Friday, August 22, 2014

2014 HP Lovecraft Film Festival Kickstarter Wants You!

 The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival-Los Angeles is in the wind-down phase of their kickstarter campaign. They're successfully funded and now working on meeting their stretch goals. They are returning for the fifth year at the exquisite art deco Warner Grand Theatre in historic San Pedro on September 26, 27, and 28, 2014. This year's theme is Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Among the activities they're planning is a rare screening of The Creature from the Black Lagoon and numerous shorts from emerging and established short film makers around the world. Special guests will include the authors John Shirley, Nancy Holder, Gary C. Myers, Leslie S. Klinger, Cody Goodfellow, Ross E. Lockhart, and the poets Michael Tice and Scott Virtes.

The first stretch goal has been met, raising funds to commission an artist to paint a mural commemorating the festival and its ties to San Pedro. Skinner's previous work  can be found in Portland, Oregon, where they have a particular love for the Great Old Ones, clearly.

They have some amazing rewards for those who will be attending in person and those who must attend virtually. Be sure to check them out! The kickstarter campaign concludes at 9:40PM on Monday, August 25th.

Colors of Confinement closing August 31st at the Japanese American National Museum

As a quick reminder: August 31st is the last day of the Colors of Confinement exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. The museum is located at 100 North Central Avenue.

Colors of Confinement "presents 18 rare Kodachrome photographs taken by Bill Manbo during his incarceration at the Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming in 1943 and 1944. It shatters preconceptions about this episode of injustice by showing it to us in vivid and beautiful color."

Kodachrome, which Manbo shot in, had only been on the market 7 years. Most of the images we see connected to the camps were taken in black and white.

It's a modest exhibit, presented in the library of the museum, but the images speak volumes.

Colors of Confinement made me consider a number of issues about how the Lao community thinks about our time as refugees in the camps and in the early resettlement years in the United States. The exhibit asked questions about Manbo's photos, noting that he preferred to take photos of wide landscape surrounding the camp, but he occasionally took pictures exploring their internment.

The curators noted that at the time many of the children didn't really understand why they were in the camp, but saw it as a place of adventures and making new friends. However, it was also a space where rifts developed between the generations, particularly the elders. It's a question I think Lao may need to examine about our time in the refugee camps. Was this where it started? How were we processing it?

Initially, cameras weren't allowed in the camps, but as time went on, the Japanese interned in them were permitted access to record their experience. What might have happened if they had not been given this opportunity? How might they have remembered or made efforts to document this time?

If you go, I particularly encourage you to look for the image of the bon odori dancers. The curators themselves are uncertain as we look at the fanciful costume constructed from discarded cereal boxes. Was it meant to be a dragon or a bird? Does it reflect "a tradition from a specific region of Japan, the look of a Native American kachina dancer, or just a flight of the dancer's imagination?"  It's a striking picture, and one I'm sad we seem to have lost the answer to.

The exhibit also has a daring image of the camp internees holding a sumo match, and it's one of the rare times we've ever seen ways the community attempted to entertain itself and even dare to have fun during such an uncertain time. Is it an image of their irrepressible spirit and their effort to engage with a wholly Japanese tradition even when their confinement was centered on the US government's fear of the Japanese love for their former homeland's traditions and loyalty? Today we might see it as only a sumo match, but how daring this must have been, to opt for this, rather than say, taking up baseball or baking apple pies,

I hope the exhibit eventually comes to other communities across the US. It's well worth seeing.

DEMONSTRA 30% off at Innsmouth Free Press until August 31st

My 2013 collection of poetry, DEMONSTRA is a nominee for the Elgin Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

To celebrate, my publisher, Innsmouth Free Press is reducing the cost of DEMONSTRA until the end of the month if you go here and buy it directly from them.

DEMONSTRA features all-new poems as well as work that has appeared in Lakeside Circus, Strange Horizons, Innsmouth Magazine, G-Fan Magazine, Expanded Horizons, Angry Asian Man, Lontar, The Missing Slate, Buddhist Poetry Review, and Kartika Review. Two poems were nominated for a Rhysling Award while the poem, "Full Metal Hanuman" won the 2014 Readers Choice Award from Strange Horizons.

DEMONSTRA features several original illustrations by Lao American visual artist Vongduane Manivong.

