Somewhere, an orchestra is tuning. Silence is broken by a single suspended note slowly building into layers of instruments, hearing and finding each other and then—fading again. Ready to launch into an odyssey of sound. “SOUND 音” swells and resonates into a rich sonic landscape, signals in the static.

This issue features the winners of our fifth annual writing contest! We are grateful to Ching-In Chen for serving as our poetry judge and Lan Samantha Chang for serving as our fiction judge this year.

  • Urban photo series from Audrey Tian, Lily Deng, Vivian Si Zeng and an illustration from Juliette Wu draw influence from Chinese opera visuals; Luke Tan’s “Portrait of a Plastic-Wrapped Lion in a Honda Odyssey” questions Lion Dance no longer in situ.
  • Audiovisual artist vicki huang pays tribute to a history of wind music in “ode to a harmonica player”. Listen here.
  • Web Content Assistant Noah Hrung chats with Madeline Seto on performance, textiles, and biomaterials.
  • Senior Editor Yue Chen and poet Will Harris dive into the ways we share and process language.
  • Managing Editor Chi Siegel learns about how C Pam Zhang cooked up her novel Land of Milk and Honey.
  • Editorial Intern Andrew Kang hits up debut novelist Ada Zhang, author of The Sorrows of Others.
  • Senior Designer Caroline Mao meets artist A Liang Chan in New York and talk through Chan’s world of comics.
  • Poetry from Roy Wang draws parallels between Wang's father and Bruce Springsteen, with their shared passion for music and their struggles with love and identity.
  • Contest winner Zen Ren’s "Motherlore, in the flock of cries" unfolds in a wing-shaped formation, exploring themes of memory and time while evoking the delicate flight of swallows and the echoes of unspoken emotions.
  • Contest winner Trini Feng’s "The Last Daughter" wades through the sounds of a Chinese family gathering, where cultural expectations and the passing of tradition intertwine, as the protagonist conceals her true self and contemplates her role in preserving generational bonds, expectations, and facades.
  • From the poetry shortlist: Timmy Chong's "SONAR FLOWER CODED SIGNAL," blends solar-powered vibrancy with subtle sensations and progresses from softness to disorder; Anna Feng's "Fragments" captures the contemplative atmosphere of a barbershop; Cynthia Gan's "Requiem for my grandfather's tomato garden" mediates the complexity of religious experiences through memories of a tomato garden; Michelle Tong's "Heavenly Peach Banquet" contemplates reincarnation, impermanence, and the desire for a vibrant celebration.
  • From the fiction shortlist: Elizabeth Han’s “Estate” explores the transient nature of existence; Wan Phang Lim’s “Adorable” quests for a sense of belonging; Vicki Xu’s “The Mall at the End at the End of the World” connects nostalgia with a search of meaning; Kelvin Mak’s “Vigil” turns to a son’s solace, connection, and catharsis – explore existence from all angles, against backdrops of estate sales, waiting rooms, abandoned houses, an aging mall’s arcade, and the ancient game of Go.

Front cover by Luke Tan.