Monday, July 29, 2013

Mattie Do to appear in Fangoria #326

For fans of horror and Laos, be sure to catch Fangoria #326 when it hits the stands in August. It will feature an preview of director Mattie Do's debut film "Chanthaly." We interviewed her earlier this year for Little Laos on the Prairie, but it's great to see her making it to the mainstream.

Fangoria is an international film fan magazine specializing in the genres of horror, slasher, splatter and exploitation films, in regular publication since 1979. Mattie Do's appearance is an exceptional accomplishment and sets a wonderful precedent.

Chanthaly is a film with a very deliberate and atmospheric pacing that will leave many viewers asking questions and the answers aren't always clear. Having finally had a chance to see it, I think it's a very promising directorial debut. There are definitely kinks and bumps in the process that different viewers will critique, but it's one that will spark some great conversations.

There are some excellent nods to the conventions of ghost stories from both European American and Asian traditions, but some new ground broken as well. And a whippet almost steals the show.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Anne Keothavong announces retirement from tennis

For those of you who follow Lao in the world of tennis:

The Telegraph recently reported "After a decade and a half as one of Britain’s hardest-working professionals, former British No. 1 Anne Keothavong has announced that she is retiring from tennis and will take up a new role as part of BT Sport’s commentary team."

A chronic heel injury was also factoring into the decision. At 30 years old, she was once ranked #48 in the world which is a significant accomplishment. She won a total of 20 International Tennis Federation singles titles and 8 ITF doubles titles.

3Call: Recent Calls for Submissions. International edition

This week's 3Call is a selection of international journals that you may wish to consider if you're interested in building an international readership:

Anak Sastra seeks short stories (fiction or creative nonfiction), poetry, and book reviews for its 13th issue due out in October 2013. Contributors and/or story themes must have some connection to Southeast Asia. For more information and to submit work, please visit:

The Missing Slate takes submissions in three categories: visual art, literature (poetry and fiction), and articles (social commentary, op-eds, creative nonfiction). Submissions are open throughout the year, but each category has its separate email address and submissions guidelines, which they ask you to respect. The Missing Slate is an arts and literary journal created with intent to uphold free speech irrespective of geography, political or religious affiliations. Their goal is simple: honor talent and incorporate as many styles, opinions and cultures as possible. The magazine is a “borderless” one with a culturally and intellectually diverse team that believes if art can’t be quantified, it can’t be mapped either. Many of their team members are based in South Asia.

QLRS (in full, the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore) is the Internet literary journal of Singapore. Their mission is "to promote the literary arts in Singapore, to stimulate the feedback mechanisms in the literary scene, and to develop Singaporean writers to international standards. QLRS is pleased to receive submissions of previously unpublished writing or other material at any time." QLRS accepts submissions from Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans alike. Considering their focus areas include "developing Singaporean writing, they would be especially keen on writing with Singapore relevance."

Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement still seeks creative works entries.

The Journal of Southeast Asian Education and Advancement is taking both non-fiction and creative, literary writing. It is a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal addressing research interests surrounding the education and community development of Southeast Asian Americans. The submission guidelines can be found here:

Among the 2013 contributors accepted this year have been Pacyinz Lyfoung, Anna Nguyen, Somphet Phonvongsa, Long S. Le, Kevin Minh Allen, Trangđài Glassey-Trầnguyễn and Phira Azalii-Chriissnia Rehm. We have space for others. In particular, we would like to see more work from less represented communities including the Khmu, Mien, Tai Dam, Akha, Karen, and others. So if you, or someone you know from those communities, is interested in submitting work, please encourage them to do so.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Elaine Russell's "Across the Mekong River" begins winning awards

Elaine Russell's novel Across the Mekong River, won four 2013 independent publishing book awards for multicultural fiction over the past few months.

Her awards to date include the Next Generation Indie Book Award, a Silver ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award, a Bronze Independent Publishers Book Award, and a Finalist for the Readers' Favorite Book Award.

