My latest book of poems, BARROW, is heavily influenced by the film Blade Runner, responsding to both the film and the source novel, science fiction writer Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? There's something about this story that really speaks to Laotian American artists like myself and the singer Ketsana, and several others of us who arrived at almost the same time Blade Runner first came out.
BARROW was written with some subtle and overt nods, such as my poem "2019 Blues," and other verbal references, including modified cityspeak. The book adapts many of the motifs and techniques of both the film and novel. Like Blade Runner, BARROW is at many points a noir work, the majority of poems set within urban settings where you will find few mentions of the environment and nature without lurking human science, a realm where the humans here struggle with questions of mortality, technology, legacies and artifice.
The late Phillip K. Dick opined that throughout the story, the protagonist becomes progressively dehumanized while the protagonist's formal targets appear to be becoming more human. Dick thinks the protagonist "must question what he is doing, and really what is the essential difference between him and them? And, to take it one step further, who is he if there is no real difference?"
As I wrote BARROW I gave significant consideration to the Cartesian maxim, Cogito Ergo Sum: I think, therefore, I am. These days, it's getting hard to tell, how much must I think, to truly be, in an age of information?
As a transcultural adoptee, I find myself able to relate to the replicants of Blade Runner, who come into the world with suspect narratives of who they are, and who have their 'futures' dictated to them. What is the means of expressing yourself into being?
Of course, BARROW draws on much more than just Blade Runner, but I'd be remiss if I didn't discuss some of the connections at some point.