Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Cha "Reconciliation" Poetry Contest - 8 winning poems


A Cha Poetry contest

This contest is run by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. It is for unpublished poems on the theme of "Reconciliation" 
We have selected the following eight winning poems, which will all be published in the Seventh Anniversary Issue of Cha, due out in late December 2014 or early January 2015. 

// Naveed Alam, "Wagah-Atari"
// L.S. Bassen, "Aunt Esther"
// Manjiri Indurkar, "Schizophrenia"
// Jeffrey Javier, "Blackout"
// Jeffrey Javier, "Missing"
// Jyotsna Jha, "Everything Is In Place Except Me"
// Meg Eden Kuyatt, "Portrait in a Fujisaki Apartment"
// Robert Perchan, "Miss Min's Monday Morning Magic"


  • Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born poet. She is a founding co-editor of Cha
  • Jason Eng Hun Lee has been published in a number of journals and he has been a finalist for numerous international prizes, including the Melita Hume Poetry Prize (2012) and the Hong Kong University's Poetry Prize (2010).
  • First: £50, Second: £30, Third: £15, Highly Commended (up to 5): £10 each. (Payable through Paypal.)
  • All winning poems (including the highly recommended ones) will receive first publication in a special section in the Seventh Anniversary Issue of Cha.
The prizes were generously donated by an expat reader residing in Hong Kong.

Previous Cha contests:

Monday, 24 November 2014

Cha's 2015 Pushcart Nominations

We at Cha would like to announce our nominations for the 2015 Pushcart Prize:
Congratulations to the above nominees. We wish you the best of luck and thank you for letting us publish your wonderful work.
Also see our Best of the Net nominations this year.-

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Whither Hong Kong? A Preface


In early July, we sent out a call for poems about the Chinese Government's White Paper on the "One Country, Two Systems" principle in Hong Kong. At the time, the publication of the paper, which formally precluded true democracy within the city, felt like a watershed moment in Hong Kong history and one that we wanted, in our own small way, to capture in the journal. 

What we couldn't have foreseen was how the White Paper would lead to subsequent events in the city, especially the Umbrella Revolution. None of us could have imagined how protest sites would blossom on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon or how determined the protesters would be in face of government resistance. Nor could we have foreseen how the protests would leave their mark on the city: the ‘Lennon Wall’ at Civic Square and it’s tapestry of post-its showing how voices are many and one; a solitary yellow umbrella on an Admiralty stage; banners with the words of Lu Xun draped from footbridges.

It is within this context that we launch this special feature, which will hopefully serve as a record of our collective desire for democracy. The poems curated here are as much about the experiences of the Occupy movement and the 'on-the-ground' protests as they are about the original White Paper. They capture the emotions, reflections and hopes of people living in Hong Kong at this historic moment. This collection is perhaps another "wall" of post-its, reminding us of how the passion for poetry resonates strongly with the passion for freedom and democracy. 

Poets featured: Kit Fan, Mary Jean Chan, Jason S Polley, Wendy Gan, Andrew S. Guthrie, Ruth Lee, Aaron Chan, Stephanie Han, Peter Gordon, Antony Huen, Natalie Liu, Marco Yan, Emily Cheung, Henry W. Leung 

(Pictured above: "試問誰還未發聲", seen on the campus of Hong Kong Baptist University. Photo by Jason S Polley. Friday 24 October, 2014.)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

"Valiant Beauty" — ASIAN CHA Issue#25 Editorial

Words from educators in Hong Kong:

My students have told me they're boycotting classes indefinitely. I am proud of them. How can one not be moved?
—Eddie Tay

I applaud the courage and restraint of the protesters, who are mostly students, and am as proud as ever to call myself a Hong Konger!
—John Wakefield

... and you see, you see,
Love is disobedience, disobedience love,
And the dungeon doors open for you
And your questions to walk through.
—Shirley Geok-lin Lim

