angry gift guide: donate to the asian american writers' workshop

The Asian American Writers' Workshop is the preeminent literary arts organization dedicated to excellent Asian American writing. Right now, they're asking you to donate to their efforts to create and maintain a 21st century art space that support and nurtures Asian American writers.

Since we've got gift-giving on our minds, how about pledging a few holiday dollars to the Workshop's cause? Your donation will help shape the stories -- our stories -- that define the American narrative. Need more persuasion? Here are some more reasons. Thirty of them:
Top 30 Reasons to Support the Workshop

1. We're the place to go when your mother tells you you're wasting your life with this writing thing.

2. The United Asian American Organizations named us one of the top five Asian American groups in the country.

3. We helped curate the first Asian American ComiCon where we held a panel on the politics and aesthetics of nerds. You know, your people?

4. We're fun. We curated the book party for Monique Truong's new novel about synaesthesia and handed out miracleberries, the fruit that rewires your taste buds.

5. The mother of a Workshop youth program student writes: "After a turbulent year of racism and bullying in his own school, [my son] was delighted to discover a supportive circle of peers at the Workshop. 'I never knew there was a place like this,' he marveled to me after the first day. 'I felt like I belonged on the spot.'"

6. You think literature should connect to real life. You like that we've done programs on transnational adoption, desi teens in Silicon Valley, Jose Rizal, Bollywood-influenced weddings, the formation of the Chinese American middle class, political reform in China, Burma and Bangladesh, and the Cultural Revolution.

7. Not only are we one of the most active Asian American and literary spaces in New York, we're also most most stylistically diverse. We've featured Fatima Bhutto, infant terrible Tao Lin, avant-pop electronica duo Matmos, Law & Order's B.D. Wong, LOLCats entrepreneur Ben Huh, Pulitzer-winning poet Louise GlŸck, Slate music writer Hua Hsu, Watchmen writer Alex Tse, G.I. Joe creator Larry Hama, crime novelist Henry Chang, journalist Jennifer 8. Lee, saxophonist-activist Fred Ho, hip hop activist Jeff Chang, architect Billie Tsien, Crimean Tatar absurdist rocker Cihan Kaan, legal blogger David Lat, and Pakistani punk band The Kominas.

8. You got free beer, ice cream, and a mix CD at our MIX TAPE READING featuring seven writers writing about their favorite songs.

9. We've been doing all this on personal computers!

10. Your dollars make sure we are around the next Thursday night you decide to need
to hear some poems, drink some booze, lament and celebrate.

11. National Book Foundation Executive Director Harold Augenbraum says that we help many Asian Americans satiate "a hunger they never knew they had: a hunger for literature, cultural recognition, and a connection to their heritage."

12. It takes money to house the nation's only Asian American Reading Room.

13. We're one of the only Asian American arts groups listed in Gary Okihiro's outline of Asian American history.

14. We'll never ask you, "Where are you from?"

15. We're a cheap date. Our admission price is lower than most NYC burgers.

16. You can be any kind of writer and any kind of Asian American. We're also a home for people who don't like multi-generational coming-of-age memoirs influenced by Amy Tan.

17. You came to our poetry reading by Stegner Fellow and professional dancer Mong-Lan, who taught the audience how to tango dance after the reading.

18. What if your mom or dad thought their story was worth telling?

19. Your money can publish someone for the first time.

20. Escape the black-white racial dichotomy! We think Asian American literature is for everyone, whether you're Asian American or not. Spend a year with us and you can hear stories from more than fifteen ethnicities, from black and white all the way to Crimean Tatar, Persian and Bangladeshi.

21. We're a good investment. We're turning twenty in 2010.

22. College student Tracy Wong told us she didn't remember any of the classes she took at high school, but did remember our graphic novel workshop for young girls.

23. Without our reading series, where would over sixty writers get their start a year?

24. We want to make you laugh. Novelist Ed Lin and stand-up comedian Jen Kwok curate MOUTH TO MOUTH, an open mic unlike any in the country. It features literary writers alongside stand-up comedians and ukulele players.

25. Give more than a grand and get lunch with a writer. vThe authors we have hosted in the past include some of the finest writers in America: Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri, Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang, Booker Prize winner Michael Ondaatje, National Book Award winner Maxine Hong Kingston, and Nobel Prize nominee Bei Dao.

26. You may be the only one at your work meeting, but you aren't at our readings.

27. Our youth programs have won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Union Square Awards, and Coalition of Asian American Children and Families.

28. We're actually run by Asian American writers—in fact, our Executive Director is the first Chinese American male to win the oldest literary prize in Ameria.

29. We do more avant-garde and progressive programming than most art spaces in America. If you've come to our events, you've met political historian Mae Ngai, surveillance artist Jill Magid, third world historian Vijay Prashad, seminal political artist Martha Rosler, and two generations of avant-garde writers: John Yau, Linh Dinh, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Tan Lin, Tan Lin, Myung Mi Kim and others.

30. You can throw your own party at our awesome Chelsea space!
That's a lot of reasons! Aren't you convinced yet? To donate, and to learn about all the amazing work the Workshop is supporting, and what your financial support means to the future of Asian American literature, go to the Asian American Writers' Workshop website here.

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