Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Connecting art and policy: A Lao Minnesotan experience" at the Twin Cities Daily Planet

To close out Lao Minnesotan Artists Heritage Month, I have a last column for August up at the Twin Cities Daily Planet, "Connecting art and policy: A Lao Minnesotan Experience." The primary thrust of the article examines the role art and testimony played in bringing an end to the secret bombings of Laos 40 years ago, and what lessons we can take away from that for today.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Minnesota Lao Leadership Institute now accepting first cohort

Are you passionate about your community? Do you want to join a group of leaders representing the Lao community? Be in the Lao Leadership Institute, where you'll learn, develop, and connect to the tools, resources, and support system that will help advance the interests and issues of Lao Minnesotans.

Orientation is Thursday, September 12th at 6:00pm at Lao Assistance Center's office in Minneapolis at 503 Irving Ave. N. If interested, please RSVP or send questions to Chanida Phaengdara Potter at

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Somphet Pheauboonma Crowdfunding Campaign

It's a very modest campaign, only seeking to raise $2,500 within the next few weeks. But it would be an immensely valuable first trip back to Laos for Somphet Pheauboonma, who I consider to be a talented artist and community builder. She has not been back since her family first came to the US in 1986.

I feel her art and life's work over time would benefit strongly from community support. I have often encouraged her to submit to the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement and other journals calling for the voices of Lao and Southeast Asian communities. Decades from now, if not sooner, we will likely recognize her as a pivotal voice of the Lua’ culture, wherever that may take them.

She has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to her community and is a driven, thoughtful and introspective soul. In my estimation, through her many expressive works, she embodies a progressive and compelling vision of who the Lua’ can become. Their journey, intertwined with those of the Lao are only now just beginning to be fully articulated. She is one whose voice is particularly unique and distinctive.As she explains in her appeal, this is a groundbreaking journey for her, but it necessitates her taking almost 4 weeks of unpaid leave from her work, which is being supportive of her time off. In this day and age, I don't have to remind anyone how rare that is.

I empathize deeply with her situation. 2013 marks the 10th anniversary since I first made my journey back to Laos, a land I had not seen in 30 years since my family left in the course of the conflict. Without rehashing my story for the umpteenth time, I will say I did not get the opportunity to reunite with my birth family until I made that journey. Until I made that fateful trip back, Laos was an abstraction, and while it was in my heart, it was difficult to fully understand the land where we came from. But that first trip utterly changed the course of my writing, letting me speak of my homeland and countrywomen and men with a greater sense of who we were. And who we could be. I suspect she, too, will be remarkably transformed by her voyage.

For Somphet, she hopes to conduct anthropological work that will help her build a scholastic portfolio that will serve her in her journey to grad school. And of course, to learn something of the cosmos in the ways a classroom alone cannot convey.

We have no figures for how many Lua’ have successfully pursued higher education beyond a bachelor's. But I think we can be certain she will be setting a significant precedent for her people, and for all Lao, considering less than 10% of us hold a degree.  But whereas many have noted the Lao who have never returned to assist and rebuild their community after receiving their education, Somphet has the strength of character that I know she will make a critical difference in her generation's efforts to heal, to grow, to flourish.

And maybe, one of these days, she'll change the world with her art, as well. The world is filled with infinite possibilities. And if you consider donating to this historic first journey of hers, I believe it will open many wondrous doors for all of us.

You can visit the campaign at:

2013 Student Development Topics at Mt. San Jacinto

I'll be returning to present at Mt. San Jacinto College for the Fall 2013 series of the Student Development Program. All of my sessions will be from 12:30-1:30 PM in room 1301 at the MSJC San Jacinto Campus.

My sessions will be:
Scholarships: September 9th and September 11th.
Taking Charge of Your Education: September 16th and September 18th.
Getting Involved on Campus: September 30th and October 2nd.
Resumes and Interviews: November 11 and November 13th.

