Thursday, February 28, 2013

Elgin Awards created, first nominations due May 1 for books of speculative poetry

SFPA President David C. Kopaska-Merkel is pleased to announce the creation of the Elgin Awards, named for SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin, to be presented annually by SFPA for books published in the preceding year. In this first case, books published in 2012.

There will be two categories, Chapbook and Book. To be considered, chapbooks must contain 10–39 pages of poetry and books must contain 40 or more pages of poetry. E-books are eligible, but self-published books are not. Single-author and collaborative books are eligible; anthologies are not. Books containing fiction as well as poetry are not eligible.

Books must be in English, but translations are eligible. In the case of translations that also contain the poems in the original language, those pages will not count toward the total page count.

Only members can nominate books. They may not nominate their own books, but they may nominate multiple books, and the books need not be by members in order to be nominated or to win. A list of nominated books will be posted on the SFPA website: title, author, and press name and address (URL or postal) will be required to nominate.

If available, a link to a .pdf of the book or to a page where the book can be purchased or downloaded will be provided to facilitate reading for voting purposes (this information is not a requirement for eligibility, but it obviously would help readers make a voting decision). These links will be removed when the voting deadline has passed. A list of the nominated books will be mailed to members who have no e-mail address, or upon request.

The nominations deadline will be May 1; the voting deadline will be July 1. Members may vote for first, second, and third choices in both the chapbook and full-length categories.

Nominations and votes should be e-mailed to; members without access to e-mail may send their nominations and votes directly to the Elgin Award Chair (for 2012 publications, Kendall Evans & Marge Simon) at:

Kendall Evans, Co-Chair
SFPA Elgin Awards
15102 Lefloss Ave
Norwalk, CA 90650-5442.

Winners will be announced on July 15 and the awards will be presented at WorldCon (this year at LoneStarCon 3, San Antonio, TX, Aug. 29–Sept. 2, 2013), with the Rhysling awards.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Issue #12 of Innsmouth Free Press now available!

Issue 12 of Innsmouth Magazine is out now, available for free at their website. Please remember that you can buy an issue for your e-reader for $2 or you can make a donation to IFP. Cover artwork is by Lisa Grabenstetter this time around. Innsmouth Free Press will be releasing my new book, DEMONSTRA, later this spring!

This month includes two poems by me and one poem by David C. Kopaska-Merkel. The contents are:

Unkillable Girl | KL Pereira
I Fall to Pieces | Leslianne Wilder
Fragment of a Dream of Atlantean Yellows | By Bryan Thao Worra
Where She Slumbers Still | E. Catherine Tobler
Grotto of the Helpless | Erin Stocks
Dead End in December | By Bryan Thao Worra
The Atrocity Film | Allen Griffin
You are never supposed to open the door | David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Call Out | Steve Toase

Poet to Poet Interview with IBé Kaba

I have a new interview up at the Twin Cities Daily Planet with IBé Kaba, whom I've performed with frequently over the years at various events.

Those include Twin Cities World Refugee Day, as well as the book release for BARROW and the 1-Year Anniversary of On The Other Side Of The Eye on 8-8-8 in Minneapolis. I always enjoy his approach and his soul when it comes to discussing his work and directions.

You can see it at:

As always, it's done in verse form.

Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans’ Call for Submissions: Cultural Children’s Books


Abridged from Little Laos on the Prairie:

The Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, in collaboration with the Minnesota Humanities Center, is seeking submissions from writers and illustrators of children’s literature for the Reading Together Project. This project will publish and disseminate culturally relevant books to educators, teachers, students, parents, and community members in 2013.

The Reading Together Project seeks to:
  • address the lack of children’s books that speak to the experience of being an Asian Pacific Islander (API) child or youth in the Unities States;
  • support the development of English literacy skills while recognizing cultural heritage;
  • create opportunities for children and families to learn about API cultural heritage together; and
  • disseminate resources targeted towards closing the achievement gap for API students by offering culturally relevant and grade appropriate resources.
The organizers note:
"Asian Pacific Islander Americans do not conform to one particular group or identity. Rather, we are a convergence of many ethnic and affinity groups working together to accomplish shared goals and objectives. The project does not try to create a single Asian Pacific Islander “voice”. "
Submission Deadline February 28, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.

I don't think many Lao Minnesotans are in a position to make a submission this year, but I hope they'll get their stuff ready in the possibility that it might be available next year. However, with the new changes coming at the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, this will remain to be seen if it is a program that will be continued.

Saymoukda Vongsay Presents: "When Poets Found Bass."

