In 2012, the Asian American Writers' Workshop launched a set of online magazines in order to build conversations around cutting-edge ideas in Asian American literature, art, and social justice. Though the aims of our publications are distinct, both of them are committed to the reinvention and advancement of Asian American intellectual culture.
- The Margins is our magazine of arts and ideas dedicated to charting the rise of the Asian American creative class through essays, interviews, and creative writing.
- Open City is our narrative journalism magazine that seeks to tell the stories of Asian American neighborhoods, primarily in New York.
We’re looking for 1) original creative writing, whether poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or even interdisciplinary work; 2) essays on literature and politics by sophisticated thinkers who can speak to a general audience about race, gender, sexuality, immigration, postcolonialism, pop culture, and diaspora; 3) reportage about immigrant communities in NYC by narrative storytellers who can set a scene with rich imagery and descriptive detail.
Our stories have been linked to by the Wall Street Journal, the New Inquiry and the New York Times. Our contributors have included Jessica Hagedorn, Hanya Yanagihara, Chang-rae Lee, Bhanu Kapil, Ashok Kondabolu, Jenny Zhang, Katie Kitamura, Hua Hsu, Kim Hyesoon, Alexander Chee, Vijay Iyer, and Yoko Ogawa. See below for ways you can submit your work!
The Transpacific Literary Project is an ambitious online editorial initiative of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW) that is poised to foster literary connections between East and Southeast Asia, the Asian diaspora, and a broader American reading public. The project will take the shape of a series of portfolios published on AAWW’s online magazine The Margins. These portfolios will comprise poetry and prose written by East and Southeast Asian writers curated around broad themes, and will seek to traverse geographic and other boundaries.
We are currently seeking submissions for our first two portfolios:
When something or someone is gone, what gets left behind? Anything from the remnants of fallen empires or colonialism, to indelible marks from people, ideas or movements long gone. Many parts of Asia are palimpsests, with layers of history inscribed and re-inscribed upon them. In what surprising or hidden ways do we see these traces of the long departed? We are open to any interpretation of this theme, from photo essays showing how the Boxing Day tsunami permanently altered the landscape, to speculative fiction imagining what might be left of present-day cultures a thousand years hence.
What are the flows of money across the world, and what do they mean? The ways in which we send and receive cash, as well as the movement of people, goods and ideas that this betokens. Again, this theme should be interpreted broadly—we are keen to explore remittance as metaphor alongside more literal applications of the word. Could phenomena such as the American colleges establishing branch campuses in Asia, or the Chinese ritual of burning paper goods for the dead, be regarded as forms of remittance?
Please send in fiction (including graphic fiction), non-fiction or poetry, indicating which theme you are submitting for, and whether submission is by the author or translator. If the latter, please indicate that English-language rights are available. We are unlikely to publish anything over 2,500 words, though we will make exceptions for particularly deserving pieces. Submissions should not have been previously published in English.
Do note that we expect most of the work published in the Transpacific Literary Project will be in translation. That said, we will also consider English-language work by writers from, or with a demonstrable engagement with, East or Southeast Asia.
AAWW will hold exclusive print and online rights to your piece for 90 days, and your story will be archived online. All other rights remain with the writer and translator.
All contributors of original work (including translators) will be paid.
We are also happy to look at ARCs of forthcoming books with a view to publishing extracts.
Please only submit one piece at a time for each portfolio (ie. you may submit two pieces during the same period, if they are for different themes). Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but we ask that you withdraw the piece promptly if it is accepted somewhere else.
If you require more information, please get in touch with email@example.com
*One of the aims of The Transpacific Project will be to interrogate the idea of the Transpacific, and where exactly the region might lie. As such, the following list of countries should be regarded as indicative and non-exclusive; broadly, East and South-east Asia consists of : Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, North Korea, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and their diasporas.
We're looking to publish:
- Essays on recently published works of Asian and Asian American literature as well as critical essays about a single writer's body of work (please note that we do not publish straightforward book reviews)
- Lively essays and cultural commentary written through the lens of race, immigration, and transnationalism
- Reported features profiling writers and artists of interest
- Researched pieces that examine countercultural figures and movements and histories of Asian America
- Creative nonfiction pieces and lyric essays
- Deeply researched "explainers," or articles that help unpack topics or conversations using multiple sources (for example, an intro to queer Asian American literature)
PITCHES ONLY, PLEASE
Examples of nonfiction features and essays we've published in The Margins:
In "Five Boroughs, Seven Killings," Rishi Nath goes in search of the New York City of Marlon James' Booker Prize-winning novel A Brief History of Five Killings.
In "The Limits of Diversity," Jennifer Pan writes on how the feel-good politics of multiculturalism have blinded the literary world to the real roots of racial inequality.
In "The Ghosts They Carried," Kitana Ananda writes about Shyam Selvadurai's latest novel, The Hungry Ghosts, and the violence that haunts the lives of many in post-war Sri Lanka.
In "The Skin I'm In," Naeem Mohaiemen writes about an early lost history of a time of Black-Bengali racial solidarity though Vivek Bald's Bengali Harlem.
Michelle Chen profiles artist Matt Huynh, whose interactive graphic comic adaptation of Nam Le's short story "The Boat" connects to a conversation about refugees today.
In "Fu Manchu and Lao She," Jeffrey Wasserstrom brings together an extraordinary, fictional supervillain with a Chinese writer best known for his tales of ordinary Beijing life.
We’re looking for:
- Poetry that challenges/subverts convention (in both poetry and society)
- Poetry that is not afraid to be humorous, dirty, and obscene
- Poetry that explores history
- Poetry that responds to current events and issues
- Translations of poetry (given the submitter explains that he/she/they has/have acquired the rights to publish them, along with the originals)
- Poems need not be a specific length/form/style (e.g. long, short, formal, free verse, erasure)
- Submissions should be no longer than six pages total. Multiple poems may be submitted in the same document.
Every other Friday, we publish original works of short fiction by emerging and established Asian American writers in the Margins. We accept submissions for our Fiction Friday feature. Please allow at least five weeks for a response. Please one submission at a time, no multiple submissions. Stories should be 4,000 words or less. We allow simultaneous submissions, so long as you notify our editors if and when your piece has been accepted elsewhere.
We’re looking for fiction that:
- Is written for the Asian American community and inhabits the space of Asian America
- Describes rather than explains what it’s like to inhabit this space
- Is intersectional: feminist, queer, transnational, decolonizing
- Feels urgent and necessary
- Is messy in all the right ways
- Defies categorization
- Celebrates difference and unpredictability
We don’t want:
- Writing that stultifies the reader with stereotypes, stock characters, clichés
- Moralistic, one-dimensional stories that conform to conventions
- To be bored
- Writing that makes us suspect it of ulterior motives
- Writing that polices, shuts things down, dehumanizes
Are you a New York City-based Chinese American who feels strongly that the arts and culture scene of first-generation Chinese in Manhattan's Chinatown needs to be shared to a wider audience? The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is looking for writers who will cover and write about events like Cantonese opera, local art shows, calligraphy, tai chi, etc.
The Manhattan Chinatown Arts project aims to bridge generations and to introduce traditional Chinese arts and culture to second-generation Asian American audiences.
Send us your story pitches (not more than two per submission) and your resume. Kindly include a cover letter.
Your stories will be posted in Open City, a digital magazine of the the Asian American Writers' Workshop. We have a small budget for writer's honorarium.