Across the Mekong River traces the journey of a Hmong family in the aftermath of the war for Laos, including time in the refugee camps of Thailand and the early years in the United States.

The author, Elaine Russell, writes fiction for adults and children and has won numerous awards. She graduated with a BA in History at UC Davis, and a MA in Economics at CSU. You can visit her website at:

Primeval Thule: Swords and Lovecraft

IO9 has a nice interview with the Richard Baker, whose new company, Primeval Thule "blends the sword and sorcery of Robert E. Howard with the cosmic horror of Lovecraft. This heady blend of pulp action and horror will be available for Dungeons and Dragons 4E, Pathfinder, Pelgrane Press' 13th Age, and the Call of Cthulhu RPG."

They have a kickstarter going on at the moment to check out.

As you can imagine, I find myself intrigued at this setting for Lovecraftian adventures, although it is yet another setting drawn from a largely Eurocentric sensibility, and I don't particularly think the mythos function well as just a campaign of wandering from wasteland to wasteland slashing these entities apart. But it's possible the rules will address this and we can all find a happy medium where the formless spawn aren't just another set of stats to whack.

But for now, give it a look and see what you think.

Asia Society Photo of the Day: Monks Under the Sky in Laos

The Asia Society's Photo of the Day is "Monks Under the Sky in Laos" described as "Three monks hurry across the stone steps under a cloudy sky in Vientiane, Laos on June 20, 2013." by Samuel Chan. You can see other photos of the day set in Laos here:

And per the Asia Society:
Want to see your images in our Photo of the Day posts? Use Flickr and tag your photos "asiasociety" or simply email your best shots from Asia to Be sure to include where and when the photo was taken.
Asia Society is "the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, the Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future. Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit institution with headquarters in New York, centers in Hong Kong and Houston, and affiliated offices in Los Angeles, Manila, Mumbai, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, and Washington, DC."

DOING LITERATURE literary discussion group returning this September!

As a reminder, September begins the 12th season of Hemet's literary discussion group, DOING LITERATURE.

I'll be returning as the regular host, focusing on 12 new titles. Get a head start now and get ready for a fun and lively take on timeless classics and modern books from around the world.

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Every 2nd Saturday at the Hemet Public Library
300 E Latham Ave, Hemet, CA.

The discussions are free and open to the public!

Sept. 14th: The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
Oct.  12th: War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells
Nov. 9th: Atonement, Ian McEwan
Dec. 14th: The Life of Pi, Yann Martel
Jan. 11th: The Assistant, Bernard Malamud
Feb. 8th: Things Fall Apart, by Chinhua Achebe
Mar. 8th: Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
Apr. 5th: Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys Note: 1st Week of April
May 10th: 17 Syllables, Hisaye Yamamoto
Jun. 14th: All's Well That Ends Well, William Shakespeare

As a preview:

Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep often appears on modern lists of the Top 100 Books, including lists by Time, Newsweek and Le Monde. Set in Los Angeles, California, it opens with the classic paragraph: 
"It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved, and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars."
Chandler is rightfully praised for his crisp dialogue and cunning wit, and his labyrinthine plot. His work goes beyond that of the pulp mystery writers of his era with strong literary sensibilities and a sense of language and style that many attempt to imitate to this day. The Big Sleep is an indictment of the heady cocktail of high society, drugs, violence and sex. It provides a searing account of the high price each of these brings to those waltzing with the dark side of California living. It's a tale of a tainted paradise that rewards both the casual reader and anyone looking for some choice meat on their literary T-bone. Not every plot twist is resolved neatly but it remains Chandler's magnum opus, showing what a detective novel can be.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

[Poem] The Robo Sutra appears at Expanded Horizons

In the 40th issue of Expanded Horizons, my poem, "The Robo Sutra" appears for the first time. The mission of Expanded Horizons is "to increase diversity in the field of speculative fiction, both in the authors who contribute and in the perspectives presented. We feature speculative fiction stories and artwork, as well as essays about speculative fiction and fandom from diverse points of view."

