Poetry, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and culture from a Lao American perspective.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Pipaashaa: Extreme Thirst 9/6-9
Pipaashaa, Extreme Thirst is an artistic response to the steady eradication and contamination of natural resources by aggressive industrialization, from the point of view of some of the most vulnerable populations in society.
Created in collaboration with leaders from the Environmental Justice Education and Advocacy Collective and other internationally renowned artists, Pipaashaa is a story of the desire to live amidst loss and strain, articulating the deep ache of struggling communities and the dream of an alternative context.
September 6-9, 2007Thurs.-Sat. at 8pm,Sun. at 7pm
Post-show discussion Fri. & Sat.
Tickets: $18, $17 (students and groups of 10)
Pre-order tickets by calling the Southern @ 612.340.1725
The Southern Theater is at: 1420 Washington Ave. S, Minneapolis.
photo: V. Paul Virtucio
Twice The Rice: RIP
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Lee Herrick Reading In Fresno: Sept. 5
Lee Herrick, a fellow TRA Asian American poet, is holding his book release party for the eagerly anticipated "This Many Miles from Desire" on Wednesday, September 5, 2007 starting at 5:30—6:30 pm (reception & signing)
From 6:30 – 8:00 pm there will be a poetry reading & signing, including guest poets, drinks & light appetizers.
This event is free. Books will be for sale for $15.
Come to Samo’s Korean Restaurant, 345 E. Shaw Ave., (at Fresno St.), Fresno, CA
For more information, visit http://leeherrick.com/
For Minnesota residents, Lee Herrick will be coming for a reading on Friday, January 25th, so mark your calendars!
(And don't say we didn't give you notice!)
Monday, August 27, 2007
St. Paul Almanac Party
Many quintessential Saint Paul characters will be attending the event.
Free appetizers will be served throughout the evening, and we'll have doorprizes too. This is a family friendly event.Word has it that Mayor Chris Coleman plans to come and declare Sept. 20 Saint Paul Almanac Day.
The Almanac celebrates the stories, poetry, history, and other writings related to Saint Paul and the people who've lived here.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Harmony: Sept. 7-9
A quick note:
A poem of mine from On The Other Side Of The Eye (Imperious, which also previously appeared in Hyphen) is being performed as part of Harmony, a fusion of music, dance, prose and poetry exploring the complexities of relationships between people trying to find their place in this world.
It should be very interesting seeing my work performed by someone else.
Harmony is produced and directed by Kathleen Pettit with choreographer Sherry Saterstrom and original music by Matthew Llewellyn. The event takes place at:
Black Box Theater
Bloomington Center for the Arts
98th & Logan Ave So, Bloomington, MN
It also features interpretation of poetry & prose by several other Minnesota authors, (A whole list is up at the Harmony website) which should make for an interesting evening.
Tickets: $17 Adult, $14 Senior/Student
There's also a Green Mill Dinner Package available.
Scenes from the CHAT Art Festival
Cakes By Fhoua even held a baking competition demonstrating some great culinary artistry that just happened to be very delicious as well.
Here are some shots to give you a sense of what was happening. And a big thanks to all of you who bought your copy of On The Other Side Of The Eye here! I appreciate it!
Monday, August 20, 2007
Reading At Rondo Library: Sept.13
The evening has a very special reading featuring several of the writers included in this ground-breaking anthology, including Bee Cha, May Lee, Vayong Moua and myself. The reading is free and starts at 7PM!
This event is made possible thanks to the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.
First printed in 2002 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, Bamboo Among the Oaks featured 23 writers working in many different genres, from poems to short stories and plays.
When it came out, it was described as "...a landmark book," by Anne Fadiman, the author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, and '...a groundbreaking anthology" by David Mura, author of The Colors of Desire: Poems and Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei. 5 years later, this still holds true.
And as a quick recap:May Lee is a former member of the Hmong spoken word group, FIRE (Free Inspiring Rising Elements) and has been published in Bamboo Among the Oaks, Paj Ntaub Voice, Unarmed Journal, AsianAmericanPoetry.Com, Bakka Magazine and The St. Paul Almanac. A co-founder Portraits of Boiled Thoughts, Lee has been an actress and performed for Pom Siab Hmoob Theatre in some of the very first Hmong American plays.