This series is made in possible through the MSJC EOPS/CARE program. Other topics will be taught by Dr. Ketmani Kouanchao and Alex Cuatok.

MSJC is a comprehensive community college that is part of California’s 112-community college system. It serves students throughout the 1,700-square mile area from the San Jacinto, Menifee Valley and San Gorgonio Pass campuses, the Temecula Education Complex and many off-site locations.

MSJC offers courses and programs that satisfy the transfer requirements of four-year colleges and universities. They offer a variety of vocational and technical programs, basic skills and English as a Second Language (ESL) training programs, distance education courses and continuing education programs and classes.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lao Americans and Franchising?

Back in November, 2012 Black Enterprise presented a list of 25 best bets for African Americans interested in owning their own business through the franchise model. The costs for picking up a franchise ranged from $495 to $200,000 to get started, with most falling under $100,000.

In alphabetical order, the candidates selected were:
  1. Abrakadoodle 
  2. Always Best Care Senior Services 
  3. Anago Cleaning Systems 
  4. Anytime Fitness 
  5. Auntie Anne's Pretzels 
  6. BightStar Care 
  7. Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System 
  8. CruiseOne 
  9. Cruise Planners-American Express 
  10. Doc Popcorn 
  11. FastSigns 
  12. Heaven's Best Carpet Cleaning
  13.  i9 Sports 
  14. JAN-PRO Cleaning Systems
  15.  Kiddie Academy 
  16. Little Ceasars 
  17. Mosquito Squad 
  18. Padgett Business Services 
  19. Pop-A-Lock 
  20. PostNet 
  21. Proforma 
  22. Right at Home Senior Care 
  23. ServiceMaster 
  24. Tutor Doctor 
  25. We Simplify the Internet 
The criteria for the assessment included "minority participation, veteran incentives, franchisee satstfaction, growth industries, low-to-medium cost of entry, and store success rates," with data pulled from Back Enterprise, International Franchise Association, Franchise Business Review and the National Minority Franchising Initiative.

At the moment there's no data within the Lao community to see if any of our community members have taken any steps to own any of these or other franchises. But as we rebuild in the United States, it would be interesting to assess and evaluate which franchises our community members HAVE been drawn to. Which of the Black Enterprise franchise recommendations are also a good fit for Lao Americans?

While there are many Lao Americans with the drive to establish their own businesses, the franchise model may also be a valid route for many. But what are some of the key infrastructure elements we need in place to make these a success for our community, and how do we create risk-resilience to encourage more Lao to take a chance on opportunities like this?

 There are many substantive benefits to Lao-owned businesses, from having more institutions that can absorb Lao employees to increasing the philanthropic capacity of the community and reducing strain on government services. But what do you see as the historic and contemporary barriers, and what might be effective ways to resolve these challenges?

Developing meaningful Lao youth leadership programs

I've written frequently on the issue of Lao youth development. There's a crucial need to develop successful methods for generating long-term success in our community. It's a legacy we need to concentrate on building for our youth.

For years, I've worked with my clients across the country to develop programs that are easy to implement and make sense. Both from a mainstream perspective and that of the local Lao community. To get started, communities need a frank assessment of their capacity to make those programs work. I've found there isn't necessarily a one-size-fits-all model that we can port over from state to state in the US. But I think there are many states where we can make a good funding case for organizations committed to the education of Lao youth. Hopefully, we'll see more organizations taking active steps to make this happen.

One of the important things I always strive to communicate to funders first is the fundamental background of our community. The majority of Lao arrived in the US as refugees from the Laotian Civil War (1954-1975) that killed or displaced over half a million people. This had a profound effect on our academic and professional success over the last four decades. 

While Lao made many gains in rebuilding their lives in the US, research conducted by the Asian American Justice Center in 2006 shows that educationally the Lao community lags behind many other Asian American groups including Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Asian Indian, Filipino and the Japanese.  As the Census 2010 points out, barely 10% of Lao adults have a 4-year college degree or better. Further, 42% of Lao adults have less than a high school education. Yet there are few resources presently committed to turn these statistics around.

