Monday, April 30, 2012

Weaving to Survive, Preserving Futures Like Treasures

A new blog-post of mine was featured at the Twin Cities Daily Planet, "Weaving to Survive, Preserving Futures Like Treasures," discussing the role of traditional weavers to the voice of Lao Americans.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book signing: May 19th, Hemet, CA!


To celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month in the Year of the Dragon, I'm book-signing at Cameron Books in Hemet, CA on Saturday, May 19th from 11 AM to 1 PM. Cameron Books is located at 2920 East Florida Avenue in Hemet, CA.

 They have copies of my 2nd full-length collection of speculative poetry, BARROW from Sam's Dot Publishing! During the day I'll be reading selections from my book and happy to meet with fans and community members! I look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Outsiders Within: Korean language edition to be released in 2012!

Six years ago, my poem "Evolve" was featured in the groundbreaking anthology Outsiders Within from South End Press in 2006.

The anthology was organized around the use of compelling essays, fiction poetry, and art to explore the intimate form of globalization, transracial adoption. It was an unmediated voice of adults who had matured within the experience, presenting a view adoption as an institution that pulls apart old families and identities and grafts new ones.


This year, the Korean language edition will be released by KoRoot Publishing. It's hard to believe it's been over half a decade since it was first published, and I'm interested in seeing how it's received abroad. Many of the contributors have since gone in some fascinating directions.

KoRoot is most well-known as a guesthouse for adoptees returning to Korea. Recently, KoRoot has started publishing books as part of its activism seeking social justice for adoptees and vulnerable families, especially "unwed mother" families in Korea, whose children are especially at risk of family separation. Outsiders Within was chosen as the first book for the press. http://www.koroot.org

Other books that KoRoot will publish include Adoption Healing for Mothers by Joe Soll and The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier.

 

A big congratulations to the editors, because I know it was no small feat translating so many diverse voices into Korean. Here was a reading of Evolve that I gave at the American release party on November 18th, 2006 in Minneapolis.


As a note, "Evolve" has not been included in any of my other collections to date. 

[Poem] What Is The Southeast Asian American Poem of Tomorrow?


What is the Southeast Asian American poem of tomorrow?

It is not hip hop,
Despite some hopes.

It is not slam.
It is not even an antipoem.

It is not the form
Of old Europeans or
The resurrected ghazal.

The authors' words, I must inform you,
Will not even resemble or recall
The old kwv txhiaj, ca dao or the __________,

Much to our parents' regrets,
Who pray among wats and steeples
For good grandchildren, lucky numbers
And doctors in the family.

If our lovely readers do
Not grow free, we will be
Unreadable.

If our writing is too
Predictable, we will lie
In the ditches unsold.

If our words don't speak
What's in our souls and skulls,

We will forget ourselves,
Our bodies, our shapes,
Our language,

And the true shape of the Southeast Asian
American poem of tomorrow will become

An exercise in modern myth.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Haiku Movie Review: Lockout


"Escape from New York"
But set in space? Watch out,
Someone will sue Guy.

Weaving to Survive: April 20-July 26

This season at the Gordon Parks Gallery, master weaver Bounxou Chanthraphone (Daoheuang) and Laddavanh Insixiengmay are convening a special exhibit, Weaving to Survive.

The Gordon Parks Gallery is located in the new Library and Learning Center on the St. Paul Campus at 645 East Seventh Street in Minnesota. They are open Monday - Thursday from 11 AM - 7 PM and Saturday from 11 AM - 4 PM. The gallery is closed on Fridays. You can reach them by phone at 651-793-1631. If you want to request accommodations for a disability, call Disability Services at 651-793-1540 or 651-772-7687 (TTY).

Weaving to Survive had their opening reception on Thursday, April 19, and now runs from April 20 – July 26, 2012. They'll be giving demonstrations of traditional weaving on April 23, 1-3 pm and April 28, 2-4 pm.


This exhibition features traditional Lao weaving by the nationally acclaimed Lao Minnesotan artists Bounxou Chanthraphone Daoheuang and Laddavanh Insixiengmay.

Regarding the exhibition, guest curator and Executive Director of the Textile Center, Margaret Miller has said, “Growing up on a silk farm in Laos, Bounxou learned to spin, dye and weave from her mother and grandmother. At age 16 she began formally study of the weaving techniques and designs of her region. Then in the mid 1970’s Bounxou was forced to flee her war-torn homeland. In the middle of the night disguised as a fisherman she rowed across the river to a Thai refugee camp. Leaving everything behind she carried with her only her loom’s reed. At the camp she waited until Laddah her 8-year-old daughter could be smuggled across the river. During the three years they spent in the camp Bounxou managed to sell her gold jewelry to buy lumber for a loom and thread to weave. She was able to sell her work to foreign visitors so she could buy food for her daughter. After arriving in the States, Bounxou continued her love and passion for Lao weaving while working to support herself and her daughter. She has taught many classes to the Lao community determined to carry on the tradition. Now she is teaching her daughter, Laddah the intricacies of the complex techniques and designs.”

