Wednesday, April 12, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Sokunthary Svay

Sokunthary Svay is a breathtaking writer and musician from New York, and she has been a Willow Arts Alliance Fellow. Her very first book is coming in Fall, 2017, and she is pursuing her MA in Language and Literacy at City College in Harlem. Considering that as of 2010, only 14.4% of Khmer women had a bachelor's degree or higher, that she's taking steps to reach for higher education is admirable and extraordinary.

I'm exceptionally fond of her work, which has examines intersections between the traditional culture of both Cambodia and Europe, history, and our shared journeys. She is bringing a wonderful perspective and needed approach to Khmer American literature, one you easily fall in love with for the elegant and evocative imagery in both her prose and poetry. At various turns I've found her verse fierce, dark, unflinching and precise, and lingers with you long after you've read it. I'm looking forward to seeing much more of her enchanting body of work over the coming decades ahead, and she has my whole-hearted and unconditional support.

I'm delighted to see that she is already making tremendous inroads to expand the space and reach of Khmer American literature, and that she has been organizing many other writers to appreciate the opportunities to be found in writing. Among the places you can find her writing already: Lontar, Blue Lyra Review Mekong ReviewHyphen Magazine, and Flesh: A Southeast Asian Urban AnthologyHomelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place, and Time, Prairie Schooner, Women's Studies Quarterly,

She is one of the first Pushcart-nominated writers of the Khmer community in both poetry and nonfiction and a musician. She is also a recipient of the First Friday Residency at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning,  Her recent collaborations include two different settings of her poem “Morning Song” by the award-winning composers David Schober and Liliya Ugay.

Her family fled Cambodia after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime and relocated as refugees to the Bronx where she was raised. She lives in Queens, New York with her husband and daughter. She is the poetry editor for Newtown Review. She's one to watch.

No comments: