Tuesday, January 31, 2017

[SFF Poet Spotlight] Linda Addison

Linda D. Addison is one of our wonderful members of the SFPA. I've enjoyed reading her work for many years as a member of the Horror Writers Association, as well.

She is an American poet and writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Linda D. Addison is the first African-American winner of the Bram Stoker Award, which she has won four times, so far. This is a very impressive accomplishment in the field. Her first two awards were for her poetry collections Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes (2001) and Being Full of Light, Insubstantial (2007).

Her poetry and fiction collection How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend won the 2011 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection. She received a fourth HWA Bram Stoker for the collection The Four Elements, written with Marge Simon, Rain Graves, and Charlee Jacob.

Sycorax's Daughters is expected this February from Cedar Grove Publishing, bille as a horror anthology of fiction and poetry by African-American women, edited by Kinitra Brooks PhD, Susana Morris PhD and Linda D. Addison. The cover artwork will be by Jim Callahan.

On top of all of this, she is also a founding member of the CITH (Circles in the Hair) writing group.

Be sure to give her work a look!

Lao Writers Always Change Our World

Of course, there's a big discussion to be held on the specifics of this, but they only gave me 42 characters to work with at the time. Keep inspired and keep creating out there, no matter what your discipline, no matter where you are, or how far along you are on your artistic journey right now. 

Thanks for supporting the Thao Worra Fund.

We're now on the last 48 hours of the campaign and we met and exceeded the goal, and I'm presently able to move forward to address the challenges that hit me hard recently. I'll be giving everyone more of an expanded update soon but also thank those of you who've graciously invited me to speak to your classes and conferences later this year, as well as house-sitting and other accommodations once I can get closer to your area.

There's a lot of good news to report soon, and you helped make that possible. I will say, living out of a carry-on bag is a distinct challenge and I'm glad my time as a Buddhist monk a year ago prepped me for really streamlining what I've got in my life and appreciating what I have around me.

I particularly thank Chanida Phaengdara Potter, Malichansouk Kouanchao, Mike Davis, Channapha Khamvongsa, Nor Sanavongsay, Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, Catzie Vilayphonh, Sayon Syprasoeuth, Krysada Binly Panusith Phounsiri and Sunny Chanthanouvong who stepped forward in the beginning to help create this campaign and the effort to help me get the resources I need to keep helping our community's journey.

Poem to appear in National Geographic Society's The United States of Poetry

In some good news to close out January, happy to report that a new poem of mine will be published by the National Geographic Society in their forthcoming anthology entitled The United States of Poetry, edited by J. Patrick Lewis. More details to follow as we get closer to the publication date.

Former Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis grew up in Gary, Indiana and earned a BA at Saint Joseph’s College, an MA at Indiana University, and a PhD in economics at the Ohio State University. Lewis taught in the department of Business, Accounting and Economics at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, until 1998 when he became a full-time writer.

Lewis is the author of more than fifty books of poetry for children, which find their shape in both free and formal verse and engage a wide range of subjects from history to mathematics, Russian folklore to the animal kingdom. His books for children include Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles (2009, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger); New York Times Best Illustrated Book The Last Resort (2002, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti and translated into more than a dozen languages); The Shoe Tree of Chagrin (2001, illustrated by Chris Sheban), which won the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators’ Golden Kite Award; and A Hippopotamusn’t: And Other Animal Poems (1990, illustrated by Victoria Chess). His collaborations with other children’s poets have yielded several collections, including Castles: Old Stone Poems (2006, with Rebecca Dotlich, illustrated by Dan Burr) and Birds on a Wire: A Renga ‘Round the Town (2008, with Paul Janeczko, illustrated by Gary Lippincott).

His children’s poetry has been widely anthologized, and his contributions to children’s literature have been recognized with the 2011 Poetry Award from the National Council of Teachers of English and the Ohioana Awards’ 2004 Alice Louise Wood Memorial Prize.

His poetry for adults, which includes the collection Gulls Hold Up the Sky: Poems 1983-2010, frequently utilizes metaphor and humor to address themes of family and history. His adult poetry has received the support of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist grant.

Lewis served as the nation's third Children's Poet Laureate from 2011 to 2013. He lives in Westerville, Ohio.

