Saturday, January 21, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Saba Razvi

I'm just starting to come across the work of the modern mystical Islamic poet Saba Razvi, who is also a scholar who also writes criticism and fiction. She's also a fellow member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and brings a wonderful approach to speculative poetry from a South and West Asian American perspective.

Her diverse research interests include Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, Literature and Science, Literature and Technology, Sufi Poetry, South Asian Literature, Urdu Poetry, Contemporary Fiction, Translation and Poetry, Subculture in Literature, Robots in Poetry and Fiction, Science Fiction Poetry and Literature, and Representations of Poetry and Narrative in Science Fiction or Popular Culture.

The The Poetry Journal has a trio of her poems online that give you a sense of her written and spoken style: "Gingerbread Girl," "Longing Along the Long Winter's Eve," and "On the metropole walkside, he watched the dimming light." I would also recommend taking a look at a 2016 interview she did with Blogging the Numinous to get a sense of her inspirations.

In The Garden of Crocodiles is her first full-length book of poetry.  Employing a provocative, lavish technique with her verse, she "draws contemporary currents of political concern and cultural identity through the sieve of inherited mythos and ecstatic awareness." The poems are said to blossom out of the liminal moments in which familiar narratives begin to unravel, exploring the nature of transgression in emotionally contractual situations that have not retained their structural integrity.

Her poems have also appeared in journals such as The Offending Adam, Diner, The Homestead Review, NonBinary Review, 10x3 plus, 13th Warrior Review, The Arbor Vitae Review, and Arsenic Lobster. Her work has been anthologized frequently, including Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War Faith and Sexuality, The Loudest Voice Anthology, The Liddell Book of Poetry, and Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity.

Her other poetry collections include the chapbooks Limerence & Lux (Chax Press), Of the Divining and the Dead (Finishing Line Press), and the forthcoming Beside the Muezzin’s Call & Beyond the Harem’s Veil (Finishing Line Press)

Limerence & Lux was produced as a limited edition, hand-stitched, letterpressed, chapbook. It featured individually-painted blue and gold covers by artist Cynthia Miller. Her poems in this collection focused on "the lightblooms of desire and lust and heartbreak that fill the intimate spaces of relationships between people and their shared navigation of the world’s darkness."

Saba Razvi's poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net Award, the Rhysling Award, and have won a 2015 Independent Best American Poetry Award. She is currently an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Houston in Victoria, TX, where in addition to working on scholarly research on interfaces between Science and contemporary Poetry, she is studying Sufi Poetry in translation, and writing new poems and fiction.

I'm looking forward to seeing more from her in the future.You can follow her latest work at although the website is still a work in progress.

She is available for readings, roundtables on craft, guest lectures in classes, meetings with book-clubs, and microworkshops; if she can’t manage the travel in a particular case, she is available through online video-calls.

Friday, January 20, 2017

World Refugee Day 2017

World Refugee Day has been marked on 20 June, ever since the UN General Assembly, on 4 December 2000, adopted resolution 55/76 where it noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.

That's six months away and it would be good to see if your community is organizing a celebration and if there is a way for you to get involved. Here, we have one of the dance performances by Julie Ha Truong in 2010 giving a wonderful demonstration of her traditional dance skills for the community in Minneapolis.

This also seems like a good time to remind you to get your proposals in to the 2017 Southeast Asian Studies Conference in Lowell, MA by February 1st.

Lao Drug Lord Xaysana Keopimpha Arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Laotian Times reported that reputed Lao drug lord Xaysana Keopimpha was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport by the Thai police this week. Over 100 officers were involved in the arrest as the suspects were returning from Phuket. The Thai police noted in a statement that over the last 5 years, they have already arrested 50 individuals working under Mr Xaysana’s networks. They are believed to have smuggled over five million ya ba (methamphetamine) tablets into Thailand from Laos.

As an interesting point of historical context ya ba tablets have been illegal in Thailand since 1970 when they outlawed following several horrible bus accidents. They were formerly sold at gas stations and were commonly used by long-haul drivers to stay awake, and are combination of caffeine and methamphetamine which degrade cognitive functions over time with extended use. There were concerns it was spreading into the Israeli club scene as well as some club scenes in the US as a replacement for ecstasy. It was initially used in early forms to help horses pull heavy loads up steep hills and other labor intensive work in Shan State.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 API DAY at the Minnesota State Capitol

On February 8th, 2017 the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans will be gathering community members from across Minnesota for this year's API Day at the Capitol. The purpose of Day at the Capitol is to give every community member an opportunity to speak to their legislators, wield their democratic rights, and be heard during a crucial and strategic time in the legislative session.

Many of our community members may not feel confident or comfortable taking their places in the legislative process. API Day at the Capitol is designed to light the way and empower each individual. The Council has gathered keynote speakers, community leaders and knowledgeable guides to the political process. Every year, community members in attendance are guided through the process of engaging legislators about the issues that are most important to them.

Asian Pacific Minnesotans are becoming more involved in the decisions that shape our lives. It is our duty and privilege as members of the community to dispel the "model minority" myth and passionately represent our lives, families, and issues to our lawmakers.

API Day at the Capitol is a day to unite and display the collective will of our communities. They would like to formally invite you to this empowering event. Register here on EventBrite, this event is free and open to the public.