Sunday, May 29, 2016

Remembering Minority Militant

Earlier this month, we lost one of the young voices in the Lao American writers community, Keon Enoy Munedouang (August 17, 1980 - May 4, 2016). He was well-known for his blog Minority Militant, which was active from 2008-2010. 
In those three years he shared at least 423 entries with his readers, which was exceptionally prolific for a Lao American blogger at the time, and even today. He had very extensive opinions on the world, especially framed through an AAPI lens.

Keon came to the US as a refugee from Laos with his family. When he grew up, he heard the call of service, enlisting as a young man in the U.S. Navy. He achieved the rank of SK2 and left as a veteran with an honorable discharge. I think you can see a strong influence of those experiences and outlook in his writing.

Following his military tour, he became involved in Asian American activism, writing, and spoken word, with a highly developed sense of social justice. He didn't have much use for those who didn't walk the talk. But like many of us, there were times he felt challenged by this route. In one of his 2008 blog posts, he wrote: 
I thought long and hard about giving up blogging and activism, but I will continue to do so because I really do care. And when I do decide to have kids, I refuse to have them live in an America that doesn't acknowledge the rights and wrongs of overt and covert racism, and everything in between. And to those eight hundred or so visitors who have come by my site in the last four days out of support, spite, anger, or because you love everything I stand for -- Thank you much.
Keon's work inspired a fellow writer and activist to organize the Banana Conference, which eventually became V3Con, the largest Asian American social media conference in the world. I had seen Keon's work just as he was getting started with his blog, but we never met in person. He was one of the first to interview me in 2008 after I had received news that I was the first Lao American to receive a Fellowship in Literature from the National Endowment for the Arts. In the years afterwards, we both continued to read each other's blogs, although we lost touch shortly around 2010. 

As a community, we all lost something special and vibrant with Keon's passing. Towards the end, he was a very private young man, but I will miss not being able to read his perspective on where he felt we were going in the world, especially lately. 

During the course of the 3rd National Lao American Writers Summit, we held a moment of silence for him and the many other writers, artists, and community builders we've lost over the recent years. We must never take our friendships, our time together for granted, because life is short and often uncertain.Thanks, Keon, for the good memories and what you shared with all of us.

But here is the interview he and I did by correspondence back on December 16, 2008: 

The Militant Interviews Bryan Thao Worra

Over the weekend I had a chance to catch up with Bryan Thao Worra, a Laotian American poet that has been breaking ground in the literary scene. Along with three other Asian Americans, he's recently been awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature, which recognizes and promotes excellence in the arts -- and comes with a $25,000 grant. He's been blogged about by Slanty, AAM, and Hyphen, not to mention other news venues in print and around the sphere. I had a chance to read some of his poetry and have come to appreciate what he's done for the Laotian and Hmong American communities in America, no less Asian American Literature.

As a fellow Laotian American, I've come to somewhat understand cultural identity and displacement, but have yet to grasp the entire concept. When I see a writer like Worra break it down for me in prose, I begin to see it come to life. As far as I'm concerned, he's done a great deal for history, literature, and the community. I think there's something admirable about not forgetting your roots and taking that extra leap for those who need a helping hand. Well, here's my exchange with Worra on his background, poetry, Asian American literature, activism, and life.

Q & A Transcript: Interview with Bryan Thao Worra

TMM: How did you start getting into writing, specifically poetry?

BTW: I started writing at an early age as part of a class assignment to write short story responding to a classic folktale. I still run into a few former classmates who mention it. I began with poetry particularly towards my last year in high school, but really began taking it seriously in college, although I did not major in English. A writer really has many start points throughout their lifetime, I find, as they reach different techniques and levels of understanding. It’s a very rewarding path for the curious and the imaginative.

TMM: You were an adoptee, correct? How did that affect you growing up as far as identity and self-discovery?

BTW: Yes. I was adopted by a pilot flying Laos during the 1970s. That experience gave me a greater appreciation for understanding questions like: “Who am I?” or “Why am I here?” and lets me challenge many things others might take for granted.

TMM: From the poems I've read of yours, from my reading on it, there's a lot of transcendentalism. Your unique style has been praised by many for its focus on an absence of home. Can you elaborate or correct me?

