Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Getting Translated!

I've just received word from a fellow poet who wants to translate 6 examples of my work into his language of Bengali.

This is exciting news for me! :)

Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh and West Bengal has nearly 230 million total speakers, making Bengali is one of the most spoken languages (ranking fifth or sixth in the world). Bengali is the primary language spoken in Bangladesh and is the second most spoken language in India.

With its long and rich literary tradition, Bengali serves to bind together a culturally diverse region.

The Shaheed Minar (Bengali: শহীদ মিনার Shohid Minar) is a national monument in Dhaka, Bangladesh, established to commemorate the martyrs of the Language Movement of 1952.

On February 21, 1952, dozens of students and political activists were killed when the Pakistani police force opened fire on Bengali protesters who were demanding equal status to their native tongue, Bangla. The massacre occurred near Dhaka Medical College and Ramna Park in Dhaka.

A makeshift monument was erected on February 23 by students of University of Dhaka and other educational institutions, but soon demolished on February 26 by the Pakistani police force.

To commemorate the martyrs, the Shaheed Minar was designed and built by Hamidur Rahman, a Bangladeshi sculptor. The monument stood until the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, when it was demolished completely during Operation Searchlight, a genocide carried out by the Pakistani Army resulting in an estimated 50,000 civilian deaths. After Bangladesh gained independence, it was rebuilt.

Today, the Shaheed Minar is the centre of cultural activities in Dhaka. Every year, the Language Movement is remembered at the monument.

I look forward to seeing the results.

Individual poems of mine have been translated into French, German, Austrian and Spanish.

And I have reason to believe at least one or two Japanese and Chinese examples exist, but I've never seen these.

Catzie Represents

One of our top writers in Lao America, Catzie V. of Yellow Rage and magazine acquits herself well in the latest Lao Roots, which features a great cover picture of a microphone on a pink background and some funky Lao lady. ;)

Seriously, though, congratulations to Catzie and a big thumbs up to Lao Roots for highlighting the rise of Lao American literary and performing voices. Check it out.

Catzie says she deserves a big, big raise from whoever is employing her now, but all writers say that. :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Recommended by Carl Brandon Society

The CARL BRANDON SOCIETY recently recommended the following speculative fiction books for Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month:

  • Ted Chiang STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS: A collection of stories from one of American speculative fiction's most precise and beautiful writers.
  • Sesshu Foster ATOMIK AZTEX: An Aztec prince or a Los Angeles meatpacker? The protagonist travels back and forth between two alternative realities, never sure which is real.
  • Hiromi Goto HOPEFUL MONSTERS: Wonderful stories by the author of The Kappa Child.
  • Kazuo Ishiguro NEVER LET ME GO: In a dystopian England, three children discover that they are clones produced to provide organs to the sick.
  • Larissa Lai SALT FISH GIRL: Science fiction set in a dystopian near future in which corporate enclaves house lucky employees, leaving most of humanity to deal with increasingly strange ecological developments.
  • Amirthi Mohanraj (illustrated by Kat Beyer) THE POET'S JOURNEY: A young poet sets out into the wide world on a journey to find poetry; with the help of a few magical creatures, she finds more than she ever expected.
  • Haruki Murakami HARDBOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD: Mad experiments with the unleashed potential of the dreaming brain.
  • Vandana Singh OF LOVE AND OTHER MONSTERS: The main character wakes up from a fire and doesn't know who he is, but can sense and manipulate the minds of others. He is not alone in this ability. Singh takes us on a metamind ride.
  • Shaun Tan THE ARRIVAL: A wordless graphic novel about immigration and displacement.
  • Bryan Thao Worra ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE EYE: Speculative poems that take us from the secret wars of the CIA in Laos to the secret edges of the human soul and the universe.

The Carl Brandon Society is dedicated to addressing the representation of people of color in the fantastical genres such as science fiction, fantasy and horror. They aim to foster dialogue about issues of race, ethnicity and culture, raise awareness both inside and outside the fantastical fiction communities, promote inclusivity in publication/production, and celebrate the accomplishments of people of color in science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Monday, April 07, 2008

OTOSOTE At AAAS: Chicago 08!

A quick heads up for anyone who's hoping to pick up a copy of On The Other Side Of The Eye while at the Association for Asian American Studies conference:

The good news is On The Other Side of the Eye has been selling!