"The Robo Sutra" asks a number of questions Lao would ponder if were fully enabled to incorporate aspects of our culture and heritage within our everyday lives. What does life in Laotown look like? What would be a unique approach to addressing classical issues in robotics? What might be the consequences of being run by a Lao artificial intelligence? All of these and more I make a modest attempt to address. But you can consider it all for yourself here.

The other contributors to this issue are:

Tade Thompson
Tade Thompson lives and works in the United Kingdom; however, he grew up in Nigeria where he received most of his education. He is Yoruba and tends to bring this sensibility to his fiction. His speculative fiction has been published in Ideomancer and Twilight Times, among others.

Malon Edwards

Malon Edwards was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, but now lives in the Greater Toronto Area. Much of his speculative fiction features people of color. He serves as a Grants Administrator for the Speculative Literature Foundation‘s Older Writers and Gulliver Travel Research Grants, which provide $750 and $800, respectively, for writers of speculative literature. Feel free to drop him a line at

Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

Victor Fernando R. Ocampo is a Singapore-based Filipino writer, technopreneur and bar-keep. His work has been published in The Philippines Free Press, the online magazines Bewildering Stories, Expanded Horizons and the World SF Blog, as well as the anthologies Fish Eats Lion: New Singaporean Speculative Fiction and The Ayam Curtain, an Anthology of Very Short Fiction.

His story “Here Be Dragons” won first prize at the Romeo Forbes Children’s Literature competition in 2012 and is being published by Canvas Press. “Synchronicity” won a 2012 Mariner Award in the Short Story category from Bewildering Stories, and an earlier version of this story, “Resurrection,” was an honorable mention selection by Ellen Datlow’s for her “Best Horror of the Year” in 2011. Follow him on Twitter @VictorOcampo

Be sure to check their work out, too!

For fun, here's a video of real live Lao robots in action from 2010:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

DEMONSTRA standard edition cover unveiled!

Innsmouth Free Press recently released a preview of the official cover for the standard (8x5) edition of DEMONSTRA as well as the preliminary back text. It's currently still finalizing edits, but I think everyone will be very, very satisfied with the results.

Vongduane Manivong is still working on the final illustrations for the Deluxe edition funded by the kickstarter. More updates will follow soon!

Comic-Con, the Necronomicon and I

Innsmouth Free Press and the Press Enterprise are both giving nice mentions of my upcoming appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con where I'll be looking at the horror and Lovecraftian panels (although there aren't that many this year). I'll be giving a talk on Saturday at 8:30 PM with noted luminaries on H.P. Lovecraft and the history of the Necronomicon.

As a reminder, among the other fine folks I'll be presenting with are Brian Yuzna (director/producer of Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dagon, Necronomicon, and more), Mark Kinsey Stephenson (actor, "The Unnamable"), artist Mike Dubisch, editor Leslie Klinger (upcoming "Annotated H.P. Lovecraft"),author Cody Goodfellow ("Radiant Dawn" "Ravenous Dusk", others) and HPLFF-Portland organizer and Arkham Bazaar owner Brian Callahan.

The official panel description is:
H.P. Lovecraft and the Necronomicon: 75 years of mingling fact and fiction 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the "History of the Necronomicon," a short essay written by iconic horror author H.P. Lovecraft and published a year after his death. Since then, the dread book written by the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred has appeared in movies, books, comics, cartoons, art, music, and games. Although originally a literary hoax, there are hundreds of products that bear its name today. Come explore the truth and legend behind the greatest creation of the 20th century's greatest weird fiction writer, and learn how and why the book and its creator continue to influence all aspects of culture.
Some of the elements I'll be discussing include my position that a great deal of what the vision of the Necronomicon, or Al Azif actually is, is rather misunderstood and we could actually go in some fascinating directions if we presented it as a book of poetry, not a spell book or encyclopedia.  One of Lovecraft's most famous lines is in fact the couplet "That is not dead which can eternal lie, / and with strange aeons, even death may die."

