Sunday, August 27, 2017

Mai Call for Submissions: September 08


Volume 03 will focus on images: photography, illustration, comics, or other forms of arts in photographs depicting the lives and roots of Southeast Asian America. Deadline: September 08, 2017 Publication will out in September

 This volume is possible with funding by a grant from the University of California Critical Refugee Studies Collective. If you would like to read MAI 1 and 2, see

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Sisavanh Phoutavong selected as Artist of the Week by Nashville Arts

Congratulations to Sisavanh Phouthavong who was selected by Nashville Arts Magazine as the Artist of the Week earlier this month. Her visual artwork was displayed on billboards across Nashville.

Sisavanh Phouthavong is one of the first professional Lao American visual artists and educators of her generation. Over 5,400 Lao refugees resettled in Kansas in the aftermath of the Laotian Civil War that ended in 1975. Through her powerful acrylic work, she confronts the challenges of bicultural memory and documentation.

She considers notions of the abstract and the concrete for those who must remember both their inner and external histories in a diaspora framed by secrecy and loss. Her work probes what is shared, what is felt, and what must remain deeply personal among the lessons passed on to the next generation as it heals and rebuilds. Be sure to keep an eye out for more of her work in the future.

I'm happy to know her work and celebrate her journey as a fearless artist in our community, and an important voice and vision for our generation.

What Stinks: Fermented Fish and Feelings, a Southeast Asian Creative Healing Workshop, 9/14

What stinks?

In our current socio-political landscape, a lot of things. In this creative workshop, you’ll use poetry, drawing and other artforms to spark dialog about what’s going on around us as we discuss and process ways to support and reflect together.

Our in-house artists are Peuo Tuy, Manola Suvannarad and Aloun Phoulavan.  This event is free and open to API/SEA communities. Light refreshments will be served. Seats are limited so please RSVP to See you there!

Reminder: DreamHaven Books Reading, August 30th

Looking forward to seeing everyone there! Thanks go to Sahtu Press for their recent coverage, along with Asian American Press.  DreamHaven Books is located at 2301 E. 38th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

IMPRESSIONS features Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay had an excerpt of “When Everything Was Everything” selected for Saint Paul Almanac’s IMPRESSIONS Project on the Twin Cities light rail.  Join the release party on September 1st at 7pm at the Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul.

Loy Khambay-Correa's 10 Parables coming in September

Lao American visual artist Loy Khambay-Correa is marking 10 years as a professional visual artist. Be sure to vist her online at for more details and a look at her previous exhibitions.

Loy Khambay-Correa Born Kheuthmy Khambay, her name meant “Grow Rich Gold Leaf.” Over the years her close family and friends began calling her Loy, which either means “slip away” or “swim.” She was born in a small village in Savannakhet, Laos. Her formative years were spent in Saint Louis, MO and Saint Petersburg, FL.

She developed her love for art watching her uncle Thai Khambay draw when she was a little girl. “I was inspired and mesmerized by his drawings, by the age of 8, I started to draw with him,” she says. She attributes much of her success these days to the tough love her parents gave her, giving her the strength, determination and blessings that drove her to excel. She received her degrees in Commercial Arts along with a Film and Video Production degree from Full Sail University.

Soon after she graduated from Full Sail, she moved to Los Angeles, CA. She had an internship with Women In Film and than worked on various projects. In that world, she went from working in post-production, production, and than pre-production. Today, she only work on projects that she feels that it is worthy to her. If it is going to a good cause or if it is her seed that she is planting.

Through all of that process, she found her love and that was returning back to her art. In 2007, she decided to come out of hiding to reveal her artistic talent to her family and friends. She held her first and solo art show called the Ah-Loy Show. With that success, she plans on having a show every year along with a new theme to showcase her vision.

Recipes for Change with Catzie Vilayphonh coming September 21

Join multimedia artist Catzie Vilayphonh for a special evening of food and storytelling.

This program, presented in partnership with the Office of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and The Philadelphia Commission for Women, is part of Welcoming Week. Welcoming Week is an annual series of events where communities bring together immigrants, refugees, and native-born residents to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone.

Participants will sample mieng, a Lao lettuce wrap made from savory sticky rice, and hear the story of a trickster who uses mieng to teach an important lesson. This program also includes opportunities for conversation about life in Philadelphia and the unique challenges and triumphs immigrants and refugees who identify as women face and how we can foster a better community as a city.

