Small Press Points: Kaya Press

From the July/August 2021 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

The name of Kaya Press comes from a confederation of city-states in ancient Korea where the arts flourished at the confluence of several cultures. For more than twenty-five years, the press has served as a similar nexus of experiment, abundance, and cross-pollination: “Kaya occupies a unique place in publishing both Asian Pacific American and Asian diasporic literature,” says managing editor Neelanjana Banerjee. Founded in 1994 by writer Soo Kyung Kim, Kaya originally set out to produce a journal of Korean translation “but quickly became known for being a space for Asian American and Asian diasporic literature that ignored genre and identity as defining boundaries,” Banerjee says. Today the press operates as a nonprofit, housed by the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and is steered by publisher Sunyoung Lee (“a true book whisperer,” says Banerjee).

The four to six titles Kaya publishes each year traverse and often defy the categories of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and include works in translation and recovered works, like Andrew Leong’s translations of Shoson Nagahara’s novellas first published in the 1920s in L.A.’s Little Tokyo. Upcoming titles include Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik’s book Archive of Dreams, in which Bhaumik “maps her artistic and activist journey and documents the stories of her parents,” and Truong Tran’s book of the other, “a provocative collection of poems, prose, and essays that voice the rage and hurt of institutional racism against Asian Americans.” Kaya is open for submissions of Asian diasporic literature year-round through its website and does not charge a reading fee.