For this particular anthology, it's a 200-poem/photo anthology about the poetry of place that celebrates the American experience and the richness of our various cultures. I took on the Southeast Asian American experience in Fresno, CA and the Central Valley.

Monday, January 30, 2017

[Poem] Today's Special at the Shuang Cheng

Today's Special at the Shuang Cheng

My poem "Today's Special at the Shuang Cheng" from my first full-length collection of Lao American speculative poetry, On The Other Side Of The Eye in 2007, inspired by a Chinese seafood restaurant in the Dinkytown district of Minneapolis.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

"This Is What Democracy Looks Like"

I had to make an emergency run into LAX to deliver a backpack to an engineer leaving for Taiwan close to midnight, and the protests over Trump's executive order banning Muslims from entering the country were still in full effect. I felt a bit bad for my Lyft driver Adrian, since this was the very first time he was ever doing it, and I'd driven him right into the middle of his first major protest, but he came through with flying colors.

It gave me hope to see so many fellow Americans standing together protesting the social injustices that some would like to see become a permanent policy. But here are a few more images from the evening. The LAPD arrived in full riot gear, but the demonstration has been peaceful.

The events of the recent week have brought together a strong coalition of voices from across the country. Anyone whose family has roots as refugees in the United States needs to remember we were never embraced with open arms throughout most of the 20th Century. It behooves us to keep an open mind about the refugees of the 21st century.

A 1975 Gallup Poll showed 52% opposed Southeast Asian refugees coming in to the US. The Harris Poll showed only 37% favored it (49% of Americans opposed it, and 14% weren't sure.) These were pretty big nationwide polls. 

 To me, the takeaway is a complex one, because there's a generation that's grown up thinking we earned our place (and HAD to earn our place, even though our diaspora is a direct violation the US intervention in Vietnam and Laos, which was a violation of the Geneva Accords.)

Our youth shouldn't think we were always welcomed in with open arms and that it's somehow OK for us to turn our backs on the refugees of today. We need to definitely keep the work going and the eyes open as we educate one another and build a fuller understanding of the society we want to build together. 

Also remember, January 30th is the birthday of the late Fred Korematsu, although this highlights the recent decisions by the US government as even-more tone-deaf on top of the recently observed Holocaust Remembrance Day and that controversy.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Dinosaur Coins of Laos

Laos isn't the first place you'd think of when it comes to dinosaurs, even though we're working on that, as our relatively recent discovery of the Ichthyovenator, a cousin of Spinosaurus demonstrated, as does the ongoing success of the Dinosaur Museum of Savannakhet. However, as it turns out, in the mid-1990s there was quite a surge in popularity of dinosaurs as seen in the issue of several Lao stamps and particularly the coins.

Here for example is a 1994 Elasmosaurus fighting a Tylosaurus in the waters of prehistoric Earth.

Here we have Lufengosaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur who was also featured on a kip coin in 1994.

The Sauroctonus is a toothsome creature of the ancient past, and Laos is presently the only nation I know of to feature one on its currency. The same can be said for the 1995 Megalosaurus.

And of course, there's hardly a point to having a series of dinosaur coins if you don't include a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I'm still working on assembling my complete collection, but hopefully this post will help build an interest in more of these older coins and encourage Laos to do another series by the 2020s. Which dinosaurs would you like to see featured on coins in the future?

Blind Sun and Dearest Sister bonded by directors' shared love for horror genre

Hats off to my kindred spirit in terror and zaniness, Mattie Do who continues to make waves and pave the way for the Lao imagination around the world. I'm so proud of her!

She was recently highlighted in the Metro News article "Blind Sun and Dearest Sister bonded by directors' shared love for horror genre" in Canada for her latest Lao horror film. The focus of this particular article was how is modern technology enabling us to get more stories out there, particularly in the genres we love.

Dearest Sister has continued to deservedly win admiration around the world for its indie spunk and engaging premise, innovating new ideas in Lao horror and culture and getting our sense of creativity on the artistic map. I'm looking forward to the next films from her in the decades ahead!

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Daily O: How Delhi compares with other capital cities through eyes of the world's finest poets

Over in India, the poet-diplomat Abhay K. discusses some of the poets featured in his new anthology, Capitals from Bloomsbury Books that came out this month. Writing for the Daily O, he discusses the wide variety of voices and themes each poet has taken on in order to examine the various capital cities they are speaking of in verse. I get a nice mention in there, as well.