This Wednesday at the Black Dog Cafe in St. Paul, local luminaries, industry legends, international music-makers, and a world record holder will join Saymoukda Vongsay as she and the Saint Paul Almanac presents "When Poets Found Bass." SPNN and KFAI will be documenting. The event is free & early arrival is recommended for guaranteed seats. "When Poets Found Bass" will feature Fres Thao, Desdamona, Truthmaze, DJ Kool Akiem, and Ta-coumba Tyrone Aiken. The event goes from 7-9.

The Black Dog Cafe is located at 308 Prince Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101

The organizers lay out their premise as:

"In the last decade, the rise of spoken word poetry and poetry slams have given much attention to the literary art form itself—poetry. With poetry's performative aspects being akin to the stylized delivery of vocals in rap music, the line between spoken word poetry and rap has been blurred. What happens when poetry and rap intersect? Truthmaze, Desdamona, and Fres—three local luminaries from the world of poetry and Hip Hop—take us on a lyrical adventure and prove that the tools, devices, and guidelines observed by poets are the very same ones utilized by MCs.  

Without stripping away either of poetry's or rap's own aesthetics, these trailblazers have a dual identity, equally at ease when writing stanzas in notebooks or spitting bars over a track. Whether your cup of tea is more Blake than Big Daddy Kane, or if you prefer Aesop Rock over Angelou, this Lowertown Reading Jam is for you."

Considering Yeats "The Second Coming"

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

After Shakespeare quotes, usually taken out of context, I find there are only a few poems really still vying for relevance within popular culture. Most seem to be surviving as something villains and antiheroes quote. For example, Marlon Brando cites "The Hollow Men," by T.S. Eliot in Apocalypse Now. Or Rutger Hauer paraphrases William Blake in Blade Runner. Robin Williams quotes Whitman in Dead Poets Society, of course, as the cultured iconoclast.

Among other poems I find doing "well," are poems such as Yeats "The Second Coming," but usually only the first verse or a paraphrasing of it. He's often arrived quoted in comic books or other genre works lately. Pierce Bysshe Shelly's "Ozymandias," also comes up time and again.

Tennyson's "Ulysses" most recently appeared in Skyfall. A.E. Housman's "Epitaph for an Army of Mercenaries," has also exhibited remarkable staying power.

It gets me to wondering what we've written in the last 10 years, or even 20, that will be read and remembered, for better or worse, in the popular culture of the coming century. Particularly among Asian American poets.

I find myself contemplating the lines from Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction as he explains why he had constantly been "quoting" Ezekiel 25:17, or at least paraphrasing it as it was presented at the beginning of Sonny Chiba movie. The particular line being "Now... I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your ass. You'd be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice..."

But what are some of the poems you see our generation continually turning to, and which ones do you feel are becoming overused and lazy shorthand?

Friday, February 22, 2013

'No Regrets' to appear in Rain of Poems Casagrande collection

During last year’s Poetry Parnassus festival at Southbank Centre in London, the Chilean art collective Casagrande dropped 100,000 poems, including mine, out of a helicopter over Jubilee Gardens. The video can be seen here: Now Casagrande is producing a book of the Rain of Poems, and will try to include all of the poems that were printed on bookmarks and dropped over London. The book will be launched on June 5th, 2013 as part of the London Literature Festival at Southbank Centre.

The Bios Urn. Or, Zomtree!


Envisioned by Martin Azua, the Bios Urn is a completely biodegradable urn that contains a single tree seed. When planted, the tree seed is nourished by and absorbs the nutrients from the ashes. The urn is made from coconut shell and contains compacted peat and cellulose. The ashes are mixed with this, and the seed placed inside. You could select which specific type of tree you'd like to grow. As many have been asking "which would you prefer; leaving behind a tree or a tombstone?"

There are some questions about what happens if the seed doesn't grow, and I don't see why a Lao person wouldn't consider just growing a whole forest from many sets of one's ashes. Especially fitting penance for a writer who's used up so many trees in a lifetime to make their books.

As a horror writer, it does make me think of the old necromancer t-shirt I came across some time back, "Reduce, Reuse, Reanimate," and this may be as close as many of us get in the future. But still, there are some fascinating possibilities here, creatively speaking. I'm fascinated by this even more than the time we used the ashes of Mark Gruenwald to make ink for a special edition of his book, Squadron Supreme, the fireworks of Hunter S. Thompson, or being pressed into diamonds  Or that one Australian woman who reputedly had her love's ashes inserted into her breast implants so he would always be close to her heart.

