Monday, August 08, 2011

Approaching 1 Year since the Lao American Writers Summit

It's been almost a year since the first national Lao American Writers Summit in Minnesota.  We gathered together Lao American writers and artists from across the country, many meeting for the very first time. We held it on August 13-15th at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

There, you could meet almost everyone from Lao rockers to Oscar-nominated directors, actors, playwrights, poets and spoken word artists.
There were so many wonderful parts of the summit. Those moments more than made up for the challenges we had along the way, but I think what I enjoyed deeply was that this wasn't some rigid conference with plenary sessions or an extravagant production on par with an Olympics opening. It wasn't a bunch of people putting on airs or trying to win some competition or present their thesis for a Masters degree or something.

You had 48 hours as artists to talk and be with other artists for as long as you needed to. I think it's vital as artists to have opportunities where you're trusted to do something that allows you to create and take your work to the next level, and hopefully help others in similar positions.
Sometimes, something really creative came out of it. Sometimes not. Some of our guests were inspired just by being in the same room with others who shared their passion.  At the end of it all, those of us who wanted to share something with a larger audience could. Or you could just sit back and just see someone else perform. But in either case it was a performance on our own terms. And that was powerful.
I look at where most of us who participated have gone on since the summit, and I'm impressed with the ground we've covered in just a year. Some have new books and plays out, others have become executive directors and board members for some amazing organizations. Many have traveled widely and performed to great acclaim. 

But in any case, I have to say that it's amazing, validating feeling to see where we've come and I look forward to where we're headed next. And to everyone who was a part of this, thank you!

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