As I look through the collection, it's been intriguing to see the different styles and approaches each poet took, and I look forward to many more readers discovering this anthology in the years ahead.

The anthology might make an excellent gift for someone about to travel the world, or for one who has already done so. It might be read by diplomats, or young children who need a chance to dream and imagine these cities beyond the dry details of the encyclopedia or textbook. Here, the cities often come alive through the voices of those most intimately acquainted with them. At turns ambitious, sumptuous and daring, there is much to consider and reconsider regarding what we know, what we feel, and what we suspect about each of these cities.

A Great Place To Have A War: America In Laos And The Birth Of A Military CIA

This week, A Great Place To Have A War: America In Laos And The Birth Of A Military CIA went on sale from Simon & Schuster with a significant number of reviewers praising it. It's a timely release given President Obama's recent historic visit to Laos in 2016 and arriving just shortly after we marked the fortieth anniversary of the Laotian diaspora. I've had a lot of friends asking me if I'd heard about this new book, and the answer is yes, although I came upon it by chance while researching in the libraries in California recently.

I was very interested in how he approaches this subject because I've argued significantly for years that much of America's foreign policy today is shaped by lessons we learned from the conflict for Laos including the use of proxy armies and CIA paramilitary advisors. You can see the lessons applied in modified forms with the Kurds in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, and many of those who served alongside the Laotians from 1954-1975 went on to many other hotspots around the globe since. I personally think the case can be made that 9/11 has significant ties to the lessons we learned from the War for Laos. NPR recently did an interview with him for those who'd like to learn a little more about his approach.

There's a classic quote from Ed Buell, a US AID worker and retired farmer who spent his last years working in Laos to help the Hmong and Laotian refugees that anyone who spoke English in Laos had no idea what the real problems were over there.

The book approaches the conflict from an Americacentric perspective and reinforces many of the prevailing narratives regarding the Hmong in the conflict. There is no significant discussion of the role of the Khmu, Tai Dam, Lue, or Iu Mien in the war, and, as has become typical, the Hmong experience is told primarily from the Vang clan perspective. The book leaves significant room for the Yang, Lee, Xiong, Thao, and other Hmong clans to weigh in on the historical record in the future.

The author, Joshua Kurlantzick, spent years as a journalist writing about Asia for a variety of publications, including The Economist and The New York Times Magazine. He's now a senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. His book seeks to be "the definitive account of the secret war in the tiny Southeast Asian nation of Laos, which lasted almost two decades and forever changed the CIA’s controversial role in foreign policy."

Kurlantzick's book uses extensive interviews and recently declassified CIA records to examine the 1961 Operation Momentum in Laos. It "follows the war’s central characters, including the four key people who led the operation: the CIA operative who came up with the idea; the charismatic general who led the Hmong army in the field; the State Department careerist who took control over the war as it grew; and the wild card paramilitary specialist who trained the Hmong army (he’s believed to be the inspiration for Marlon Brando’s character in Apocalypse Now)." This would of course be Vang Pao, Bill Lair, Tony Poe, and Bill Sullivan, but it doesn't make much mention of key figures such as Jerry Daniels, although Daniels story is much better covered in Gayle Morrison's 2013 book Hog's Exit, anyway.

A Great Place To Have A War leaves plenty for emerging Laotian American historians and writers to address. Kurlanzick doesn't include many conversations with the Laotian veterans or civilians who lived through the conflict or whose lives were directly shaped by Operation Momentum and other military operations that emerged from this era. Nor do we see much from the Pathet Lao perspective that's particularly helpful for historians to consider. He has some interesting conclusions that may surprise some readers who are just starting to understand the scope and scale of the conflict and its aftermaths.

According to the publishers, "The CIA had previously been a relatively small player in American policy, one that concentrated on intelligence and political work. The secret war in Laos created an agency that fights with real soldiers and weapons as much as it gathers secrets; it became a template for CIA proxy wars all over the world, where the agency can take control with little oversight."

