Saturday, February 10, 2007

On Nick Carbo's Guest Edited Issue of MiPOesias: Asian American Issue 2007

Last month, Nick Carbo guest edited a special issue of MiPOesias magazine featuring Asian American poets. It is, as many poets far and wide attested (Ron Silliman, Michelle Buchanan, a few of the contributors themselves), an extraordinary issue. It is remarkable for several reasons: 1) its fairly wide sampling of new and established (for lack of more appropriate terms) poets; 2) the visual attractiveness of MiPOesias itself and that fantastic jumping person on the "cover"; 3) such a gathering of poets in one publication hasn't occurred all that frequently, as far as I know, and it hasn't occurred as of late. If you know of more, please post them here.

A while back, Roger Pao lamented the lack of publications for APA poets and writers. Of course, these writers' work will, through the hard work and commitment of various people, continue to be disseminated. I think of Susan Schultz at Tinfish, Didi Menendez at MiPOesias, even perhaps Small Press Traffic and the Bay Area groups, of course Quang Bao and Jeannie Wong and folks at the Asian American Writers Workshop, Meritage Press, Kaya Press, and more. But as far as I know there are not many regularly published literary magazines or issues devoted to such writers. There are some good ones that have ended their runs, such as Summi Kaipa's excellent publication, interlope. Is disORIENT still around? How about the Moonrabbit Review? Bryan Thao Worra has done a great deal to build and promote such journals, heavily involved in the great journal for Hmong writers, Paj Ntaub Voice. Mor Chang, founder of the great website,, has created a wonderful site where all poets are welcome.

This is not a call for MiPOesias to go print, although I am sure she has had many requests. Didi Menendez has already ventured into that with OCHO, along with her beautiful greeting cards featuring her paintings of poets (I recommend the Lorna Dee Cervantes one with the Rilke passage inside the card).

But here's the thing. That issue's just too damned good to be scrolled through quickly like a Google search for Home Remedies for a Backache. I wonder, Nick Carbo or Didi Menendez: how about turning the MiPOesias Asian American 2007 issue into a chapbook? I counted about 36 poets. If funding were an issue, as it almost always is, I am certain there are presses or organizations that could put up a few hundred dollars to address costs.

I have come to love online publications. My favorites are the Cortland Review, Drunken Boat, Octopus, Born Magazine, Reb Livingston's great No Tell Motel, and of course, MiPOesias.

But when an issue like Nick Carbo's comes out, I want more. I want to turn the pages. I want to order it for my Poetry class or my Asian American Literature class and teach the poems alongside a memoir, novel, anthology, or play. It's too good to become a minor note in an archive of blogs. It's so rich, I hope we can have more.


jenni said...

It really is a great issue. We are publishing chapbooks, in fact there's an open submission call right now. So anyone reading this--send your chapbook!


didi said...

You know Lee this is actually really upsetting to me. Yes this is a VERY IMPORTANT issue. Why didn't a publication like the Poetry Organization which has millions go out of their way to publish such an issue. Hell why didn't any print publication think of this? Or feel there was a need for this publication to happen. It took my insight and my friendship with Nick Carbo to put an issue like this together. It was me that went to Nick. I picked up what Nick could do with a project like this. This is a possibly a historical event. I don't know. I agree that your students should have these poems in class. They should be taught in every high school, university and in people's homes. I remember when I was a little girl, my father would recite poems to us by Jose Marti- one of Cuba's icon poets. It was a way to make us proud of our heritage. It was a way to introduce poetry to a child. I am sure you have a printer. I am sure your university has a copy machine.

I am upset with not so much your comments about this not being available in print - but more so because I am tired of getting comments and opinions like this in general about online publications. More people are able to read this issue because it is online. If it were in print only, it would not have been read by as many or be available longer for as many to enjoy.

Thank you,
Didi Menendez

didi said...

Furthermore, I feel you should be setting an example to other teachers and parents. I feel you should have said that the issue is online but that you were going to get this to your students through hell or high water. Please. There is a forest out there. Please don't let the trees get in your way. Please do not drown in a glass of water.

Thank you again.
Didi Menendez

Ed Nudelman said...