BTW: There’s an old quote that a person’s only true profession is finding their way to the center of themselves. I’m think it’s important for all people to take a journey to discover not just who they are and have been, but who they can be, not just as individuals but part of a community.

A writer has many starts, home has many meanings. But I think it would be a mistake to read any pessimism within a statement on the absence of home. Home becomes something to look for or even to build, when we approach the question with the right spirit.

Many of us have been displaced in our lifetimes, and we hang on to many memories for good reasons, but we are also human beings and there is a great spirit, great and infinite potential making itself at home within our bodies and I think we are obliged to ask, how are we taking care of that?

A big house does not make a great person. Some of the greatest thinking of the world has taken place in a space no bigger than a prison cell. My themes like to explore the universe, the local, the inner and the outer and reflect on those connections.

TMM: I see that The City In Which I Love You is one of your favorite book of poems on your blog. I'm also a fan of Li-Young Lee. I've met him once. Has he or any other Asian American writer or poet have a major influence in your writing?

BTW: Li-Young Lee is a great writer who really helps spark an interest in great poetry. I’ve met him on several occasions. He has some brilliant insights, but he’s also wonderfully human. Adrienne Su’s debut, Middle Kingdom, also served as a good example of the direction Asian American literature can take. There are a few Hmong writers I admire who’ve been great peers over the years, including Burlee Vang. Writers from the Philippines like Barbara Jane Reyes and Anthem Salgado also have my respect and admiration as contemporary writers in active practice.

TMM: I'm also a Laotian American. Growing up, did you find it difficult to blend in with other Asian ethnic groups, like Koreans, Chinese, or Filipinos? Do you think there is a lack of Asian American culture in America?

BTW: I always joke about the old Far Side cartoon that talks about the three types of people in the world. Those who see the glass as “half-full,” those who see it as “half-empty,” and those who wonder “who’s been drinking out of my glass?” For my experience, I’m always feeling a little displaced, but over the years I came to realize, everyone’s a little displaced and alienated from parts of the human experience. But what matters is: Where do we go from there?

We should recognize that even with all of our differences, between cultures there may be astounding similarities. Where there aren’t similarities, we should ask ourselves, are there still lessons to learn and admire?

As Laotians, we can be proud of who we are without imposing it on others, we can be happy for others without them being the same as us, without being afraid that time spent with them will somehow magically stop us from being Laotians. Among Laotian artists that’s particularly one of the strongest and most important qualities we should respect about our work.

TMM: Do you go back to Laos to visit a lot? What’s the state of unexploded ordnance there now?

BTW: My first and last visit to Laos was in 2003 when I was still searching for my family. I’m trying to arrange travel there in the next year or so. UXO continues to remain a pressing problem. More bombs were dropped on Laos than on all of Europe during World War II. Nearly 1 out of 3 didn’t explode right away, and now, almost 40 years later, they’re killing and maiming people who weren’t even born during the war. It’s a major impediment to recovery and rebuilding.

TMM: Do you still volunteer in community work in Minnesota or are you taking a break from that? You know, since you're getting a little more recognition for your work.

BTW: I’m still an ordinary guy, and my commitment to our community does not change whether I get some recognition or even none. We help when and where we can. Awards are nice, but we shouldn’t be doing a thing because we want praise, we should do things because they’re the right thing to do.
You’ll never run out of places and things that need help. But sometimes we gain opportunities to help even more effectively. And those are special moments. There’s so much to life besides “wake up, eat, work, drink, sleep, wake up,” and I think the best moments in life come from helping others.

TMM: Are you working on any big projects now?

BTW: There are always big projects. One of my bigger projects besides my new books coming out is a journey to the different Laotian communities across the country and talking with people there to hear their stories and experiences.

I’m in the discovery phase right now. I don’t know what the end results will turn into. Perhaps a book, a play, a poem. Maybe just a really good dinner. But I’m open to outcome, not attached to outcome. There are moments when a person must be decisive and ‘in control,’ but there are also times when the joy of life arrives from seeing ‘what happens.’ I’m finding a good life is a happy balance between both.