For those of you who can't make it, you can find some of my notes on how a Lao translation of the Necronomicon might be plausible if you wanted to work with the existing canon, although I don't see a particular reason you necessarily need to be bound to that if you can make a good story of it.

A very big thanks to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival for also helping to get me on the panel!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

HP Lovecraft Film Festival Kickstarter launched!

The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Los Angeles has officially launched its kickstarter, hoping to raise at least $8,000 in the next 30 days!

As they explain:
"The HPLFF started almost 20 years ago in Portland, Oregon by Andrew Migliore. After years of attending and contributing, filmmaker Aaron Vanek went insane and spawned an HPLFF in his hometown of Los Angeles. This is a licensed franchise of the Portland fest, but each festival has its own distinct brand of madness. The first three LA festivals were successes but paid for out of pocket and just missed breaking even each time. Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide the same excitement and entertainment this year without your help. Our savings are drained so without YOU we'll be hard pressed to maintain and improve the quality this independently run horror and weird tale film festival has had in the past."
Having attended the festival last year, I can tell you Aaron puts his heart and soul into this amazing effort and it's a real delight to be a part of it. If you can, please consider chipping in to the kickstarter, and we'll see you at the movies!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Excelsior: A Steampunk role-playing game kickstarter in progress

A quick shout-out to Excelsior, one of the many Steampunk RPGs currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.

In a nutshell, they describe it as "...a Steampunk Pen and Paper RPG set in the Victorian era in the midst of the rapid population growth brought on by the advances in technology and medicine during that age. The leaders of the world realize that exploring the remaining uncharted areas of the world are their only hope to deal with this population explosion. The governments of the world have pooled their resources to create the three largest exploration and colonization ships in history in order to find a new part of the world that man can colonize and harvest resources. Things don't go exactly as planned when the explorers find themselves in a completely unexplored part of the world and having to deal with the internal and external dangers that are found within it."

There are a number of great rewards. Even at $25, for example, where you can submit the name of someone who recounts tales from the world of Excelsior.

I appreciate the low-cost of entry to back this game while taking a meaningful part in shaping it. It's old-school pen and paper, which I think is an important aspect of role-playing games, where one can develop adventures limited only by one's imagination.

I'd personally like to see more multicultural perspectives incorporated into the setting, which has been a shortcoming of many Steampunk roleplaying games of late, where the characters of color are typically air-pirates or underhanded denizens of the underworld, propping up Yellow Horde cliches or some such nonsense.

But there's enough opportunity here that many Lao steampunkers could have a say in some of the direction it takes, even if it's only something as modest as, say, a journal entry from Dr. Kouanchao or Inspector Ratsabout. Many of you may recall my disappointment that Ken Bowen's Pulp! was not successfully funded, although it had a fine sense of progressive values and adventure. Hopefully, this one will take off, and we'll all go full steam ahead!

Check it out and see if it's for you.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Long Hidden call for Speculative Fiction due July 31st.

Long Hidden has issued a call for speculative fiction set between 1400-1920 C.E. with protagonists marginalized in their time & place. Due July 31. The pay is 5 cents/word. This one has a lot of potential and I strongly encourage you to submit material.

Lao Steampunk: 19th century historical figures to incorporate?

We've discussed a number of interesting alternate history scenarios as they might be seen from a Lao perspective in the past. For writers interested in taking the matter on, here are a few additional figures who might plausibly find themselves in Laos or involved with Lao affairs in a world driven by steam-powered technology, presuming much of the world followed its traditional development in terms of discoveries and intellectual progress.