The key here is dispelling a long-time myth and presupposition that online journals are in some way inferior, by nature, to print journals. There may be reasons why this myth has been propagated, but with brilliant and innovative minds like Didi producing state of the art online web journals, (and don't forget miPOradio), it's time for the tide to completely turn.

evie said...

hi! thanks for this post calling attention to the fabulous work in the "asian american issue" of *mipoesias.* i agree that nick carbo has done an excellent job with this publication.

but i agree with didi that one of the wonderful things about this issue appearing in an online journal, rather than as a print anthology, is that it is available to so many more people -- and for free! i'm teaching a creative writing class this semester in which i regularly require my students to read and come prepared to discuss poems that appear in online journals, from the very established (e.g., *poetry daily*) to the brand new (e.g., *womb*). i use print anthologies in my teaching, too, of course, but i am constrained in that arena by what hasn't gone out of print and what my students (predominantly working class kids at a state institution) can afford.

*mipoesias* isn't a blog. it's a journal. it's here *now,* presenting the poets' newest work (complete with audio!), and it will be archived online for years to come, thanks to didi's foresight. i'm not calling for the end of printed literature -- i would mourn the absence of the book deeply. but online publications are viable, vital, and necessary complements to what the print world has to offer. if didi's work inspires some print publisher to do something like what she's done with carbo, all the better to have such collections existing in both realms!


Anonymous said...

I've seen so many accomplished writers minimize the importance of online publications by stating things like "this should be in print". The fact is, it IS in print now. Electronic print in my opinion is superior by far. Why? It is available anywhere, anytime. You can search a poet and poem on your cell phone and discuss it with a group of people/at a party, your class/in the park, on vacation/at the beach if you want. Key word: access. One publication reaches the world. The world.

I understand the fear of a good publication dissappearing over time. Vanishing into thin air. The solution: A handful of online publications that will stay with us. Commited publishers and poets that will keep these electronic magazines alive. Offering your publication in pdf format is something I think every publisher should consider as well. Not because I think it needs to be printed, but because I think the reader should have the choice to print it if they desire to do so.

Dan Coffey said...

Lee, as a Literature Librarian at a midwestern university, I am constantly working with teaching faculty to get them to understand that many online publications are on par with or superior to their contemporary print brethren. If you want to teach this miPO issue in your classes, you should, and you'd be doing your students an extra service by letting them know that quality information and publications of literary worth do exist on the Internet. Many students have an old-guard instructor-fuelled fear of using ANYTHING that is housed electronically in cyberspace, because of the threat of things like Home Remedies for a Backache.

So, please enjoy the rare thrill of having your cake and eating it too. You've got the excellent Carbo-edited issue and you've got it online which gives you an extra "teachable moment." And as someone above said, rejoice in the fact that such a wonderful publication has the capability to be read by an exponentially larger number of people than if it were a chapbook. And, if you have a color printer, you can always print it out!!



Pearl said...

It seems what I'm hearing is a desire for a hand feel more than just a print out a stack from the issue. It doesn't seem to say it is less real for being an online magazine

It seems to be saying, outstanding work, that should be read everywhere. And wouldn't it be great could be structured like a chapbook so people could pop it in their pockets and read it on the bus.

What if there were a button like "printer-friendly" for some site that would make it a chapbook so it would print onto 81/2 by 11 and be folded ready to go?

Lee Herrick said...

Didi, I regret that I didn't write this to you first personally (as well as Nick), but I didn't realize the amount of ________ (whatever you want to call it) you have about this issue. But I obviously hit a nerve, and I apologize for that.

By re-posting an announcement about it, I meant to publicize it more, which you seem to be challenging me to do. I know of your amazing output, I have a small idea of the work and thanklessness of publishing (I am the founding editor of a literary magazine that has published for over ten years, independent of a dime of grant money or any other funding or staff), and you are right, this is a "historical event," which is the gist of my post.

It's an incredible issue. I stand corrected that yes, online it is available to wide audience (btw, I never made any negative comment about online publishing whatsoever)You don't want it bound. So be it. Apparently I have committed a major sin in feeling this way.

Of course I have a printer. Of course I could print it out. I recognize that that this is what people are saying here. I get it. But if the tone of my post suggested that you are not doing enough or that you should have done it in print, that was not my intent whatsoever. I know you don't publish these things casually for people to scroll through quickly, but I fear they do, and that was one of the points I was trying to make. Slow down. Read this issue. But of course, people could just breeze through a hard copy the same way, I understand. And, I simply said the issue is remarkable and that I would love to have a book of it. Forgive me, ad nauseum. I WILL PRINT IT OUT.

