Thursday, April 08, 2010

Asian American Poetry Spotlight: Kundiman

Not a poet, but a tradition, and in the United States, an organization specifically committed to Asian American poetry. Since 2004, Kundiman has been dedicated to the creation, cultivation and promotion of Asian American poetry. They sponsored the Kundiman Poetry Prize, and once sponsored the Vincent Chin Memorial Prize Chapbook competition. Today, their key programs are readings and the acclaimed Kundiman retreat. They're still going strong and you can visit them at

They worked to create a space that would "facilitate the creation of new work, create mentoring relationships with established Asian American poets and address the challenges that uniquely affect Asian American poets." And by most accounts, they've succeeded very well in less than a decade already.

Among the 200,000 in the Lao American community, Phayvanh Luekhamhan is the only poet to have ever attended their retreat, (in fact, she's attended several to complete the whole program) and Andre Yang is the only Hmong poet to have attended so far. I would consider it a significant distinction, and look forward to seeing where their future efforts take them.

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