There will be snacks and refreshments, a poetry reading, and reflections on where Lao American science fiction, fantasy, and horror has gone in the decade since.
These days I'm one of the most widely published Lao American poets in the US. In 2009 I became the first (and presently, still the only) Laotian American to receive the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature for poetry. I was eligible to apply for the NEA after the publication of On The Other Side Of The Eye. That same year, I received the 2009 Minnesota State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans Asian Pacific American Leadership Award for excellence in the arts. During the 2012 London Summer Games I was a Cultural Olympian representing the nation of Laos at the Poetry Parnassus at the Southampton Centre. My sixth book, DEMONSTRA received a 2014 Elgin Award for Book of the Year from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association.
That's a long journey from Vientiane, Laos, where I was born in 1973.
Today, my work is taught internationally in schools and appears in over 100 publications and anthologies around the world including Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, Europe and the US, and I was one of the founders of the national Lao American Writers Summit, which convened for the 4th time in Seattle, Washington in June.
At the time, while I had been writing for over 16 years, the publication of On The Other Side Of The Eye represented a major milestone made possible by a chance conversation at the 2006 Diversicon science fiction convention.
My manuscript initially struggled to find a home among mainstream and Asian American publishers due to a lack of familiarity with the Lao American community and a concern that readers would struggle with the science fictional elements and Lao mythology. Those concerns were quickly put to rest, and this year, I was selected as one of the first Artists in Residence at the University of California Merced Center for the Humanities to teach speculative poetry to the community. I was one of three featured poets at the national Southeast Asian American Studies Conference in July along with Bao Phi and Peuo Tuy.
Minnesota is home to the third largest Laotian American refugee community in the United States after California and Texas. Many Laotians arrived in Minnesota shortly after the end of the war in 1975.
DreamHaven was one of the first places where I read selections from On The Other Side Of The Eye in its initial release in 2007, so it seems fitting to gather here once again, 10 years later! DreamHaven has hosted readings from internationally acclaimed writers including Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, Clive Barker, Terry Brooks, William Gibson, Lois McMaster Bujold, Eleanor Arnason, Terry Garey, Samuel Delaney, Andrea Hairston, Catherine Lundoff, Kelly Link, David Schwartz, Kim Harrison, Kelly McCullough, Barth Anderson and many other masters of science fiction, fantasy and horror. DreamHaven Books is located at 2301 E. 38th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota.