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Placing Poetry at the Centre by Meena Kandasamy
In this rallying piece Meena Kandasamy – Poetry judge for the 2024 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize – traces her own journey as a writer, and sheds light on the importance of authenticity in poetry. She also talks about the types of poems that inspire her and what she is looking for in this year’s submissions.
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Letter from Kingston by Annie Paul
Annie Paul’s ‘Letter from Kingston’, published in our latest spring issue, Wasafiri 117: The State of the Industry, compares the global recognition of Jamaican writers and visual artists, highlighting the disparity in their success and the debates surrounding Jamaican writers and artists who choose to remain in the Caribbean versus those who emigrate, focusing on the complexities and nuances of this decision.
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In Defence of Reading as a Public Good by Isabel Waidner
In this inspiring piece, Fiction Judge for the 2024 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize Isabel Waidner traces their own reading and writing career and explores the importance of libraries for working class writers in developing their craft.  
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Feedback & Complaints by Jen Calleja
Jen Calleja's satirical and razor-sharp lead feature, 'Custard Pies', published in our latest spring issue, Wasafiri 117: The State of the Industry, and featuring five pastel-coloured pies ('one for each heckle I've received at a panel discussion about literary translation'), dwells on the fallacies of an 'ideal translator' — including notions of fidelity, mentorship, and who has the right to translate. This short essay, similarly and characteristically spiky and acerbic, questions preconceived notions around the translator's role and work from a personal perspective.
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Exclusive Extract: Life in the UK by SJ Kim
This reflection on 'Life in the UK' by SJ Kim explores the profound through seemingly mundane moments, such as a family meal or meeting with an editor. Read this life writing piece from Wasafiri 117:
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Photo Essay: Changing Tides, Staying Grounded by Ilya Katrinnada and Jefree Salim
Joanne Leow, co-guest editor of our winter special issue, Wasafiri 116: Shorelines: South East Asia and the Littoral, with Nazry Bahrawi and Y-Dang Troeung, introduces this online-exclusive photo essay: ‘Curating art, literature, and scholarship about the littoral zones of Southeast Asia has been unavoidably political. This photo essay by Ilya Katrinnada and Jefree Salim offers a glimpse into Orang Seletar’s indigenous lifeworlds in the straits between Malaysia and Singapore. While Katrinnada provides much needed history and context to the photographs, Jefree’s work goes well beyond ethnography, as his interview with co-guest-editor Nazry Bahrawi suggests. Indigenous storytelling through his images allows for the voices of the Orang Seletar to be heard on their terms,’ she writes.
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A hand selects a book from a library shelf.
‘The Gravity of Her Existence’: Madeleine Thien on Y-Dang Troeung
This beautiful, moving meditation on Y-Dang Troeung’s work was written and delivered by Madeleine Thien on the occasion of a celebration of life held at the University of British Columbia on 7 March 2023.
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ESEA Lit Fest: Highlights by Mailé Nguyen
The 2023 ESEA Literature Festival, the UK's first East and Southeast Asian literary festival, was held this September in partnership with the ESEA Publishing Network.
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Not as a Noun but as a Verb: Alvin Pang and Laura Jane Lee on home
State of Play brings together conversations between an international line-up of poets, taking place over the course of a year. Edited by Eddie Tay, a Singapore-born, Hong Kong-based poet, and literature professor, and Jennifer Wong, a Hong Kong-born, British-based poet, and Wasafiri's former writer in residence, the anthology explores themes ranging from the sense of home and racialised expectations, community, and language. In this extract from their essay in the collection, Alvin Pang and Laura Jane Lee dwell on the 'unhomed world' and 'home-loose-ness', belonging, and nomadic beings.
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Photography, Poetry, and Polyphony: Postmemory of The Gwangju Massacre in Han Kang’s Human Acts
Originally a poet, South Korean writer Han Kang has 'interwoven her textual practices encompassing poetry, essay, and novels.' Her book Human Acts (translated by Deborah Smith), a provocative testimony of the Gwangju massacre and simultaneously a lyrical rumination on how to narrate the event, is the outcome of Han's project on state violence from Gwangju to Buenos Aires. This study by Heewon Chung seeks to read Human Acts as a literary product of the postmemory generation, arguing that the novel's aesthetic characteristics of intermediality, intertextuality, and polyphony should be considered in order to grasp the various types of trauma transmission in the text. Read the full article online or in the print issue of the magazine.
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Promise Me, O Women by Sadia Khatri
A deeply moving and measured piece of life writing, which lays bare the experience of abortion and its aftermath. With an arresting narrative voice, Karachi-based writer Sadia Khatri explores questions around gender, ritual, and remembrance amid the refrains of grief.
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Wasafiri at Large: Indonesian Writers and Mental Health
In its inaugural year, Wasafiri was joined by five Editors at Large based in Southeast Asia and Aotearoa New Zealand. As part of our Wasafiri at Large series, each Editor at Large has shed a valuable light on their local literary scene.
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Meditations: Shalvi Jaxay Shah on 'Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation'
Wasafiri’s ‘Meditations’ is a series that features creative and personal responses to new literature, asking writers to seek connections with themselves, their own work, and the text they’re reading.
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War and the Writer-Witness by Theodora Danek
We’re pleased to share an exclusive extract from '"An Act of Politicised Attention": War and the Writer-Witness', our review essay from Wasafiri 113. The essay features writing on three texts in translation – What Have You Left Behind? by Bushra al-Maqtari, translated by Sawad Hussain; Lucky Breaks by Yevgenia Belorusets, translated by Eugene Ostashevsky; and Five Days Untold by Badr Ahmad, translated by Christiaan James – where the writers write about war — 'a war that is not a memory, a war that is not seen from abroad, but war as it is felt daily'.
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The Small h history of Life by Aanchal Malhotra
In this exclusive piece, Aanchal Malhotra, Life Writing judge for the 2023 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize, looks to her own work on archiving and making alive again the memories and histories of Partition, dwells on her recent foray into fiction following years of writing non-fiction…
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Writing Myself Down: The Language of Autofiction by Durre Shahwar
In this profound essay in fragments, Wasafiri's Writer-in-Residence Durre Shahwar explores the slipperiness of language, and the 'missed connections within or due to language'; learning Urdu, and how the 'hand movement of writing Urdu is akin to drawing'; and translation:
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Ambient Language by Stephanie Sy-Quia
In this essay, Stephanie Sy-Quia reflects on the five languages in her family, learning and un-learning language, and the multilingual environment’s earliest lesson – all through anecdotes from childhood and her experiences growing up across countries and cultures – and explores classism, (de)…
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