"In the depths, half-hidden under still waters, await strange and vicious creatures …. Cthulhu, Godzilla and nagas mingle in DEMONSTRA, a speculative poem collection which assembles 20 years of work by Bryan Thao Worra. DEMONSTRA is a book of things glimpsed out of the corner of the eye. It is about a reality that can never fully be demonstrated, authenticated, dissected, for certain visions always remain in shadows."

"Bryan Thao Worra is the first Laotian American to receive a Fellowship in Literature from the United States Government’s National Endowment for the Arts. He received the Asian Pacific Leadership Award from the State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans for Leadership in the Arts in 2009. His previous books include On The Other Side Of The Eye and Touching Detonations. He was a Cultural Olympian during the 2012 London Summer Games representing Laos. He’s a professional member of the Horror Writer Association and a regular contributor to Innsmouth Magazine."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014 SFPA Science Fiction Poetry Contest

Poets with work touching on science fiction and the fantastic, the annual Science Fiction Poetry Association Poetry Contest is open until August 31st. First prize: $100. 2nd Prize: $50. 3rd Prize: $25. This year's judge is Kenji Liu.

 You do not have to be a member of the SFPA to submit entries, but you do get a 50% discount rate ($1 per poem) if you are. The regular rate is $2 per poem. You can see more details and the full guidelines at:

The Science Fiction Poetry Association was founded in 1978 to bring together poets and readers interested in science-fiction poetry. It has over 300 members worldwide and publishes several publications and resources for emerging and established poets. You can visit their website at:

About this year's judge:
Kenji C. Liu, a 1.5-generation immigrant from New Jersey, now in Southern California. His writing and art arises from his work as an activist, educator, artist, and cultural worker. A Pushcart Prize nominee and first runner-up finalist for the Poets & Writers 2013 California Writers Exchange Award, his writing is forthcoming or published in Barrow Street Journal, CURA, The Baltimore Review, RHINO Poetry, Generations, Eye to the Telescope, Ozone Park Journal, Kweli Journal, Doveglion Press, Best American Poetry's blog, Lantern Review, and others.

His poetry chapbook You Left Without Your Shoes was nominated for a 2009 California Book Award. A three-time VONA alum and recipient of residencies at Djerassi and Blue Mountain Center, he is completing a full-length poetry book. He is the poetry editor emeritus of Kartika Review.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

August is Lao Minnesotan Artists Heritage Month

This August is the 3rd Lao Minnesotan Artists Heritage Month! A big congratulations to all of the Lao Minnesotan artists, their friends and family who've come together as a community to share their vision, their memories and dreams with each other and the world!

Minnesota is home to over 50 Lao American artists in different stages of their careers, including the only two Lao Americans in the country out of 200,000 to hold fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the only two Lao to hold Archibald Bush Artist Fellowships, a Carey Prize in Spoken Word winner, and has been the host to national Lao American exhibits and gatherings including the National Lao American Writers Summit, Legacies of War: Refugee Nation Twin Cities, Lao'd and Clear, a SatJaDham Conference and many others.

Over the years, Lao Minnesotan artists have been recognized by the State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans for their arts leadership and lifetime achievements, and many other exceptional accolades.

We're very happy to see the Governor recognize those contributions to international, national, and local arts and culture. Hopefully, this recognition will continue to inspire and energize others to add their voices to the great American tapestry, and to treasure the great stories and visions within themselves and all living beings.

Chantala Kommanivanh's "Like a Zenith" exhibition to open August 8th to September 1st

“Like a Zenith...” the latest exhibition of paintings by visual artist Chantala Kommanivanh is a personal narrative that regurgitates raw color, figures, and hood phenomena that is his life emerged and influenced by his Laotian heritage blended in hip hop and American pop culture.

Kommanivanh is interested in the way viewers ingest visual media driven culture and how it affects and impacts our identity. Immigrating to Chicago from Laos as refugees, he struggled with the complexity of duel identity in a violent foreign city; he sympathizes with those in the similar struggle.

The paintings in the exhibition are hybridized imagery where he sampled personal and found photographs as a way to remix and re-document.

“Like a Zenith...” details the point of Kommanivanh’s life that he come to learn, experienced, and often find surreal as an outcome. “You got to see it, to believe it...”

The exhibition will be held at Nych Gallery. 643 W. 18th St. Chicago IL, 60616. Opening reception scheduled August 8th (6pm-10pm). Show runs through September 1, 2014.