Hong Kong students continue to put 'civil' in 'civil disobedience'.
—Colin Covendish-Jones
[A] movement such as this one, defined by youth, by love and peace, by aspiration and inspiration, will always find a way to win.
—Lucas Klein

I've seemingly always already been way more cynical than sentimental. But I found myself crying in the face of the generous and caring humanity of Hong Kong's youth, both in Mong Kok and in Central. Hong Kong is my much loved home—and it's the Umbrella Uprising that has delivered this sense of home to me.
—Jason S Polley

100,000 people on the street in Hong Kong (a reporter told me it was that many) singing, applauding, chanting. There is a feeling of great hope.
—Michael O'Sullivan

I hope that all of the students participating in the protests will stay safe and remain optimistic for a better future of this place we call home.
—Heidi Huang
Hong Kong's higher education system should be proud of the exemplary"knowledge transfer" and "experiential learning" that our courageous students have been exhibiting.
—James Shea

Teachers, like many others, have doubts all the time. One that I often ask myself is "Should I keep teaching?" But seeing all of you in the streets, I am moved and I know the answer. Last night at 2am, I encountered a confused 18-year-old, who kept wondering what's next. No one knows, except the battle will be long. And a quote from Hemingway may help: "I did not care what it was all about. All I wanted to know was how to live in it."
—Nicholas YB Wong
You'll learn more at the barricades than in my class. Take your notebook with you, this is history, you're making it, and make sure you write it too.
—Justin Hill

I have run out of umbrellas to lend to my students,
braving all weathers, all scorn, for a future they no longer have any option
but to believe in.
Now it is my heart I would shelter them with.
I do so happily, without reservation.
They were the first, and will be the last,
to welcome me here.
They have always stood by me.
—Stuart Christie



Over the last week, Hong Kong has transformed—gone from a city that, while not politically apathetic, was generally willing to put prosperity and business first. But Beijing's refusal to allow Hong Kong open elections and the growing unease among its residents about the SAR's future in China have finally come to a head. The Umbrella Revolution has shown that Hong Kong is no longer content to allow Beijing to dictate its fate. The city has decided to stand up and fight. And it has brought umbrellas.

The struggle for free elections is nothing new—the pro-democracy camp has for decades been determined in its efforts to bring self-rule to the city. But something changed this week: the passion and energy of youth. Young people, yellow-ribboned, faces covered with cling film and goggles, and equipped only with umbrellas to fend off the fierce sun, rain and tear gas, have fought peacefully, proudly and insistently, for genuine democracy in their—my—beloved city. It is their efforts—nonviolent but still resolute and resourceful—that have not only captured the attention of the city, but of the world.

Like many people who care about Hong Kong's political future, I have been able to focus on very little else over the past few days. At times, I have been worried—worried about the safety of the protestors; worried that their efforts will fail to bring change; worried about the future of the city that I love. But I have also been deeply moved and inspired. I have never been so proud of Hong Kong. It has never been so determined.

For those of us who support democratic change, we realise that the time has come, that we have to fight now, before it’s too, too late. We are uncertain of what the outcome might be, but we are nevertheless united, hearts with one purpose, and we are fighting.

Will we succeed? We already have. Hong Kong will never be the same again. A valiant beauty has been born.

Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
 / Co-editor
1 October 2014

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

CHA's Best of the Net 2014 Nominations


We are happy to announce that the following pieces of work, selected from the December 2013, March 2014 and June 2014 issues of Cha, have been nominated by us for inclusion in Best of the Net Anthology 2014 (published by Sundress). Congratulations to these writers and good luck!
1. “The Wonton Noodle Seller" by Daryl Lim Wei Jie (June 2014)
2. “A Contingent of Birds" by Daryl Yam (June 2014)
3. “Remember How the Night is Elsewhere Void in the Metamorphosis of Man" by B.B. P. Hosmillo (March 2014)
4. “Ghost Husband" by Renée M. Schell
(March 2014)
5. “Daniel Defoe to His Dead Mistress (ca. 1704)" by Stuart Christie (December 2013) 
6. “Ou-Yang Hsiu’s Fu on The Sound of Autumn (1069)" by Eliot Weinberger (December 2013)

1. “Incident on Abiko Street" by Mark Crimmins (March 2014)
2. “Inclusion" by John Givens (December 2013)

Creative non-fiction
1. “The Far Country" by Mary J. Breen (March 2014)
2. “Post- (Almost) LKY Singapore" by Pavle Radonic (December 2013)


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Cha - Call for Submissions - Issue 27 (March 2015)

due out in March 2015.

