Transpacific Literary Project

The Transpacific Literary Project holds a space for writing and translation from East and Southeast Asia, shared in ways that may reorient reader relationships to languages and literatures. Organized by themed folios, the project draws connections between emerging and established voices across this expansive region in collaboration with a key group of contributing editors who advise on resonant themes, translate and circulate calls for submission among their networks, and broaden the language communities who contribute to each folio.

Exploring themes that tackle issues of aesthetics and politics as shared concern from diverse perspectives, past folios of the project have dug into unlikely subjects as tiny as grammar (The Pronoun), or as mundane as a house shoe (The Slipper), to bring out surprising discussions of representation and relationality, constraint and hierarchy, resistance and refusal to settle within established frames. Indeed, the “Transpacific” and the notion of this region as a fixed place observed from the outside, is itself one such frame that the Transpacific Literary Project attempts to disturb.

PORTFOLIO

The bringing home of prepared food from a kopitiam, restaurant, or cafe is a cornerstone of Malaysian culture. The Ta Pau folio takes this practice as a launching...

PORTFOLIO

Disposable and ubiquitous, this everyday object is also imbued with deep personal and cultural significance and beneath its surface appearance. The Slipper folio gathers six works of writing,...

PORTFOLIO

How much does this cost? This practical question of the marketplace can reach into the deeper waters of vulnerability and capitalist corruption, memory and nostalgia, labor...

PORTFOLIO

This category of little words entwined in big discussions of identity and representation is ripe with possibility when shared across language and culture. The Pronoun folio...

PORTFOLIO

This material substance, its deathless refusal to disintegrate, its poison, its falseness, its relentless production and our growing dependence on it makes for the critical subject of the...

PORTFOLIO

Whether it’s in the strangeness of returning to a place that has so quickly and drastically changed, or as the projection of colonial imagination onto a landscape, or...

PORTFOLIO

How can we trust the evidence of our eyes, when no gaze is ever neutral and images are constructed things, when time alters perspective and everything is always...

PORTFOLIO

The Fluid folio wanders through liquid nature of memory, the continuous shifting of human circumstances and identity, and the wild surges and still waters of language. The pieces of original...

PORTFOLIO

Few things vanish so completely as to leave no trace of themselves. In the Residue folio, a collection of essay, memoir, poetry and prose take a look at...

PORTFOLIO

From migrant workers remitting their wages home, to the burning hell money as a remittance between the living and dead, or the remittance of culture itself under the...

Dialect Talks Back
By SueKi Yee, Ann Lee, and Anne Louis

it was such a big no-no that I had this impression of dialects 方方言言 being like swear words, or haram

Codeswitching Home
By Preeta Samarasan, Marion F. D’Cruz, Su-Feh Lee

This involves modulating my voice and accent so that I sound more Malay. It’s like having to work for my right to eat there.

The Vulnerability of Mistrust
By Ivy Josiah, Jahabar Sadiq, and Yee Heng Yeh

We are becoming hardened. I sense a hardness in the so-called liberal circles, artist circles, activist circles.

Food, Fingers, and What (Not) To Touch
By Carmen Nge, Joseph Gonzales, and Natasha Krishnan

having grown up using utensils she will never understand the comfort it brings: someone forming little mounds of rice that are pushed by the thumb into your mouth

Ta Pau: Conversations on Food and Politics in Malaysia
By Preeta Samarasan, Foo May Lyn, and the Transpacific Literary Project

The questions of who can eat what, and where, and with whom, are facts of Malaysian life, negotiated daily and often subconsciously.

Sandal-Sandal Jepit di Penjara || Sandal Jepit Swallows in Prison
By Ayu Prawitasari and Madina Malahayati Chumaera

Salah satunya: mengumpulkan sandal dari seluruh Indonesia dan diberikan kepada si polisi. || One such action: collect sandals from all around Indonesia and give them to the police.

The Slipper Folio
By Maureen S.Y. Tai and The Transpacific Literary Project

A collection of the six works of writing, translation, audio, and photography that nuzzle into different corners of this apparent insignificance

Night People
By JinJin Xu

do you know somewhere inside their language, lies something mine?

땀과 핏물과 진물이 뒤섞여 끈적한 그의 맨발이 젖어 번들거린다. || His bare feet, sticky with a mix of sweat and blood and ooze, glisten.

藍白拖
By Emily Yang

if I extradited myself from my body cleaved into infinite / particles you’d never step all over me at once

Grandma Love
By Ji Hyun Joo

The slippers allowed her the pleasure of spatial recognition, an opportunity to go back in time and become the person cared for, rather than the one perpetually burdened with the responsibility of caring.