Catzie Vilayphonh is an award-winning writer and spoken word poet. Through her work, she provides an awareness not often heard, drawing from personal narrative. A child of Laotian refugees, Catzie was born in camp, on the way to America, and thus considers herself part of the “.5 Generation”.

Tickets are $5 per person and preregistration is required via Eventbrite. Limited free admission for participants who are SNAP eligible. Please call 215-686-5323 or email to inquire about registering free of charge.

SEAD Project Language Workshops coming to Minnesota

The SEAD Project is excited to announce open enrollment for our 8-weeks language program offered in Hmong, Khmer and Lao. Take our fun and engaging workshops integrated with culture, history and social issues. Space is limited. Registration and details are at

Note: Classes are based in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. All are welcome in person but we do not have classes available online yet due to our limited capacity.

However, we are accepting test students for our livestream. If interested, please email Southeast Asian languages are available when the needs and capacity are met. Questions to

Monday, August 21, 2017

SFPA Elgin Award for Speculative Poetry Book of the Year Voting Deadline: September 15th

The Elgin Awards, named for SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin, are presented annually by SFPA for books published in the preceding two years in two categories, Chapbook and Book. Chapbooks must contain 10-39 pages of poetry and books must contain 40 or more pages of poetry. E-books and self-published books are eligible, as well as print, although there are some restrictions that are outlined here.

This year, we thank our Elgin Award chair, Josh Brown for his invaluable assistance to the SFPA in organizing the nomination process and ensuring eligibility of both nominators and nominees. The September 15th deadline to vote is fast approaching and we have 21 chapbooks and 31 full-length books to consider from 44 presses. If you have any questions on the voting process, please feel free to contact the SFPA. To vote, you must be a member in good standing at the time of your vote.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association was established in 1978 by Suzette Haden-Elgin and has an international membership representing over 19 nations and cultures including United States, Italy, Canada, Brazil, United Kingdom, Ireland, Romania, Poland, Denmark, Germany, France, Spain, Israel, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, the Hmong, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association publishes two journals: Star*Line and Eye to the Telescope. It oversees three major literary awards for poetry: The Rhyslings, the Dwarf Stars, and the Elgin Awards. It also conducts an annual science fiction poetry contest and other special events and gatherings. Further, they also provide resources for emerging and established poets seeking professional publication and networking opportunities.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

FAWK Clapback At Microaggression Workshops a success

Congratulations to the Funny Asian Women Kollective who successfully convened their August workshop, The Clapback. A two-day workshop (2 hours per day) it introduced SEA/APIA refugee women to the idea of using comedy to combat or “clap back” at microaggressive behaviors.

FAWK and local artists have been facilitating participatory workshops on America’s complex history with race, social justice, empowerment, comedy, writing and performance. Participants can attend both days of the workshop or just one of the days.

Lead Artists for this project are Saymoukda Vongsay, May Lee-Yang, and Naomi Ko with Guest Artists. In this case, Heather Meyer was the guest artist, and she is a comedy writer, playwright and performer, creator of the yearly sketch comedy game show Women’s History Month: The Historical Comedybration, has taught improv and satirical sketch comedy writing with the Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre and Steppingstone Theatre for Youth. She’s studied improv and comedy writing at the Brave New Workshop and The Second City: Chicago.

This workshop is made possible with generous support from Solidarity MN and their partners Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center and Pathway Learning Center.

I passed by to also show Saymoukda this year's proclamation for Lao American Artists Heritage Month:

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Cthulhu Wars: Onslaught 3 Kickstarter wrapping up soon

In case you haven't been following along, Petersen Games' Cthulhu Wars: Onslaught 3 kickstarter is winding down this weekend for what is likely to be one of the last expansions for a while as they prepare their next games.

As a De Vermis Mysteris backer from the original kickstarter back in 2013, it's been a delight and occasional pain to watch as Sandy Petersen brought his vision forward. He was one of the original creators of the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, which was a deep influence on me as a teenager and how I understood the work of H.P. Lovecraft and other writers of Weird literature. The end result with Cthulhu Wars more than justified the wait, and with his expansion, Onslaught 2, he proved they learned from the first kickstarter. I have no doubt that Onslaught 3 will be delivered even more efficiently now that we all understand the shipping and production process. I've often remarked that Cthulhu Wars is the boardgame I feel like I've waited my lifetime for, or at least some 30 years.

Thankfully, Petersen Games has been very committed to giving us a lot of bang for our bucks, from additional and variant miniatures, alternate rules, upgraded game materials and the like. The miniatures themselves are also very dynamic and transferable to other games if you so chose. If you're a gamer who lives the worlds of the Cthulhu Mythos and role-playing, I think it's very easy to make back your investment in terms of overall enjoyment and excitement.

