Asian American Little Magazines 1968-1974: By Amardeep Singh

Aion Magazine (1970-1; San Francisco)

Aion Magazine only had two issues, but it had a lasting influence on the emergence of Asian American literature. It was edited by Janice Mirikitani, a writer a few years older than the editors of magazines like Gidra. Mirikitani was born in central California; her family had been interned during World War II and relocated to Chicago. She graduated from UCLA in the early 1960s and had briefly studied creative writing at San Francisco State College, suggesting numerous opportunities for finding links to the nascent Asian American Movement. Mirikatani would also go on to be involved with several important anthologies, including Third World Women (1972), Time to Greez!: Incantations from the Third World (1975), and Ayumi: A Japanese American Anthology (1980). Finally, it's worth mentioning that Mirikitani would go on to become an accomplished poet in her own right starting with her first book of poems, Awake in the River (1978). 

Aion is unique amongst the publications depicted in this site in that it is the only magazine that is primarily presented as a literary magazine. (Indeed, several scholars have identified it as the first Asian American literary magazine). It is notable in part because it published early poems by writers like Lawson Inada, Sam Tagatac, Al Robles, George Leong, Alan Lau, Jeff Chang and Janice Mirikitani herself. In its second issue, Aion featured a number of poems by Francis Oka, the magazine's co-editor, who died tragically in a motorcycle accident before the issue could be printed. It also featured a short story by the pioneering Japanese American novelist Toshio Mori and one by Jeffrey Chan, a San Francisco State College professor who would go on to co-edit Aiiieeeee with Frank Chin and others.

Alongside poetry, Aion features political essays strongly oriented to the political discourse of the moment, with essays like "The Need for an United Asian American Front" by Alex Hing, and a Photographic Essay of life in San Francisco's Chinatown. Hing's essay names several important Bay Area organizations already moving towards Asian American Pan-Ethnic organizing, including the Asian-American Political Alliance (AAPA), the Inter-Collegiate Chinese for Social Action (ICSA), the Filipino-American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE), and the Red Guard. 


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