The Special Feature on Asian Hate: Poetry Roundup

Each issue we feature pieces of prose and poetry from Asian women and non-binary writers around the world. Here are this issue’s pieces!


Poetry by Nell Valle//IG: instagram: nellbell_art//twitter: nellbell_art//website: nellbellart.com


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“Elaine of Shalott” by Marielle Valmores

Beyond sunset-yellow daffodils surrounding a blanket of barley and rye

Atop a tower strangled by moss where a robin redbreast swings by

Eyes of mine drift over the glistening streamlet nearly veiled by trees

Its babbling song carries my name along Camelot

By the velveteen bedstead, I could hear the chatters of merchants and serfs 

Traces of mauve banner and satin ribbons reflect on my ornate mirror

Voice of mine hums a wistful lullaby against a maze of threads

For a far-off place where there’s boundless anticipation and a sea of freedom

Knight donning an armor silver as a spider web visits my chamber

He carries strings of escapades that I quilted into a grand mosaic

Heart of mine overflows, wondering about the mighty beasts and eerie hills

While ignoring his sculptured face and rehearsed remark of my image

As the sun slumbers and crystals began to dot the skies

Crescent moon’s gleam guides me down the braided staircase

Passing by a patchwork of maidens’ portraits waving away as I step out

Feet of mine brush against the mead, slipping into an oak boat toward the unknown.


“Poem for My Ancestors” by Winnie Hung

I don’t know when my body became round and full like those fertility figures I saw in the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was young. 

As a small, light-skinned Asian American woman, I’ve always been called “cute,” never considered full bodied and luscious. 

But now, after having my 2 babies, my body is free of the smoothness of youth and marked by stretch marks and 40 years of days in the sun.

I’m proud of my markings, both seen and unseen because they remind me of who I am and how I got here. 

I got here by learning how to shape shift over time and space. Contorting, shrinking, bending, and reaching to try to fit myself into the mold that wasn’t made by me or my ancestors in the Americas. I learned to shift my face into always holding a small smile because I’ve been told to. I reshaped my tongue to speak in standard English so that I would be taken seriously in academia. I blinded myself to all the times a teacher, bully, friend would “joke” about my “almond shaped” eyes. My ears are deaf to the jeers of “ching chong wing chong Chinaman” and catcallers who called me “Miss Saigon.” My mind is numb from reading too many ephemeral thoughts and prayers and resolutions. 

It’s because of you motherf&ckers, we’re out of work.

Please don’t kill me. 

Me love you long time. 

Kung flu.

Where are you really from.

Go back to where you came from.

Bodies that are marked by time. Bodies that are marked by hate, violence, imperialism, war, poverty, hypersexualization.

Bodies that provide care. Sex workers. Undocumented workers. Nail and hair salons. Massage parlors. Spas. But no one cares about us. 

Like the grandma who was punched in the face while collecting cans in Queens, NY. Like the popo whose back was burned with acid while taking out her trash in Brooklyn. Like the Auntie who was attacked while holding her baby. 

All of these elders now have to live with new scars, bruises, and marks on their hated bodies. Bodies that are seen as the vessels of disease. 

We are marked by dis-ease. Discomfort. Distance. 6 feet apart. Unless you are being attacked. 

But the systems that perpetuate hate and sustain harm do more than just mark us. They shrink us until our elders are afraid to leave home, afraid to walk the streets for groceries, shrink away from their skins.

Like waves marking the sand, our bodies move in ebbs and flows–we gather, gain strength, and rise up to speak. We are shot. We are attacked, stabbed, punched, spat and coughed on, we are deported. Jetted away in the cold morning light. 

We are shot. Bang. While we work. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

While we grieve.

And our numbers shrink. Our strength dwindles because we are apart. We cry salty tears that mark the shore. 

But our voices and cries criss cross this country like the transcontinental railroad we helped to build. Networks and rallies of care, where we shout our love for our elders, for our BIPOC brothers and sisters, for our over-policed but under-invested communities. 

We continue to care. To shout. Love our elders, heal our communities. No justice no peace. We build our collective power. Solidarity. Self determination. Liberation. 


IF THIS IS WHAT THEY CALL LIVING THEN I DON’T WANT ITby Malvika Shrimali

this cannot be living

waiting for the stop sign to turn green

i forgot who got here first

picking my lips so much i see red for the first time in years.

it’s on my hands. my blood is on my hands.

if i get pulled over,

how to be docile. how to be complacent.

if he grabs at me how to not slap him across his face.

seatbelt. indicator. 45 miles per hour.

music turned down. i’m no barbarian.

“sir, can i put my mask on please?”

“my family and i are all citizens”

“i’m so sorry i don’t know what i did please don’t hurt me”

now i drive with both hands on the wheel, knuckles white

because i’m scared of accidentally spiraling

and then my blood will be on my hands.

george floyd, breonna taylor, elijah mcclain,

me, god,

now i cover my tattoos and look for corners to hide

it’s the hunger games with AR-15s

i cower for my life while they fight           for

my blood on their hands.

oh, head down.

oh, heavy days.

my lips are a wreck and i am a wreck and soon my car will be wrecked.


“i’m tired” by Divya Chhotani
it’s like people are after me from a young age

when they used to call me “curry muncher” and poked fun at my mom’s homemade delicacies as the warm butter melted on the parantha as the smell spread across the cafeteria

I remember one friend telling me to “go back to my country” since I didn’t like living here

in a place stuck and based on racism and hate crimes

I remember pep talks from my mother and father about how I should succeed quietly so that nobody will be able to “put me down” and try to backstab me

to prevent me from being told that ” you only got the job because you’re brown”

I know how much my parents sacrificed by coming to this country built by immigrants and people trapped in a system that spits them out once they are chewed up by a broken home

this nation is built on hatred with paper and after paper day by day filled with bloodshed and humanity failing constantly

I’m getting tired and I know you are too

tired of waking up every morning and having a guard up

tired of waking up and having to protect yourself even more

tired of waking up and seeing innocent people dying day after day

tired of having things going by unsaid and swept under a rug until a new incident occurs and politicians say “it’s an atrocity”

feeding us with false hope about gun control while our country is breaking apart like a woman separated from her child at birth

like a refugee trying to find a home in this vast and dark world

we are built on turning away our brothers and sisters from finding solace and safety within our borders yet lock children up and keep them from seeing daylight again

I’m tired of promises that never unfold into action

broken by seeing the tragic news of my other fellow Asians passing

I’m tired and I think enough is enough

how do we pride ourselves and teach our kids about how “welcoming” our nation is and pride ourselves on being built on diversity and a “melting pot” when our own POC representation is being taken away in just a moment, by just a bullet

I’m tired of feeling broken and lost every single day trying to find meaning in these untimely killings

but there is no meaning, it shouldn’t even be happening

it can not be justified

I’m tired of explaining why it’s important to stand up for our Asian peers and own kind to people because it should be a given

standing up for a life

standing up for a community that is in need of some healing and prayers

holding hands at vigils and starting go fund me’s that have taken over the internet

enough is enough

I’m tired of things going unnoticed and being swept under the rug until another incident

enough is enough

I’m tired

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

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We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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