 This exhibition simultaneously celebrates the weaving traditions of Laos and the extraordinary commitment that these artists have made to preserve their cultural heritage. Be sure to check it out!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"What Hides and What Returns" nets 2012 Honorable Mention

I recently learned that I received an honorable mention in the Best Horror of the Year 4 Anthology for my 2011 Lovecraftian Lao Horror Story, "What Hides and What Returns," which originally appeared in the Innsmouth Free Press anthology Historical Lovecraft. I believe this set precedent as the very first Lao historical Lovecraftian horror story to appear in a horror anthology.


As additional good news, later this year we'll be seeing a special illustrated and revised edition of "What Hides and What Returns" made available with the assistance of artist Quillan Roe, whom I've collaborated with in the past for several projects including his comic Avec Tout Mon Amour. Stay tuned for more details!

SEAEL Conference Agenda Announced!

For those of you joining us at the Southeast Asian Educational Leadership Conference on April 21st, 2012 in Fresno, the agenda has been announced. I'll be one of the presenters there this year.

Http://go2fresnostate.com/seaconference for more details. It's free to attend!

During my workshop we'll be examining: "How much difference can your voice make?" 

I will discuss the importance and opportunities for emerging Southeast Asian American writers and artists to help preserve the best of our cultural traditions but also use our voices to transform Southeast Asian American communities locally and nationally.  In particular, we'll be looking at the role grassroots arts organizations in the Lao and Hmong refugee communities played in building community voice, social justice and long-term growth and development that continues to this day!

In addition, this year's Keynote Speaker is Misty Her, Associate Superintendent for Fresno Unified School District. Other presenters include Dr. Ketmani Kouanchao, Dr. Song Lee, Vong Mouanoutoua, Fresno State Ambassadors, Eta Alpha Gamma and Phi Alpha Omicron.

In Professional & Leadership Development, Vong Mouanoutoua will focus on developing leadership and civic engagement. He will also provide participants with resources and tools that will enable them to be fully engaged in their communities.

In Career Exploration "These sessions will explore career opportunities and pathways. It will also provide participants with information on majors relating to career choices."

Networking Workshops are pitched as "This session will focus on the importance of networking. Ketmani Kouanchao will share tips, strategies, and highlight how participants can successfully network by participating in clubs/organizations, volunteering, extracurricular and class activities."

In College Admission for a Bachelor’s Degree A panel of Fresno State Ambassadors will share with participants regarding basic Admission requirements. The panelist will also share with students' tips and strategies they are currently employing to obtaining their Bachelor’s degree.

 The 411 for pursuing a Master’s Degree will feature a panel of Fresno State students who will share with participants tips and strategies for pursuing a master’s degree and highlight the important perquisites, Letter of Recommendations, GRE, etc.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

2012 Stoker Awards Announced!

The Horror Writers Association announced the winners of the 2011 Bram Stoker Awards™ at its annual awards banquet tonight. This year’s presentation was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the World Horror Convention, and marks the 25th Anniversary of the awards.

Twelve new bronze haunted-house statuettes were handed over to the writers responsible for creating superior works of horror last year. This year’s winners are:

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
Flesh Eaters by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle Books)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL
Isis Unbound by Allyson Bird (Dark Regions Press)

Superior Achievement in a YOUNG ADULT NOVEL (tie)
-> The Screaming Season by Nancy Holder (Razorbill)
-> Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Superior Achievement in a GRAPHIC NOVEL
Neonomicon by Alan Moore (Avatar Press)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION
“The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine” by Peter Straub (Conjunctions: 56)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION
“Herman Wouk Is Still Alive” by Stephen King (The Atlantic Magazine, May 2011)

Superior Achievement in a SCREENPLAY
American Horror Story, episode #12: “Afterbirth” by Jessica Sharzer (20th Century Fox Television)

Superior Achievement in a FICTION COLLECTION
The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares by Joyce Carol Oates (Mysterious Press)


Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY
Demons: Encounters with the Devil and his Minions, Fallen Angels and the Possessed edited by John Skipp (Black Dog and Leventhal)

Superior Achievement in NON-FICTION
Stephen King: A Literary Companion by Rocky Wood (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers)

Superior Achievement in a POETRY COLLECTION
How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison (Necon Ebooks)

Works can be recommended by any member of the HWA. Juries in each category also compile their top picks, and members with Active status then vote works from both the member recommendations and the jury selections onto a preliminary ballot. From there the field is narrowed to the final ballot and Active members choose the winners from that. The award is named for Bram Stoker, best known as the author of Dracula. The trophy, which resembles a miniature haunted house, was designed by author Harlan Ellison and sculptor Steven Kirk.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy 17th birthday to the SatJaDham Lao literary project

On April 11th, 1995, the SatJaDham Lao literary project was born. The SatJaDham Lao Literary Project was 
one of the oldest continuous networks of Laotian American writers in existence.

