Gibberish Guest Editor Interview

Editor Interview: Ailun Shi

Can you share an experience when your culture was lost in translation? How did that shape your worldview? And what are you hoping this stirs up in writers?

In elementary school, my teachers would put on Chinese New Year celebrations and activities. Every year, my teachers taught us how to say gong hei fat choy and a myriad of some other words. But those other words were Mandarin, while gong hei fat choy was Cantonese. As a Mandarin speaker, for a while, I was confused by the existence of seemingly commonplace words that didn’t exist in my vocabulary—but that was because my teachers either didn’t know or didn’t explain that “Chinese” isn’t just one language.

Cultural ignorance has improved since my elementary school years; most of the people I talk to who aren’t from my culture are aware that Chinese and many other Asian languages have tones, that Mandarin and Cantonese are only the two most common languages spoken in China of hundreds. I’ve also encountered countless people who ask me, on their own accord, how my name is actually pronounced in Mandarin, something that no one would’ve asked (and that I would never have even offered up) as a kid. But there’s still a lot of headway to be made, especially for more niche languages and cultures. I hope writers are encouraged to dig into their past, be proud of the languages and cultures they came from, and share those bits of history with us.

What do you hope writers get out of submitting to Gibberish? 

I hope they’re able to take a look back and really dive into the cultures and experiences that they came from and maybe even get more comfortable with expressing those identities. It took many formative years for me to get comfortable with sharing who I am and where I came from, and today, there are still pieces of my identity that I’m more hesitant about sharing. I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of people. I hope we can all get just a little closer to being comfortable with who we are with Gibberish.

Describe your editing philosophy. What makes a piece hard to pass up?

With Gibberish—honestly, anything that makes me travel back, be at home, and feel nostalgic. I don’t need to be from the culture in the piece or speak the language that’s referenced, maybe I’ve never even heard of the culture or the language! But the feelings associated with the roots we come from are universal.

Who’s a poet, essayist, artist, etc. that you can’t stop reading/following?

I read “Sex Tape, B-side” from Iva Ticic on Tint Journal a few months ago. That turned into my favorite poem. And then an artist (well, singer) that I’ve been listening to since before she even released her first EP is Sara Kays.

Why is destigmatizing foreign words, ethnic names, and ‘otherness’ important?

It’s so easy to resort to labels and categories. When we destigmatize and normalize foreign words and ethnic names, it’s harder to resort to labeling those things as “other” and for people to discriminate against that “otherness.”

Share a fun fact about yourself.

I’ve been learning to ballroom dance! Favorite dances are waltz and samba.

Ailun, pronounced like Allen, is a lover of books, calligraphy, and writing.⁣⁣ She has worked with Empire & Great Jones Little Press, Helen: a literary magazine, and Beard Full of Butterflies. Learn more about here:

Pushcart Prize

Pushcart Prize Nominations 2021

Lucky Jefferson is excited to announce its 2021 Pushcart Prize nominees:⁣


Raphael Jenkins

Invocations in Eb7#9”⁣ — Riff

Raphael prefers to go by Ralph, as he feels it suits him better. He, like Issa Rae, is rooting for everybody Black. His work has been featured on his mama’s fridge, his close friends’ inboxes, Hobart, HASH and, 3 Elements Review. Forthcoming in Frontier Poetry and Flypaper Lit.

Fun Fact: “Locomotion” by John Coltrane inspires Jenkins’s work.

Nnadi Samuel

A Boy ago”⁣ — Awake, Issue 4

Nnadi Samuel (he/him/his) is a black writer and graduate of English & literature from the University of Benin. His works have been previously published/forthcoming in Fantasy Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, Star*Line Fiction Poetry & elsewhere. He is the author of “Reopening of Wounds”. He tweets @Samuelsamba10.

