Saturday, May 27, 2017

‘Groundbreaking’ Asian-American Poets to Read With Immigrant, Refugee Roots


This month I helped NBC News Asian America with an article regarding Asian American poets who'd been breaking ground recently, particular among the Southeast Asian American community.

2016 had some amazing books of Asian-American poetry come out as well as additional accolades and recognition worth mention, particularly for many of the poets in Southeast Asian American communities often overlooked within the world of arts and letters. A big thanks to Frances Kai-Hwa Wang for reaching out to ask about what's happening in our community. And here's to Mai Do, Mai Der Vang, Khaty Xiong, Sokunthary Svay, Krysada Binly Panusith Phounsiri, Bao Phi, Monica Sok, Jenna Lê, Janice Sapigao, and Peuo Tatyana Tuy, among so many others who've worked so hard to ensure our diverse voices might yet be a part of the great tapestry of human stories for generations yet to come.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Honoring Pos Moua: Karst Mountains Will Bloom


This Saturday I'll be traveling to Merced to honor the journey and work of Pos Moua, a wonderful Hmong poet whose work I've known for nearly 20 years. It will also be the very first time we meet in person. That's how it goes as poets, sometimes: Nearly a lifetime getting to know one another across long distance through our art. Nearly 20 other Hmong and Asian American poets will be reading this evening in a historic gathering. If you're in the Central Valley on Saturday, I encourage you to join us at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.

The Hmong American Writers' Circle, in conjunction with Merced College and the Merced Cultural Arts Center, will present "Karst Mountains Will Bloom." The free public reading will feature nearly 20 of the leading Hmong-American voices in the U.S., as well as friends of Moua and the Hmong American Writers' Circle. Readers will include the 2016 Walt Whitman Award Winner, Mai Der Vang; the first Hmong-American to publish a full-length manuscript, Soul Vang; Nicholls Fellow and HAWC founder, Burlee Vang; among others.

Pos Moua is a Hmong-American writer, educator, and poet based out of Merced, CA. His chapbook "Towards the World Where The Torches are Burning" (Swan Scythe Press, 2001) gives “an account of love and family and identity in the poet’s new land”, and is the first published work from a Hmong American poet. He has published work in in "Tilting the Continent: Southeast Asian American Writing", "UC Davis Poetry Review", Sacramento’s "Poetry Now", and "National Poetry".

 Readers include: Dr. Kou Yang, Soul Vang, Burlee Vang, Ying Thao, See Xiong, Kao Kalia Yang (video), Mai Neng Moua (video),  Andre Yang, Jer Xiong, Mai Der Vang, Yia Lee, Khaty Xiong ,(video), May Lee-Yang (video), Anthony Cody, Nou Her, May Yang (video), Yu-Han Chao, Meg Withers, Luna Moua, and Pos Moua himself.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Paisley Rekdal


Paisley Rekdal is the author of four books of poetry, a book of personal essays, and a mixed media book of photography, poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She lives in Salt Lake City and teaches at the University of Utah.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

July 2017 Presentations and Performances


July is fast approaching and with it, four of my upcoming appearances in which I'll be discussing everything from giant lizards, kung-fu zombies, poetry, to the importance of engaging the imagination in refugee resettlement. For now you can get a sense of my schedule at the following sites. I'll see you all there!

CONvergence (July 7-9th) 

Confirmed panels include: Giant Lizard Theater: Infinity Edition; Asian Folklore 101; The Making of Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals; Peele-ing Back 'Get Out;''and Laomagination: Building Southeast Asian Speculative Arts Movements.

G-Fest XXIV (July 14-16th) 

Confirmed panel: Kaiju in Speculative Poetry

Diversicon (July 21-23rd)

Panels still TBD

2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference: Community Engagement, Research & Policy in Action (July 27-29th)

Confirmed panels include Southeast Asian American Art and Politics; Rising SEAS: Challenges and Strategies for Growth as Southeast Asian Writers; and a showcase performance with Bao Phi and Peuo Tuy.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mai Der Vang's "Afterland" coming to UCLA, May 25th



Delighted to announce I'll be helping to introduce Hmong American poet Mai Der Vang, author of the award-winning book of poetry Afterland from Graywolf Press in Minnesota. Afterland won the Walt Whitman Award from the American Academy of Poets in 2016 and it's finally been released to the public. It's an extraordinary collection and an important addition to the world of Hmong arts and letters.Be sure to join us at UCLA in the Public Affairs building room 2270 at 4PM for what is certain to be an exciting and marvelous reading.

For a preview of what it might be like, here is my post regarding her launch in her hometown of Fresno. I've been reading her poems every day this month to start my morning. Afterland comes with my strongest recommendations and I'm very happy for her, even as I am now also obligated to say: I can't wait to see her second book, now. ;)

Author Spotlight: Lisa Teasley

This past weekend left me with a lot to report from the 6th annual LitFest Pasadena on May 20th-21st with well over 100 authors and 30 events, including formal and informal gatherings throughout the city. My time was split between covering LitFest as well as the inaugural East Los Angeles Comic Con but I'm glad I had the chance to cover both.

I always think it's the sign of a good literary event when you can genuinely discover new authors, and LitFest Pasadena delivered well in that regard for many of my reading tastes. I'll be covering many of them in the coming weeks ahead, but first up, I want to highlight the work of artist, author and world traveler Lisa Teasley who came to my attention through an act of serendipity while documenting the Tomorrow Prize! for emerging teen science fiction writers at the Pasadena Playhouse.


In no uncertain terms, Ms. Teasley cuts a very striking and dramatic figure upon entering a room, and as she prepared to give her talk as part of the panel on writers within the Black Lives Matters movement, I had a chance to take a few photos of her and her colleagues.

A Los Angeles native, she graduated from UCLA and is the author of several books including Glow In The Dark, Heat Signature, and Dive, each of which has received substantial acclaim as they've come out. Her debut, Glow In The Dark, a collection of short stories, won both a Gold Pen Award and a Pacificus Literary Foundation award for fiction in 2002. Her awards also include the May Merrill Miller and National Society of Arts & Letters award in the Short Story category.

Her current forte is writing tales which have elements of crime, mystery, and passion, and they have been consistently praised for their interesting characters and scenarios.


Her work also includes writing and hosting the BBC Television documentary, High School Prom. 

She was a member of the former art collective HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN, which debuted the film “Good Stock on the Dimension Floor” at the Whitney Biennial 2014. On top of all that, Lisa Teasley is a fiction editor at the Los Angeles Review of BooksHer travels have taken her to Indonesia, China, Alaska, and points in between, with many more sure to come in the years ahead.




This year, Lisa Teasley was presenting with her panelists on Writing in the Times of Black Lives Matter & Resistance to Trumpism in the Pasadena Playhouse – Friendship Room (off courtyard) The aim was to gather black writers to discuss what it means to write during the time of Black Lives Matter and Trump. Her scheduled co-panelists included Gar Anthony Haywood, Dana Johnson (Not Quite Dark), Tricia Alkmia Cochée, James Farr, and Jervey Tervalon (Monster’s Chef)


You can find Lisa Teasley on social media such as Twitter: @TheLisaTeasley and on Instagram at @LisaTeas. And of course she maintains her website at http://LisaTeasley.Com. Be sure to check her out!

The SEAD Project nears its fundraising goal. Can you help?


It's a good time this week to do a shoutout to the Southeast Asian American non-profit The SEAD Project which is just a little over $400 away from reaching its fundraising goal of $1,500. If you can help them out, it would make a tremendous difference for Southeast Asians abroad and in the US. Their Facebook campaign ends soon but every bit helps!

Now in its third year as a fully-recognized 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, The SEAD Project started with the vision of Chanida Phaengdara Potter and a group of Southeast Asian young professionals who wanted to not only connect with their roots and heritage, but to think bigger and beyond preservation.

