Special Feature on Asian American History I: Poetry Roundup

Each issue we feature pieces of prose and poetry from Asian women, nonbinary, and other gender minority writers around the world. Here are this issue’s pieces!


“Visit from the Afterlife” by Joan Missiye

You were sitting in the sun
On the blue chair in my kitchen
Sipping a cup of coffee
That I told you was grown in the shade
At the Ghanaian border.
You found me as I hid myself away in the tall grass
Fifty kilometers from the paved road.
And thousands and thousands more between where you left us
And where we left you.

You were sitting in the sun
On a bench outside a stone church,
Where your youngest daughter
In bridal white clutched her new husband’s hand
Held in perfumed embraces
A steady smile as the summer heat crawled its way
beneath the tulle and the lace.
I stood in the crowd and willed her to see you there
But she held her tears inside longing for you.

You were sitting in the sun
When I thought I was the farthest away I will ever be.
The sand in my eyes and in between my teeth.
I held pieces of my broken heart in my hands
And I threw them in the wind.

You gathered them gently and brought them back to me.
“Didn’t you know that I am in every piece?”

My insignificant heart stopped breaking at the edge of the Sahara.
In the vastness, I stood up and ran.  
Freedom in the light that I could never chase to its end.

Maybe I never buried you at all.


“DO YOU SEE NOW?” by Empress Han (aka, Mila C.C. Konomos)

This isn’t the first time 
But how many times 
Over how many generations

Before you see
that this isn’t the first time 

How many hundreds of years 
How many millions of lives

Until you see—

Do you see—

Do you see now–

No such thing 
as a model minority

Do you see now—

All the blood covering
Your American dream

Now do you see—

We’re tokens
and trophies

Until we’re targets & scapegoats
for the rage & the hate
of a nation 

Where

Our Skin is not white enough
Our Skin is not brown enough
Our Pain doesn’t hurt enough

For anyone to care enough

So we hide
Lay low
Lay down

Erase ourselves
Until we’re 

invisible 
Shadows 
of pleasure
and 
Bodies 
of commodity

Under the pressure 

To be
Everything for everyone

Swallow dignity 
No room for self-pity 

We eat silence 
and secrets 

Absorb violence 
and tragedy

Centuries 
Of wars and 
thieves,
Laws
And policies

sanctioning 
atrocities

to rid the earth 
of yellow peril
and perpetual foreigners

except when we’re constructing your railroads 
or farming your sugar cane 
comforting your soldiers
birthing babies for your white mothers
pawns serving in your empires

You think I’m here because I wanted to be 
I’m here because no one wanted me 

But only to fulfill their dreams
Build their dreams
Scream their dreams 

In my bed at night 

My daughter at my side
Hold her close 
Hold her tight 

Pray & whisper 
I’m raising her right 

So she can see—

No such thing
As a model minority 

So she can see—

No such thing 
As an American dream 

I rise 
I weep 
I fight
Hoping

She won’t ever have to see

Her own blood 
covering

Your American dream. 


“you matter” by Divya Chhotani

the reason i tie a red string on my left arm is because my mother told me it wards away evil

evil afar and evil inside

the reason I don’t eat my crust still is because I want to stay connected to my inner child the one that loved to kick and scream and run around the playground and be like the other kids who used to sit at the lunch table and didn’t have crust on their pb&j’s

the reason I started listening to one direction and taylor swift was to connect to my girlfriend and to understand and learn all the lyrics, a challenge I accept and will learn, to make her smile and happy so I can hold her close and tell her “does it ever drive you crazy” while we’re laying in bed and her hand is on my heart and we can finally say how the night has changed as we fall in love more as the seasons change and time comes and goes

the reason i put chat masala on my popcorn is because I wanted to be like my mom who loves and adores spice just like I do and I’m always in competition with her to see who can tolerate the most spice

the reason I came to school wearing a kurti, an Indian garment, during diwali time was because I wanted to show how proud I was of being part of a really rich culture

likewise, the reason I got into sports was because my father and other male figures in my life introduced me to a ball and since then I fell in love with anything that was round and I could get my hands on

whether it was a basketball or playing cricket on the street or even learning how to play volleyball and failing miserably with every bump the ball made, I felt more and more accomplished

I feel like I always have to prove something to someone whether it’s identifying my emotions even though I don’t have the words to explain the tsunami of tears waiting to overflow from my eyes and ready to coat my lips with its salty sadness

I feel like I’m behind people’s shadow when everyone else is out and about and I’m just stuck in the four corners of my house, going crazy and paranoid being locked in a room and not wanting to see daylight
I realized that I stumbled upon darkness when I couldn’t even see the light

I met my friend depression during multiple summers where I just lay on my floor drinking caprisuns and had junk food and re watched friends episodes, only to go back to bed and fall into the safety of my bed, who’s arms are safer than anybody I know

I’m scared of watching new movies because I’m nervous of how it’s going to go? whether my favorite character that I took a particular liking to may face consequences or even struggle with an addiction or even perhaps dies due to heroic acts

I find comfort in rewatching old things because I know how the story plays out and there isn’t anything to be afraid, finally the monsters and evil things in the world can’t get to me if I’m safe and being protected by my favorite stuffed toy and my tears and legs working together to rock my limb body to sleep like a child in a craddle who is crying and needs a pacifer yet this child is learning slowly how to be more self reliant and self made.

slowly but surely I believe that I can attain a sort of independence where I won’t need to turn to vices or believe that happiness isn’t in the cards for me

it’s a new chapter where I can learn and nurture my inner child and not feed it the old habits I’ve tried so hard to break over the years

the reason I started journaling was because someone once said it was super therapuetic

the reason I started to write poetry was because one teacher during my youth said I could and then I did, I nurtured my craft and realized that every piece of work I create is like a child and I’m a child with a blank canvas that can paint my traumas and tears and make it art that can be relatable to someone who is in need

someone who needs a reason to be alive

someone who needs someone to hold them accountable yet be that person for them who is loving and caring

I learned recently that the love I’ve been dealt with my entire life has only been conditonal

a love that I had to work for and prove my worth to get which isn’t fair

I shouldn’t be fighting to gain love from people when all along the person I should’ve been giving love to was myself through all the hardships it should’ve been on me to plant and give my all in everything I’m doing. I’m allowed to have days where I can’t get out of bed and some days where I just can’t seem to see the silver lining but that doesn’t make me weak, it makes me strong by identifying and understanding what I need

I can openly say here that it’s okay if you need anything and you’re allowed to speak up

you’re allowed to choose who you give your love and time too and you telling people things about you that are personal doesn’t mean that you’re a burden, it just makes you so much more admirable and strong

you’re beautiful and empowering because you’re a human being cut from one original cloth

you matter.

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Why now?

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.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

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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