She is also the winner of the Loft Literary Center’s Mentorship Program in Non-Ficton (2005), the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant (2004), the Playwright Center’s Many Voices Residency Fellowship (2002), the University of Minnesota’s Anna Augusta von Helmholtz Phelan Scholarship for Creative Writing (2001) and the University of Minnesota Undergraduate Research Project grant. Her work has been regularly presented by Mu Performing Arts.
I should point out that this is a particularly unique reading because while we have worked with one another variously throughout the years since Bamboo Among the Oaks came out, this is the first reading where all five of us have come together at the same time.
Mongolian Death Worm
Thanks to BJR who just had to bring this one up tonight.
Here we've covered a lot of unusual creatures and entities here at On The Other Side Of The Eye.
But until now, we haven't touched the Mongolian Death Worm who surely deserves a note or two for its persistence in cryptozoological literature lately.
If you can catch one without getting yourself killed, please feel free to share your findings with the rest of us.
In short, It's a fat, bright red 'worm', two to four feet long (about 0.6 to 1.2 meters).
The local name is allghoi khorkhoi (хорхой). The charming translation is "blood-filled intestine worm," because it is reported to look like the intestine of a cow.
The locals attribute a number of disturbing powers to the beastie, most notoriously: The ability to spew forth a lethal yellow poison that kills on contact, and it is able to kill a person from afar with an electric discharge.
Great. Just great.
However, there are no known reliable sightings. But the locals insist it's real.
Some believe the worm is actually a reptile or legless lizard because of the dry climate in which it lives. The colour yellow is said to attract the worm. Fortunately, this is not one of my preferred colors to wear.
The nature of the Mongolian Death Worm has led to many speculations about its possible true identity, obviously. On the other hand, just to demonstrate that nature creates some pretty unusual things out there, say hello to the carnivorous Giant Australian Beach Worm:
New Publications: JSAAEA and Eye.D!
The Journal of Southeast Asian American Education & Advancement just published a quartet of my poems, so I am quite inclined to give them a mention. The particular pieces are Snakehead Fish, Departures, Capital, and Preparations for Southeast Asia.
The Journal of Southeast Asian American Education & Advancement is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal published by the National Association for the Education & Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans (NAFEA).
It's an on-line and freely accessible interdisciplinary journal providing a forum for scholars and writers from diverse fields who share a common interest in Southeast Asian (SEA) Americans and their communities.
And to my fellow Southeast Asian American writers: They're still looking for other contributors for upcoming issues.
I'm delighted to be included- and these are some particularly fun and playful poems of mine.
I didn't include them in On The Other Side Of The Eye, although they could have easily fit in. I think they'll work nicely within some future collections I'm working on.
In the new online magazine, Eye.D, an essay of mine has been published, "A View Askew" that discusses my process and the importance of finding your own voice as a writer.
Eye.D is edited up by Kou Vang, one of the most talented and innovative Hmong artists in the nation. Her work has graced many issues of Paj Ntaub Voice in the past, and this new venture of hers is quite promising.
In particular, I'm also going to point out a great interview she just did with Seexeng Lee, including some great examples of his work.
OTOSOTE Behind The Scenes: The Nak
So, for starters: The creature on the front cover of the book is a nak.
A nak is largely synonymous with a naga, and to some, this is a completely interchangeable term.
As I've pointed out before: a wyvern is no more a dragon than a cockatrice is synonymous with a basilisk, merely because they all have scales and seem strictly mythological.
I think the differentiation may be important, if not now, in the future.
We should be able to tell the difference between a lung, a ryu, a zaj, a yong, a rồng, a naga and a nak.
There are enough subtle differences in attributes and the connected tales we need not be in such a rush to lump things in broad categories. There is value in recognizing the distinguishing elements. But again, I've said this before.
"King Asoka came to a lake near which there was a tower. He decided to destroy the tower in order to erect a taller one.A Brahmin led him into the tower, and once inside told the king: 'My human form is an illusion; I am really a naga. Because of my evil karma I have received this naga body; by religious service I desire to atone for and efface my guilt. You may destroy this sanctuary if you think yourself able to build another that surpasses this one.'He then showed King Asoka the vessels of the sanctuary. The king looked at them in alarm, for they were unlike anything seen amongst men, and he changed his mind and left the tower standing."