TMM: Girlfriend, marriage, kids?

BTW: People often encounter these in their lifetime. Societies have been created by them, and societies have fallen because of them. Oh, you mean for me. I’m definitely working on that, but we’ll see.

TMM: Any last words or thoughts?

BTW: Keep inspired, keep energized, and always remember your infinite capacity to make a difference, and that that same capacity is within all creatures. Stand up for what you believe in. Being kind isn’t a guarantee everything will go smoothly in life, but it’s a good place to start.

TMM: I appreciate the time. Kop-Chai Lai Lai (Thank you very much).

Worra is known for his speculative and transience style. His first full-length book, On The Other Side Of The Eye, was released in August of 2007 and can be purchased on his blog or at a bookstore near you.

Haiku Movie Review: X-Men Apocalypse

Storm of teals and "BOOM,"
Can they ever get this right?
The "End", a relief.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Big Trouble in Litle China, Vol. 3 released

Well, the 30th anniversary of Big Trouble in Little China keeps offering a lot of great goodies. This month sees the release of the third volume of the official sequel, at least in comic book form. This time the synopsis is: "As if sacrificing himself to end Lo Pan's reign wasn't enough, Jack Burton must now face his greatest challenge yet: the Hell of No Return. Luckily, Jack does have one companion in this eternity of endless torment. The very person he offed to get here, Lo Pan. When arch nemesis becomes forced ally, Hell becomes the least of Jack's problems," written by John Carpenter and Eric Powell.

I appreciate that these collected editions are coming out relatively quickly. Let's see what else the year holds to celebrate!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Unleashed! Exhibit of Wiener Dog Art, Fullerton, CA

Ok, it looks like I'll be making TWO side-trips on my way to the National Lao American Writers Summit, adding in the Unleashed! exhibit of Wiener Dog Art at the Atrium Gallery in Fullerton, CA.
The exhibit features the work of Southern California-based artist Laura Hoffman, who uses her own dachshunds as muses for her work.

It comes down on 5/27 so be sure to catch it soon!

You can see it all at:

Atrium Gallery,
Titan Student Union building,
Cal State Fullerton campus,
800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton

Alas, I won't be able to bring my own dachshunds along for this trip, but I look forward to seeing the different ways Hoffman explores the aesthetics and nature of dachshunds through a California artist's lens. I'll have a review soon!

Philip K. Dick "Here and Now" Exhibit until June 16th!

On my way down to the National Lao American Writers Summit, I guess I'll be doing a side trip to the Salz-Pollack Atrium Gallery before things close on June 16!

Per the press release:

"In celebration of California State University, Fullerton's relationship with Philip K. Dick, we proudly present new art based on four of his famous works: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, The Man in the High Castle, Minority Report, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, and a display of holdings from Pollak Library’s University Archives & Special Collections."

"The late English Professor Willis McNelly helped Philip K. Dick relocate to Fullerton, where he was a frequent guest lecturer and mentored writers. He lived the last ten years of his life in Orange County, and enjoyed a relatively stable and productive period in which he wrote key works, including A Scanner Darkly, VALIS and the work he called his Exegesis. Eventually, he left his papers to CSUF’s University Archives & Special Collections."

"Philip K. Dick changed science fiction. Themes such as exploring the true nature of reality and humanity have become integral to contemporary science fiction. His influence reaches further than SF, affecting writers such as celebrated writers Jonathan Lethem, Ursula Le Guin, James Tiptree, Jr., and Haruki Murakami. He is also considered an influential contributor to the cyberpunk sub-genre of science fiction, postmodernism, and Steampunk. Dick’s effect on fellow writers is only the beginning; his influence on popular culture is immense, including movies, TV shows, comic books and more."

Definitely looking forward to it!

"The Last War Poem" in Merced for Hmongstory 40

A big thanks to Nana and Alisak from the hit Lao American show, Cooking with Nana for spotting my piece "The Last War Poem" at the Hmongstory 40 exhibit in Merced this month at the fairgrounds. I'm touched to see so many still enjoy this work, which originally appeared in the Hmong American anthology Bamboo Among the Oaks in 2002 from the Minnesota Historical Society.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Happy birthday to Maui the Dachshund!