Bur ultimately, perhaps we could come back as an edible fruit tree until we're turned into a book about recycling. The possibilities are really interesting from here. Could you become a whole forest of possibilities? A set of beams for another poet's home. A door in a wat lao. A set of lincoln logs for your great-great-great-grandchild. A bridge across an old river before the end of the world.

I would particularly find it interesting if, over time, one's family and village worked together to build a living bridge from the tree roots, such as the living bridges of Cherrapunji in India. I hope these get declared a UN World Heritage Site one day.

Happy Birthday, James Hong!

This Friday is the birthday of Asian American actor James Hong!

He's been a massive part of the Asian American presence in Hollywood since he began his career that stretches back to at least 1954, (which is of course interesting to me because that was a very important year politically for Laos and Southeast Asia, but go figure).

Most of his work that came out in 2012 primarily his voice acting in video games, including Call of Duty: Black Ops II; Sleeping Dogs; Diablo 3; and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria as Master Bruised Paw.

Master Bruised Paw is said to be a "pandaren master fighter located within the misty Paoquan Hollow of the Valley of the Four Winds." He helps players further their training in the game.

He also appeared in the films Junk and Safe which didn't exactly ignite the box office on fire, but it was work. On the plus side, he also does a great cameo in the catchy "David Lo Pan Style" parody of Psy's "Gangnam Style" video. Definitely worth a watch if you're a die-hard fan of Big Trouble in Little China.

This year we'll see the release of several interesting films that have been in production including RIPD, a supernatural cop film with Ryan Reynolds, whose work I enjoyed in Blade Trinity. I hope Reynolds catches a break soon! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Xieng Mieng Kickstarter: Final Week

The Xieng Mieng kickstarter has just entered its final seven days. From a Lao American perspective it has been a phenomenal success and suggests a wonderful future ahead for Lao children's book publishing. 

With over 200,000 Lao in the United States and abroad, but less than 40 children's books by Lao American parents and elders for their children and grandchildren, this is more than a typical kickstarter but a question of how can we work with the publishing industry, how will we preserve and pass on our stories and update them with new technology and new opportunities. 

Right now, they're at 75% of the funds necessary to print it in a full-color hardcover book, but they have enough to print it as a high-quality softcover. They're now looking at all of their options, and how they will be able to get all of the copies into good homes.

They could use a hand finding people who'd like to get a copy. The kickstarter rate is $5 for an e-book, $15 for the hardcover, and more gets you, well, more. It's very exciting to see how he will fulfill all of these expectations and open more, real doors for Lao American publishing in the future.

It's been interesting from a marketing and publicity process because there have been few mainstream Asian American publications, blogs, and websites who've helped Nor Sanavongsay get a signal boost for this project. But he is still making headway and not getting discouraged by this. Mainstream media has been 'responsive' as usual, which is to say, not very. But it's been a learning process, and we have a lot more to look forward to in the future from him.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Final schedule for the Lao American Storyteller's Festival

On February 21st-22nd, the Lao Assistance Center will be presenting the first Lao American Storytellers Festival at the Harrison Neighborhood Center at 503 Irving Avenue N. in Minneapolis, MN.

The festival will include formal presentations of traditional folk tales, oral histories, worship sessions and cultural exhibits from 1pm to 3pm each day.

Thursday, February 21

10 AM
Sunny Chanthanouvong: 30 Years, A Community of Stories

11 AM
Chanida Phaengdara: Little Laos on the Prairie Review

12 PM
 David Zander: Discovering our Stories

1 PM
Saymoukda Vongsay: No Regrets 5th Anniversary Reading

2 PM
Sue Veerasaeng: Lao Minnesotan Journeys. Documentary and Discovery

Friday, February 22
10 AM
 Bryan Thao Worra: Beyond the Other Side of the Eye

11 AM
Phouthakannha Nantharath: Elder Voices, Youth Visions

1 PM
Chay Douangphouxay's Remission: Finding Light in the Midst of Social Darkness.

2 PM
Komany Saopathong: Speaking Memories of Secret Histories

This activity was made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Region Arts Council, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

In the United States there are approximately 200,000 Lao with the largest populations residing in California, Texas, and Minnesota. Minnesota has the 3rd largest Lao refugee population in the US with 12,000 to 25,000 residents.

There are still many gains to be achieved in both education and the arts. Many members of the community expressed concerns regarding the preservation and transmission of traditional culture to the youth.