When you present it properly, funders can appreciate the need to support a program. But if your organization has been around for a while, they're going to rightfully ask why you, and what are you doing to make things different this time. 

Our communities can no longer afford organizations merely paying lip-service to encouraging academic success. They need real, concrete programming that goes beyond 'stay in school' and 'study hard' messages. We have to take the matter seriously and see our long-term success connected to our students' success. The programs must succeed at demystifying the American academic system and how it connects to so many other aspects of our community life.

Organizations should make it a priority to inspire Lao to pursue post-secondary education. This will require a blend of services including academic support, test preparation, significant placement assistance and social/emotional support from adults who understand the challenges Lao youth encounter. 

An effective Lao organization needs to expand their existing leadership-focused activities, including programming that allows the community avenues for cultural expression and engagement. A program needs to ensure a constructive Lao voice emerges with multiple opportunities to realize their full potential. Plurality is an important element to our community development.This extends even into our youth programming.

An organization should be conducting numerous listening sessions and forums to gain consensus on critical issues facing local Lao community members. In most cases, we've found community members will give the organization significant latitude to work with their youth, but we must still focus on culturally-appropriate methods. 

A primary goal of a Lao youth program should be to aid historically underrepresented Lao perspectives to become more deeply engaged in self-advocacy. The program should seek to develop key skill sets that will allow our youth to access resources and support systems meaningfully for long-term success. It's not enough to know where to find information or tools, the point is for our youth to feel comfortable using them.

Organizations developing a professional program should consider a 4-fold approach: (1) integrating the organizations leadership programming with a new post-secondary pathway initiative to provide comprehensive services to high school youth; (2) mobilizing the Lao community to achieve higher levels of educational attainment; (3) improving access to academic support services; (4) and expanding the availability of post-secondary access services (i.e. ACT preparation, college applications, financial aid packaging, etc).

Most organizations have enough capacity to work with 30 to 60 students. I'd recommend trying to work with no more than 90 at a time in most communities. Beyond that, the quality of services tends to degrade and many staff simply do not have the capacity to manage this well.

The Lao organizations that are driven to succeed should consider developing a high school cohort model, dividing them effectively into three cohorts. An organization's staff should aim to meet with the three youth cohorts at their school once each week in after-school sessions focused on post-secondary access.

The Lao youth in such cohorts would initially spend time exploring various careers, complete interest inventories, establish goals and strategies, and report on their progress. The end result seeks to develop strong peer-support systems in each cohort, a body of peers who will inspire each other to achieve their post-secondary goals and strategies.

Parents are a part of the process too, and staff should work to facilitate parent forums during the year to familiarize Lao parents with the program, the benefits of a college education, college options and financing, and what parents can do to support their children’s pursuit of a college education. 

A good program will focus on connecting students to academic support. College tours, college application assistance and transition mentors are also good to seek funding for, as well as prep classes for standardized tests.  Organizations should anticipate such a program will require a budget between $45,000 to $100,000 each year. But if it can effectively work with 30 to 90 youth each year, it will be a powerful return on investment.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Publication Credits and Awards 1991-2013

I had to field a number of recent requests, professional and otherwise, for a representative list of my creative output over the years. The following list does not yet include my op-eds, graphic poems, interviews I've conducted, or many of the workshops I've presented. Some of the journals listed have gone defunct, but that is an enduring hazard of the craft. It is my hope this list will be instructive for some of you who are on the artists' path. 

 Internationally, my work has formally appeared in Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, France, Singapore, China (Hong Kong), Korea, Chile, and Pakistan. It may be of interest for some to note that formally, my work has never been published inside of Laos.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Laos Creative Literacy Project

Another literacy project gaining momentum in Laos, this time developed by a group of Australians. It can join Room to Read, Big Brother Mouse, and a number of other ventures doing similar work, especially in the rural zones.