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Vientiane, Laos, they’re starting a diaspora movement to rethink and reimagine and reshape what’s possible in development and growth for a thriving community with a pivoted focus on empowering young professionals, women and youth.

With roots in 2010, The SEAD Project (Southeast Asian Diaspora Development) is a creative social venture on a mission to be an accessible community hub that provides streamlined cross cultural workshops, exchanges and knowledge-sharing for Southeast Asian locals and diaspora communities. Through safe and welcoming spaces, they hope to connect the disconnected and drive empowerment to plant the seeds of hope and possibility locally and globally.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Happy birthday, Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014)


Happy birthday to the late Yuri Kochiyama. Thank you for the example you set and the work you inspired in so many around the world. Here's to all that was done together, and all that may yet be accomplished. NPR had one of the classic obituaries on her life back in 2014, but of course I think so much more can be written about her life, her journey as a writer, and her commitment to social justice.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

[Neologism] Moronivore

Early birthday present for Gina Kundan, in our annual tradition of coining a new neologism each year for her. I'd save this for 2018 but it's too good to pass up. Welcome, then:

Moronivore: (Noun) (ˈmôrˌäno vôr) Devourer of fools. Usage: "In reality it turns out that 99% of all monsters are actually moronovores, with only a few possessing a rarefied taste for the wise, being referred to properly as sagivorous." May also be regularly interchanged with Moroniphage. 

Additionally, in theory, Moromnivore means "a creature that eats EVERY single fool in sight (or primary sensory range)" But frankly, SFF writers, I'm REALLY rather disappointed NONE of you came up with this until now per a preliminary scan of the extant literature.


[Poet Spotlight] Grace Shuyi Liew


Grace Shuyi Liew is the author of Book of Interludes (Anomalous Press, 2016). Elsewhere, her work has appeared in cream city review, PANK, Bone Bouquet, West Branch, and others. She is an alum of Aspen Summer Words, Squaw Valley Writers Workshop, and the Watering Hole.

She is from Malaysia and used to work as an interpreter. Now, she resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she attends Louisiana State University's MFA program and works as a teaching artist.

2015 was a particularly prolific year for her individual poems finding homes. I found "Publics" in Juked particularly engaging as an introduction to her work as well as "From "Mapping/ A Vanishing or How To," in The Nervous Breakdown. "PROP" won the 2015 Ahsahta Chapbook Contest, judged by Kerri Webster.

You can visit Grace Shuyi Liew at https://graceungrateful.com/ and she IS available to write poems for you. I'd take her up on it.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Angela Peñaredondo


Born in Iloilo City, Philippines, Angela Peñaredondo is a poet and artist living in southern California. Her first full-length book, All Things Lose Thousands of Times, is the regional winner of the Hillary Gravendyk Poetry Prize.

She is also the author of a chapbook, Maroon (Jamii Publications). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in AAWW's The Margins, Four Way Review, Cream City Review, Southern Humanities Review and elsewhere.

She is a VONA/Voices of our Nations Art fellow as well as a recipient of a University of California Institute for Research in the Arts Grant, Gluck Program of the Arts Fellowship, Naropa University's Zora Neal Hurston Award and Squaw Valley Writers Fellowship.

She has also received scholarships from Tin House, Split This Rock, Dzanc Books International Literary Program among others.

You can visit Angela Peñaredondo at: http://www.apenaredondo.com/ to learn more about her writing and artistry.


Poem "Ecce Monstro" to appear in Poetry.

I just received word my experimental science fiction poem, "Ecce Monstro" examining the AAPI transcultural adoptee journey has been selected for a special issue of POETRY magazine this Summer.

That's a good feeling. After 26 years of writing poetry and over 20 awards for my literary and community leadership work, this is actually the very first time one of my pieces has been accepted by them. I'd have to go back through the archives to see if any other Lao American poets have been published with them so far, but I feel pretty confident in saying I'm among the first to appear in the journal.

To put it into some additional context for my non-poet readers: Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry magazine is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Harriet Monroe's "Open Door" policy, set forth in Volume I of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry's mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach. As you can imagine, it gets a bit competitive.