The Lao American Storytellers Festival is a key outcome of a year-long intensive apprenticeship program of the Lao Assistance Center to encourage the next generation of Lao American storytellers. This is the first year such a program has been implemented.

Pondering doubt.

Doubt is a natural aspect of the artistic process. It's healthy to have doubts. But doubt must never be allowed to justify a commitment to inaction, or the world risks the loss of beauty.

Monday, February 18, 2013

MarsCon schedule finalized!

My MarsCon panels have been locked in by the programming powers that be! 

 Lao American Horror: Ancient ones and Zombie Dystopias Re(a)d Mars/Taylor (2nd Floor) — Friday 05:00 pm.

Undead Laos: “Keep Your Head On!” & Other Tales of the Southeast Asian Underworld Re(a)d Mars/Taylor (2nd Floor) — Friday 11:00 pm.

Godzilla Don’t Surf! Kaju Monster Stories Set in 20th Century SEAsia Krushenko’s (13th Floor) — Sunday 02:00 pm.

All with Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay. We promise to scare the khao peak outta ya.

Dr. Kouanchao announced as Keynote Speaker at Laotian American Community of Fresno Banquet

Dr. Ketmani Kouanchao will be the Keynote Speaker for the Laotian American Community of Fresno Banquet on March 9, 2013 at the Clovis Senior Center. She'll be speaking on the journey of Lao Americans in education, civic engagement and the role of parents and elders in building the future with our youth.

The Laotian-American Community of Fresno was founded in 2000 by concerned Laotian community members as a source of mentorship, guidance, and support for community members and their families as new lives were being established in the United States. They are the only Lao-run nonprofit in the Fresno area, and their mission is to promote and preserve Lao cultural heritage and traditions through traditional Lao dance classes and Lao literacy classes, and also to empower and encourage Lao youth to pursue college educations. In 2013, a grant from ACTA's Living Cultures Grants Program will support an ongoing program of traditional Lao dance instruction designed to preserve and promote cultural transmission to Lao-American youth. The classes taught by culture-bearers will concentrate on five dances which range from the popular ritualistic dance of welcome to dances depicting the enlightenment of Buddha.

Dr. Kouanchao currently serves as the director of EOPS/CARE programs at Mt. San Jacinto Community College. She received her doctorate degree from California State University- Fullerton in Educational Leadership Administration focusing on Community College. She received her Master’s Degree in Education and her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Public Health and East Asian Studies from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Kouanchao was born in Laos and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She has over 15 years of experience as a university and community college administrator including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She works nationally on issues of cross-cultural leadership, women’s leadership and transformative leadership development – especially in communities of color and addressing federal and state-funded programs and connections with the non-profit sector. She enjoys helping all students to discover their own unique leadership style so they can share their success with others and help everyone reach their full leadership potential. She is a regular columnist for the Twin Cities Daily Planet and Little Laos on the Prairie.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Broader View of Science Fiction Poetry

Up at Amazing Stories, F.J. Bergmann has a new post up on "A Broader View of Science Fiction Poetry" that I think is an interesting and valid retort to Paul Cook's inflammatory "Why Science Fiction Poetry Is Embarassingly Bad" which has caused something of a stir among those who are interested in both science fiction and poetry.

I've written at length about the interesting things I've found going on in Asian American speculative poetry at Locus, and guest-edited an Asian American issue of Eye to the Telescope. I'd prefer to simply say Cook's arguments are well-intentioned, but largely invalid. There are clunkers that come to the surface once in a while, but I think some of our more interesting work of the last thirty years in Asian American literature is coming from the corners of speculative literature and particularly speculative poetry. I suppose we'll know 38,000 years from now who was right.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The DEMONSTRA Recommended Reading List

While we're putting the finishing touches on DEMONSTRA, here is a list of some of the books that served as references for many of the poems featured in the book.  They may prove useful for you in your own research on Lao history, culture, customs and beliefs:

Bounyavong, Outhine, Mother’s Beloved: Stories from Laos (Phaeng Mae), University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington, 1999.

Conboy, Kenneth, with James Morrison, Shadow War: The CIA’s Secret War In Laos, Paladin Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1995.  

Cummings, Joe, Lonely Planet: Laos, 3rd ed. Lonely Planet Publications, Victoria, Australia, 1998.

Davidson, Alan, Fish and Fish Dishes of Laos, Prospect Books, Devon, England, 2003.

Deydier, Henri, Lokapâla, génies, totems et sorciers du Nord Laos, Plon, Paris, France, 1954.