Hong Xiuquan was a  Hakka Chinese who led the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty. Among his accomplishments, he established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in much of southern China. He declared himself the "Heavenly King" and brother of Jesus Christ and went about destroying Buddhist and Confucian statues and relics. He ordered the forging of two giant "demons-slaying" swords, approximately 3 feet in length to symbolize his desire to purge China of Confucian influence. His key rebellion takes place from 1850 to 1864. We can see some interesting scenarios emerge if Hong Xiuquan decided to spread his influence further south into the realms of Luang Prabang, Vientiane and Champassak at the time, and where that might have come into conflict with local cultural beliefs.

José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda, the Filipino nationalist and reformist. Rizal is often noted as a polymath who practiced medicine and was fluent in 22 languages. He was a painter, illustrator and sculptor with literary talents as poet, essayist, and novelist. How might he have interacted with the Lao if he traveled beyond the Phillipines?

Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh Empire. Many have noted that the Sikhs allowed men from many religions other than their own to rise to commanding positions of authority. How might figures under his reign have interacted and exchanged ideas with Lao thinkers and diplomats? He had at least four mercenary generals from Europe: Jean-François Allard and Claude August Court from France, and the italians Jean-Baptiste Ventura and Paolo Di Avitabile. Americans also served under him including Josiah Harlan and Alexander Gardner. So it's not impossible Lao and others might have found their way into his service in an alternate history scenario.

Jack the Ripper, who some have considered possibly to have been a sailor or to have escaped abroad, is typically theorized to have fled to the Americas. But what if that's wrong, and he made it to Laos instead, where he was free to mingle around with no one the wiser, his grisly murders perhaps attributed to a weretiger or some other malign spirit. Or perhaps he was a weretiger on holiday all along...

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Vietnamese fantasy action film, "Once upon a time in Vietnam."

From the description: "The first fantasy action film in Vietnam, directed and written by Dustin Nguyen. Once upon a time in Vietnam tells about the image of the man and the hero in society. Through this movie, director Dustin Nguyen has a desire that, for the first time on the big screen in Vietnam, the audience will participate in an interesting adventure to the fantasy world in the movie.. The story starts with a small village where innocent people were being harassed and bullied by a notorious gangster and his accomplices. In addition, it looks like Hien - a baker in the region - is a thorn in their side. Before the overbearingness of the gang, Hien and his wife decided to appeal the local villagers to protest against them. At the same time Dao - a mysterious master - came and witnessed this conflict and helped the villagers..."

Monday, July 08, 2013

Recent Recognition

Two nice mentions from last year were recently brought to my attention. The first in the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th edition (2012) on Page 93 and the second in the Historical Dictionary of Asian American Literature and Theater by Wenying Xu (2012), along with several other great Lao American writers on page 251. I'm honored and look forward to continued writing with you all.

Appointed Treasurer of the Science Fiction Poetry Association

As of July 1st, I am now the Treasurer of the Science Fiction Poetry Association following an election by the membership.

I think I can safely say without fear of contradiction that in its 35 years of operations, I'm the very first Lao American speculative poet to serve as an officer in the organization. The Science Fiction Poetry Association is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year as an international organization of speculative poets. I extend a big thanks to everyone who supported me and I look forward to serving you all in the coming year ahead.

Call for Creative Writing for the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement

Looking for creative submissions for the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, preferably by July 15th.

I'm particularly looking for interesting pieces from Khmu, Tai Dam, Lue, Iu Mien, Hmong, Lao, Vietnamese, Karen, Khmer, Rhade / E De, Bru, Nung, Deng, and Akha writers.

You can send work to them here: or contact me and I will see that it gets to the right editors.

The Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement (ISSN 2153-8999) is 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.

JSAAEA is an official publication of The National Association for the Education and Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans (NAFEA), with support from the department of Bicultural-Bilingual studies and the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Texas, San Antonio.

Jay Kristoff's "Japanese Steampunk" : Lotus War

For many of my readers who've been following my discussions in the past on the possibilities, risks and challenges within Lao Steampunk, an interesting book to add into consideration of the whole idea has recently come out, Jay Kristoff's Kinslayer and Stormdancer, part of the Lotus War trilogy that illustrates how American publishers want to present Asian cultures and their engagement with Steampunk. In this case, an alternate mythic feudal Japan comes to us with steampunk elements.

