March's best APIA lit reads, brought to you by Hyphen magazine. To subscribe to this newsletter, visit here.
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Spring is finally here! And what better way to enjoy the newly long days than to take a quiet lunch outdoors with something good to read? For March, we have for you two mythical and musical poems by Michelle Peñaloza, a breathtaking essay on mint and rape by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee, and a review on Susan Choi's most recent novel, My Education.

Hope everything's sunny where you are!

Karissa Chen
Fiction & Poetry Editor
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Two Poems by Michelle Peñaloza

"'What did we know of that war or his tears?
We only knew what the timber remembered:
Humming hornbeam and carved cariñosa;
love sung low through open window..."

These two poems invoke the history and myths of families, both immediate and those unknown in generations before and after. Peñaloza's images hum with music and longing, and her quiet, lyrical verses transport the reader to another time, another place.  

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"Mint" by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee

"Mint is a perennial, sprouting up year after year, and the plant is hard to kill. Mint loves water, but it can survive a drought. Mint loves light, but it can survive the darkness. Mint prefers well-drained soil, but it can survive in clay. I once left a pot of mint unattended while I was on vacation; a month later, the terracotta planter held a brown plant cadaver. But then it rained. The next day, the carcass sprouted a leaf."

Christine Hyung-Oak Lee's essay "Mint" from The Rumpus is a terse, powerful piece, seemingly about mint, but not at all about mint. A startling personal essay on rape, it moves with a momentum and force, even as the narrator examines the events with a sharp, almost clinical, eye. 

[ B O O K  O F  T H E  M O N T H ]

My Education by Susan Choi

Reviewed by Andrea Kim Taylor

"Susan Choi's My Education is about relationships. But it is far from being just another tale of a young twentysomething who endures a slew of sexual awakenings. This novel transcends those tired storylines and, instead, achieves an unusual level of emotional complexity." Choi's most recent novel, about a messy love triangle between a graduate student, her professor, and his wife, surprises in that the heart of the story becomes the relationship between the student and the wife. With her capability to draw her characters with honesty and complexity, "Choi reminds us of what it means to be young, inexperienced and uneducated. What she teaches us is the importance of a kind of self-awareness, an honesty that does not evade uncomfortable truths."


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