Hyphen magazine - Asian American arts, culture, and politics


Blog Posts

After months of campaigning by immigrant and LGBTQ rights groups, Nicoll Hernández-Polanco was freed from her detention by ICE. Her story, written by Kris Hayashi of the Transgender Law Center, is a story of a young woman who escaped the broken immigration system, and how she was criminalized and psychologically tortured simply for being young and transgender.  

Kris Hayashi | April 29, 2015 - 11:41am


Connect with us to pitch a story, apply for a staff position, or let us know how you'd like to be involved. All positions are volunteer, you'll receive payment in the satisfaction that you're contributing to an organization ensuring Asian American voices are heard, perspectives are told, and faces are seen.

Mia Nakano LGBTQ | June 29, 2014 - 4:16pm

Blog Posts

Folks, support this project if you love hip-hop.

Theresa Celebran Jones | October 30, 2013 - 2:41pm


The combination of travel and food is always alluring. There are countless travelogues, cookbooks, and documentaries bringing diverse cultures of the world together with exciting cuisines in adventurous, often romantic storylines. Jen Lin-Liu’s On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta delivers that adventure along with an unsolved mystery of where the noodle originated--was it Italy, China, or somewhere in between?

Andrea Kim Taylor | October 24, 2013 - 2:33pm

AAPI advocates were among the many arrested last week in the continuing mobilizatons calling for for federal immigration reform.

Nadia Hussain | October 18, 2013 - 3:35pm

Lin's performance appears effortless, which makes her all the more captivating to listen to and watch.

Abigail Licad | October 17, 2013 - 12:05pm

My family’s trauma has always captivated me, but I’ve always known that it was only one story in a sea of millions. That sea is what Sheila Miyoshi Jaeger explores in Brothers at War, a detailed and captivating look at the circumstances, causes, and effects of the Korea War.

Noah Cho | October 17, 2013 - 9:32am

Picking up women? Sex talk with a doctor? Safe sex between lesbians?

Abigail Licad | October 14, 2013 - 9:17am

Hyphen blogger S. Nadia Hussain wrestles with the effectiveness of education and advocacy to reduce hate crimes, when we're still faced with a barrage of anti-Muslim stereotypes in media and public discourse.

Nadia Hussain | October 11, 2013 - 2:47pm

San Francisco's annual Lit Crawl is the city's preeminent literary event, and for the second year in a row Hyphen has curated a tasty session of poetry and fiction for your listening pleasure. 