Onslaught 3 has a somewhat different visual look for some of the pieces and people will either love or hate the takes on a few models. But in a nutshell we'll be adding a new faction, The Ancients with a bit of a steampunk vibe and their allies the Yothans. You'll also have a new map depicting the doomed world of Shaggai.

The Masks of Nyarlathotep expansion bring some great models of classic aspects of this fearsome entity including the Haunter of the Dark, the Shadow Pharaoh, the Bloated Woman, and the Dark Demon. Beyond Space and Time brings you a Hound of Tindalos, Wamps and the Vooniths, who will all be fun to add to many games. We also have an unexpected sculpt of Nodens, the Lord of the Abyss. All of the factions will also be getting new unique acolyte sculpts (although the classic acolytes still deserve a lot of love, in my opinion) and there are new sculpts of Azathoth and Cthulhu that will be available. Your mileage will vary on the new mid-Apocalypse investigators that are being added in to the game, but they will also give you a good preview of an upcoming project Petersen Games is working on.

As of this writing, there's a little over a day left for the kickstarter, but only a handful of stretch goals left to unlock. This kickstarter definitely has my strongest recommendation at this point. While I was initially debating if I needed this set, it quickly became clear this will be a must-have for Cthulhu Wars enthusiasts and fans of horror and fantasy games. One of the strengths of this game is that it can be played in a beer and pretzels style, but you can also make it very complex without going into Axis and Allies or Diplomacy territory. Check it out.

Kou Vang's Portraits of Hmong Women now available

In my work with helping the Hmong Paj Ntaub Voice Literary Journal and the Hmong American Institute for Learning in the 2000s I had the privilege to see many of the first pieces of Kou Vang's work to document refugee women rebuilding their lives in the US in the aftermath of the Secret War for Laos.

Considering that the Hmong did not have a written language until the 1950s and a creative literary and visual arts tradition was not really possible until the late 1980s, I'm delighted to see her work finally becoming available for the community and wish her much continued success. Check her work out when you can, available now as Portraits of Hmong Women, currently available as a 113-page e-book on Kindle, but a print edition is forthcoming.

Friday, August 11, 2017

National Lao-American Artist Heritage Month 2017!

A big thanks to all of you who've helped us to make this possible over the years! This month we celebrate many wonderful Lao-American artist anniversaries, gatherings, birthdays and other celebratory occasions. What are some of the ways you'll be celebrating in your community?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Recipes for Change with Catzie Vilayphonh: September 21st

Mark your calendars to join multimedia artist Catzie Vilayphonh for a special evening of food and storytelling. This program, presented in partnership with the Office of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and The Philadelphia Commission for Women, is part of Welcoming Week.

Welcoming Week is an annual series of events where communities bring together immigrants, refugees, and native-born residents to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone.

The event will be held at the Free Library of Philadelphia Culinary Literacy Center at 1901 Vine St, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Participants will sample mieng, a Lao lettuce wrap made from savory sticky rice, and hear the story of a trickster who uses mieng to teach an important lesson. This program also includes opportunities for conversation about life in Philadelphia and the unique challenges and triumphs immigrants and refugees who identify as women face and how we can foster a better community as a city.

Catzie Vilayphonh is an award-winning writer and spoken word poet. Through her work, she provides an awareness not often heard, drawing from personal narrative. A child of Laotian refugees, Catzie was born in camp, on the way to America, and thus considers herself part of the ".5 Generation".

Tickets are $5 per person and preregistration is required via Eventbrite. Limited free admission for participants who are SNAP eligible. Please call 215-686-5323 or email to inquire about registering free of charge.

Legacies of War: Mental Health in Laos

Legacies of War recently shared a letter from Dr. Manivone Thikeo on her perspective regarding the state of mental health in Laos. She is one of only two psychologists working in Laos today, and it's definitely worth reading about her experiences to understand the roots and continued need for expanded services and opportunities for treatment in Laos, especially among victims of UXO.

Hmong American horror comes to Minnesota: August 11th

Coming August 11th to the Twin Cities: Bedeviled, a Hmong American horror film by Burlee Vang and Abel Vang.

The brothers hold the distinction of being the first Hmong Americans to ever receive a Nichols Fellows from the Academy of Arts and Sciences (those Oscar folks). This ought to be a very interesting screening! The Pioneer Press has a nice article about their journey. The movie will run until August 17th.