Cha: An Asian Literary Journal
 is now calling for submissions for Issue 27, scheduled for publication in March 2015.

Please send in (preferably Asian-themed) poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, reviews, photography & art for consideration. Submission guidelines can be found here. Deadline: 15 December, 2014.

Dorothy Chan (poetry) and David Raphael Israel (prose) will act as guest editors and read the submissions with the editors Tammy Ho and Jeff Zroback. Please contact Reviews Editor Eddie Tay at eddie@asiancha.com if you want to review a book or have a book reviewed in the journal.

We love returning contributors - past contributors are very welcome to send us their new works.

We are also accepting submissions for the special poetry section "Hong Kong Isn't Going Anywhere Anytime Soon". Closing date: 30 September 2014.

If you have any questions, please feel free to write to any of the Cha staff at editors@asiancha.com.-
-- ,

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Nominate a 2013 Cha story | Million Writers Award

Nominate your favourite Cha story published in 2013.

The Million Writers Award for last year's best online short fiction is now inviting nominations from readers, writers, and editors. The award is for any short story of at least 1,000 words first published in an online publication in 2013. Below you can see a list of Cha stories eligible for the award. If you have read a piece and liked it, please consider nominating it. Deadline for nominations is 15 August, 2014. 

March 2013

Love Is No Big Truth by Amanda Lee Koe
[READ it here] [NOMINATE it here]

A Meander Through Memory After Death by Saptarshi Basu

Shooting by Glenn Diaz

The Cripple by Bina Shah


June 2013

Rising River by Sim Wai Chew

The Glass Cadaver by Shirley Shao

The Uninvited Guest by Cathy Adams

Happy and Glorious by Peter John Humphreys

The Lodger by Balvinder Banga


December 2013

Inclusion by John Givens

As Told By A Fox by Xie Shi Min

Ellora Caves by Sharmistha Mohanty

The Cowherd and The Weaver Girl by Zhou Tingfeng

A Fable by Khanh Ha



Monday, 30 June 2014

CHA Issue #24 goes live



The June 2014 Issue of Cha is here. We would like to thank guest editors Michael Gray (poetry), Royston Tester (prose) and Reid Mitchell (prose) for reading the submissions with us and helping us put together this edition. We would also like to thank Eddie Tay for a fine selection of book reviews. The issue includes an editorial by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming titled "A Touch Of Cruelty In The Mouth" and poems from David McKirdy's new collection, Ancestral Worship.

The following writers/artists have generously allowed us to showcase their work:

Poetry: David McKirdy, Timothy Kaiser, Kenneth Alewine, Joshua Burns, Daryl Yam, Daryl Lim Wei Jie, Insha Muzafar, David W. Landrum, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Randy Kim, Zachary Eller, Divya Rajan, Mathew Joseph, Michael O’Sullivan, Tjoa Shze Hui
Fiction: Sarah Bower, Michael X. Wang
Creative non-fiction: Qui-Phiet Tran
: Smita Sahay interviews Tabish Khair, Usha Akella interviews Marjorie Evasco, Sharon Ho interviews the organisers of three Hong Kong poetry-reading groups
Lost tea: Jonel Abellanosa
Photography & art: Franky Lau (cover artist), Divya Adusumilli, Allen Forrest
Reviews: Grant Hamilton, Sarah Bower, Emma Zhang, Michael Tsang, Drisana Misra, Carolyn Lau, Cecilia Chan

Our next issue is due out in September 2014. We are currently accepting submissions for the Seventh Anniversary Issue and entries for the "Reconciliation" poetry contest and the "Hong Kong Isn't Going Anywhere Anytime Soon" section. If you are interested in having your work considered for inclusion in Cha, please read our submission guidelines carefully.