Patrick Rothfuss gives it glowing praise, as do a number of reviewers around the blogsophere so far. I haven't had a chance to read through it yet, so I won't make many more remarks on the matter for now other than that this is out there.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

LANTERN REVIEW Issue 6 open to submissions!

The reading period for LANTERN REVIEW Issue 6 is now open!

Whereas their previous issue was themed, Issue 6 will be a general (i.e. not-themed) issue. If you refrained from submitting last year because of the theme, they hope you'll consider sending some work this time! Please note: all past contributors, except for those who are currently on staff or whose work appeared in Issue 5, are eligible to submit for Issue 6. They will be accepting submissions for Issue 6 through August 1st.

Please note that, with the exception of visual art and community voices proposals, you must use their online form to submit your work.

To begin, please read carefully through their guidelines, which can be found at:

At the bottom of that page, you will find a button that takes you to their submissions form.

Lantern Review aims to provide a virtual space in which to showcase Asian American poetry and to engage with issues relevant to its production and dissemination.

In their mission statement, they "seek to publish expertly crafted poetry in a variety of forms and aesthetics, including traditional and experimental pieces, hybrid and multimedia projects, and new translations. We welcome submissions from anglophone writers of all ethnic backgrounds whose work has a vested interest in issues relevant to the Asian diaspora in North America, as well as work created collaboratively in a community context."

I was interviewed for the Lantern Review earlier this January by Wendy Chin-Tanner and my poem Pen|Sword appeared in their fourth issue. I strongly encourage you to consider submitting work to them!

Friday, July 05, 2013

Tending the Speculative: Poems from the Asian American Adoptee Diaspora

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs' portfolio, "Tending the Speculative: Poems from the Asian American Adoptee Diaspora," for Line Break went live this week at Already, the portfolio has received enthusiastic plugs from Asian American Literary Review and the Smithsonian, but please help spread the word.

I'm among the poets included, along with Kev Minh Allen, Lee Herrick, Lisa Marie Rollins, Katie Hae Leo, and many other fine voices. I enjoyed reading through the other submissions and viewing  the artists' pieces that accompanied each of the poems.

My particular poem is displayed with Dana Weiser's Orphan Babies (Gold and Silver), 2009-2010. The babies are made from whiteware clay, Swarovski crystals, paint and lacquer. Born in Taejon, South Korea, Weiser was adopted by Jewish-American parents. Her recent artwork included an exhibition called “Who are you?!?” showcased at the Burnet Gallery in Minneapolis. For this portfolio, I sent in "Songkran Niyomsane’s Forensic Medicine Museum, 2003," inspired by true events. It will also appear in my newest book, DEMONSTRA when it come out later this year from Innsmouth Free Press.

Documents leading to the completion of "Tending the Speculative" will be deposited with the Library of Congress, which is currently working to develop its collection on adoptee experience.

I've particularly enjoyed seeing the way Kev Minh Allen's work has really grown over the years. I have happily featured some of Allen's work before in my duties as the Creative Works Editor for the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, and as guest editor for Eye to the Telescope, where I also selected some of the work of Lisa Marie Rollins as well. I hope it's not too long before we see full-length collections from either of them.

I performed with Lee Herrick during the release of our first books in January, 2008 at the Loft Literary Center, and he recently released a new book, Gardening Secrets of the Dead.  He's been on a convoluted journey, but never lost a sense of music on that road.  I usually frame the discussion of our work by as a case of my turning to speculative literature as a core technique of expressing the transcultural adoptee experience, while  Lee Herrick uses music, particularly rock and roll. I often also joke that he's been to Laos, but I still have to make it to Korea.