In the US, we might ask what is being done to address Lao American literacy, which should be a significant concern given current figures, especially in Minnesota.

From the Australia Network News: Laos literacy project gaining momentum

You can view the project directly at: although there's not much to the website yet. I'll see what we can do to get a more in-depth interview with them so that you can understand their work in context.

I've brought this up in the past, but I will point it out again that in the last 40 years, we have less than 40 Lao American children's books. Less than one per state after nearly half a century, for a community that can form a city the size of Modesto at 200,000+.

We are barely putting out one a year now as an expat community.

We can and must expect more of ourselves.

An average children's story is less than 600 words in today's industry. Less than 3 sheets of paper at 250 words. But all reports suggest we have hardly any in a state of near completion to even consider publishing by 2014. If we are going to change this by 2020 we need to buckle down and reduce barriers internally and externally.

To be clear: our body of children's literature must not be only rehashing folk tales or our escape stories. There is certainly a place for those, but to exclusive focus on them? That's ultimately a dead end.

Instead, we ought to consider a story like My Neighbor Totoro, where the culture is firmly embedded throughout the story but the story is not about being Japanese. It's not an East-West Old Country-New Country cliche.

Lao need great works that sing to the heart of our values.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kiki and Ju-On (The Grudge) Meet. Sort of.

The beloved Japanese children's novel and animated classic, Kiki's Delivery Service, is being made into a live-action film.  In what must have been one of the most interesting pitch sessions of the year, Takashi Shimizu, best known for his horror film Ju-On, the Grudge, has been brought on board to direct it. It's unlikely that we will see a crossover between the two properties,although this is Japan we're talking about here. Now it has my old hamster wheel spinning here about the possibilities. 

2013 Elgin Award Winners Announced

The inaugural 2013 Elgin Award Winners have been announced by the Science Fiction Poetry Association: 

Best Chapbook 
1st Place: Out of the Black Forest by F. J. Bergmann
2nd Place: The House of Forever by Samantha Henderson
3rd Place: The Edible Zoo by David Kopaska-Merkel

Best Full-Length Book 
1st Place: Lovers & Killers by Mary Turzillo
2nd Place: Notes From the Shadow City by Gary W. Crawford & Bruce Boston
3rd Place: Come Late to the Love of Birds by Sandra Kasturi

This award is given by the Science Fiction Poetry Association to recognize the best full-length book and chapbook of speculative poetry published in the previous year. The Science Fiction Poetry Association was founded in 1978 to bring together poets and readers interested in science fiction poetry.

After a career as a professor of English at Kent State University, Dr. Mary A. Turzillo is now a full-time writer. In 2000, her story "Mars Is No Place for Children" won SFWA's Nebula award for best novelette. Her novel An Old-Fashioned Martian Girl was serialized in Analog in July-Nov 2004. Mary's Pushcart-nominated collection of poetry, Your Cat & Other Space Aliens, appeared from VanZeno Press in 2007. Her collaborative book of poetry/art, Dragon Soup, written with Marge Simon, appeared from VanZeno in 2008.

Science Fiction Poetry Asociation announces 2013 Dwarf Stars Winners

The Science Fiction Poetry Association has announced the 2013 Dwarf Stars Winners:

1st Place: Bashō After Cinderella (iii) by Deborah P. Kolodji
2nd Place: The Hidden by Mary Turzillo
3rd Place: Sarcophagus by N.E. Taylor

This award is given by the Science Fiction Poetry Association to recognize the best speculative poem of 1–10 lines published in the previous year. The Science Fiction Poetry Association was founded in 1978 to bring together poets and readers interested in science fiction poetry.

Innsmouth Inktank Interview: David Kopaska-Merkel

I interview poet David Kopaska-Merkel up at Innsmouth Free Press this week.