Fun Fact: Samuel’s favorite sci-fi movie is Interstellar

Cristina Legarda
Aioli” — Cookout

Cristina Legarda was born in the Philippines and spent her early childhood there before moving to Bethesda, Maryland. She is now a practicing physician in Boston. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in America magazine, Diaspora Baby Blues, Dappled Things, Plainsongs, and FOLIO.

Fun Fact: A food that inspires Legarda’s work is Green mangoes with bagoong

Ayobami Adesina

21 /with loneliness”⁣ — 365 Collection

Ayobami Adesina is a closing student of social work at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. He resides in an isolated apartment where he laughs all day at memes on Twitter via @aiadesina.

Christina Dixie

Keep the Porch Light On”  — Awake, Issue 4

 Christina Dixie is a dreamer, a writer, who is always in awe with a pink sky. She was a contributor for Sonku Collective, Gumbo and Soul, (Digital) Eve Poetry literary magazines–each published her poetry. She has a BA degree in English with a minor in Humanities from UCF.

Fun Fact: When asked why she felt representation in sci-fi movies matters Dixie shared, “Representation in Sci-Fi movies matter. More representation give acknowledgments to our community–giving us the opportunity to not experience erasure.”

Lynette Ng

what to do with all the strawberries” — 365 Collection

Lynette Ng is a union shop steward at her workplace. She enjoys picket lines, public libraries, and hearty plates of pasta. She has no interest in the low-carb lifestyle. Originally from Malaysia, Lynette now lives near Boston, Massachusetts, and will continue staying there if the powers-that-be bring back rent control.

We are honored to have such moving writing included in our publication and champion new and emerging voices across a spectrum of communities. Enjoy each author’s work and help us celebrate them and spread the good news!⁣

Best of The Net

Best of The Net Nominations

Lucky Jefferson is excited to announce its 2021 Best of the Net nominees:⁣


Fareh Malik

After 9/11 the War Spilled Into Our Hometowns & Made Us Grow up Too Fast & My Homie’s Sister Don’t Wear Her Hijab No More”⁣

Lissa Batista

A Backyard Brazilian Birthday Party”⁣

A’Ja Lyons
Magical Kitchens

Timi Sanni

the first rule of survival”⁣

Jorrell Watkins

Lose Control”    ⁣

Jacob Aupperlee

Sighing Places”    ⁣

We are honored to have such terrific work included in our publication. Enjoy each author’s work and help us celebrate them and spread the good news!⁣


Lucky Jefferson Announces Contest Winner

Lucky Jefferson is excited to announce the winner of our First Ever Logo Contest, Shashi Arnold!

Contests are our way of giving back to creative and literary communities near and far. We believe that writers and artists should be celebrated and honored beyond publication.

Our logo contest was created to highlight the work of artists around the world and amplify support of local creative economies.

Shashi is a seventeen-year-old aspiring illustrator. She is the art editor of Silver Chips print at Montgomery Blair High School and is currently interning as an illustrator with Lucky Jefferson. She loves exploring new mediums and creating illustrations that bring written stories to life.

Shashi’s Logo

Runner-up winner: Evan D. Williams

Williams’ artwork has appeared in numerous journals and in books published by Praxis, Formist, and the Yale University Press. He has also produced three artist’s books accessioned into libraries in New York and Oxford. He is prepping a photo show in Pittsburgh, YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A NO FOMO ZONE.

Evan’s Logo

We’re grateful to all of our participants and look forward to what next year’s contest will bring.

Stay tuned for upcoming opportunities here.

Pushcart Prize

Pushcart Prize Nominations

Lucky Jefferson is excited to announce its 2020 PUSHCART PRIZE nominees:⁣


C. L. Butler, “Progeny”⁣
April Hernandez, “Dementia”⁣
Bryanne Lane, “lebret, sask”⁣
Eliana Franklin, “The Earth Called Back”⁣
Raine Higa, “Learning and Losing Halmoni”    ⁣


Dane Farris, “The Cows”⁣

We are honored to have such terrific work included in our publication.

Enjoy each author’s work and help us spread the good news!⁣


We Stand With Our Community.