So, a big happy birthday to Maui the dachshund, who was born on May 13th! :) A purebred piebald dachshund, she's been part of the On the Other Side of the Eye team for several years now going on adventures across California and Minnesota with her older sister, Sadee! Good girl! Stay tuned for more exciting adventures!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Khalil Gibran's "The Two Cages."

Khalil Gibran is perhaps best known for his book The Prophet, but I found his collection The Madman much more enjoyable and impactful on my own understanding of my journey as a writer and what words and language could do.

In particular, the depth I find in his short story, "The Two Cages" as it meditates on the many layers of what it means to be a prisoner in this universe is astonishing in its efficiency.

[Food for thought] You might be a writer...

For many of my past relationships with humans, I've almost always been philosophical that everything turned out for the best. But when it comes to particular books that I saw once, and have never seen in a store or bookshelf since... ah, that's pained me persistently.

I'm not saying it's an absolute indicator, but in my circle there are few writers who haven't felt some similar pangs over at least one book they never got to read. What are some of yours?

Stokercon this weekend!

If you're at the Stokercon 2016 in Las Vegas this weekend be sure to say hello to my Horror Writers Association mentee Angela Yuriko Smith!

Angela Yuriko Smith publishes a monthly online newspaper by day (, blogs at Dandilyon Fluff ( by night and writes fiction as often as possible in between. Her published works include fiction and nonfiction across multiple genres and she has been included in various anthologies and online publications. In the past she has served as a host for JournalJabber online radio talk show and has been interviewed on National Public Radio for her nonfiction work.

She put in a great year learning the ins and outs of the craft and how we get our work out there. And she has some amazing stories to tell, sure to frighten and enetertain you!

Lao American Writers Summit Gallery: 'Intersectionalities' now open in San Diego until May 28th!

The Lao American Writers Summit Gallery: 'Intersectionalities', is now officially open for the month of May in San Diego.

It represents the official Asian American Heritage Month Gallery for the Centro Cultural De La Raza at Balboa Park.A big thanks to our curators Sayon Syprasoeuth and Catzie Vilayphonh for putting this together! Thanks also to everyone who was on-site, helping to set up the gallery.

Here are a few preview images from the Lao American Writers Summit chair, Krysada Binly Panusith Phounsiri.

Come see the amazing work from Lao American artists at 2004 Park Blvd. The gallery is open 12-4pm, Tuesday - Sunday until May 29th!

Artists are represented from across the country including Minnesota, Texas, Illinois, Florida, and California. Many of those presented are prominent award-winning artists whose work has never been displayed together with each other before.

Confirmed artists include the work of Nor Sanavongsay, Mali Kouanchao, Chantala Khommanivanh, Loy Khambay, Sompaseuth Chounlamany, Khampha Bouaphanh, Dale Thongmhavong, a nd Bee Salima. Congratulations to everyone in the gallery and the Visual Arts portion of the Lao American Writers Summit.

We're deeply grateful to the Centro Cultural de la Raza for hosting us here at beautiful Balboa Park. The Centro Cultural de la Raza was founded in 1970 as a Chicano Community Cultural Center and functions as an alternative space that encourages and facilitates artistic growth and cultural exchange in the San Diego/Tijuana region.

 The Centro provides classes and features a dynamic inter-disciplinary schedule of events which includes exhibits, musical performances, installation art, readings, receptions, Azteca dance, Teatro Chicano, Ballet Folklorico, film screenings and other events. I hope this continues a wonderful relationship between the Laotian and Chicano communities for generations to come.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Watch out multiverse! New AAPI SFF writers coming

It's a wrap! My pilot course "Gods and Demons: Writing From Your Own Pantheon" with the students from Kearny Street Workshop has completed! A big thank youuuuu to my dedicated students for a fun little jaunt into the world of horror and genre writing!

Over the course of a month we discussed everything from the history of AAPI in American literature and media to Filipino horrors such as the Aswang, spoken word poetry, Cthulhu, the Monomoyth, anthropomorphic rabbits, J-Horror, Hmong spirits, Lao grandmother ghosts, tentacles and microfiction, and much, much, much more.