It's also particularly gratifying to see this poem accepted because its experimental nature had made it somewhat difficult for it to find a home even among speculative literary and Asian American journals for several years. But you'll see what's going on with this poem  later this Summer.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Primer to Bryan Thao Worra's Science Fiction Poetry


Over the years, I've been giving  numerous presentations and lectures across the country regarding the importance of encouraging refugees to express not only their memories but their dreams and imagination in their creative works. Because of the nature of this work, I'm often given limited time to show people the full breadth of my work that stretches across nearly thirty years of writing (where does that time go?)

Of course, the easiest place to see my principles applied in my writing is in my books, where preview versions are found in various archives online, but it is clear many of you would like a more curated introduction to some essential science fiction and fantasy poems of mine to see what I'm doing.

With this post, then, here are links to nine poems online that can provide a good introduction to what I'm doing and where I may well be headed in the future:
  1. Full Metal Hanuman, Strange Horizons, 2013
  2. The Robo Sutra, Expanded Horizons, 2013
  3. 5 Flavors, Expanded Horizons, 2013
  4. Phaya Nak Goes To The West, Uncanny Magazine, 2016
  5. Narrative of the Naga's Heirs, Uncanny Magazine, 2016
  6. Slices of Failure in Super Science, Uncanny Magazine, 2015
  7. The Deep Ones, Illumen, 2007
  8. Arachne's Daughters and The New Humenu, 2112, Defenestration, 2016
  9. Laostronauts, Demonstra, 2013

I'll soon be releasing a few chapbooks gathering my poems that haven't been readily available for many of my readers so that it will be easier to see these ideas in focus. The above poems will hopefully give you a sense of what's possible and to read my larger collections when time permits. Thanks to everyone for all of your support over the years! 

Machine Dreams Zine has gone online!


The Machine Dreams Zine is up and running at: https://machinedreamszine.tumblr.com

A Zine compilation of creative work and critical theory on the machine, arts, and difference. Contributions largely drawn from the conference, Machine Dreams: A Symposium on Arts, Robots, and Difference held at UCLA in 2015, and co-organized by Lucy Burns, Neil Aitken, and Margaret Rhee.

With additional writing and art included, the Machine Dreams Zine offers provocative and playful remediations on the machine in our digital times. Design provided by The Mystery Parade.

 I'm delighted to appear in Issue 1 with my poem "The Robo Sutra" along with wonderful poets and writers such as Neil Aitken, Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Minsoo Kang, Toaster Betsy, and Sun Yung Shin, among many others. Be sure to check it out, and consider ordering a POD version of it.

CONvergence 2017: To Infinity & Beyond!


I hope all of my colleagues in the Midwest will be joining us at CONvergence this year. One of their Guests of Honor is none other than award-winning Lao American writer Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, creator of the play Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals!

I'll also be returning as an alumni Guest of Honor, so this will hopefully be an exciting and historic moment for Lao American speculative art! My panels are still being confirmed, but I'll definitely be discussing the film Get Out as well as attending the poetry slam! More details will come soon!




Sunday, May 07, 2017

SEA American Studies Conference, Speculative Art and Social Justice

As a reminder, I'll be one of the presenting featured readers of the 2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference in July! I hope you'll consider registering if you're in the area.

It will be my very first time presenting work in Massachusetts and I look particularly forward to sharing the stage with the talented poets Bao Phi and Peuo Tatyana Tuy! This is particularly meaningful for me as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of my first book of poetry On The Other Side Of The Eye, which wrestled with many of the issues of community change and social policy through the lens of speculative poetry.

My panel was also accepted on Southeast Asian American Speculative Art and Social Justice. Here's the abstract:

Many Southeast Asian American communities came into the US as refugees during the rise of science fiction films and literature such as Blade Runner, Alien Nation, Aliens and Star Wars, while also presented with problematic works such as Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon or The Joy Luck Club. 