Outside of his poetry, I deeply admire Lee Herrick's work with the USEAA program at Fresno City College helping many Lao, Hmong and other Southeast Asian refugee youth to succeed. If you were going to start getting into his poetry, I'd probably first recommend his poem "Dancing Near a Body of Water" or "Ghosts."

Katie Hae Leo has always been one of the poets I like to watch, with great accomplishments additionally in taiko drumming, theater, and prose. If you get a chance to catch her in action, I highly recommend it. At her best when she's given free creative rein, she's absolutely breathtaking.

I think the good majority of the poems Jennifer Kwon Dobbs gathered for "Tending the Speculative" also reinforce my assertions in Locus Magazine that it is important to examine how Asian Americans are engaging with speculative literature. Especially through poetry. Ghosts are the predominating trope in this selection, but it would be interesting to see how transcultural adoptees work with other speculative symbols.

For example, I believe a survey on the matter will find demons are a prominent metaphor we employ, of course, followed occasionally by vampires, werewolves or other skinwalkers. Of course, we can also find transcultural adoptees occasionally using poems to subvert Rosemary's Baby/Damien antichrist imagery. But can the transcultural adoptee experience also be captured using other speculative literature tropes?

Can we express our journey through the idiom of robots and automatons, like the modern Pinnochio of Steven Spielberg's A.I.? Or the tragic horrors of The Island of Dr. Moreau or Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus?  Obviously, I believe it can.

Much of my work has been to to find an escape hatch whereby we can express our journey without resorting to the current narrative cliches, rife with colonial baggage, in contemporary non-genre literature. Might we liken many transcultural adoptees experiences to the experience of Clive Barker's Nightbreed, where each misunderstood monster must come into their own awakening to discover community? When our alternative is a tale like The Red Thread, I believe such an option MUST be considered.

One quote from the preface of this portfolio that's lingering with many is:
"Although readers may be tempted to file this collection under “adoptee writing,” they might instead take notice of how these aesthetically diverse poems enact an urgent poetics emerging from displacement by war, militarism, poverty, social stigma against single mothers, neoliberal outsourcing of social welfare, and cultural and linguistic loss. In the not-so-distant past, to write from these conditions of orphaning would have been tantamount to expressing ingratitude, but today, to do so is to lay claim to history and to summon artistic and communal relatives for a poet’s task."
I would certainly ask you to take those ideas into consideration while contemplating these selections.

I extend a big thanks to Jennifer Kwon Dobbs for organizing this. She is the author of Paper Pavilion, recipient of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and the New England Poetry Club’s Sheila Motton Book Award, and Song of a Mirror, finalist for the Tupelo Snowbound Chapbook Award. I hope you'll take the time to read some of her poetry. Her "Libretto" has some wonderful lines in it, for example.

I first met Jennifer Kwon Dobbs briefly during the Association for Asian American Studies conference in Chicago, which seems like a lifetime ago. Currently, she is assistant professor of English at St. Olaf College, where she kicks butt with the race and ethnic studies program, teaching creative writing and Asian American studies. I applaud her for her continued journey as a writer and as a community figure.

The Margins, the flagship editorial platform of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, is "a bold new online magazine dedicated to inventing the Asian American creative culture of tomorrow." Guiding their philosophy is the idea that "In an age when Asian Americans are relegated to sidekicks, whether in sitcoms or the corridors of power, we believe it’s time to bring Asian Americans into the conversations that matter. We’re thinking about Asian American identity in a way totally different from anyone else for a pan-racial, trans-cultural, truly world-spanning audience."

Thursday, July 04, 2013

[Poem] The Robo Sutra to appear in Expanded Horizons

Expanded Horizons has just accepted my poem "The Robo Sutra" for the July edition.

The mission of Expanded Horizons is "to increase diversity in the field of speculative fiction, both in the authors who contribute and in the perspectives presented. We feature speculative fiction stories and artwork, as well as essays about speculative fiction and fandom from diverse points of view."