The group held 7 national conferences of Laotian writers and readers and produced five small anthologies of Lao American writings between 1995 to 2001. The group's name came from the combination of the words "SatJa" and "Dhamma." "Satja" means truth in Lao, and "dham" is from dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha.

While the network is not currently active, many of its founders and members have continued to write and contribute to community building through their art, education, civic service and volunteering, including with organizations such as the Lao Heritage Foundation, the Center for Lao Studies and the Laotian American National Alliance. 

They produced some of the first works of Lao American voices in their own words on their own terms. I think it's a model for many refugee and immigrant communities in diaspora in terms of best practices for finding their voices. 

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Interviewed by Wendy Brown-Baez for National Poetry Month

I was recently interviewed by Minnesota poet Wendy Brown-Baez at her blog Wendy's Muse.

Wendy Brown-Baez has had a great start to National Poetry Month. She recently learned she is the recipient of a 2012 Minnesota State Arts Board grant to bring writing workshops into 12 non-profits. It is a dream come true for her that she has worked towards for years!

She had an art opening at Tarnish and Gold Gallery this week.She hand stitched scrolls out of fabric and decorated them with found objects to display poems in tandem with Ashley Dull's paintings of natural landscapes. http://tarnishandgold.wordpress.com

She is also participating in a blog tour with other poets called Couplets with interviews and guest bloggers on her blog. I was the first to be featured there this month. I look forward to seeing the other writers and artists who are included in the series.

In this interview, I discuss the role of family in my poetry, which I don't normally talk about, as well as several of my upcoming projects, the future of poetry, and even a little about wars with newts and salamanders. Thanks to Wendy for a great set of questions.

2011 Hugo nominations include Apex Magazine

I was just informed by editor Lynne Thomas that Apex Magazine was nominated for a Hugo Award as  Best Semiprozine for their work in 2011. A big congratulations to her and to all of the nominees, who are all outstanding candidates!

The full nominations are:

Apex Magazine edited by Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne M. Thomas, and Jason Sizemore. It is an online prose and poetry magazine of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mash-ups of all three. Works full of marrow and passion, stories that are twisted, strange, and beautiful. Creations where secret places and dreams are put on display. Apex recently published two poems of mine, Wight and Swallowing the Moon in November, 2011.

Interzone edited by Andy Cox. Interzone is an award-winning British fantasy and science fiction magazine. Published since 1982, Interzone is the eighth longest-running science fiction magazine in history, and the longest-running British SF magazine. Stories published in Interzone have been finalists for the Hugo Awards and have won a Nebula Award and numerous British Science Fiction Awards.

Lightspeed edited by John Joseph Adams. Lightspeed is an online science fiction and fantasy magazine. In its pages, you will find science fiction: from near-future, sociological soft SF, to far-future, star-spanning hard SF—and fantasy: from epic fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, and contemporary urban tales, to magical realism, science-fantasy, and folktales. No subject is off-limits, and they encourage their writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope.

Locus edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al. Since 1968, Locus publishes news of the Science Fiction publishing field with extensive reviews and listings of new science fiction books and magazines.

New York Review of Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell, Kevin J. Maroney, Kris Dikeman, and Avram Grumer. The New York Review of Science Fiction is a monthly literary journal of science fiction that was established in 1988. It includes works of science fiction criticism, essays, and in-depth critical reviews of new works of fiction and scholarship. It is published by Dragon Press.

The Hugo Awards are a set of awards given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and were officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards until 1992. Organized and overseen by the World Science Fiction Society, the awards are given each year at the annual World Science Fiction Convention as the central focus of the event.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Asian Arts Initiative Benefit Banquet

Asian Arts Initiative is hosting Benefit Banquet and Auction on Friday, April 27, 2012 from 6-9 pm! 

Join them for a fun-filled night that includes an eight-course Chinese meal, performances by artists affiliated with our programs, raffle prizes, and an exciting Silent Auction! 

Ocean City Restaurant, 234 N. 9th St. Philadelphia, PA 19107. 

Tickets must be purchased in advance! Sponsorship Opportunities and Program Book Advertising available. Please contact toki@asianartsinitiative.org or (215) 557-0455 ext. 227 for more information. And say hi to Yellow Rage if you go! 

 

The Asian Arts Initiative has been an organization that has supported Asian American and particularly Lao American artists across the country, including Saymoukda Vongsay and myself, who've performed at their famous Family Style Open Mic series. It's definitely a great cause and a good group.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

SEA Arts Workshop at Fresno State: April 21st

I'll be presenting on Southeast Asian Voices: Remembering Pasts, Creating Change at the Southeast Asian Educational Leadership Conference on April 21st, 2012 in Fresno!

