/writers/artists will perform

akin jeje
brian mulcahy
yuen che-hung
christian johnson
zheng danyi
dave mckirdy
fanny-min becker
chan fongie
shoko fujioka
gerard henry
gillian bickley
jessica yeung
jonathan douglas
keon lee
chung ling
mary jane newton
michael holland
michael ingham
pauline burton
salah elewa
sarah brennan
sayed gouda
shahilla shariff
sonia au
stephen richards
mak su yin
tanya hart
virginia chu
wong yankwaii


5 may 2010 ~ fringe club ~ 8pm ~ free
emcee: madeleine marie slavick
presented by OUTLOUD (est. 1999)

Steven Schroeder’s new book On Not Finding Rome

Steven Schroeder’s new book On Not Founding Rome is now available from the Cascade Books imprint of Wipf and StockPublishers. “This book is an attempt to critically embrace a tradition—a culture—in which the author was formed and against which he has often found himself in resistance, using academic disciplines in which he is well versed but about which he is deeply suspicious. This book began to come together as a book in a series of lectures on the history of Western thought at Shenzhen University in the People’s Republic of China, an opportunity to cultivate disciplined criticism that might afford a second look at traditions behind the West which are being embraced all too quickly. In a time of acceleration, this book offers a meditation on the virtue of hesitation. The book is an invitation to philosophy and the history of ideas, but it is also a sustained critical reflection on the religious dimensions—explicit and implicit—of those ideas, with enough utopian visionleft to imagine a city in which violence is not necessary.”

Steven will be in Oklahoma and Texas in February and March for readings from A Dim Sum of the Day Before, and he would be happy to coordinate those readings with events related to this book. Email Steven at steven_schroederATearthlinkDOTnet.

Steven Schroeder’s poetry has been published in issues #5 and #8 of Cha. You can also read an analysis of his poem “Guidebook Says” here.

New anthology released by Virtual Artists Collective

Virtual Artists Collective has just released a new poetry anthology, on the no road way to tomorrow, edited by 李森 Li Sen, 梁慧春 Liang Huichun, 龙晓滢 Long Xiaoying, Charlie Newman 查理·纽曼, and Cha contributor Steven Schroeder 史蒂文·施罗德.

The English title of this bilingual collection (taken from the last line of the last poem) tips a hat to Jack Kerouac and to Laozi, while the Chinese title (taken from the first line of the first poem) welcomes readers to a realm of small things. The 27 poets gathered here share a delight in one small thing – poetry – that has made a scene worthy of big celebrations in each of the two cities they represent – Kunming and Chicago. The anthology is the result of an ongoing collaboration, the Chicago-Kunming Poetry Group, that has published two annual volumes of New Poetry Appreciation, which gathers the work of Chinese poets and Chicago poets in Chinese translation. The poems in this anthology are selected from the journal and presented in both English and Chinese. The anthology (which also includes 28 black and white photos) gathers a fascinating cross-section of contemporary poetry in English and Chinese, a dim sum selected from two cities where poetry thrives, a tasty introduction to two vibrant communities of poetry.


Steven Schroeder’s poetry has been published in issues #5 and #8 of Cha.

New Publications from Virtual Artists Collective Poetry

Three new publications from Virtual Artists Collective Poetry (co-founder: Steven Schroeder):

Two Southwests, a bilingual anthology of 27 poets from the southwests of China and the United States.

Pluck a Lotus for Pleasure, a bilingual edition (co-published with Associated Stories of Macao) featuring new translations of women poets from the Song Dynasty

Boki, a new collection by Indian poet Nitoo Das.

Steven Schroeder’s poetry has been published in issue #5 of Cha.