Dooley, Thomas A., The Night They Burned the Mountain, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY, 1960.

Fadiman, Anne, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY, 1998.

Johnson, Charles, and Se Yang, Dab Neeg Hmoob: Myths, Legends And Folk Tales From The Hmong of Laos, 2nd ed. Linguistics Department, Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1992.

Kislenko, Arne, Culture and Customs of Laos, Greenwood, Westport, Connecticut, 2009.

Lewis, Paul and Elaine, Peoples of the Golden Triangle, Thames and Hudson, London, England, 1984.

Mixay, Somsanouk, Treasures of Lao Literature Vientiane Times Publications, Vientiane, Laos, 2000.

Ngaosrivathana, Mayoury & Pheuiphanh, The Enduring Sacred Landscape of the Naga, Mekong Press, Chiangmai, Thailand, 2009.

Robbins, Christopher, The Ravens, Crown Publishers Inc., New York, NY, 1987.

Sing, Phia, Traditional Recipes of Laos, Prospect Books, Devon, England, 2000.

Stuart-Fox, Martin, A History of Laos, Cambridge University Press, London, England, 1997.

Stuart-Fox, Martin, Naga Cities of the Mekong, Media Masters, Singapore, 2006.

Tossa, Wajuppa, with Kongdeuane Nettavong, Lao Folktales, Libraries Unlimited, Westport, CT, 2008.
Warner, Roger, Backfire: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos and Its Link to the War in Vietnam, (Alternately Shooting at the Moon), Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 1995.

Warner, Roger, Out of Laos, Southeast Asia Community Resource Center, Rancho Cordova, CA, 1996.

NEA Fellowships in Literature in Prose coming due on February 28th, 2013!

This year's NEA Fellowship applications for 2014 are for prose: Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction. $25K but the application is due February 28th, sooner than usual. If you think you'd qualify, better get your submission ready.

Loft MN Emerging Writers' Grant

The Loft Literary Center is offering the Minnesota Emerging Writers' Grant again this year!

You can see full details here:

The Minnesota Emerging Writers’ Grant provides writers with financial support and professional assistance to develop and implement multifaceted plans for their artistic endeavors. Winners will be selected to receive grants of up to $10,000 to underwrite projects of their own design. The total amount that can be awarded is $38,000. The total number of winners will be dependent on the requests. Typically, four writers are awarded grants.

Applicants must be emerging artists. Writers who have published more than two books or who have professionally produced more than two CDs are not eligible to apply. Artists who have received national awards for their books, CDs, or performances are not eligible to apply.

Applicants must live in Minnesota at the time of application and have been residents of the state for at least one year prior to the application deadline. Applications are not accepted in the following genres: monologues, scripts, screenplays, journalism, academic, education, business, or self-help.

But other than that, if you qualify, I'd check it out!

Loft Inroads Mentoring Award: Immigrants and Refugees

The Loft Inroads Mentoring Award: Immigrants and Refugees program is now open!

You can learn more at:

"The Loft Literary Center’s Inroads programs provides opportunities for emerging writers from marginalized communities to work with established writing mentors from their own communities. This program offers writers the chance to engage in ongoing craft seminars, individual conferences, and public readings, all with an established local mentor sharing their background.

In summer of 2013, the focus of Inroads will be emerging writers who identify as immigrants and refugees."

If you're in Minnesota, this is an excellent program for immigrants and refugees this year. They shift community focus from year to year, so it's not always for immigrants and refugees. So, if you think you might qualify, apply. Or encouraging emerging writer colleagues among you to apply.

The Loft’s Inroads Mentorship for Immigrants and Refugees is supported by the Laura Jane Musser Fund, Traveler’s Employee Diversity Committee, United Arts, and the contributions of Loft members.

On a historic note, I would point out that over the years, The Loft has served as a gathering place for Lao and Asian American writers to hone their craft through countless readings and workshops. Among the Asian American writers who've performed and spoken here are writers such as Maxine Hong Kingston, Li Young Lee, Ha Jin, Ed Lin, U Sam Ouer, Gene Yang, Barbara Jane Reyes and many more. It was also the site of the first National Lao American Writers Summit in 2010.

The Loft Literary Center is the nation’s largest independent literary center and was the site for the first book release parties for writers Saymoukda Vongsay and myself. Loft activities are made possible through the generous contributions of Loft members and by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Major support for the Loft Literary Center is also provided by, William Randolph Hearst Foundation, Jerome Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Surdna Foundation, and the Target Foundation. If you like their mission, please consider donating to them. It's a wonderful investment.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Little Laos on the Prairie February Writing Contest!