To days ago I ordered OCHO #7, and I will continue to read and admire MiPO and the other great publications I already mentioned in my original post---in their online forms and in their new hard copy editions.

So, Didi---I stand corrected (and chastised).

Evie, thank you for your comments. Boy, I sure should make myself more clear in my posts. I did not mean that MiPO is a blog (I know it isn't). I meant that readers of my own blog (aside from poets, publishers, or people in that issue) might not take the time to look through it carefully (from my blog) and appreciate the poems in it. Or maybe that just reflects MY bad reading habits. And good God, my post had everything to do with praise for Didi and Nick's work, not the opposite.

But I'm a slow learner and have only recently realized the power of online publications (I said I was a slow learner). You're right Evie (and Didi), I will just print it out. It's a great issue.

Dan and Pearl, yes to both of your comments and insights.

Lee Herrick said...

I do that, too, Evie---having students read poems online, and I also have them watch performances of readings (on individual poet websites, YouTube, wherever they are). In one of my classes last week they watched and then critiqued Alvin Lau's poem "Asia-Ameica, Where Have You Gone?" alongside Adriel Luis' Grammy winning short poem/film, "Slip of the Tongue." We're doing June Jordan audio next.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lee, it's Michelle B. I forgot my password that's why I published anonymously. Of course, I didn't say it as eloquently as everyone else.

When I read this issue, the first thing I did was email didi and ask her if I can get it in pdf format. I know what you mean about reading habits. There are times when an issue comes out and I want to hold it in my hands, absorb it.

Ps. I didn't take your post to mean anything more than you wanted to see this issue in print because it so damn good.

Availability to print out an issue in a nice format should compliment every online issue.

I guess I should check my email and see if I can reset my password now!

evie said...


hey -- thanks for your response! i didn't mean for you to feel beat up about this. and it was indeed clear that your blog entry was a supportive one in its intent.

moreover, you *do* have a point about the way people skim online. i wonder what could help slow surfers down... then, too, as you also noted, we skim hard copies as well. i wish many more people took the time to read *anything* slowly and lovingly.

one last point about mipo, in particular, and online publishing, in general: the visual aspects of the screen -- at least in publications that really attend to this like didi does -- create a kind of aesthetic space for the text that a white page wouldn't, no matter how fab the cover were. i'll confess now that i am biased, in part because i'm working with didi on another special issue. i mention this because i've learned in this process just how collaborative this work is -- her sense of how the issue will *look* comes out of, but is independent of, the words of the poems and the editorial vision of the guest editor. and look at how cool that turned out in the case of the carbo issue!

thanks again for posting this blog entry, lee!


Lee Herrick said...

Michelle, Evie: thank you both very much for your comments/ understanding about where I was coming from with my post. It means a lot.

And yes, absolutely, to your comments about the strengths of MiPOesias and Didi's work!

I look forward to reading your issue, Evie. One of my favorite poets had told me she'll be in it.

Bryan Thao Worra said...

Ah well- you know me, Lee.

I'm a sucker for this debate, but my opinion stands firm: It's nice to get publication in BOTH print and online.

But if push comes to shove? I get wider distribution online, as it is, and a broader international readership than if I was tucked in the back pages of Scuzzy Toe Review.

The Asian American issue is definitely a new classic and from the looks of it a potential turning point in many ways. Hats off to Nick Carbo for doing a great job with it.

But in either case, I do think it will be nice for the PAYING market to grow, print or online for Asian American poetics.

THAT, in my opinion is the next big step- Not the emergence of writers, because I think we've actually got those, now.

But what we need is the emergence of good-paying, credible venues to provide Asian American poets a means to actually make something close to a living.

But hey, don't mind me. I'm just going on here, thinking out loud. Have a great day everyone. :)

Mike said...

Great post, Lee. I wanted to add just two thoughts and I hope I can even add something to the comments above.

First off: The Asian American issue 2007 MiPoesias is amazing! The poetry rocks!!! Didi's page design rocks, especially the cover art which is completely captivating-- I immediately wanted to read it upon seeing it. It also makes me exuberant whenever I gaze at it. Classic. Timeless.

Second: What I find amazing about this topic, as a few have already hinted, is the fact that MiPoesias Magazine is in the midst of the online vs. print debate -- that the contents are viable and valuable enough to compete with the old guard print journals and magazines.