Examining the journeys of award-winning Southeast Asian American artists such as Jenna Lê, Bao Phi, Kyle Tran Myhre, Saymoukda Vongsay, Krysada Panusith Phounsiri, Mattie Do, Burlee Vang, Khaty Xiong, Sayon Syprasoueth, the Cambodian Space Project, and others we will take a look at efforts to engage in community building and social justice using creative works informed by science fiction, fantasy, and horror to subvert dominant narratives and perceptions of Southeast Asian American identities, and to address sensitive internal community topics domestically and abroad.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

#Blessed Comes to The Institute of Contemporary Arts in Philadelphia


As the  #Blessed pop-up exhibit approaches Philadelphia on May 6th, I've been able to watch Laos in the House founder Catzie Vilayphonh and her team in action readying the site for this event, I'm so proud of her and her tenacity, her vision and commitment to building the community.

I'm honored to be a part of this project with her, and I'll be reading several classic poems of mine at this event at her personal request, including "The Last War Poem," "Laos in the House," "Aftermaths" and "On A Stairway in Luang Prabang," perhaps a few others as time permits.

She's a wonderful role model for Lao artists anywhere, and I can't wait to see how it all comes together.


To put the significance of this gathering into context, this space was founded in 1963 by the visionary dean of the school of architecture, Holmes Perkins, who wanted to expose students to what was “new and happening” in art and culture.

In the time since, the ICA has developed an international reputation for contemporary art and culture. 52 years ago, In 1965, they organized Andy Warhol’s first ever solo museum show, helping propel him to superstardom;. The ICA has presented early shows of artists like Laurie Anderson, Richard Artschwager, Karen Kilimnik, Glenn Ligon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Damian Ortega, Pepon Osorio, Tavares Strachan, Cy Twombly and many more.

That we are now able to bring the work of Lao American artists to this space is a very exciting moment for everyone.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Our Shared Futures a success! Thank you, Fresno


Here are some pictures from my final poetry reading and community discussion for the 21st National Poetry Month in Fresno, CA. I didn't get in as many photos ahead of time as I wanted to, but I appreciate everyone who came out that night to consider the possibilities that emerge when immigrants and refugees express a future they see themselves in.


My sincere thanks goes to Tamejavi-PVI and the Holistic Cultural and Education Wellness Center. It's a wonderful facility with some very intriguing and ambitious programs to engage the community. But they can't do it alone, so if you can donate, volunteer, or even just spread the word about their work, I know they'll appreciate it.


I also wish to take a special note of Chelsey See Xiong for taking the wonderful initiative to make this possible. I now have very high expectations of her and applaud her courage and compassion, her intelligence and curiosity, and her strong leadership skills that will doubtless serve her community well in the decades ahead.


Of particular note is that she has been working together with her community to put out  MAI - a zine on Southeast Asian America. Volume 2 will be accepting submissions throughout the month of April and May, 2017.They are looking for work with a focus on the lives of Southeast Asian Americans with the stories of places, diaspora, heritage, assimilation, loss, redemption, success, and growing up in Southeast Asian America. Their deadline is May 20, 2017.


This was only the second time in 26 years that I've ever performed and presented in public for the community, and I appreciate everyone's questions and enthusiasm. There was a lot that we covered, discussing the often difficult journeys we faced, but I think we were all able to come to an agreement that diverse voices were needed now, more than ever.

That it is important not just to remember our past, but to express a vision of the futures we want to be a part of, and what we think it will take to build those futures. We can and must continue to dare to dream!


Time and time again, I have tried to make the point that it is not enough merely to record our memories, especially as refugees but to incorporate them more fully into our sense of what we want for the future, how we might learn from them, and what we might share that pushes our voices to the very limits of our imagination. I think this resonated with many of you in attendance.

I look forward to the next time we can all meet one another. In the meantime, keep asking the great questions, keep reading, and keep writing!


Appearing in Voice & Verse in December with Cha magazine.