From Little Laos on the Prairie: 

Thanks to their friends at Snake Bomb Coffee, just in time for Year of the Snake they can begin a monthly series of writing contests. The winner, chosen by the editors, receives a certificate of recognition and a sample package of Snake Bomb Coffee imported from Laos!


Since it's February, They've chosen the theme of "New Ideas of Lao American Beauty."


 As you see in this picture from a 1972 Lao-English dictionary, the Lao traditionally have many different words for different types of beauty, from simply 'pretty' to 'surface beauty, which does not go below the surface,' to the more surprisingly precise 'beauty characterized by an egg-shaped face having the color of cooked egg-white.'

So, the challenge is simple this month. They're looking for the best poem (under 3 pages, please), personal essay, short story, creative non-fiction, etc. (750 words or less) that comes up with interesting new ideas for Lao Americans to consider beautiful.

Whether it's thinking about the old standards or devising new ones, we want to hear about them! Entries should be sent in the body of an e-mail, (No attachments, please). Laoglish is fine, obviously.

They get one-time publishing rights for accepted pieces after which all publishing rights revert back to you!

They are interested in multicultural, multilingual work that brings forward emerging voices, especially from perspectives often underrepresented in existing literature. Work that considers race, gender, sexuality, identity and/or disability issues is welcome. They have no style limitations this time, although shorter works preferred. Submissions should be previously unpublished.

 Send your best pieces to by February 28th and they'll announce the winner in March! Good luck!

Busy week ahead!

This week: 2 lectures for Mt. San Jacinto College on writing for scholarships, and one on creative writing for St. John's University in New York, followed by a visit to new niece in the bay and last minute processes for the Lao American Storyteller's Festival next week.

But in the meantime, for those of you just tuning in who didn't get the e-mail on the recommended reading for the St. John's University discussion this Thursday, I'll be addressing poems from BARROW and Between Souls. Feel free to present any questions to me ahead of time or afterwards!

Help name Pluto's moons!

Sure, you can help name the moon something sweet and inviting. Or you can ensure any slumbering Ancient Evils lurking beneath the ice there are from a moon with an appropriately ominous name. Who wants a headline like "Terrifying Gop Nyai awakens from Persephone!"

You haven't had this kind of opportunity since you could choose the form of The Destructor:

But check out:

"Images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2011 and 2012 revealed two previously unknown moons of Pluto. So far, we have been calling them "P4" and "P5", but the time has come to give them permanent names. If it were up to you, what would you choose?"

Voting ends at noon EST on Monday, February 25th, 2013.

Monday, February 11, 2013

February 14th: Thao Worra Day 2013!

Continuing our annual tradition since 2007:

We're rapidly approaching February 14th, and some of you don't like the Romantic Candy-Card Industrial Complex. So, as always, I present the annual reminders of your options for alternate February 14th occasions to observe.

You can always celebrate these anniversaries:
1929: The St Valentines Day Massacre in Chicago.
1950: USSR and China sign peace treaty.
1963: First successful kidney transplant.

February 14th is also the birthday of:
1766: Thomas Malthus, the misanthropic British philosopher.
1817: Frederick Douglass, African-American abolitionist.
1819: Christopher Sholes, American inventor of the typewriter.

Once again, should  none of these strike your fancy, I hereby endorse the continued celebration of Thao Worra Day.Much as in the spirit of Festivus, the festival for the rest of us, you too may engage in the following activities to mark Thao Worra Day in good spirits and much amusement:

  • Send a nice note to someone you have just met or haven't talked to in a while.

  • Declare yourself Emperor of the World (or Empress) and see if anyone notices. But you have to give back everyone's stuff by the end of the day. Or before the cops come.

  • Treat yourself to a nice meal with someone you genuinely like, but in a completely non-romantic way. I totally approve.

  • Make sure all your electronic equipment is fully recharged, that it may go well for you.

  • Read a short poem out loud, even if no one is looking. No, it doesn't have to be one of mine.

  • Leave two chairs for my and a guest at your desk or table. For we may come by. But don't hold it against us if we don't. We do have a busy schedule, you know.
  • Though Thao Worra Day is not for everyone, it is free for all to choose and participate in. If you do so choose to mark it, let me know how it goes!

    Saturday, February 09, 2013

    Lao American Horror panels at MarsCon confirmed!

    Two MarsCon panels with Lao American Horror Playwright Saymoukda Vongsay have been confirmed.