How this is relevant to a reading of On The Other Side Of The Eye is up to you. Perhaps it is not at all relevant. I find it an intriguing quote, just the same.
Fun German Term: Bildungsroman
This is a novel illustrating the personal formation of its central character; Usually it shows the early life of a subject to demonstrate how his or her character was formed by interacting with other people and the institutions of their day.
We might look to Great Expectations by Charles Dickens as a classic example or Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, and Steppenwolf. Alec Stevens' 'The Sinners' is also an example, as we follow the story of an old beggar who recounts his youth.
The classic point of a bildungsroman is to provide the reader with social critique or psychological insight into character, or both.
There are some who will suggest that the first novel, Murasaki Shikibu's Tale of Genji is a bildungsroman.
I can see the argument in both directions.
If we were to suggest that a book of poetry can be a bildungsroman, than I might argue for Snodgrass' Monster Zero to be a bildungsroman.
I think it can be done.
Can it be done well? Should it be done? Should we keep terms from novels from spilling over into poetry and other forms of art?
Or heavens, the next thing you know, we might see a work of the Old Masters of European painting being hailed as a bildungsroman. And that would be heretical.
Still, I've been known to enjoy a good heresy or two.
And physicist Freeman Dyson recently made an interesting argument for heresy, at least in science.
Dyson opines "What the world needs is young heretics. I am hoping that one or two of the people who read this piece may fill that role."
I'm not sure I completely agree with him on all of his conclusions, but he makes a rousing argument for standing up to defy the sacred cows of knowledge.
And Dyson does concede he's been fabulously wrong from time to time: As when he advised a young Francis Crick to stick with physics, not biology, because biology wouldn't be doing anything interesting for at least another 20 years. Thank heavens Crick didn't listen to him.
"My prediction was an extreme example of wrongness, perhaps a world record in the category of wrong predictions," Dyson admits with good humor.
Francis Crick went on to discover the double-helix structure of DNA, along with James Watson, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin.
But these are some thoughts for the day.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
My poem, Heresies of Thread, Flint and Stone appears in the Summer 2007 issue of Tales of The Unanticipated, along with Ka Vang's short story, One Tongue Tiger.
Also, Marlow Peerse Weever's on-going anthology series 'In Our Own Words' has just released volume 7, covering Gen X writers (1960-1982) featuring an excerpt from my poem five fragments on page 157.
There are a lot of international voices assembled in this collection, which is refreshing. (Including Barbara Jane Reyes, I just realized!)
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Scenes from the Book Launch (UPDATED!)
A deep thanks to all of you who came to the book launch on Friday, and to all of you who sent your best wishes from afar. Your energy was amazing!
Over 150 people attended the evening from across the country, including California, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and of course, Minnesota.
Even a friend from Australia and some freshly returned from visiting Korea, despite their jet lag! Thanks so much!
We almost sold all of the copies of On The Other Side Of The Eye we brought with us.
The book came out beautifully, and all of your support helped On The Other Side Of The Eye get off to a great start.
It will soon be in bookstores across the country, including DreamHaven Books!
Barbara Jane Reyes and Oscar Bermeo have great posts about the reading worth checking out.
So how did it go?
Friends and family (including my mom, all the way from Michigan), students, community educators, activists, co-workers old and new, and my fellow writers and artists came to celebrate with us.
We also saw many of my old editors from Whistling Shade, TripmasterMonkey.Com, Northography.Com, the Hmong American Institute for Learning, the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent, Illumen, Tales of the Unanticipated and other journals who have all previously published poems of mine. (Thanks, by the way!)
Tyree Campbell of Sam's Dot Publishing, my publisher, graciously thanked the audience and talked briefly about my work.
Actress/writer Katie Ka Vang read edgy and humorous pieces touching on everything from Hmong families to hardcore volleyball players. She's one to watch for. She has a production coming up at Intermedia Arts this fall, and we'll keep you up to date on that!
