Monday, April 24, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Mia You

Mia You was born in Seoul, South Korea, grew up in Northern California, and now lives in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Her first full-length collection, I, Too, Dislike It, was released by 1913 Press.

Her poems also have appeared as a chapbook, Objective Practice (Achiote Press, 2007), and an artist’s book, YOU (created by Thorsten Kiefer, 2004).

She is collaborating on a book of hours and movements with Lyn Hejinian. You was central editor of Poetry International Rotterdam, a partner to the Poetry Foundation, and completing a doctoral dissertation on Gertrude Stein at the University of California, Berkeley. She writes essays and book reviews and has published them with Bookforum, the Boston Review, The Hairpin, Jacket2, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Volta.

[Poem] Her Body, My Monuments

"Her Body, My Monuments," first appeared in my first book of Lao American speculative poetry, On The Other Side Of The Eye, inspired in part by a visit to the That Dam stupa in Laos, where a legendary Nak is said to slumber, waiting for the time it is needed again. And a few other stories for a different day.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Well, this made for a very cool day.

Recently at Silicon Valley Comic Con, we had a nice, albeit brief conversation about how I've been teaching about the significance of her work and what it meant for civil rights and social change to my students and mentees over the decades, even talking about her just last week during a presentation for DREAMers in the Central Valley during my time as a Visiting Artist with the UC Merced Center for the Humanities. It was an interesting way of things coming full circle. 

For those of you who've been at my workshops and classroom conversations this month in Merced, you may remember I quizzed you on how many ways even the simple image of the bridge crew was, for its time, such an incredibly radical proposition, let alone the entire premise of the show. Today we take so much of this premise for granted, but there was a time where, anywhere outside of science fiction, this was absolutely inconceivable.

Nichelle Nichols played a pivotal role in opening those doorways for us at the encouragement of no less a figure than Martin Luther King, Jr. who saw the importance of her keeping this role to show others what futures were possible, were worth reaching for.

I also had a very nice conversation with Tom Wilson who played Biff in Back to the Future about his art and what he was doing to explore those question of what art was. A very pleasant fellow, as was Robert O'Reilly who played Gowron in the Next Generation and other later series. But more notes to follow.

Friday, April 21, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Tony Innouvong

Tony Innouvong is a higher education professional and occasional event planner. By night, he is an emcee (alias is Illaphant), poet, and aspiring fashion designer. His music and poetry have allowed him to perform and collaborate with artists nationally.

He’s currently working on the second installment of his first acclaimed project, “Sticky Rice & Mangos.”

In addition to the music, he’s working on a fashion start-up that fuses Lao culture with modern menswear. The line is a combined celebration and testament to the culture, history, and struggle of Lao people. His "music, poetry, and fashion work serve not only as creative canals for self-expression, but tools for continuing a legacy his family started when they immigrated to the US."