By saying this, I'm not saying that MiPo's previous issues have not been good. They have been. It's just that Didi started from the basement and has made MiPoesias a name due to her exhaustive efforts and undying vision to create the magazine, but more importantly a community /brain trust of excellent poets and poetically-minded talent that help strengthen and substantiate the magazine.

It's thrilling to be a part of MiPoesias. And on the advent of Evie's issue, there is much to be optimistic about the prospects of an even more-recognizable MiPo.

Mike said...

Hey, I just realized that my new login name "Mike" doesn't link to my personal blog. It takes you to the blog I co-write with my friends. So, my real name is Michael Parker and my url address is

Lee Herrick said...

Bryan, Michael: thanks for your comments, insightful as usual, and you are both right on the money. Yes, it would sure be nice if the paying market would grow (print or online)...and Michael, I had that thought too---that it's telling that MiPoesias in the midst of the discussions of the worth and/or viability of the old guard print magazines.

Dan, I shall indeed rejoice in the dual pleasures of Carbo's issue, and as I mentioned, I will print it out. I do not, however, need the reminder to direct students to online publications. I didn't start teaching just yesterday, Dan, (it's been about fiteen years now) and while I may not be the most well-versed in online publications, I do not in any way, shape, or form, instill an "old-guard instructor-fuelled fear" in my students regarding online publications. "Old-guard" I am not. Do not put that on me---by association or implication.

carbonator said...

hi lee and other friends. good discussion here. check out my blog for my thoughts on the issue(s).


Dan Coffey said...

Lee, sorry if you took it as implied or by association that I was referring to you with that phrase. I certainly wasn't. Hell, I don't even know you! I was writing from the frame of mind of just having worked with students who were having trouble with an assignment for the reasons mentioned in my original comment, that's all. I do appreciate the good words that you had for MiPO.


didi said...


later tonight I will make available the actual manuscript nick put together and sent me to work from. I will make it available in a pdf and upload it to the mipoesias servers so you can print that.

thanks -


Lee Herrick said...

nick, i appreciate your post, the hard work involved, and the tremendous result. it is gratifying to see that others echo what i said in the first post---it is an amazing and historic issue. thanks for sharing your "behind-the-scenes" thoughts, also. i love some of the new voices...i love jake's work, jennifer's, and mike maniquiz's poems are incredible. he's a really good reader, too.

dan, the fact that we don't know each other is partly why i was surprised you posted in my comments section about "old-guard" mentalities. you posted it in my comments after my post--hence the inference i made. if your post was an apology, i accept it. i have also worked with the sort of student you describe. i'm glad you liked the issue as well.

didi, i hope you know how much admiration i have for mipo. and the responses here attest to what i've felt, even from the short time i've "known" you---there is great respect and affection for what you do. a ton of kudos.

Lee Herrick said...

actually, someone else called it historic. i just happen to agree.

didi said...

email me - so I can send you the copy of it. I decided I don't want to have it online because it is missing stuff like the videos and other features that can really only be valued online.

thanks -


sumeia said...

Just wanted to say thanks for putting this up, Lee. I haven't been keeping up and probably wouldn't have heard about it otherwise.

I did print it out just so I wasn't stuck in front of my monitor. Call me sentimental, but nothing compares to reading while being curled up on the couch under my favorite throw and a cup of coffee nearby. Hehe, I think my age is showing.

Pris said...

I didn't take your post as critical at all of online publications...simply that you'd like to see it in print, too. That would be the ideal world for me, ie to have both options. The online version there to reach more people and have the kinds of features print can't have, and the print to hold and keep in your library or pull out before bed at night. I can only sit at a computer so long, so I can't savor and reread.

And yes, I can print it out, too, I know. I do that with a lot of things I want to reread if the format works for printing.


Lee Herrick said...

didi, don't worry about sending it...(but i appreciate your willingness to do so)...i printed it up, and it turned out okay. It cuts off some of the letters on the right side, but I can still understand it. maybe i'll tinker with it to see if i can get a cleaner (entire) print out.

sumeia, my pleasure. i'd planned to make the post my last one for a while. i figure if i just leave it there, people will have to eventually read it...hope all's well with you!

hi pris, thanks for your comments! and happy belated anniversary, btw. i really liked the pictures you posted.