Nicole Wong | October 9, 2013 - 7:22am


Thien-Kim Lam’s story, “Pho for Two” is the winner of Hyphen magazine’s Erotic Writing Contest. Teresa Lo, author of the erotic fiction series, Red Lantern Scandals, selected Lam’s story as the winner. She says that Lam’s “creative use of food as an instrument of foreplay continues to burn into my brain.” We couldn’t agree more. 
Who knew that pho could initiate such grand forays into the erotic? 
The cold hard metal chair would not stay warm, no matter how often she wiggled her bare ass. Wiggling was all she could manage. Her hands were tied behind the back of her chair while red rope coils kept her legs parallel to the chair's legs. The red bracelets spread her knees wide while her thighs beckoned.
Her lover puttered in the kitchen behind her, out of sight but never out of mind. Scents of cinnamon, star anise, and clove from his cooking assaulted her nose but she barely noticed them, though her mouth watered in response. Her thoughts were focused lower. Much lower. A small vibrator was taped to her chair. Its pulsing tip focused right on her clit. All she could do was wiggle forward and wiggle backwards. Her hard nipples pointed upwards as her back arched against her restraints. Just a little bit more and she could feel the full force of the stupid thing. Unfortunately, her lover was skilled with knots.
"Are you hungry, babe?" Her lover set down a large bowl of noodles topped with rare, thinly sliced beef and scallions. Slowly, he poured the cinnamon and star anise infused broth over the noodles. The broth cooked the slices of beef until it was the same flushed pink as her wet pussy.
"Looks about right, don't you think?" as he peered between her thighs to compare. She was nowhere close to well-done.
"Mmmmfffppph," she managed to respond behind the gag in her mouth. The bowl of pho sitting between them made her stomach growl. She was hungry. She wasn't sure what she wanted more: hot noodles or that damned vibrator to move closer.
"No?" Her lover grinned. "More for me, I guess." He moved his chair--his had a cushion-- to sit beside her.
She sighed through her nose. She had brought this onto herself.
Two weeks ago, she had made fun of his cooking. There was no way his pho would even compare to her mother's recipe, which had been honed and perfected throughout her childhood. Every Sunday, after her family returned from her church's service, they broke fast together with large, steaming bowls of pho. Sunday brunch was their weekly family reunion as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins slurped hot noodles and dipped their tender slices of medium-rare beef into small saucers of hoisin. Younger cousins chased each other around the tables while the adults caught up on gossip.
Now she realized that it was the memories of her weekly pho bowl that couldn't compare to her lover's noodles and broth. It was too late to take back her words, even if her mouth wasn't filled with the red ball gag. She secretly ordered it from the internet late one night after an unsuccessful masturbatory attempt. She'd forgotten about it until a discreet brown box arrived a few days later. Embarrassed that some random website knew her secret yearning, she hid it in the back of the closet unopened.
A loud squirt brought her back to her present predicament. Her breasts were covered with cold hoisin sauce.
"Oops! Sorry about the misfire. Here, let me clean you up." Her lover deftly picked up a slippery white noodle with his chopsticks. With the expertise of an Italian chef swirling his pasta, he created a nest of noodles on her right nipple. The hot noodles shocked her cold skin, making her nipple grow so hard that it ached in pleasure. Using just his chopsticks, he circled her nipples with the noodle until it was coated in hoisin sauce. Her eyes were glued to those thin sticks. This was new territory for her. She wasn't brave enough to tell him her deepest desires, yet somehow he knew. The box in the back of her closet confirmed it for him.
She wanted more than those noodles sliding on her breast. She wanted his mouth, his hands, his--she wanted him to devour her until she could only gasp for air. Between his noodle swirling and the pesky vibration between her thighs, she couldn’t complete any of her thoughts. Her growls of frustration made him smirk.
"Should I give you what you want? Even though you insulted my cooking?"
She nodded furiously. Languidly, his tongue reached out and slurped the warm noodle off her nipple. He sipped some of the sweet broth from his bowl and took her nipple into his now hot mouth. Even the gag couldn't hold back her moans as her body betrayed her. Her back arched and her thighs shook. He took his time licking the sticky sweet sauce off her breasts, taking a break only to warm his mouth with more broth. Her moans grew as her wetness pooled on her chair.
She tried to lean forward and push her nipples deeper into his hot mouth but the ropes around her arms and body wouldn't allow it. Her moans of pleasure turned to whimpers of vexation. She was right on the edge and needed just push to reach her peak. Yet, she had no control over her orgasm; her lover would decide when she could reach her pinnacle of pleasure. Her clit tingled at this realization. This was what she had fantasized about but afraid to say out loud. He could withhold her pleasure. No matter how her pussy ached to be filled, she was his. She moaned into her red gag as she grew wetter.
Suddenly, he pulled away.
" All this cleaning is making me hungry. We don't want my pho to get cold, do we?"
He turned his attention to the still steaming bowl. She shook her head, her eyes pleading him to return to his prior activities. He reached between her glistening thighs. She nodded vigorously. Finally, he would give her release. Instead, he turned the vibrator up a little higher, but no closer to her swollen clit than it was before. She cried into her gag, but her body betrayed her. Her back arched as she desperately tried to press herself closer to the vibrator.
As she worked herself into a frenzy that offered no sweet release, she heard her lover slurping his noodles.
She would never see a bowl of pho in the same way again.

Thien-Kim Lam’s story, “Pho for Two” is the winner of Hyphen magazine’s Erotic Writing Contest. Teresa Lo, author of the erotic fiction series, Red Lantern Scandals, selected Lam’s story as the winner. She says that Lam’s “creative use of food as an instrument of foreplay continues to burn into my brain.” We couldn’t agree more. 