We Stand With Our Black Community, Now & Forever.

Lucky Jefferson (LJ) stands for and with the Black community.

It should be no secret that we take acts of brutality against our community very seriously and to heart. Since our founding, we have dedicated our work to consistently publishing writers of color and increasing the presence of Black authors and professionals in the literary and publishing community. Being also founded by women of color, the issues that affect one impacts us dually and personally; we are committed to upholding the work required to one day see unequivocal equality for all.

We stand with the people risking their lives to vocalize our pain; who stand unflinchingly on the front lines; who see and hear us. We stand with you! 

Black lives will matter today and forever, as all lives should.

We appreciate the support of our LJ family and your patience as we purposely shift publication timelines to let the voices of our people and greater community ring. We hope that during this troubling period you join us as an ally and not only listen, but find ways to support your community so that we might see better days and true justice.


NaBeela Washington, Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Lucky Jefferson


Poet Feature: Swapnil Dhruv Bose

This summer, we’ll be featuring different poets, writers, and artists to foster constructive and inclusive conversations around new works, provide greater context for newly published pieces, and generate increased visibility for writers and artists amidst global disruption. For our very first feature, we’ll be highlighting budding poet Swapnil Dhruv Bose.

Swapnil Dhruv Bose is an English Literature student at Presidency University, Kolkata. He loves playing chess and is a massive fan of Charlie Kaufman’s screenplays and the work of Samuel Beckett. He has been published in Ohio State University’s literary journal Asterism. He hopes to become a professor of postmodern literature someday.

Check out his poem Counterfeit Children, a piece included in the 365 Collection, and his break down of the piece below:

Counterfeit Children

I got a landmine for my last birthday.
She ordered me to plant it in our yard.
The government had given it away
Because it lost its citizenship card.

They send a maintenance team once a year
To make sure we kneel before it and pray.
I had to sell the new car and my ear,
Only to stuff our dilated mouths with clay.

The neighbours hide in Papier-mâché shelters
When we light pink flares in our garden.
They complain about the fire hazards.
I smile and hide it in our oven.

She scratched out each number on its skin.
We put a dress on it and named it “Fin”.

First stanza: I wanted to address the significant political atrocity that has been occurring since the end of 2019. The government passed a law called the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which grants citizenship based on religious orientation, and therefore discriminates on that very basis. They demand documents to prove that one is a citizen but in a country like India, many people do not have proper documents. On top of that, the entire process of being documented is often abused and sometimes citizenship cards are issued in the name of Hindu Gods.

My main motive was to talk about how the government’s priorities regarding citizenship criteria leads to the retroactive creation of corrupt economies. The bomb becomes a locus of mortality anxiety as well as xenophobia. It is not acknowledged by the government as a useful resource as soon as it loses what lends it subjectivity: its nationality (according to the government’s definition). It becomes the “Other”.

Second Stanza: I wanted this stanza to focus on how the landmine slowly demolishes all feelings of security. The maintenance team (of domestic explosive devices) that arrives to take care of the bomb does not care about the technical details but rather the ideological conformity of its caretakers, to make sure they do not use it against the government while making them feel as if the government cares about them. To pay for the maintenance, the speaker has to sell himself off in pieces within a year of receiving it. 

With this, I wanted to talk about how unfair it is for the underprivileged to pay taxes just to see their hard-earned money go to the Defense Budget instead of actual welfare programs; instead of superficial ones like the Bomb Maintenance Squad.

Third Stanza: For this stanza, I wanted to develop the idea of the neighborhood as a microcosmic reflection of the general population. The neighbors project all their xenophobic anxiety towards the undocumented bomb while hiding in dysfunctional shelters provided by the government. They survive because of this false sense of security as well. 

The speaker lights “pink” flares (the government does not provide red ones in order to dismiss any lit flares during emergencies as celebratory) to draw attention to his dire condition but the maintenance team has already visited this year. Therefore, the government can justify neglecting the ones who need help. The neighbors protest against the lighting of the flares when they should be protesting the existence of the bomb, but they don’t because the government has taught them that bombs are good, people are bad.

