So, it's the end of the Common Era year. Lao New Year ends April 15th, so we've got a quarter to go still. But now is as good a time as any to take a look at what's happened in the last twelve months.
Six poems, including a few reprints, found homes in this time frame, which make this a relatively slow period for me, but on the other hand, my 2013 book DEMONSTRA and many of the poems in it received nice nods of recognition throughout the year, including an Elgin Award. I'm looking forward to 2015 with several new projects in motion that will be announced in a few weeks as various details are finalized.
"No Such Phi," Lakeside Circus, January, 2014.
"Discussing Principles Of Art With Laotians," Cha Magazine, March, 2014.
"The Last War Poem," Southeast Asia Globe, March, 2014.
An untitled haiku for the Haikus for Gambia project.
Several photos were included in the Smithsonian Asian Pacific Center digital photo essay "A Day In The Life of Asian America," taken during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. May, 2014.
"Five Flavors" reprinted at Little Laos on the Prairie, October, 2014.
"The Dachshunds of Tindalos" a drabble for Spooky Halloween Drabbles 2014
Awards this year:
Strange Horizons Reader's Choice Award for Poetry: "Full Metal Hanuman."
Bronze Medal for representing Laos during the Missing Slate Magazine Poetry World Cup.
Science Fiction Poetry Association Elgin Award for Book of the Year for DEMONSTRA (Innsmouth Free Press, 2013)
2 Rhysling Award nominations: "Five Flavors" and "The Robo Sutra."
I also became the first Lao American poet to be profiled at the Poetry Foundation.
As a personal reflection, I will say that it's been a wonderful validation to see much of my work recognized at a professional level and by many in my community. It is still a strange feeling, however, to think that for all of the time committed to writing, often a year boils down to less than a dozen or even a half-dozen poems that really find homes. Maybe that's something that brings me back to poetry consistently, is that it constantly humbles you and teaches you to appreciate those years when you're able to be particularly prolific. But as many of my peers point out, you don't want to be just cranking them out. It's better to get out a half-dozen good poems than 52 average or worse, forgettable poems out into the world. I think you need to strive to find a balance.
I do feel this year was one of significant transitions. I deeply felt the loss of Lao master artist Pom Outama Khampradith, as well as my good friends and mentors Professor Raymond Rodgers and Allan Kornblum. There was a lot of moving involved this year, going back and forth between Southern California and Northern California and the Bay Area, but also a chance to connect more with my long-lost family and to spend more time with my nieces and sisters. So I'm grateful for that. There's more that could have been said, more that could have been done, but that's always the case, for any family, any community.
On January 1st, I'll turn 42, and 2015 will be a significant year for me for many reasons already. But as many of my readers can imagine, the work of Douglas Adams and the questions he posed will also be lingering with me as we bring an end to the Year of the Horse and all of the journeys connected to it. What does it all mean, Life, the Universe, Everything? I've asked that for a long time, and I suspect I will keep asking them, thinking of Hokusai's famous note where he writes:
'From the age of 6 I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was 50 I had published a universe of designs. But all I have done before the the age of 70 is not worth bothering with. At 75 I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am 80 you will see real progress. At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100, I shall be a marvelous artist. At 110, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign myself 'The Old Man Mad About Drawing."
A big thanks to all of you who have been a part of my life, and I look forward to sharing many more ideas and dreams with you in the years ahead!