He has written 23 books, of which the latest is Luminous Worlds, a collection of dark poetry from Dark Regions. Kopaska-Merkel has edited Dreams & Nightmares magazine since 1986. He is also the current president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Jhai Coffeehouse Crowdfunding Campaign almost fully funded

With 20 days to go in the campaign, the Jhai Coffee House, an effort to build "the world's first completely philanthropic coffee roaster & cafe located at the source," is almost completely funded with just under $400 left to raise.

There are some very interesting and unique rewards available for backers, it's definitely worth checking out. Little Laos on the Prairie has done an article on them that gives a little more insight into their approach and what they hope to accomplish in Laos.


Lao Minnesotan receives McKnight Human Services Award

Congratulations to Lao Assistance Center Executive Director Sunny Chanthanouvong, who received the Virginia McKnight Binger Human Services Award from the McKnight Foundation.

Only one other Lao Minnesotan has received the award in its 28-year history, Kouthong Vixayvong, who was recognized in 1991.

First presented in 1985, The McKnight Foundation recognizes Minnesotans who demonstrate “an exceptional personal commitment to helping others in their communities but who have received little or no public recognition.” and who are “directly involved in providing human services, especially those working to make their communities more responsive to the needs of poor or disadvantaged people in Minnesota."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lists, Barbara Jane Reyes and Lao American Poetics

Jorge Luis Borges once described 'a certain Chinese Encyclopedia,' the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, in which animals are divided into:

1. those that belong to the Emperor, 
2. embalmed ones 
3. those that are trained, 
4. suckling pigs, 
5. mermaids, 
6. fabulous ones, 
7. stray dogs, 
8. those included in the present classification, 
9. those that tremble as if they were mad, 
10. innumerable ones, 
11. those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, 
12. others, 
13. those that have just broken a flower vase, 
14. those that from a long way off look like flies.  

This list comes up in the preface to The Order of Things, where the philosopher Michel Foucault wrote "This book first arose out of a passage in Borges, out of the laughter that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of thought—our thought, the thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography—breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old definitions between the Same and the Other."

I mention this because the ever-fabulous Barbara Jane Reyes just found herself plunked on a number of lists, including the Huffington Post's top 200 Advocates for Poetry, and Poets Unfit for Flavorwire, so naturally, she blogged about it with some great commentary about the importance, or lack thereof of lists, their subjectivity, and whether they're meaningful. As always, it's worth a read.

Lately, whenever I get on the topic of lists, I'm brought to mind the 2009 interview in Der Spiegel with Umberto Eco, "We Like Lists Because We Don't Want to Die." In that interview, as he discusses the unique and persistent magic of lists, Eco contends "The list is the origin of culture. It's part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order - not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible?" In the same interview, he also mentions that it took over 80 years to come up with a definitive definition of a platypus. Eco closed with the thought "If you interact with things in your life, everything is constantly changing. And if nothing changes, you're an idiot."

But back to Barbara Jane Reyes.

The big pull-away quote from her post people are applauding so far is:
"We seem to be preoccupied with listing — the need to create lists, and the need to problematize said lists. Arguments against the lists state that lists do nothing for Poetry but create insiders and outsiders, that lists of insiders have no place in American Poetry. 
Are you all familiar with Literary Canon? That is a List.  
We American authors of color, since we were youth of color and students of color, have been thwarted by canon, demoralized by canon, rendered invisible by canon, and many of us have been silenced by canon. The fact that we worked to become writers of color, and then authors of color means that we somehow found a way to persevere, despite not being included on any List. We did not accept being silenced by canon."
Among the poets I look up to over the centuries, most were NOT trying to suck up to the powers that be in their time, whether it was China, Japan, Argentina, Russia, etc. But to be realistic about it, neither did they object too strenuously should favor and laurels come their way.

Since the 20th century, we've seen poets plunged into a particular crisis of conscience: If we find ourselves taught in textbooks and our work held up as a reflection of our state, have we "sold out"? Are we legitimizing oppressive powers? Is our work now so fangless it can be casually entrusted to youth?