In their mission statement, they explain further:
"Speculative fiction is an uncomfortable art – it is a tool by which we artists push readers and viewers outside of their comfort zones into the truly alien, and in so doing, help them to face themselves and grow as human beings. Excellent speculative fiction depends upon excellent “perspective shifting” skills- the same “mental muscles” we use when we learn to live, work and play with people from different racial, ethnic, cultural and sub-cultural backgrounds. In forming Expanded Horizons, we aim to push the field of speculative fiction out of its own “comfort zone” toward increased inclusion of, and comfort with, diverse perspectives, backgrounds and points of view.

It is comparatively easy to ask “what if?” about an alien culture that is labeled “fictional” than it is to learn to see through the eyes of those people who are different from us in our own neighborhoods and communities. In the real world, we have to take risks- and we can’t close the book if we don’t like what we see. But the speculative fiction community enjoys a challenge, embraces the “alien” with child-like curiosity. What if the readers and writers of speculative fiction applied their “perspective shifting” skills not just to the story on the page, but also to their own communities? What if speculative fiction itself aimed to push readers, writers and editors alike toward appreciating actual diversity with the same enthusiasm as we approach fictional diversity?

What if?"
"The Robo Sutra" breaks ground I believe as the first poem to discuss Laotown and our efforts to create Laobots who improve automation at the world's largest padaek factory without violating the 3 laws of robotics. Which is harder than you'd think with padaek. But I hope you enjoy it when it comes out!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Reminder: Elgin Awards Voting closes July 15th!

With the creation of the Elgin Awards, named for SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin, the Science Fiction Poetry Association will at last present annually an award for books published in the preceding year. There will be two categories, Chapbook and Book.

To be considered, chapbooks must contain 10-39 pages of poetry and books must contain 40 or more pages of poetry. E-books are eligible, but self-published books are not. Single-author and collaborative books are eligible; anthologies are not. Books containing fiction as well as poetry are not eligible. Books must be in English, but translations are eligible. In the case of translations that also contain the poems in the original language, those pages will not count toward the total page count. Nominated books must be made available to the Chair upon request to remain eligible.

Only members can nominate books. They may not nominate their own books, but they may nominate multiple books, and the books need not be by members in order to be nominated or to win. A list of nominated books will be posted on the SFPA website: title, author, poetry page count, and press name and address (URL or postal) will be required to nominate. If available, a link to a page where the book can be purchased or downloaded should be provided. Authors or publishers may also provide an e-mail address for SFPA members to request a .pdf of the book to facilitate reading for voting consideration.

The nominees for this year are:

The Edible Zoo • David Kopaska-Merkel

The House of Forever: Selected Poems • Samantha Henderson (Raven Electrick Ink)

The Moon & Other Inventions • Kristina Marie Darling (BlazeVOX)

Out of the Black Forest • F. J. Bergmann (Centennial Press)

Songs of Steelyard Sue • J. S. Watts (Lapwing Publications)

Sonata Vampirica • Samuel Peralta (Windrift Books)

Full-length Books
Come Late to the Love of Birds • Sandra Kasturi (Tightrope Books)

Crouching Yak, Hidden Emu • David Clink ( The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box)

The Gorelets Omnibus: Collected Poems 2001-2011 • Michael Arnzen (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Grim Series • Kristine Ong Muslim (Popcorn Press)

How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes • CSE Cooney (Papaveria Press)

The Last Selchie Child • Jane Yolen (A Midsummer Night's Press)

Lovers & Killers • Mary Turzillo (Dark Regions Press)

The Monstrance • Bryan D. Dietrich (Needfire Poetry)

Notes From the Shadow City • Bruce Boston & Gary William Crawford (Dark Regions Press)

Paranormal/Romance: Poems Romancing The Paranormal • Denise Dumars (Sam’s Dot)

Phantom Navigation • Robert Frazier (Dark Regions Press)

The Receptionist • Lesley Wheeler (Aqueduct Press)

White Shift • G. O. Clark (Sam's Dot Publishing)