Clear your schedules and see you there, folks!

Politico Magazine: When a Candidate Conspired With a Foreign Power to Win An Election

Politico Magazine has a fascinating article confirming a long-held suspicion about Nixon and Southeast Asia. Based on new notes examined by historians, it concludes that then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon interfered with Vietnamese peace talks President Johnson was arranging to bring an end to the war. It's worth a read, and considering some of the bigger issues in question in connection to today's contemporary politics. What we accept, and what we will not. I think it really increases the importance for Southeast Asian Americans to re-examine our collective and shared history, going forward.

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay Poetry and Soul Lao coming August 25

Lao American poet Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is partnering with COOK ST PAUL and SOUL LAO for a night of story sharing and specialty dishes inspired by Payne Avenue. Join us on August 25th 5pm-9pm at COOK ST PAUL! This event is part of the East Side Arts Council's Payne Avenue Poet project.

Also be sure to check out her broadside release party on September 1st for the St. Paul Almanac's Impressions project, where her poem will appear with illustrations by Koua Yang at Twin Cities light rail stations:

Lao elephants in the news

CNN recently highlighted the MandaLao elephant preserve in Luang Prabang, which couldn't come at a more timely moment considering the contrasting reports that elephants in Laos are being sold for as little as $2,500 to foreign interests at an alarming rate. Once known as the Kingdom of a Million Elephants, we may very well see the last elephants of Laos disappear in our lifetime.

Lao tank crew to compete in International Army Games

The Laotian Times is reporting that a Lao tank crew will be among the competitors in the International Army Games this year that's being hosted by China and Russia. They'll be driving a T-72B3 Battle Tank. Their first match will be against Uganda, Angola, and Tajikistan. Semi-final races will take place from 8-10 August, with the four finalists to compete on the closing day, August 12.

It looks like the event will be quite a spectacle. Alas, no word yet on the names of the particular crewmen who will be competing this year for Laos.

Using a three-man crew, the T-72B3 is a Russian tank, updating the classic T-72 with a "new engine, new gunners sight, new fire control system and have some other improvements," according to Military Today. It can reach a top speed of 70km/hour or 43 mph. For comparison's sake, the US M1 Abrams can reach speeds of approximately 72km/hour or 45mph. Some tanks have been able to reach close to 60 or 70 mph, for short periods of time under the right conditions.

Growing Up Khmer American at Intermedia Arts, 8/9

If you're up for a late-night show at the Minnesota Fringe this year, be sure to check out Peuo Tatyana Tuy's "Growing Up Khmer American" at Intermedia Arts on 2822 Lyndale Avenue S. in Minneapolis.

Peuo will share stories, particularly about growing up in Lowell, MA - killing chickens in the house, going to the ocean to get shellfish (for free), growing up hip-hop and loving rhythm and blues music (also sharing her first break beat/rap poem), her parent's surviving the genocide, and fighting the injustice system.

Peuo Tuy is a spoken word poet, writer, motivational speaker, and workshop leader. Her poetry collection, Khmer Girl, is inspired by the traumas of her life, including escaping the killing fields of her native Cambodia and enduring the inequities of life as an immigrant in the United States.

 Peuo’s spoken word performances have been featured in video projects, including “Futurographies: Cambodia-USA-France,” a multi-media exhibition traveling to Cambodia and France in 2016. She was one of the original members of Urbintel's HerStory cast, whose performances were filmed and performed live at East Coast venues from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

She has appeared at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Bowery Poetry Club, Harlem Book Fair, and the New York Foundation for the Arts as well as various junior high schools and high schools.

For people of all ages, she conducts writing and self-empowerment workshops that focus on peace, compassion, and overcoming adversity in difficult times.

Peuo also has worked as a community organizer for CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities/Mekong NYC in New York and for the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL) in California, where she helped Southeast Asians and other immigrants gain equal rights in the public welfare system. She is one of the founding members of the new Cambodian American Literary Arts Association (CALAA).

She'll also be performing at Poets and Pints at Sisyphus Brewing, 712 W Ontario Ave, # 100 in Minneapolis on August 16th between 7:00PM-10PM.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Original Godzilla passes away at 88

Aw. Haruo Nakajima, the original Godzilla actor for the series of classic monster movies, died Monday at age 88. As many news outlets have reported, he portrayed Godzilla in the first 12 films. And the very first costume weighed 220 pounds because it was made out of concrete. A wartime shortage meant there was very little rubber available at the time.

Thank you for the legacy of memories, Mr. Nakajima.

The LA Times takes a look at the history of Cambodian jewelry stores

The Los Angeles Times has a recent article on how there came to be so many Khmer jewelry stores in Los Angeles and other parts of the country that shows the connection between the rise of the Khmer Rouge, the Killing Fields and the Cambodian diaspora, as well as a distrust of banks by refugees for many years. Well worth reading to get a sense of the history of the community. It becomes interesting because it feels like there are far fewer Lao jewelry stores out there and yet I know there was a similar initial distrust of banks for many for many years.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Jacqueline Kennedy visits Cambodia, 1967

50 years ago, Jacqueline Kennedy visited Cambodia in November,1967, here seen feeding the royal elephants. Who could have imagined the direction everyone's life would take from then.

Here, you can also read a little bit more about the cocktail created to commemorate her visit, the femme fatale, which is still served in Cambodia, "a mix of crème de fraise des bois, cognac and champagne, topped with a tropical flower."

On The Other Side Of The Eye 10th Anniversary Reading

Just announced: This month I'll be reading at DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis on Wednesday, August 30th from 6:30 to 8:00PM to mark the 10th anniversary of my first full-length book, On The Other Side Of The Eye, which set in motion much of my literary journey.  Copies of my award-winning book DEMONSTRA will be available for sale and autographs, due to On The Other Side Of The Eye presently being out of print.

There will be snacks and refreshments, a poetry reading, and reflections on where Lao American science fiction, fantasy, and horror has gone in the decade since.

These days I'm one of the most widely published Lao American poets in the US. In 2009 I became the first (and presently, still the only) Laotian American to receive the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature for poetry. I was eligible to apply for the NEA after the publication of On The Other Side Of The Eye. That same year, I received the 2009 Minnesota State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans Asian Pacific American Leadership Award for excellence in the arts. During the 2012 London Summer Games I was a Cultural Olympian representing the nation of Laos at the Poetry Parnassus at the Southampton Centre. My sixth book, DEMONSTRA received a 2014 Elgin Award for Book of the Year from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association.

That's a long journey from Vientiane, Laos, where I was born in 1973.

Today, my work is taught internationally in schools and appears in over 100 publications and anthologies around the world including Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, Europe and the US, and I was one of the founders of the national Lao American Writers Summit, which convened for the 4th time in Seattle, Washington in June.

At the time, while I  had been writing for over 16 years, the publication of On The Other Side Of The Eye represented a major milestone made possible by a chance conversation at the 2006 Diversicon science fiction convention.

My manuscript initially struggled to find a home among mainstream and Asian American publishers due to a lack of familiarity with the Lao American community and a concern that readers would struggle with the science fictional elements and Lao mythology. Those concerns were quickly put to rest, and this year, I was selected as one of the first Artists in Residence at the University of California Merced Center for the Humanities to teach speculative poetry to the community. I was one of three featured poets at the national Southeast Asian American Studies Conference in July along with Bao Phi and Peuo Tuy.

Minnesota is home to the third largest Laotian American refugee community in the United States after California and Texas. Many Laotians arrived in Minnesota shortly after the end of the war in 1975.

DreamHaven was one of the first places where I read selections from On The Other Side Of The Eye in its initial release in 2007, so it seems fitting to gather here once again, 10 years later! DreamHaven has hosted readings from internationally acclaimed writers including Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, Clive Barker, Terry Brooks, William Gibson, Lois McMaster Bujold, Eleanor Arnason, Terry Garey, Samuel Delaney, Andrea Hairston, Catherine Lundoff, Kelly Link, David Schwartz, Kim Harrison, Kelly McCullough, Barth Anderson and many other masters of science fiction, fantasy and horror. DreamHaven Books is located at 2301 E. 38th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Hmong shaman murdered in Minnesota

The Star Tribune covered the murder of Mai Yer Cha in a parking garage in Minneapolis. "Cha was the youngest of nine siblings growing up in Minneapolis, and her family realized early in her life she had a gift for spiritual healing. At around age 22, Cha became a shaman and has healed relatives from across the country who have come to her. Cha “was the kind of person who would be there whenever you needed help,” her sister said." KSTP 5 also had an article on the incident.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Lucifer Nguyen arrested for Mendota Heights murder

The Pioneer Press reported that Lucifer Nguyen was apprehended for a murder in Mendota Heights. I'm not judging folks, but when you're picking names out, Lucifer should probably go in the reject pile in most situations. But apparently, twenty years ago in 1997, Lucifer Vincent Nguyen had his name legally changed from Thanh Hoang Nguyen, according to court records. Well, that wasn't tipping the hand early at all.

2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference a success!

Recently I had the honor of serving as one of the featured poets at the 5th Southeast Asian American Studies Conference at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell on July 27-29th. You can read the selection of poems I performed here. These included "The Last War Poem," from Bamboo Among the Oaks, "On A Stairway in Luang Prabang," from Tanon Sai Jai and the 2012 London Summer Games, and "What Is the Southeast Asian American Poem of Tomorrow," from DEMONSTRA, which one the 2014 Book of the Year Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association.

Overall, I hope these poems served as a fitting wrap-up for an intense conference of ideas, memories and opportunities.

I'll have an expanded write-up on the conference at Little Laos on the Prairie soon but for a fast recap, we were joined by hundreds from across the country from all sectors of the community. Scholars, students, elders and youth, artists and community builders from the many different cultures that comprise the Southeast Asian American community today, including Laotians, Hmong, Vietnamese, Khmer, Filipino, Burmese, Bhutanese and many others. You can read a great write-up by Katherine Webster here.

Lowell is home to the second largest Khmer community in the United States. There were many vibrant example of what we might hope other Southeast Asian American communities might yet establish for ourselves in the decades ahead. This year's planning committee included Dr. Ivy K. Ho, Dr. Sue J. Kim, and Dr. Phitsamay S. Uy. The theme this year was "Community Engagement, Research and Policy in Action,"

The opening session clearly established the urgency with which our scholars and community members must collaborate going forward. The Southeast Asian Resource Action Center's Katrina Dizon Mariategue discussed the current priorities of the organization to address challenges in immigration, health, and education that affected all of our communities. Channapha Khamvongsa, the executive director of Legacies of War gave an excellent overview of what we'd achieved together to address the problem of unexploded ordnance leftover in Laos and Southeast Asia over four decades since the end of the wars.  Dr. Khanh T. Dinh gave a presentation on "Coming Together For Southeast Asian American Youth."

Lao American-led workshops and panelists included Little Laos on the Prairie founder Chanida Phaengdara Potter, Saengmany Ratsabout of the University of Minnesota's Immigration History Research Center, Dr. Steve Arounsack of CSU Stanislaus, Rita Phetmixay, Catzie Vilayphonh,  and TeAda Productions' Ova Saopeng, Leilani Chan and Lidet Viravong.

 I was particularly happy to be able to demonstrate the meaning and impact of Southeast Asian American speculative art as part of our post-war reconstruction.

At the heart of my talk was the issue that  many Southeast Asian American communities came into the US as refugees during the rise of science fiction films and literature such as Blade Runner, Alien Nation, Aliens and Star Wars, while also presented with problematic works such as Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon or The Joy Luck Club.

I examined the journeys of acclaimed Southeast Asian American artists such as Jenna Le, Bao Phi, Saymoukda Vongsay, Krysada Panusith Phounsiri, Kulap Vilaysack, Sydney Viengluang, Mattie Do, Burlee Vang, Khaty Xiong, Sayon Syprasoueth, the Cambodian Space Project, and others during the conversation. I wanted our community to consider these efforts to engage in community building and social justice through creative works informed by science fiction, fantasy, and horror to subvert dominant narratives and perceptions of SEAsian American identities, and to address sensitive internal community topics domestically and abroad.

From an artistic perspective, it was clear the traditional dance and music of the Cambodian community was being kept alive and well by the award-winning Angkor Dance Troupe and NEA Heritage Fellow Yary Livan, who is one of the last of his people preserving a unique form of Cambodian ceramics.

This year was also an impressive debut of the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association, a new network of talented Khmer writers such as Peuo Tatyana Tuy, author of Khmer Girl; Bunkong Tuon, author of Gruel; and Sokunthary Svay, author of the forthcoming Apsara in New York. Playwrights and performance artists from Flying Orb Productions and Vichet Chum gave detailed discussions on their journeys as artists that were well worth attending.

The next conference will be held in 2020 at CSU East Bay in Oakland, California. I'd start making plans now to attend. You can see more of my pictures from the conference at Flickr.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Ahan on Spoons: An interview with Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay

Over at the Loft Literary Center recently, Irene Hsu sat down with Lao American writer Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay for an in-depth interview on her work and where she saw Lao American art and culture going in the decades ahead. Be sure to check it out, as well as Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay's exhibit at the Smallest Museum in St. Paul at the Workhorse Coffee Bar.