Thursday, October 22, 2009

[Introduction To Lao Writers] Phayvanh Luekhamhan

Poet Phayvanh Luekhamhan can be found at, and although we've never met in person, I've always enjoyed her work and perspective. It's a hazard of being a writer- so many of our peers we meet first as text rather than in person.

To my knowledge, Phayvanh is the only Lao poet who has participated in the prestigious Kundiman poetry retreats. She typically gets attention for Souphine's Escape, which is a fine poem that combines traditional Lao music with her own gentle style.

It's no secret I admire a significant range of her work, and in particular, her poem Try This inspired a poem now featured in my book, Tanon Sai Jai. You can hear her do a live reading at

Phayvanh Luekhamhan was born in Champasak, Laos in 1975. Her family resettled in Brattleboro, VT as refugees in 1979. She has been writing poetry for performances and exhibits throughout New England for over ten years. Over the course of her career, Phayvanh has collaborated with Souphine Phathsoungneune, a Laotian folksinger, to create a program interweaving Lao and Lao-American language, culture, and tradition. They perform in classrooms and concert stages throughout New England.

She is a Juried Artist with the Vermont Arts Council and is on the New England States Touring roster. Phayvanh made quite a reputation for herself over the years, with work supported by the Vermont Arts Council, The Vermont Council on the Humanities and the Vermont Folklife Center. And she's a formidable Scrabble player with a great sense of humor.

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