A Cha Poetry contest

This contest is run by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. It is for unpublished poems on the theme of "Reconciliation".  


  • Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born poet. She is a founding co-editor of Cha
  • Jason Eng Hun Lee has been published in a number of journals and he has been a finalist for numerous international prizes, including the Melita Hume Poetry Prize (2012) and the Hong Kong University's Poetry Prize (2010).
  • Each poet can submit up to two poems (no more than 80 lines long each).
  • Poems must be previously unpublished. 
  • Entry is free.
Closing date:
  • 15 September 2014
  • First: £50, Second: £30, Third: £15, Highly Commended (up to 5): £10 each. (Payable through Paypal.)
  • All winning poems (including the highly recommended ones) will receive first publication in a special section in the Seventh Anniversary Issue of Cha, due out in November/December 2014.
The prizes were generously donated by an expat reader residing in Hong Kong.
  • Submissions should be sent to t@asiancha.com with the subject line "Reconciliation".
  • Poems must be sent in the body of the email.
  • Please also include a short biography of no more than 30 words.
Previous Cha contests:

Sunday, 29 June 2014

ASIAN CHA Issue#24 Editorial

A Touch Of Cruelty
In The Mouth


Looking at old photos leads me to believe that the body evolves.
—Edouard Levé

I love to recall my dreams, no matter what is in them.

Of course, telling someone your insult is like telling someone your dream; the specific emotional core of it cannot be communicated ...
—Sheila Heti
The golden boy Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde's memorable creation, continues to capture our imagination, as seen in his most recent representation in Showtime's Penny Dreadful. Who doesn't want to stay delicate, young and exquisite? Skin flawless, teeth intact, hair shiny. In fact, our modern beauty industry relies on nothing but this overblown desire to slow down the clock. I am sure many of us, while reading Wilde's story or watching an adaptation, have imagined, even if only very briefly, what it might be like to be Dorian.

For a large part of the story, Dorian's physical appearance is unaffected by the passage of time, while his painted double, hidden in the attic, ages, withers and becomes loathsome and unrecognisable. That face on the canvas evolves with the sordid force of life, as it absorbs the negative energy of its original. This all begins with "the touch of cruelty in the mouth":

He had uttered a mad wish that he himself might remain young, and the portrait grow old; that his own beauty might be untarnished, and the face on the canvas bear the burden of his passions and his sins; that the painted image might be seared with the lines of suffering and thought, and that he might keep all the delicate bloom and loveliness of his then just conscious boyhood. Surely his wish had not been fulfilled? Such things were impossible. It seemed monstrous even to think of them. And, yet, there was the picture before him, with the touch of cruelty in the mouth.

The cruelty here is Dorian's, conferred to his pictorial likeness. But cruelty is an inherent element of every portrait or photograph of a human subject. The American comedian Mitch Hedberg, whom I admire a great deal, sums it up wisely and poignantly: "Every picture is of you when you were younger." Everything that bears a reproduction of your image, then, is an inevitably cruel reminder that nothing good lasts, that you will grow old. Very old if you are lucky. Or unlucky.

At some point, you will envy your younger self, sitting awkwardly on an uncomfortable rug, drinking a cheap red wine as you and your friends couldn't afford anything good, or wearing an embarrassingly slutty dress, silver and black, with no cleavage showing, for you had none (you still have none) or grinning so goddamned happily for something so life-defining then and so insignificant now that you don't remember what it was that sparked that bright smile or even who else you were with at the time. You grow old ... you grow old ... You shall wear the bottoms of your trousers rolled. 

It is perhaps disingenuous of me to complain about ageing, for I am still regularly asked if I am a student due to my small size and unaggressive chest. But all the above acts as an introduction to a vivid dream that I had one night some weeks ago. I am one of those people who remember their dreams quite well and that particularly dream, I remember intensely. 