Now comes the correspondence portion, centered on polishing their pieces and finding their work nice homes. Keep an eye out in your inboxes, editors! We'll be having them turn in their short stories, poems and micro-fiction in short order in the coming months ahead!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

"Minions" read at Strange Horizons

Akua Lezli Hope, Layla Al-Bedawi, and Alleliah Nuguid and I have poems featured in the latest podcast from Strange Horizons, read by Anaea Lay and Romie Stott. Thanks, everyone for your hard work on this!

The poem I have featurd in this edition of Strange Horizons is "Minions," whih appeared online at the beginning of April, 2016, just in time for the Lao New Year and National Poetry Month. As always, I also encourage all of you to submit great work to the editors at Strange Horizons. Founded in 2000, they're now on their 16th year, and they've brought some really amazing voices to the forefront.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard in Ukiah

Representative Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii was in Ukiah, California on May 7th to meet with community members in the Northern California region. She attended a gathering of over 400 people at the Ukiah Conference Center in the afternoon, and met with supporters later that night. Elected in 2012, she is the first American Samoan and the first Hindu member of the United States Congress.

She encouraged civic engagement, participation in the democratic process, and stressed the importance of voting. She spoke from her personal experience as a veteran of the war in Iraq, and what she had seen in her home state of Hawaii and the issues that have been presented to her in Congress.

She particularly spoke of her support of Bernie Sanders, and touched on veterans issues, such as the ongoing dilemma of veteran suicides, among many others in the course of her inspiring talk. Representative Gabbard also did an interview with Radio Curious that will be online soon.

I was deeply impressed by her knowledge and principles, and I am certain we'll be seeing much more of her in the years ahead. She brings a valuable range of experience and perspective to the American political process. She's a refreshing and inspiring role model for any of us encouraging our community youth to get involved in our democracy. She took the time to hear all of us on any number of issues, and more than a few hoped Bernie Sanders would consider her as a vice-presidential candidate.

After speaking with her, I find myself assured that Bernie Sanders would approach foreign policy with a needed mindset averse to inffective, protracted wars to create "regime change," and that he does have the concerns of veterans close to heart.

I spoke with her briefly about the need for ongoing support to address the issue of unexploded ordnance in Southeast Asia, such as in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, and how we might address future crisis zones around the rest of the world. If she ever ran for office in a state I lived in, she would certainly have my unconditional support.

Definitely a fine meeting, and I appreciate all of the organizers who helped to put this together.

Lao horror film Nong Hak: Dearest Sister officially completed!

DEAREST SISTER, directed by Mattie Do, the first ever female AND horror director of Laos, has been anticipated for quite some time. Over in their official facebook site for the film, they've announced that it is now officially completed. They will soon start making announcements regarding its festival run. Be sure to check it out when it comes through your area!

They also posted this exclusive pic for DEAREST SISTER:

I know she's put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this project to really take her talents to the next level. I'm proud of her accomplishments and wish her much more continued success in breaking ground in so many ways for the Lao community worldwide. A big thanks also goes to everyone who so generously supported her crowdfunding campaign for this film when it first began. The growth of Lao horror cinema would not have been possible without you!

I'm looking forward to her next upcoming projects!

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Celebrating Asian-American Poets: Emerging Writers to Read

Be sure to catch "Celebrating Asian-American Poets: Emerging Writers to Read" which provides a good overview of many of the exciting poets in the Asian American community who have recently released new books. It's definitely worth a read, particularly for the list of resources at the end. While not encylopedic, it definitely provides a positive place to start.

Thank You, Fresno City College

A big thanks to all of my wonder friends and colleages, as well as the students of the USEAA program of Fresno City College for an exciting evening on May 4th. 

I was delighted to be a part of the evening as we celebrated the graduation of the students from the program and the next steps in their journey. It's good to see so many other administrators, faculty and community members from across the Central Valley also came to recognize that achievement.

There's still a long way to go, but I know that with perisistence, commitment, and the support of everyone, these students will all go far. There were so many wonderful stories shared. It's clear the journey was not always easy. But they persevered.