Http://go2fresnostate.com/seaconference for more details. It's free to attend!

During my workshop we'll be examining: "How much difference can your voice make?" 

I will discuss the importance and opportunities for emerging Southeast Asian American writers and artists to help preserve the best of our cultural traditions but also use our voices to transform Southeast Asian American communities locally and nationally.  In particular, we'll be looking at the role grassroots arts organizations in the Lao and Hmong refugee communities played in building community voice, social justice and long-term growth and development that continues to this day!

I look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Asian American Poetry in the Year of the Dragon


From my op-ed in this week's Asian American Press:

April is National Poetry Month, and this year it’s the Year of The Dragon, which practically calls out for Asian American poets to take our work up to another level.

As a Lao American poet, I’m aware poetry competes with some pretty heavy hitters these days, from video games and movies, to sports and porn. But as I remind my students regularly, poetry is an art that has thrived for centuries because people ARE able to get passionate about it. There, we've found our secret histories, our best memories, our loves and fears, laughter and souls.

The search and mystery are part of the fun. Some gravitate to poets like Pablo Neruda and Garrett Hongo. Others love the work of Mong-Lan, Lee Herrick or Barbara Jane Reyes. There are as many styles as there are tastes. Some poets use science fiction, fantasy and detective mysteries, others find poetry within video games, Godzilla and sports. Some like haiku and sestinas, others like ca dao. But there’s an amazing world of poetry out there for the discovery, especially among Asian American writers.

I’d never argue that all poems are equal. Some poems make me yawn, even from poets I admire, and I’m sure vice-versa. But we should never stop looking for the bright gems, because once found, they linger with you, sometimes for a lifetime. A good line can even change the whole way you see the world, if you run into it at the right time, in the right place in your life.

Poems are a great way to see the many ways of seeing the world. In the Asian American community, there are poems you could seek out from over 60 different cultures all mingling and interacting with other voices from around the world. It is in their poems we see Hmong, Khmu, Tai Dam, Karen, Sri Lankans, Tongans, and others exploring what it means to be a people, and what it means to share a world.

Whether we’re reading or writing on University Avenue or watching a performance from a corner of Phnom Penh, a good poem creates connections as we explore our inner lives.

Take some time to read some poetry, and even better, write your own poems to add your voice to the great conversation that is the human journey.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

[Poem] April Reflection

April begins as a joke in a house of children:
A surprise, a word, a laugh if we‟re lucky.
There are still bills and taxes and poems ahead, at least in America.

With a sabaidee we say hello to a new year,
La kawn to yesterday and the many mornings before.
The flowers begin to bloom, the rain and wind are welcome.

There are so many places to go these days,
But only one body and never enough money

To journey to every city where a Lao song, a wise word,
A festival of dreamers wants to greet you with a smile,
A nop

Between friends and strangers who might become family
Or a nation ready to create a better tomorrow
With the same ease as a wonderful today.

From Tanon Sai Jai, 2009


In Translation: The Dancer Introduces One of His Aspects

The French poet Edouard Dupas recently completed his translation of my poem, The Dancer Introduces One of His Aspects at : http://poesie-et-racbouni.over-blog.com/article-bryan-thao-worra-le-danseur-presente-l-un-de-ses-aspects-102442261.html


The original appeared in English in my book BARROW in 2009, but had originally been written and revised periodically in the early 1990s:

The Dancer Introduces One of His Aspects 

I am Shiva, I am Kali,
I am the bird you never see.

With riddles infested full of dreams,
I am the corpse that pollutes the stream.

I am the angel, soot-eyed with breath of pitch.
I am your hound, found by the ditch.

I am the bait of a child, hanging in the glooms.
I am the memory of She, interred in the tomb.

My hands are the coiling tendrils of a drying jade vine,
My feet are the fires doused by the vagrant’s wine.

My heart is the wheel, breaking the road.
My kiss and my spit, the gifts of my lips, the precious abode.

My ribs are the spars from which flowers grow,
My bones are the tethers the sages know.

My eyes are the conquerors who ride through the night,
My howl, the laughter of children born anew out of sight

Plunged down as a pavement for my eternal act.
You try to flee?

I am the dancer, I am the city.


My sincere thanks to Monsieur Dupas, and I look forward to seeing additional translations by him of mine and other  poets' work.

Poet to Poet: An Interview with Kris Bigalk


April is National Poetry Month! As part of my ongoing series of interviews with Minnesota poets, this month we interview Kris Bigalk, author of Repeat the Flesh in Numbers at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. You can also see her website at www.krisbigalk.com. Meanwhile, in the interview, we cover everything from giant kudzu to Kafka and Rabelais. Check it out!