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!

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