But if we don't yearn to be one of the immortals of poetry, to be allowed into the halls of world literature, what are we writing for?

A thousand possible questions can undermine a conscientious poet.

Many students I speak to have been oppressed by the Literary Canon. To the point that they can never see their work even approaching the dimmest shadow of those shining halls. These otherwise talented souls find themselves faced with crippling self-doubt that few feel they will make it to even a footnote of the great records. So why aspire at all?  I find that thinking utterly tragic.

I try my best to be a role model and do what I can to blaze trails. Open proverbial doors, etc. etc. etc. But I have always been particularly indifferent about my recognition. I'd loathe the fuss for accolades if that yearning got in the way of my creating art, which should always be the bottom line.

Yes, it's nice to hear the surprise of students doing research and suddenly finding my name among other luminaries. But I remind them that that and a cup of coffee gets you a cup of coffee. Poets who are honest to themselves vacillate between earned modesty and outrageous, cosmic ambition.

This is where Wole Soyinka's classic quote comes in handy: "Un tigre ne proclâme pas sa tigritude, il saute sur sa proie." A tiger doesn't go around talking about its tigertude, it pounces on its prey. So, too, should a poet.

Over the years, I've found my work at the Olympics, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Smithsonian, San Diego Comic-Con, at least one edition of a Princeton encyclopedia and several textbooks around the world. I admit, it feels pretty cool, but I'd also be writing whether or not I was included in any of these things. There are times I wonder if that's enough for my work to endure the centuries, but then I am kept humble by the reminder of how we found the work of Catullus: a set of parchment crudely stuffed in a knothole as a makeshift wine barrel stopper. The road to posterity is treacherous and occasionally hilarious.

Do I agree with any of the recent poetry lists? Frankly, no, with the exception of less than a baker's dozen of the candidates on one of them. But I appreciate people trying to compile them and giving us as all something to consider.

But now, I've got poems to write. And so do you.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals update

Saymoukda Vongsay and Mu Performing Arts recently released shots of the cast for her upcoming full-length play, "Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals," which marks an important precedent for Lao American  horror theater and is one of the first Lao American plays to be performed in Minnesota in over 20 years.

There are reports that a Lao Minnesotan play was presented in the 1990s but no one has been able to give me any concrete details on it so far. Research continues on this issue.

In the meantime, clear your schedule off in October, this promises to be an amazing play and the start of a Lao theatrical renaissance if all goes well. Or as well as a zombie-infested dystopia can go.

Minneapolis Lao-American fights human trafficking in Laos

In case you missed the Minnesota Post recently:

I'm proud of Thouni Seneyakone, whom I first met 4 years ago when we all worked together to make the National Lao American Writers Summit happen. It's great to see her sharing her voice and perspective with the community, especially on an issue that has so much meaning to so many of us. I look forward to seeing more from her in the future.

She's currently working to put an end to human trafficking, an issue that's very difficult to address in Laos for a number of reasons. You can read about her story "Minneapolis Lao-American fights human trafficking in Laos" thanks to Ibrahim Hirsi.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Happy birthday, On the Other Side of the Eye!

Today it's August 10th, which makes it the 6th anniversary since the publication of On the Other Side of the Eye by Sam's Dot Publishing in Iowa.

We've come a long way, and I thank everyone who's been a part of that journey.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

One week left to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival-Los Angeles Kickstarter!

