Thursday, April 30, 2015

NBC News "National Poetry Month: Asian-American Poets to Watch"

Well, it's not every day that I get mentioned on NBC along with Ravi Shankar, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, Bao Phi and other great poets. Thanks to Frances Kai-Hwa Wang for the wonderful article. As always, this is where I point out that no listing of Asian American poets can really be "complete" or without controversy as we saw when the Poetry Foundation undertook the somewhat thankless task. But I appreciate the efforts of community members to still consider this something to attempt, rather than let our varied voices languish in obscurity.

There are some who consider it a pejorative to be called an Asian American poet, and then the question of what does it mean to be a Lao American poet in my particular case. I tend to be philosophical about the matter. As I've mentioned before, no one gives Tolstoy static for being classified as a Russian writer, or Kerouac for being a Beat Poet, or Langston Hughes an African American poet, or Shakespeare an English writer. They've all left their indelible marks on the world of arts and letters. And sometimes the classification is appropriate, and in others, less so. Some times you can classify me as a speculative poet, other times a horror writer, other times a Lao American blogger. But such designations are starting points and so long as we are not using them as a mechanism for confinement and arbitrary dismissal, I approach such terms with understanding and even a particular level of enthusiasm and curiosity.

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