    We'll be presenting "Lao American Horror: Ancient Ones and Zombie Dystopias" and "Godzilla Don't Surf! Kaju Monster Stories Set in 20th Century Southeast Asia" for your amusement. MarsCon takes place March 1st-3rd in Minneapolis Minnesota, and these panels are made possible in part by the Beyond the Other Side of the Eye exhibition funded by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.

    The exhibition mas made possible through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

    New poem accepted: "Ink: A Recipe" by Cha

    My poem "Ink: A Recipe" has been accepted abroad for the literary journal, Cha.

    Cha is a Hong Kong-based online literary quarterly journal dedicated to publishing quality poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, drama, and reviews written in English, as well as photography and art. It has a strong focus on Asian-themed creative work or work done by Asian writers and artists.

    "Ink: A Recipe" will appear in the March, 2013 issue.

    Help Xieng Mieng reach 100 backers this weekend!

    Happy Vietnamese / Chinese New Year! Welcome to their Year of the Snake. (And goodbye, Dragon. It was an amazing one!)

    Award-winning artist Nor Sanavongsay's Xieng Mieng kickstarter is a success, fully funded in 72 hours.

    Children born in the Year of the Snake are reputed to be particularly wise, insightful and clever, so for Xieng Mieng, "The Cleverest Man in the Kingdom," it's an apt year for his story to be published.

    But now they're on the second and arguably most important phase: Getting all 500 copies of the run into good homes across the United States and around the globe. An amazing story shouldn't just sit in a warehouse. A good book should be read.

    This weekend they'd like to get at least 100 backers for the project. Today, they're just 13 backers away from reaching THAT goal of 100, and any amount of support helps. Plus: $5 gets you an e-book edition, $15 gets you the e-book and hard copy, and more, well, gets you more.

    With Week 1 done, this campaign set an incredible precedent for the community already, and there's so much potential for what it can mean for other Lao artists and writers. It's currently second only to the Luang Prabang Film Festival among Lao-centered Kickstarter campaigns so far, and still has 3 weeks to go.

    This is an important project because it's helping our community to determine how we want to receive our reading material and how we will work within the publishing industry. Will we completely bypass mainstream and Asian American publishers who are afraid to take a risk on our community of 200,000+ in the US and make our own effective publishing and distribution networks?

    From a social justice lens, this is an important issue: Are barriers reduced for smaller communities to have a voice in American and global arts and letters? How do we create a robust publishing environment that allows our communities to present our own stories in our own words on our own terms?

    It's taken us over 14 years to get to this point for the Xieng Mieng story. How do we create a cultural setting where we can reduce the wait time between books, and develop as a community who can support many artists and voices preserving our heritage and expanding on it?

    Thursday, February 07, 2013

    Postcolonial Space Explorer!

    By Stephen Collins. That about sums it up.

    But all snarkiness aside, it raises some interesting questions for me how the Lao Space Program might develop its own ethical protocols for first contact with new species or colonizing other worlds in the future. Sure, we're still sort of stuck HERE, but that doesn't mean we can't plan ahead.

    As I tell my young students, though, it's best to learn how to live with each other on this planet before trying to live on another.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2013

    Horror Writers Association announces Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients for 2013

    The Horror Writers Association has chosen two long-time icons of the genre to receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award this year. The award, given in recognition of the recipient’s overall body of work, will go to Clive Barker and to Robert McCammon.

    Clive responded, “”The timing of this award is entirely unexpected. It has been a difficult year personally and I am very honored by this and I accept it with great gratitude. It’s a lovely thing to get and I’m incredibly moved. Truly. I look back over the list of past winners – Ray Bradbury, Vincent Price, Harlan Ellison, Steve King – and see that I am in unparalleled company, so I’m doubly honored by that. From the bottom of my heart, I thank the Horror Writers Association.”

    Robert responded, “I’m pleased and honored to have been part of the creation of the Horror Writers of America (now the Horror Writers Association), and doubly pleased and honored to be given this award. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans.”

    The Lifetime Achievement Award is the most prestigious of the Bram Stoker Awards®, given by the HWA in acknowledgment of superior achievement not just in a single work but over an entire career. Past Lifetime Achievement Award winners include such noted authors as Stephen King, Anne Rice, Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Ramsey Campbell and Peter Straub.

    Winners must have exhibited a profound, positive impact on the fields of horror and dark fantasy, and be at least sixty years of age or have been published for a minimum of thirty-five years. Recipients are chosen annually by a committee; this one chaired by Yvonne Navarro and including John Everson, Kathy Ptacek, Lucy Snyder and Tim Waggoner.