I look forward to hearing from many of them in the years ahead. I am confident they will be positive figures contributing to our communities sharing their heritage from Southeast Asia.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Coming soon: Sadako vs. Kayako

I'd be remiss if I didn't include a nod to the trailer making the roudns lately for the Japanese horror film Sadako vs. Kayako, or The Ring vs. The Grudge (or Ringu vs. Ju-On). While I think there's a very high chance this is going to be utter garbage in comparison to its predecessors, I still have to applaud the wonderfully ludicrous premise that somehow Japanese students make the mistake of playing the Ringu tape in the Ju-On house. "What could possibly go wro..."

I'm still of the mindset that you'd think the Ringu curse would be connected to a DVD or something more ring-like than the spools of a VHS tape. It seemed unlikely then, and almost tragic now, in 2016, that her curse is still tied to that format, or that somehow, we haven't run into the problem of someone uploading it to Youtube or Vimeo. Or... well, I'm giving this way too much thought.

Who are you rooting for in this match-up? And how would you improve upon it? (Personally, I'd have made it a three-way fight with the horror film Uzumaki, aka Spiral to keep things really trippy.)

Preparing for the USEAA Fresno City College Celebration

This week I'll be speaking at the USEAA (United Southeast Asian American) Program at Fresno City College, which is currently on its 17th year of serving Southeast Asian American students in the Central Valley. It's a great program and one that's badly needed in the community as the statistics show.

 I'll be drawing on many elements of my journey as a Lao American writer, and what it meant for me to come to the US in 1973 shortly before the beginning of the Southeast Asian diaspora that affeted refugees from Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, including the Hmong, Khmu, Tai Dam, Iu Mien, Lue, Montagnards, and many others.

I'll be discussing the importance of education and what it can mean for our youth and families, with an eye on the long-term. One element I'll particularly be focusing on is the relationship of the arts to our success, and the importance of being able to tell your stories, not only for yourself and your family, but for your friends and community as we each make our own transitions to a democracy.

It's vital for our youth to learn their history and their culture. It's also vital for them to learn how to speak well not only of themselves, but of others, and to value those opportunities that present themselves to serve others. While our communities have become increasingly connected, all too often I see our voices used to tear down and criticize rather than to constructively praise and empower others. I find this deeply problematic but not insurmountable.

 There are several skillsets I believe it are particularly essential for our students to develop over time as they go on to the next phase in their lives. These include a sense of leadership, scholarship, mentorship, and friendship. It is also important to cultivate a commitment to curiosity, creativity, responsibility, and memory.

 At the same time, even as we build all of this within ourselves, and appreciate the gravity of our journey, we cannot take ourselves too seriously, because that is a route that leads to fanaticism, depression, and dogmatism that runs counter to both our traditions and our opportunities.

 I look forward to seeing everyone in Fresno, and I thank the organizers for inviting me to speak with these fine students who are taking such a momentous journey for themselves.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Thank You, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets

I've just returned back home from the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets 2016 Spring Conference where I was one of three featured poets, along with Ed Bok Lee and Kao Kalia Yang, both of whom I haven't seen in nearly 8 years. I also had a chance to meet the wonderful Soham Patel, whose work I look forward to seeing much more in the years ahead. 

I'm grateful to everyone who came to attend, and applaud all of the hard work and tireless hours that went into putting on such a wonderful event. As I heard so many of the members reading their poetry, I was struck by the diversity of styles and subject matter, the deep spiritual resonances, the flourishing of imagination and tradition, and the wonderful humor and musicality of the language that's very distinctive in Wisconsin poetry.

As I've discussed so often, to me, poetry isn't just about words on a page or sounds in an ear, but it's souls talking to souls, and that was fully present in Madison this weekend. It was a delight to catch up with so many people and to share in the conversations with them about what it meant to be a poet in the modern day.

I enjoyed having a chance to look at so many of the books the Fellowship has brought into the world, and there was much to this event that I will take back with me. I will be strongly encouraging Lao American writers in the future to consider this model of trust, of harmony, of community as we gather in celebration of our shared journeys.