Ten years ago, I had the honor of being the very first poet to have work accepted by Cha, a new literary journal starting in Hong Kong. It was the same year that my very first full-length book, On The Other Side Of The Eye was released by Sam's Dot Publishing. Cha had accepted my poem, "Zelkova Tree," and later did an insightful analysis of it, as well.

Cha holds the distinction of being Hong Kong's very first literary journal. I'm pleased to see Cha weathered the decade so well, going on to print many acclaimed poets, writers and artists from around the world with an ambitious set of themes throughout the years for our contributors to consider.

They recently announced that 65 selected poems from the ten-year history of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal will be included in a special section in the December 2017 issue of the Hong Kong-based print poetry magazine, Voice & Verse. Keep an eye out for it when it arrives!


It's here where I want to take note of Tammy Ho Lai-Ming, who is a Hong Kong–born editor, translator, and poet. She is the founding co-editor of Cha, and also an editor of the academic journal Victorian Network.

Her translations have appeared in World Literature Today, Chinese Literature Today, and Pathlight, among other places. She holds an MPhil from the University of Hong Kong and a PhD from King’s College London, and she is currently an assistant professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, where she teaches poetics, fiction, and modern drama.


Her first poetry collection is Hula Hooping from Chameleon Press. In 2016 she received the Young Artist Award in Literary Arts presented by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.

Her co-founding editor is Jeff Zroback, originally from Canada. He has an MA in History, and is an editor by trade and has previously worked in Canada, Korea, Hong Kong and the UK. He was the co-editor of the short fiction collection Love & Lust (with Tammy Ho Lai-Ming) and has published fiction and poetry. He writes many of the Cha editorials.

I look forward to the next decades ahead for them and wish them even more support and recognition for their literary contributions and the community they have built for the arts.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Monica Youn


Monica Youn is the author of Blackacre (Graywolf Press, 2016); Barter (Graywolf Press, 2003); and Ignatz (Four Way Books, 2010), which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the New York Times Magazine, and she has been awarded fellowships from the Library of Congress and Stanford University, among other awards.

A former attorney, she now teaches poetry at Princeton University.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Thanks from the "Science Fiction is for Everyone" Panel at LA Harbor College

It was a packed room for our panel at LA Harbor College on Tuesday, April 25th discussing the importance of multicultural representation in speculative literature that afternoon. I had driven down four hours from Merced, California and my duties as a Visiting Artist in order to speak with the students and faculty on the subject of science fiction being for everyone.

Held in Tech 110, I was presenting with Stephanie Brown, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Jaymee Goh, Gregg Castro and Steven Barnes. It was a great line-up with some touching comments that drew on diverse fields of knowledge and experience, from the work and influence of Nnedi Okorafor and Octavia Butler, to the way readers and writers have been brought into the world of science fiction not only in the US but around the world, with a strong highlight on the appeal of steampunk and afrofuturism.

During my portion of the panel I focused on a discussion of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, and had the honor of previous SFPA president Deborah Kolodji in attendance as well as fellow SFPA member and community builder Denise Dumars facilitating the conversation, particularly in regards to Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. To demonstrate the potential of what speculative poetry can do, I read two examples from our international membership for the audience: "How to Train your Velociraptors" by Rohinton Daruwala and "El superhéroe se ha ahorcado" by Campos Ricardo Burgos Lopez, translated by Fred W. Bergmann. We definitely got the point across, based on the conversations I had afterwards with everyone.

My thanks to everyone who made this wonderful afternoon possible!


Monday, May 01, 2017

[Poem] Zelkova Tree


My poem "Zelkova Tree" appeared in the first issue of Cha, a Hong Kong-based literary journal and appeared in the final section of my first full-length book of Lao American speculative poetry, On The Other Side Of The Eye in 2007.

National Lao American Writers Summit: Seattle 2017 Keynote Speakers Announced


Recently, the National Lao American Writers Summit announced their 2017 speakers who will be setting the tone for this year's gathering of Laotian American artists from across the United States in Seattle, Washington on June 23-24th. The Keynote Speakers for this year will be Krysada Panusith Phounsiri and Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, both highly acclaimed writers and community builders in the community with a strong background in hip-hop.