    2013 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers' Workshop at UCSD

    Applications for the 2013 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers' Workshop at UCSD are now open, and will be until March 1st. Instructors this year include: Andy Duncan, Nalo Hopkinson, Cory Doctorow, Robert Crais, Karen Joy Fowler, and Kelly Link. Apply today!

    Tuesday, February 05, 2013

    Kundiman Poetry Prize Due March 1st

    Kundiman is dedicated to publishing exceptional work by Asian American poets. The winner of The Kundiman Poetry Prize will receive $1,000, book publication by Alice James Books, and a New York City feature reading.

    General Guidelines
    Entrants must reside in the United States. Manuscripts must be typed, paginated, and 50 – 70 pages in length (single spaced). Individual poems from the manuscript may have been previously published in magazines, anthologies, or chapbooks of less than 25 pages, but the collection as a whole must be unpublished. Translations and self-published books are not eligible. No multi-authored collections, please.

    Manuscripts must have a table of contents and include a list of acknowledgments for poems previously published. The inclusion of a biographical note is optional.

    Your name, mailing address, email address and phone number should appear on the title page of your manuscript. No illustrations, photographs or images should be included.

    The Kundiman Poetry Prize is judged by consensus of the members of Kundiman's Artistic Staff and the Alice James Books Editorial Board. Manuscripts are not read anonymously.

    Winners will be announced in June.

    Guidelines for Electronic Manuscript Submission
    You may submit your manuscript to The Kundiman Poetry Prize electronically by accessing our online submission manager here. Entry fee is $28.

    Guidelines for Print Manuscript SubmissionShould you wish to submit your manuscript via postal mail, mail your entry to:

    P.O. Box 4248
    Sunnyside, NY 11104

    Send one copy of your manuscript submission with two copies of the title page. Use only binder clips. No staples, folders, or printer-bound copies. MANUSCRIPTS CANNOT BE RETURNED. Please do not send your only copy.

    Entry fee is $28. Checks or money orders should be made out to Alice James Books. On the memo line of your check write "The Kundiman Poetry Prize."

    Checklist for print manuscript entry:
    • One (1) copy of manuscript enclosed, with acknowledgements and two (2) copies of title page 
    • $28 entry fee 
    • Business sized SASE 
    • Stamped addressed postcard 
    • Postmarked by March 1, 2013

    Monday, February 04, 2013

    Xieng Mieng! It's really happening and how you can help!

    Have you seen Nor Sanavongsay's kickstarter for the children's book "Xieng Mieng" yet? It's over at

    If there's one thing I love to see it's people following their dreams. I remember running into Nor Sanavongsay in 2001 during my first SatJaDham Lao Literary Project Conference in Minneapolis. He was demonstrating his vision for bringing the Lao children's hero, Xieng Mieng to life. Over the years, I've seen him continue to develop and refine the project. Knowing how much this means to him, and also what it means for our community to get this book out there, I've been strongly advocating for this as best I can.

    But now is the part where you can come in.

    This is an amazing project. Those of you who've worked with me on the Lao American Writers Summit know that one of my biggest concerns is that after 40 years we have less than 40 books written, presented and illustrated in our own words on our own terms. This is Xieng Mieng told the way a Lao artist and writer wants to tell it for Lao families around the world for a new generation.

     For $5 when the book is done, you could get a digital copy. For $15 you can get a real book you can hold in your hand as well as the e-book. For $25 and up you get a signed version, the e-book, and a few other goodies.

    Nor's making it possible so that there's a way Lao families can enjoy Xieng Mieng no matter what your budget. It's a great way to get Lao voices and culture out into the world. Let's make this happen for him.

    My theory is that if we can find at least 10 families in each states, we'll be able to raise enough to make this the book it's meant to be. So, if you can visit his kickstarter page at and support him that would be great.

    It's a modest project to start with, but the more we can overfund him, the more he can cover the costs to do it right. IF he can hit $10,000 it can be done in full color. But at $3,000 he can print a good version. I've seen what he's trying. It can be done.

    But it's also not a project mainstream publishers like to take on yet, compared to, say, a proven character like Dora the Explorer or Sesame Street. So this is where Lao must love Lao.

    For such a great project, it would be tragic if there were less than 10 copies in all of Minnesota, for example, considering there's over 12,000+ of us. Will you be one of those 10 families in your state that Xieng Mieng needs to truly be a success?

    If you can't, can you help us spread the word to families who would like a book like this?