Swapnil Dhruv Bose
Swapnil Dhruv Bose

Swapnil Dhruv Bose is an English Literature student at Presidency University, Kolkata. He loves playing chess and is a massive fan of Charlie Kaufman’s screenplays and the work of Samuel Beckett. He has been published in Ohio State University’s literary journal Asterism. He hopes to become a professor of postmodern literature someday.


Exposed Poets Announced!

Exposed is a very powerful issue in that it takes the act of testifying and need to tell our individual stories, stories we saw boldly professed in our breakthrough issue Testament, to reveal the hues of our souls—hues that not only capture the light we all experience in this life, but also the darkness of such an experience.

We wanted writers to reach deep within themselves and expose the very depth of these stories, no matter what that looked like. While it’s important to acknowledge the good that encapsulates us all, it’s equally valuable that we not overlook the details that aren’t always so glamorous because, in reality, it’s generally those things that make us the people we are in this very moment.

We’re excited to welcome new poets to Lucky Jefferson and generate even more support for those not as new to the writing community.

Take a peek at some of the poets in this issue here and order Exposed for your own chance to hold these stories in your hands and experience a new kind of journal here.  

We will continue our search for empowering poems in April, as we gear up for our Summer 2020 issue, Labyrinth.

We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we do!

NaBeela Washington, Founder & Editor-in-Chief


Lucky Jefferson Announces Student Relief Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Lucky Jefferson has created the Lucky Jefferson Student Relief Fund to support students affected by COVID-19.

The Lucky Jefferson Student Relief Fund will award aid between $25 and $100 to students who live in the Boston, Pennsylvania, New York, Washington, D.C., and Maryland area whose well-being and lives are being adversely impacted by COVID-19.

With students being forced out of dorms and off-campus and experiencing a shift in their education resulting in courses being taken online, without much technological preparation, students are now at risk of:

  • losing scholarships
  • access to resources to support their overall well-being and studies
  • experiencing temporary or permanent homelessness
  • forfeiting their college education altogether

The Lucky Jefferson Student Relief Fund will begin awarding aid and open applications on March 23 to affected students.  The Lucky Jefferson Student Relief Fund will remain open until May 1, 2020, or as funds are available. 

“It’s important that we help others outside of simply sharing and promoting their work. Lucky Jefferson wants to make sure people can continue being successful despite what’s happening around us,” said NaBeela Washington, Founder of Lucky Jefferson.

The Lucky Jefferson Student Relief Fund would be available to provide aid for the following:

  • Meals/Groceries
  • Transportation
  • Moving/Storage Expenses
  • Tech/Software Needed To Go Remote
  • Costs Incurred From Classes That Are Canceled Or Inaccessible 
  • Loss Of Income From Work-study & TA Programs

Applications will be made available on Monday, March 23, and will continue to be accepted as funds allow.

To support our efforts and make a donation, please visit:


Press Contact:

NaBeela Washington, Founder, Editor-in-Chief

Print Issue

Testament Poets Announced!

Poets for our breakthrough fall issue, Testament, have officially been announced!

Testament was born out of a need to explore how our stories set us apart and unite us through shared experiences, emotions, and beliefs. We sought to bring poets and writers from around the world together to reverberate their testimonies.

It’s critical that we never forget where we’ve come from and how the paths we navigate in this life ultimately forge unique identities that will transcend the words we put on paper and legacies we forge. 

This first issue is comprised of poets new to Lucky Jefferson, many of which have never been published, an important aspect of the issues we publish. 

Take a peek at some of the poets in this issue here and order Testament for your own chance to hold these stories in your hands and experience a new kind of journal here.  

We plan to return to our on-going search of empowering poems in December, as we gear up for our Spring 2020 issue, Exposed.


NaBeela Washington, Founder & Editor-in-Chief

error: Content is protected !!