While from a Lao point of view, the year isn't anywhere close to being done yet, it still seems as good a time as any to do a look back on 2009. The year was filled with many new friends made, many places visited and many things learned and a few new books out. Not bad.
This was a good year as an NEA Fellow in Literature, and it encouraged me greatly to continue my work as a poet and keep taking artistic risks and experiment with new methods and approaches.
Receiving a 2009 Asian Pacific American Leadership award from the State Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans was also a great honor, as was the certificate of recognition from the Mayor of San Francisco during the International Lao New Year Festival and an award of appreciation from the students and staff of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Thank you all for your support.
Traveling across the country, it became apparent there is still much work that remains to be done to keep the literary arts a deep cultural passion of our nation. I'm very intrigued by what it would take to improve our artistic infrastructure to create a sufficiently supportive environment for our writers and creators.
From a travel perspective, I was able to travel to many cities and states including Tennessee, California, Arizona, Nebraska,Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and briefly passed through North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
I've emerged with a stronger sense of where our communities are at the moment, and there's a lot worth looking at. I even seem to have met a few long-lost relatives for the first time in 36 years. Who can argue with that.
This year my rate of publication was slower than usual or perhaps simply condensed with the release of my books Tanon Sai Jai and BARROW and a few other personal projects. However, work on my novel and short story collection went very well, and we've begun successfully fund-raising for Lao women's dance, the Lao Writers Summit and bringing Legacies of War and Refugee Nation to the Twin Cities for 2010. So, it's moving forward, not backwards or sideways.
Learn and grow. There's still so much to see and seek but I definitely have no big regrets about this year. Here's to the future and wishing everyone else a safe and prosperous season ahead! Thank you for making this journey with me!