Thien-Kim Lam | October 7, 2013 - 10:15am
In Hyphen’s last issue, books editor Abigail Licad posed a question: Can Asian American lit get its sexy back? We asked and we received. This past month, we collected submissions for our very first Erotic Writing contest and we think can unreservedly say that, yes, Asian American literature has its sexy back. In spades.
All of us at Hyphen’s Books and Fiction and Poetry sections had a riot reading the submissions--short stories and poems that titillated and smoked in the best, Color-Me-Badd-I’m-Going-to-Sex-You-Up--kind-of-way. We honestly never thought it was possible to extend what in life might be a three-minute sexified episode into five, yes, five single-spaced spaces. FYI, it involves a lot of creative uses of objects.
Teresa Lo, author of the erotic fiction series, Red Lantern Scandals, judged our contest and selected these three stories as the winners:
Winner: Thien-Kim Lam, “Pho for Two”
Second Place: Sonia J. Cheruvilil, “Meera Green Haathi” 
Third Place:  Solace Ames, “Tomorrow’s Much Too Long”
Read Lam’s story winning story here. Trust us, you’ll want to read it. “Pho for Two” makes us entirely re-think the phrase, food porn. Huge congrats to the winners and thanks to all who submitted stories!
Teresa Lo provided us with some comments on the winning pieces. Here’s what she had to say: 
The end of “Pho for Two” by Thien-Kim Lam ends with the line, “She would never see a bowl of pho in the same way again,” and after reading the story, I too will never see a bowl of the pho the same way again. It is this unexpected use of the seemingly ordinary that compelled me to pick “Pho for Two” as this year’s winner of Hyphen magazine’s Erotic Writing Contest. Thien-Kim’s erotic tale is vivid, imaginative, and most importantly sexy.  Her creative use of food as an instrument of foreplay continues to burn into my brain. The power dynamic between the two characters is well-developed, and it creates a sexual tension that leaps off of the page. As the protagonist’s lover pours various ingredients of the noodle dish onto her body, the reader can feel the need for the protagonist to receive the touch of her lover, and the writing of the protagonist’s sexual experience never veers into the cliché. This is a testament to the strength of Thien-Kim’s writing. She deftly combines all of the elements of good erotica, and she created a story that is unique, memorable, and fun to read. 
Sonia J. Cheruvillil’s “Meera Green Haathi” is an emotional and experimental take on the erotica genre. The story is written as a letter to an ex-lover who is recalling memories of the relationship using a green elephant “that used to sit on our window sill and watch us have sex.” The protagonist paints a portrait of a happy, highly sexual relationship that suddenly comes to a painful end. Sonia deftly takes her readers into the mind of her protagonist and, as different memories are revealed, a new layer of emotional complexity that was caused by heartbreak emerges. Reading this story created images in my mind that were as vivid as a movie’s and, overall, I was impressed with how beautiful the writing was.
In “Tomorrow’s Much Too Long,” Solace Ames transports readers back in time to Los Angeles in 1998, when using Geocities was still a thing. The story’s protagonist, John Sun, meets two lesbians at a party, and they pull him into their BDSM world and provide him with a sexual experience beyond his wildest dreams. Solace crafts a tale that is some parts funny, other parts steamy, and the dark and dangerous world that John finds himself in is written with sharp details. Solace has a unique voice and style, and she uses those attributes to create an erotic story that is wild and unafraid to push its readers to their sexual limits.
Frequently burning the midnight oil with a mug of coffee, Thien-Kim Lam sneaks in her blogging time after her children are in bed. As a first generation Vietnamese American born and raised in Louisiana, she’s fielded more than her share of racial questions, especially now that she’s the mother of two half Vietnamese, half African American children.She runs FromLefttoWrite.com, a virtual book club with a community of bloggers and her lifestyle blog I’m Not the Nanny covers multicultural parenting, work-life balance, food, and creativity. Somewhere in between her kids, her husband, and her business she manages to squeeze in some art, some books, and long hot bubble baths. Plus she always has room for coffee.
Sonia J. Cheruvillil is a South Asian activist, writer, educator and general troublemaker who lives in Brooklyn, New York City
Solace Ames is a Japanese-American woman with roots in the Southeast US, although her heart lives somewhere along the Pacific coast of Mexico. She’s worked in restaurants, strip clubs, academia and the corporate world, and studied everything from the philosophy of science to queer theory to medieval Spanish literature. Rejecting neat categories, her writing sprawls across genres and genders. Along with writing, education and political activism are her passions. Family takes up most of her time, but she loves to keep learning. You can find her onTumblr, Twitter and Youtube, and stay tuned for The Dom Project from Carina Press (a division of Harlequin) in December 2013.


In Hyphen’s last issue, Books editor Abigail Licad posed a question: Can Asian American lit get its sexy back? Well, we asked and we received. This past month, we collected submissions for our very first Erotic Writing Contest and we think can unreservedly say that, yes, Asian American literature has its sexy back. In spades.

Cathlin Goulding | October 7, 2013 - 10:09am

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