一隻人字拖 || A Flip-Flop
By 陳抒 Hazel Chen and 吳鍄穎 Aaris Woo

總有一次不想丟掉 / 太容易丟掉 || Don’t want to lose it this time / It’s too easy to lose

[Call for Submissions] Insurgent Tongues
By Transpacific Literary Project

A new folio interrogating authoritarian attempts to control formations of self, family, school, and nation. Deadline October 7

Caution, Extremely Hot Stuff
By Phina So and Cyntha Hariadi and Tania De Rozario and Phyu Hnin Phway

A conversation on Marylyn Tan’s debut poetry collection, Gaze Back, plus a brief interview with the author

Nasi Kang Kang
By Marylyn Tan

the hot air rising from the cooker / has tightening effect on your lovehole

Trans:Act: A Folio of Marketplace Exchanges
By Transpacific Literary Project

20 Thai Baht = 33 Philippine Pesos = 44 Indian Rupees = x bolt of fabric = y square vuông of rice = 15,000 Vietnamese đồng = 2,600 Cambodian Riel = 2.6 Malaysian Ringgit = 9,100 Indonesian Rupiah = unquantifiable sweat

Menukar Rindu | multiple hands exchange a longing for home
By Annisa Savitri and Ninus Andarnuswari and Norman Erikson Pasaribu and Madina Malahayati and Fajar Santoadi

Sanggup menahan jerit, menukar peluh menjadi ringgit || [we’re] able to swallow shrieks, exchanging sweat to ringgit

slipper/sandal/house shoe/ flip flop: send your best original writing or original translation on this shared (in)significance to TLP by July 14

Van Runcit Putih | Neighborhood Sundry Van
By Zedeck Siew and Sharon Chin

Sakit lelah aku tidak lain dan tidak bukan harga hidup senang aku kini || My asthma is the cost of the middle-class life I live now

៦០០០០រៀល! មើលទៅបង! បង្កងធំៗណាស់! || 60,000 KHR. Big ones! Look at them, sister!

Những tin tức về một ngôi làng | Chronicles of A Village
By Nguyễn Thanh Hiện and Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên

một cây vải đổi lấy mười vuông thóc || one bolt of fabric for ten vuông of unhusked rice

Grandfather would have bought the Ilish—not wincing at the 1200 rupees per kilogram

ตลาดนัด | The Flea Markets
By Duanwad Pimwana and Mui Poopoksakul

รองเท้านักเรียนคู่นั้นยี่สิบบาทเองหรือ || These school uniform shoes are only twenty baht?

Tiangge
By Nikka Cornelio-Baker

Mamsa! Sitenta’ng kilo! || Jack fish, seventy pesos a kilogram.

Fruits of the Future
By Ly Thuy Nguyen

Not an assumption; not a name you learned to remember, not a fleshy shape or a face you already recognized

Does a face need a mask?
By Norman Erikson Pasaribu and Tiffany Tsao

In English, you choose to be gender-neutral. In Indonesian, it’s a gift from the language.

Safe sex and Exile | Tình dục an toàn và Lưu vong
By Vũ Thành Sơn and Kaitlin Rees

Bạn sẽ gọi quê hương bằng một đại từ nào? Tôi sẽ gọi đó là một ám ảnh | What pronoun would you use to call your birthsoil? I would call it a haunting

A changing consciousness within Mu Dan’s poetry stirs a listening in his translator

By what divine aberration did our souls divide into two, unaware of the splitting?

Everyone is here but the one who matters
By Li Qingzhao and Jenn Marie Nunes

夜來沉醉卸妝遲 || With night you sink drunk slow to undo/ your hair

Can I call my death “I”?

The First and Second I & Missing Person | Dua Aku & Orang Hilang
By Cyntha Hariadi and Norman Erikson Pasaribu

was it a gentle human hand, or black-furred / long-clawed

How the blurring of a relationship may point to a more fertile ground lying between the lines, in which multiple desires can co-exist.

The Pronoun
By Transpacific Literary Project

An introduction to the folio, featuring 누가, 네, nhân vật, con, chanh, …, 그 (kû), 님 (nim), 형 (hyeong), tôi, em, chúng ta, một ám ảnh, I, [ ], [who?], 我 (wo), kau, aku, dia, ia, you, and a selfsame similarity

In the Hardware Factory
By Zheng Xiaoqiong and Eleanor Goodman

as I bear loneliness in the shrieks of iron, it carved / my residence registration on a hole-punch

Remembering the Anonymous
By Xie Xiangnan and Bing Ma and Eleanor Goodman

This is a rectangular dream / which inevitably brings forth a rectangular waiting / a floating country can’t pillow a broken dream / and I’ve never dared say goodnight

It wasn’t the kind of place you’d notice as a casual passer-by, but one you could only find if you were looking for it.

Tonight, too, there are turning lines…/ I say I do not know, do not know.

shock-awareness
By Phan Bá Thọ

love you because i / hate your lovers loving your peripheral love

Two Poems by Sawako Nakayasu
By Sawako Nakayasu

Taking advantage of opacity, Girl E goes for it and punches indiscriminately.