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao American writer. She was born in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand and immigrated to Minnesota in 1984. Because of her unique background, her work is focused on creating tools and spaces for the amplification of refugee voices through poetry, theater, and experimental cultural production. She is a teaching artist with COMPAS, Success Beyond the Classroom, East Metro Integration District, and the East Side Arts Council. Her writings can be found in such publications as Saint Paul Almanac (Arcata Press), Lessons For Our Time (MN Center for Book Arts), Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement (Purdue University Press), and The Asian American Literary Review (Binghamton University). She is best known for her award-winning play KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS (Theater Mu) and is developing two more plays for the KUNG FU ZOMBIEVERSE anthology of stage works.

Krysada Panusith Phounsiri is a Lao-American artist and engineer. He was born in Laos in 1988 and came to America with his family in 1989. A graduate of UC Berkeley in 2010, he holds a degree in Physics and Astrophysics Double Major and also a minor in Poetry. His debut collection is Dance Among Elephants, was published by Sahtu Press in 2015. His work has been featured in the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement and the Smithsonian’s “A Day In The Life Of Asian America” digital exhibit. He recently received first place for Poem of the Year in the Rhysling Awards of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

For more details, be sure to keep an eye on www.laowriters.org for updates!

Friday, April 28, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Neil Aitken


Neil Aitken is the author of two books of poetry, The Lost Country of Sight (Anhinga 2008), which won the Philip Levine Prize, and Babbage’s Dream (Sundress 2017), as well as a chapbook of poetry, Leviathan (Hyacinth Girl Press 2016).


He is the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review and his own poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, American Literary Review, The Collagist, Crab Orchard Review, Ninth Letter, Southern Poetry Review, and many other literary journals


Thursday, April 27, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Lo Kwa Mai-En


Lo Kwa Mei-en is the author of Yearling (Alice James Books, 2015), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize, and two chapbooks, The Romances (The Lettered Streets Press) and Two Tales (Bloom Books). Her 2016 book was Bees Make Money In The Lion. She lives and works in Cincinnati.


Our Shared Futures coming to Fresno!

Thanks to Tamejavi-PVI and the Holistic Cultural and Education Wellness Center, this Friday night, I'll be doing my final event for the 21st National Poetry Month, presenting a selection of my award-winning science fiction poems from over the years and discussing the importance of science fiction and fantasy for Southeast Asian American communities rebuilding their lives in the US.

As the President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, this will also serve as a good lead-in to Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May.

The event is free with doors opening at 6:30 PM. Please feel free to invite friends, families, and anyone who is interested in writing. I'd love to meet them! I'll have books for sale there and will be signing them.

As a heads up, based on my upcoming commitments this is the last time I will be in the Central Valley for several months and possibly the rest of the year, so I do hope you can make it!


Meanwhile, from earlier this week, here's abig thanks to Ignacio López-Calvo, Director of the UC Merced Center for the Humanities for a wonderful introduction as I began my brownbag conversation "Why the Lao Imagination Mattered."


We were looking at the 40 years journey of bringing diverse voices forward, challenging both internalized racism and external dismissal, systems of censorship and the lack of resources for cultural production and expression. To create culture shift is never something that can be taken for granted, but it is possible. And it has often begun in colleges very much like the UC Merced with youth very much like the ones I spoke to this month.

While no one can guarantee the future, it is my hope that in my time here, at least one of them heard my message I have been trying so hard to share: "It's possible."

And ten years from now, we may just see something really amazing from them, if not sooner.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Hai-Dang Phan


Hai-Dang Phan’s poetry has been published in The New Yorker, POETRY Magazine, Best American Poetry 2016, jubilat, Prelude, and New England Review. A recipient of fellowships and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the American Literary Translators Association, and the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, Phan holds degrees in creative writing from the University of Florida (MFA) and English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (PhD). Born in Vietnam and raised in Wisconsin, he currently lives in Des Moines and teaches at Grinnell College.