In the dream, I am in my old family home in Tuen Mun with my parents and two younger sisters. It is a small flat, with two small bedrooms, and, at night, we turn the small wooden sofa in the small living room into a small bed, which I sleep on with one of my sisters (everything was small in my past, nothing is grand in my present). My mother must have turned off the lights, and I, without much thought, reach for a torch that gives out enough light that familiar household objects cast strange, enlarged and dreamy shadows on the wall, which is by day covered with crayon marks, traces of my sisters' creative vandalism. 

In the dream, I am looking at an older picture of my parents, my sisters and me sitting on a leather sofa so worn that it had been replaced by the wooden one. My mother is holding Ying on her lap, and my father has Ching on his. I stand in the middle. Squeezed in the middle. No one is holding me. I am too old.

The next moment in the dream, I am my current age again and frantically looking for that picture. When I find it, I see that Ying is no longer sitting on my mother's lap and Ching is no longer on my father's. They are grown-ups in the picture, and they stand next to my parents. I stand as before. I too am grown-up. My parents are eighteen years older, but on our faces we have the same expressions as before. My parents: reservedly proud of having three healthy and moderately intelligent daughters. My sisters: clueless. Me: clueless.

It dawns on me, in the dream, that all our images grow with us, age with us, probably die with us. Whatever our present age, we are now the same age in past photographs. It has become impossible to recover photos of ourselves at a younger age—our Facebook accounts automatically update; in our photo albums we are no longer babies, but our current selves trapped in the faded photos of bygone days. We are all Dorian Grays without the benefits: our pictorial selves age but so do we.

In my dream, no one could remember exactly what others looked like in the past. No one could boast, "Look at this. I was once considered a beauty." When I woke up, I instantly went on Facebook to check if my profile pictures were unaltered. They were. Thank goodness I had taken these photographs when I was younger, easier, more carefree. And better still, I remain that way in them, even though the flesh-and-blood me moves on, marching towards decay and death. Which is the way it should be, and I am glad.


... likeness, once caught, carries the mystery of a Being.
—John Berger

Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
 / Co-editor
29 June, 2014

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Call for Submissions: "Hong Kong Isn't Going Anywhere Anytime Soon"

Pictured: Hong Kong Column - Translated (http://facebook.com/hkcolumn)

Cha is seeking entries on the theme "Hong Kong Isn't Going Anywhere Anytime Soon" in response to the Chinese Government's White Paper (click here for more information) to be included in a special section in the journal.

Submission period
20th June (Fri.) - 30th September (Tue.)

Editors of the section
-Tammy Ho Lai-Ming [bio]
-Michael O'Sullivan [bio
-Kate Rogers [bio]

-Michael Tsang [bio]

Please send submissions to t@asiancha.com by 30th September with the subject line "White Paper—your name". Each writer can submit up to two poems.

A Polite People

First they took their land, then their fish, then their trolleys
After it was their backs, then their loins,
Then their rented apartments, their shacks, their rusting bicycles
In the end all they had was chicken gristle, chickens feet,
And dung lai chas.
Still they waited and said it wouldn't be polite.

Then they started on their voices,
They took their tones, their gutturals, their
Argumentative low tones, their cackling old woman's laugh,
Their hanging end-tones,
Their flippant, rising soft tones,
And then their babies' coughs.
Still they waited and said it wouldn't be polite.

Then they came to take their shadows,
Their memories and the ghosts of ancestors they
Had buried on their hills
Ma On Shan, Tai Mo Shan, Lion Rock
Old Animals hurting now as they looked on
Over the flagrant ripples washing their tired limbs,
Still they waited and said it wouldn't be polite.

But when they took their dreams hung with
Luk Fuk red pockets and
Banyan leaves they wondered if their time had come
So they stretched out their legs, gritted their teeth
Counted their number and rose together
As an angry sun told them their day had run.
We waited because they said it wouldn't be polite.

Iris Ho
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