Due to unexpected circumstances, Vietnamese American spoken word artist Bao Phi could not attend, but Ecuadorian/Bronx poet Oscar Bermeo, editor of Tea Party Magazine, generously filled in.
Award-winning Filipina American poet Barbara Jane Reyes read work from Poeta En San Francisco and all-new work including her short prose poem on the real cause of Magellan's death.
She brought a great energy to the stage, and hopefully it won't be too long before she and Oscar set foot in Minnesota again.
During my reading, I discussed the structure of On The Other Side Of The Eye, reading examples that were highlights of the book- those famous 'mad scientist' mixes between global mythology, science, history, spirit and culture everyone's been hearing so much about.
(And as a reminder to my readers: A big key to the entire book is embedded in the endnotes...)
Thank you all so much for the standing ovation!
As an aside, it was wonderful to see so many of my peers from TCNOC, CAPM, HACC, Diversicon, Arcana and CONvergence in attendance because they were all exceptionally helpful in helping me get to this point today.
What were the door prizes we gave away this time?
A "Sea Monkey City" kit and a special, one-of-a-kind poem of mine, "The Sea Monkeys and I". Additionally, we gave away a wooden Lung (Chinese dragon) also with a unique poem.
We also presented a complete archive set of the acclaimed Paj Ntaub Voice Hmong literary journal, courtesy of the Hmong American Institute for Learning.
And finally, we gave a unique trio of signed books: Barbara Jane Reyes' Poeta En San Francisco, Bao Phi's Surviving The Translation, and Juliana Hu Pegues' Immigrant Dictionary. Someone has excellent reading material for the month. :)
The new Hmong magazines 18Xeem and Eye.D had promotional materials on display, as well as Legacies of War, an ongoing project to raise awareness about unexploded bombs in Laos. Legacies of War is specifically conducting a campaign to support S. 594, a bill to limit the use, sale and transfer of cluster munitions being introduced by. Sen. Feinstein of California.
Twin Cities Hmong artist Seexeng Lee, a teacher at Patrick Henry High School, provided the artwork on exhibit that evening to much acclaim, and created a unique collaborative art piece for audience members to sign to commemorate the evening.
Excellent refreshments and food were provided by Mao Vang, and the two cakes from the Hmong-owned business, Cakes By Fhoua particularly stand out for recreating the cover to my book. And they were filled with strawberries, my favorite. Yum! Thanks so much, ladies!
Several bottles of fine wine and champagne were also provided courtesy of my wonderful colleagues at TripmasterMonkey.Com.
We also gave away some fun cinnamon mints in a custom commemorative case. A special nod goes to fellow TRA Sume for her help on this project. And of course, a special thanks to Yuk Ki Lau for the final cover design. It wouldn't have been the same book without his help!
May Lee, Peter Yang, and my uncle, Joel Worra, were invaluable by volunteering to videotape the event, and we hope to have highlights available online soon.
For those of you who were asking, the Jac Zagoory-designed 'Write No Evil' pen I use to autograph books was provided courtesy of Ink and proprietor Barry Rubin. A highly recommended visit if you can make it.
And my thanks would be incomplete if I didn't mention the amazing Claire Wilson, Jerod Santek, Dara Syrkin, Bob Williams and the rest of the Loft staff for excellent support well above and beyond the call of duty. It's an amazing space for our community.
I'll now be reading across the country in the months ahead, with several events scheduled in Minnesota, Wisconsin, California and Michigan already. And possibly Australia!
So, from the bottom of my heart, my deepest thanks to everyone who helped and to everyone who came, even braving Vikings traffic, the Irish Festival and the Fringe Festival all taking place at the same time!
(And if you still need an autographed copy, you can now use Paypal. Yay!)
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Book Release Party This Friday!
On Friday, August 10th, fans of Asian American spoken word, art and poetry in Minnesota are invited to the exciting and historic release celebration of On The Other Side Of The Eye.
Acclaimed writers reading include award-winning Vietnamese American spoken word artist Bao Phi, Hmong American writer Katie Vang, and acclaimed Filipina American poet and educator Barbara Jane Reyes, author of Gravities of Center and Poeta en San Francisco. This will be the first reading in the Twin Cities for the Bay Area-based Reyes.
Acclaimed poet Oscar Bermeo is also coming!