We're in the final stretch for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival: Los Angeles Kickstarter this year! We're 50% of the way there, but we need your help to spread the word, or, even better, to chip in. :)

With less than a week to go, we need to raise the remaining funds, or see none of it, under the all-or-nothing rules of a kickstarter campaign. As we explain at the kickstarter:
"The HPLFF started almost 20 years ago in Portland, Oregon by Andrew Migliore. After years of attending and contributing, filmmaker Aaron Vanek went insane and spawned an HPLFF in his hometown of Los Angeles. This is a licensed franchise of the Portland fest, but each festival has its own distinct brand of madness. The first three LA festivals were successes but paid for out of pocket and just missed breaking even each time. Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide the same excitement and entertainment this year without your help. Our savings are drained so without YOU we'll be hard pressed to maintain and improve the quality this independently run horror and weird tale film festival has had in the past."
There are some amazing guests lined up for this year who will make it extremely worth happening:

Brian Yuzna (Re-Animator producer, Beyond Re-Animator director, plus many other Lovecraft movies)

Stuart Gordon - (Dagon and Re-Animator director)

Jason Thompson (artist, writer for The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath and many other Lovecraft graphic adaptations)

Jean-Paul Ouellette (director, The Unnamable 1 and 2)

Mark Kinsey Stephenson (actor, "Randolph Carter" in The Unnamable I and The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter)

Nancy Holder (New York Times Bestselling author)

Gary Myers (author, The House of the Worm and the new The Country of the Worm)

Cody Goodfellow (writer, All-Monster Action, Radiant Dawn, Ravenous Dusk)

Ross E. Lockhart (editor, Books of Cthulhu I and II)

D.H. Covey (artist, Dagon, Beyond Re-Animator)

Macabre Fantasy Radio Theater - performing another thrilling audio drama on stage!

Eben Brooks (The man responsible for the squamous, rugose filk song “Hey There Cthulhu”)

And many others are being lined up as well. Check it out at:

The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival promotes the works of H.P. Lovecraft, literary horror, and weird tales through the cinematic adaptations by professional and amateur filmmakers. The festival was founded in 1995 by Andrew Migliore in the hope that H.P. Lovecraft would be rightly recognized as a master of gothic horror and his work more faithfully adapted to film and television.

Crowdfunding a conscientious cup of coffee: Jhai Coffee in Laos

Little Laos on the Prairie has an interview with Janelle Kaczmarzewski of the Jhai Coffee House, which is running an indiegogo campaign to raise funds for a philanthropic coffee roaster and cafe in Paksong, Laos. Profits will go to assist water purification efforts in the region as well.

It's a very intriguing project that has the support of many great people with big hearts. I hope that this will also energize others to give careful consideration to social entrepreneurship in Laos and in their own communities to change our world for the better. 

In the first day, the campaign has already raised almost 20% but hopefully they can keep the momentum going over the next 30 days and bring greater awareness to the needs and the opportunities in Laos. I'd strongly encourage you to consider donating to the project. They have a great vision, and it's a much needed project abroad. 

Cover unveiled for Lontar #1!

Some of you may remember a while back that I announced the forthcoming publication of my poem "Stainless Steel Nak" in Lontar, the journal of Southeast Asian speculative fiction based in Singapore. After some delays, the issue looks like it's finally ready to go into print this month. A preview of the cover has been unveiled reflecting a very interesting design and  speaks of intriguing work to come in the future.

If you have a chance, be sure to go visit them at

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Lao Minnesotan Artists Heritage Month!


The 2013 Certificate of Recognition from Governor Mark Dayton and the State of Minnesota has arrived to once again recognize Lao Minnesotan Artists in the month of August. It was sent to this year’s co-chair, Saymoukda Vongsay, although apparently we have to go back and get the official seal.

Among the highlights of Lao Minnesotan Artists Heritage Month so far is the performance of Saymoukda Vongsay at the Soap Box Factory for the latest installment of Talking Image Connection, which she's co-curating with the wonderful Alison Morse.

Also, Ova Saopeng and Leilani Chan are back in town and doing a workshop with the community at Pangea, among other things. Many of you may remember their work in 2010 with the performance of Refugee Nation at Intermedia Arts during the Legacies of War: Refugee Nation Twin Cities interdisciplinary exhibit in Minneapolis.

More of my thoughts on the matter can be found at Little Laos on the Prairie this month.

Here's a big thanks to all of our supporters and encouragement to all of our emerging artists in the community!