Big thank yooooooooooous to all of you wonderful people who've gotten your copy already!

The bad news: I'm down to only 30 copies left at the moment while the new run is being printed, and between now and next week I've got 2 other major readings in Wisconsin: Green Bay, La Crosse and a trip to Madison and Milwaukee coming up.

But if you get me a heads up by Wednesday, I can easily set aside a copy for you by the time we get to Chicago, and we'll deal with all the small details there! Drop me a note at

Wishing you all of my very best!

This year's conference theme is: "Where is the “Heart” of Asian America? Troubling “American Identity and Exceptionalism in an Age of Globalization and Imperialism" and you can learn more at

Thursday, April 03, 2008

2008 Association for Asian American Studies Annual Meeting

The official conference program is up and I'll be presenting and reading during two key sessions.

This year's theme is:
Where is the “Heart” of Asian America?
Troubling “American Identity and Exceptionalism in an Age of Globalization and Imperialism

My sessions are:

Session 9.4, "Poetry, Community, Activism: A Roundtable of Asian American Poetry in the Midwest." Thursday, April 17, 12:00-1:30 pm. in room CC 12 D. I'll be presenting with:

Chair: Timothy Yu, University of Toronto
Asian American Poetry in the Midwest: Past, Present, Future

Ray Hsu, University of Wisconsin-Madison
What Is Poetry’s Public? Asian American Poetry and Activism in the Midwest

I'm replacing Dorothy Wang of Williams College. She was going to present: Teaching Asian American Poetry in the Midwest. I'm still formulating my remarks.

Helene Achanzar, University of Iowa
Asian American Poetry and Community in Chicago

And on Friday:
17.10 Midwest Writers Showcase
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM CC 12 C
Readings by Midwest writers Susan T. Layug, Bryan Thao Worra, and Timothy Yu.

Hope to see you there!

Article In Onalaska Life

Laotian American writer to hold reading

Laotian American writer Bryan Thao Worra will hold a public reading at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, at the Hmong Cultural and Community Center, Ward Avenue and Mormon Coulee Road in La Crosse.

Thao Worra will also be a guest in some Viterbo English classes. His reading is sponsored by the Viterbo Department of Global Education, the School of Letters and Sciences, and the Hmong Cultural and Community Center.

Thao Worra was born in Laos in 1973. His work has appeared internationally in Australia, Singapore, Germany, England, and across the U.S. His first full-length book of poetry, “On the Other Side of the Eye,” was released in August by Sam's Dot Publishing.

His work frequently explores a wide range of social and cultural themes and the transient nature of identity and home. His style is frequently experimental and draws from a variety of modern and contemporary influences.

Reading At Green Bay: April 10!

UW Green Bay has issued a nice news release about my upcoming reading on Thursday, April 10th! It will be great to see you there if you can make it!

Lao-American poet speaking at UW-Green Bay

GREEN BAY-Lao-American author and poet Bryan Thao Worra will visit the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Thursday, April 10 as part of the American Intercultural Center's Asian-Pacific-American Heritage Festival Celebration.

Thao Worra will conduct an hour-long poetry reading at 8 p.m. in the Phoenix Club of the University Union, 2420 Nicolet Drive.

The event is free and open to the public. His first full-length book of poetry, "On the Other Side of the Eye," was released last year by Sam's Dot Publishing.

The book covers topics from the ancient kingdom of Lane Xang, to the CIA's secret wartime activities in Laos during the Vietnam War era, to the cosmos.

"It's like a swimming pool; you can go to the very deep end or have fun splashing around near the edges, with a little something for everyone," Thao Worra said.

Thao Worra's other work has appeared in more than 70 journals, publications and exhibits. He is currently working on another poetry book and a collection of short, Southeast Asian-American horror stories.

Thao Worra was born in Vientiane, Laos in January 1973. The adopted son of an American pilot working in Laos at the time, Thao Worra came to the United States months later as an infant.

His work explores a range of social and cultural themes and the transient nature of identity and home. He describes his style as "experimental" and draws from a variety of modern and contemporary influences.

For more information about his presentation at UW-Green Bay, contact Mai Lo at the American Intercultural Center, (920) 465-2720 or via e-mail at