Hmong American artist and educator Seexeng Lee is displaying his paintings while spoken word artist and scholar Juliana Pegues, author of Immigrant Dictionary, is the MC.
Tyree Campbell, editor and publisher of Sam's Dot Publishing will be in attendance, as will Yuk Ki Lau, who designed the cover for On The Other Side of the Eye.
Editors and authors from Whistling Shade, Tripmaster Monkey, Tales of the Unanticipated, and Northography will be present, as will educators, librarians, writers, artists, students and community builders from across Minnesota. And mom and my aunts and uncles. Thanks, everybody!
This free evening is open to everyone and features snacks and beverages, door prizes, author signings and other entertainment.
Refreshments have been arranged by Mao Vang and Cakes by Fhoua.
A special nod to 18Xeem Magazine, who has sent some great sample issues for our audience, and Eye.D Magazine for sending some nice promotional post-cards to increase the exposure of Hmong American magazines.
This release party for On The Other Side of the Eye is August 10th at the Loft Literary Center at 1011 Washington Avenue South in Minneapolis. The doors open at 6:30 PM and the main program begins at 7 PM until 9 PM.
The Afterparty will take place at the Peking Garden Restaurant on University Avenue starting at 10!
Thanks for all of your support, everybody!
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
In Memoriam: Nao Ying Yves TongkhuYa (1939-2007)
From 1948-1951, he attended his Primary Studies in Nonghet, and then from 1951-1956 attended Primary Studies in the city of Xieng Khouang.
In 1953, he was trained as a Military Radio Operator at the Chinamo base in Vientiane, Laos, and from 1953-1955 was a radio operator attached to French Special Forces Group "Groupement de Commandos Mixtes Aeroportes (GCMA) later renamed Groupement Mixtes D'intervention (GMI) for the northern region of Laos.
From 1956-1960 he attended Teacher Training School at Tafforin, also in Vientiane Laos. And from 1960-1964 was part of the Accounting Staff at the Department of Adult Education at the Laos Ministry of Education.
Yves TongkhuYa went on to become a primary school teacher assigned successively to Samthong, Phou Koum and Buamlong between 1964 to 1969. In 1969, he became the Director and School Principal of the Long Cheng Primary Schools until 1975.
In 1970 he was trained in Science Studies for Primary Schools at Khorat, Thailand, and in 1972 he took time to attend Primary School Supervision training in Vientiane for three months, followed by a six month internship training at Prasamith College, in Bangkok, Thailand.
With the end of the war in Laos in 1975, in 1976, Yves TongkhuYa went on to become part of the security staff at Evry2 Shopping Mall, in a suburb of Paris until 1994.
From 1996-2001, he went on to work as an an assembler of gas piping devices and electronics at Leviton in Tennessee and North Carolina. In his later years, he eventually moved to Minnesota near several of his children.
His service and ceremony were held in the traditional Hmong style from August 3rd to the 6th, 2007 at the Metro Funeral Home at 253 State Street in St. Paul, and he was buried in his uniform at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (1800 Edgerton St.) in Maplewood, Minnesota.
The service was well attended by friends and family members, including former teachers and staff who worked for him when he was their principal.
The TongkhuYa family has extended their deep thanks to everyone who came to support them.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Northography Reading Tonight
A reading is scheduled for this Friday, August 3, at Opposable Thumbs Books in NE Minneapolis.
Diana Lundell, who has a new chapbook, and Suzanne Nielsen, who is also coming out with a new book, will read their work. The rest of the program will be our first Open Mic for Northography members.
A sign-up sheet will be available, and time limits will be enforced. For instance, if six people sign up to read, and we only have ½ hour left, then they will each have five minutes to read. If this goes well, they plan for extended Open Mic sessions in the future.
While I won't be in attendance, I will say that these are fine poets and writers with much to share with the world. You can read some great examples of their work in Whistling Shade, as well. (http://www.whistlingshade.com/) Good luck, ladies!
In Memoriam: Mahalia Xiong
It is always a tragedy to lose a bright young community leader under circumstances such as these. Be at peace, and it is my hope that healing, hope, friendship and community will emerge from all of this in the coming days ahead for everyone.