There's still so much to process, and I'll be writing of this more in the coming months ahead, but I was happy to see a spirit of inclusion, a commitment to both formal forms and experimental ones. I extend my appreciation to Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets president Jan Chronister for her wonderful work to ensure there's space in the organization for so many varieties of poets.

Both emerging poets and established poets had a chance to have their say and to present their pieces to the entire Fellowship. It was a great intergenerational experience filled with great fun and touching exchanges.

I had a chance to meet fine poets such as Peter and Kathy Piaskoski, Kimberly Blanchette and her wife Colleen Frentzel of Pickle Barrel Press, Martha Jackson Kaplan, Sarah Sadie Busse, Paula Schulz, Joann Chang, Steve Tomasko, and so many others (please accept my apologies that I can't list you all in one post as I want to!)

I managed to catch up with F.J. Bergmann for the second time in a year since ConVergence in Minneapolis, and it was exciting to see many of her new ventures including the debut of Jeanie Tomasko's Violet Hours. Readers could also pick up a copy of the Science Fiction Poetry Association's 2016 Rhysling Anthology to see some of the poems the SFPA have been excited about.

It's fitting that we saw the close to National Poetry Month and the beginning of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month the next day with this weekend. I was honored that so many of these fine Wisconsin poets bought my books to add to their collection, down to my very last copies. I hope they all enjoy Tanon Sai Jai and DEMONSTRA.

During the course of this year's conference I read the now rarely-performed "How To Build A Boat," from my out-of-print book BARROW, but also "Japonisme, Laoisme," "What Kills A Man," "In the Beginning," "On A Stairway In Luang Prabang," "The Last War Poem," and sections of "The Dream Highway of Ms. Mannivongsa." As I prefaced it on several occasions, my poetic concern is centered on the question of how we cultivate not only memory and spirit in our poetry, but how do we also help the next generation see a future wherein, they, too, are present.

Kao Kalia Yang read some truly stunning passages from her newest book, The Song Poet, a fine followup to her debut classic The Latehomecomer and I am reminded why I regret the physical distances between poets must be so great, so often. But I hope many more will take the time to read her words and be transformed by them.

Ed Bok Lee read a wonderful set of poems that spoke to the theme of this year's conference, "Crossing Borders," and shared inspiring words that I know all of the poets in the room appreciated. If you haven't gotten your copy of his award-winning book Whorled, be sure to do so immediately.

Tim Yu couldn't be there this weekend, but still, his immense presence was felt throughout the conference. His book 100 Chinese Silences has my heartfelt endorsement. Soham Patel stepped in graciously to moderate a wonderful conversation between Ed, Kao Kalia, and I with the Fellowship. We touched upon some wonderful questions about inclusion and participation in poetry, and who were excited about in the coming years ahead. Naturally, among those we specifically cited were the Lao American poet Krysada Panusith Phounsiri and the Hmong American poets Khaty Xiong and Mai Der Vang.

A very big thanks goes to James Roberts who invited me to this year's conference, and who graciously picked me up at the early hours of the morning in Milwaukee to bring me to the hotel in Madison, but also to grab a pasty from the famous Teddywedgers. It was wonderful catching up with him since I first met him so many years ago at Arcana: A Convention of the Dark Fantastic, sharing a mutual appreciation of the work of H.P. Lovecraft.

James took me on a fantastic tour of Madison from a poet's view, and we also had a fine visit at WORT, where I had a chance to speak on air with Jonathan Zarov, discussing everything from the London Summer Games to the role of science fiction poetry in the lives of refugees in diaspora. We also had a fun conversation of cheeseteaks and brats that didn't make it on the air. But I hope all of my readers take the chance to listen to WORT whenever they're in Madison.

At WORT I also met a new fan, Kai Brito, who came to see us at the conference. I was very happy to see Kai take the plunge as a first-time judge for the WFOP 2016 Poetry Slam. He was a natural at it! Kai brings an amazing light and energy to any room he's in. I wish him well in all of his endeavors.

I'm also going to close this short post up with a quick shoutout to the wonderful sponsors of this year's conference who helped the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, including Hmong Globe, Les Figues Press, Pickle Barrel Press, Lao Laan Xang, Coffee House Press, and Sahtu Press.

I hope you all keep inspired and creating for many more years to come!