As soon as they touch your saliva, the filaments dissolve. Their structure can’t sustain the contact. The sweetness is the taste of collapse.

Careful, Mama Says
By Esumi Fujimoto

A two-minute stare-down with their father’s deathbed occurs. As though the thing will explain itself.

into such sen / sitivity of it / such sense / could not say

The Age of Plastic
By Craig Santos Perez

Ultrasound waves / pulse between fluid, tissue, and bone一 / the embryo echoes.

Poor Unfortunate Fools
By Silvia Park

Astra unwrapped her long spindly fingers and weighed his member with a chilling fascination.

Fish Paste
By Nay Saysourinho

I will outrun the smell of wet decay, your Mekong river in a Gatorade bottle.

Water
By Divya Victor

After a sperm whale sucks in a squid, it will vomit out its beak.

Opening the Folio: Plastic
By Transpacific Literary Project

An introduction to the Transpacific Literary Project’s pieces of Plastic through a weaving of voices and questions to come

Mythologies have their way of explaining the basic human condition: that there will always be some where or thing you wish to get to or back to.

The Hong Kong poet talks the Umbrella movement, being an outsider and an insider in Hong Kong, and how she translates the world.

Empty Altars
By Johanna Dong

Văn An had neglected ritual, not realizing that this was a land now full of ghosts left too long unmoored. That there might be consequences for forgetting to fear.

Indigenous Species
By Khairani Barokka

Hard to tell from your / Silence where you’re taking me. / But I’m guessing / It’s loin-deep in the place / Where they’re collapsing / Entire cosmologies into pulp and paper.

recollect
By Lawrence Ypil

How do I tell you that I have done this before? / How to build a diorama of what I am not.

Cethu
By Nabila Najwa

I keep the butts of my clove cigarettes in a candy tin. I pound it shut, hide it away. So it stays a secret.

I am the last of them—a woman with her own dreams, not salvaged from the cloud-based data lake that I created.

Deep End
By Kaitlin Chan

I remember exactly where I was when I found out Ren Hang killed himself.

Baby Doll
By Zhu Yue

The doll stares at its owner, eyes sparkling with cruelty. It wakes the baby up, hands her the toy block. The baby, as though possessed, crams the toy in her mouth.

The usual / drama of chiaroscuro, / how it begins / in medias res for the sake / of the viewer.

Portraits of Mao
By Faye Yan Zhang

For some reason, all of Warhol’s portraits show Mao from an angle that reveals only one of the Chairman’s ears.

Filipino time
By Janelle Marie Salanga

but really every word sounds like the sun/ sweltering in the middle of Santacruzan

Literature as a Third Eye
By Hideo Furukawa

Having two eyes prevents us from simplifying things, from seeing everything around us two-dimensionally. I guess you could say that seeing through two eyes is what makes us human.

The world held us / In glass circles

Sea Mothers
By Janet Hong

My child, we all become white-haired soon enough.

Nyima Tsering’s Tears
By Tsering Woeser

This was the first time he had seen so many exiled Tibetans of his own flesh and blood in a foreign land. Though they were only a few feet away, it was as if they were separated by ranges of mountains.

i have seen the line at the bottom of sky crack glimmers of clear light

Think about it: if rain accumulating above someone / resumes descent, where does it fall?

From its very beginning this story is fated to be exposed by the light.

In an increasingly divided world, translated literature brings us closer together. As the year draws to a close, we asked some of our favorite writers, editors, and translators for their recommendations.

‘These were / all the gold coins that he laid by in a life of poverty, / saved up in the vault of his mind’

Animals are strangely perceptive—in their instinct to survive, they find a home

Nobody can stop things if they want to go back to their roots.

The Debt of Fish and Ant
By The Transpacific Literary Project

When the tide rises, it is easy for the fish to prey on the ant, but when it ebbs, the fish becomes the ant’s prey.

Koh Su
By Puthut EA

All my early life was tied up in tales of nasi goreng.

The Experiment of the Tropics
By Lawrence Lacambra Ypil

That American thing · The good old good

Suppressed sexual violence in the name of revolution lay in the abyss of our consciousness.

Hybrid Cookbook: Two Poems
By The Transpacific Literary Project

Funny how it ends up that you’re the leftovers.

The Quiet Ones
By Glenn Diaz

They always had us at hello, the Americans.

In The Church
By Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr. 

Pray tell me, how much
are we paying for the sermon?

One person’s ancestor is another person’s ghost—it’s all a matter of perspective.

Where Is
By Lawdenmarc Decamora

showbiz etceteras · commercial spaces · newspapered ideas

Blueprints
By Tania De Rozario

We don’t know what we need because we don’t know who we are. We don’t know who we are because we don’t remember who we were.

accent
By ko ko thett

People judge me by my skin. My skin’s purpose in life is to prove them wrong.

ASEAN at 50: Poems from Across Southeast Asia
By The Transpacific Literary Project

Half a century on, what does it mean to be part of ASEAN?

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