This book has merits, but will not be my first recommendation to Laotian American readers with an interest in the era compared to the works of Conboy, Warner, Robbins, Morrison, Castle, and Evans among other scholars and journalists. For more general audiences, it can provide a good start to a very big subject that has been far more influential on their modern world than many might suspect.

Featured on Nerds of Color!

Featured on Nerds of Color!

In their final live edition of Hard NOC Life from the NOC Reading Lounge at CTRL+ALT — the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s pop-up culture lab in the former Pear River Mart location in SoHo, I discuss the literature of the Laotian diaspora and explains why the Asian American literary canon needs more speculative fiction. You can see some of my photos from the CTRL+ALT exhibit here, as well as the coverage at Little Laos on the Prairie by M.K. Khamchanh.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Jane Wong

Today's Poet Spotlight is Jane Wong, who holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a former U.S. Fulbright Fellow and Kundiman Fellow. I've been very excited to see where she's taking her work, and I've found her and her students to be very engaging and thoughtful as they approach the question of poetics in our life stories. I'd definitely recommend giving her TEDx talk a listen to get a sense of her approach.

She is the recipient of scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Squaw Valley, and the Fine Arts Work Center.  One of my favorite projects of hers is The Poetics of Haunting which is a wonderful model for how we might do further Asian American poetry presentations.

The recipient of The American Poetry Review’s 2016 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize, her poems have appeared in journals such as Pleiades, The Volta, Third Coast, and the anthologies Best American Poetry 2015 (Scribner), Best New Poets 2012 (The University of Virginia Press) and The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Ahsahta Press).

Her chapbooks include: Dendrochronology (dancing girl press), Kudzu Does Not Stop (Organic Weapon Arts), and Impossible Map (Fact-Simile). She is the author of OVERPOUR (Action Books, 2016).

Currently, she is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pacific Lutheran University. You can follow her online at http://janewong.tumblr.com/

Monday, January 23, 2017

[Poem] New Myths Of The Northern Land

My poem "New Myths Of The Northern Land" from my first collection of Lao American speculative poetry in 2007, On The Other Side Of The Eye.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Eye to the Telescope: Robots! now online

The 23rd issue of Eye to the Telescope is now online, guest edited by Brian Garrison on the theme of Robots! This time we have twenty poets weighing in on this technological topic bringing in a mix good mix of wonder, amazement, melancholy, terror, and humor. I think you'll really enjoy it. We have work from a distinguished SFPA Grand Master, Rhysling and Elgin Award-winners, and other distinguished and emerging voices in our community.

It's never a small task to guest edit an issue, and this was no exception as Brian received submissions from around the world. I'm always deeply appreciative of his willingness to take time out to help the SFPA to make sure things happen. As we’ve mentioned before, he resides in Portland, OR, where he writes poetry, runs errands for the silly poetry journal, Parody, and sometimes does other stuff too. Be sure to check his work out whenever you get the chance.

Eye to the Telescope is a quarterly online journal established in 2011 under the auspices of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Its editors are selected by the current SFPA president and change with each issue.

Alan Ira Gordon will be editing our next issue, due out in April, centered on the theme of Alternate Stories. This will include alternate realities, alternate histories, alternate futures and pocket universes, so I expect we will see some very interesting entries and styles applied to address this theme. The deadline for this issue will be March 15th, so please be sure to mark your calendars.

Here's the index for our latest issue, as well as the websites for our featured poets this time for those who have one. My thanks to all of our contributors, and I look forward to reading more from everyone in the future! Or the alternate timeline, as the case may be in April.

"The Android Who Gave Herself Away" • Rohinton Daruwala

“robot fish” • Denny E. Marshall

Separation Anxiety • Shannon Connor Winward

“Hitchhiking robot” • G.O. Clark

“left for scrap” • LeRoy Gorman

"Final Jeopardy" • Alan Ira Gordon

"Preschool 2050" • Mary Soon Lee

"ones, zeroes" • John Reinhart

"The Medicine Show" • David Lee Summers

"Blur" • Jane Yolen

"Tenderlings" • Diane Jackman

"Robot Dreams" • Lisa Timpf

"Musings: Parabolic Poems (x2+1)" • Devon Balwit

"Return on Investment" • Ken Poyner

"What Goes Wrong with Cyborg Poetry" • F.J. Bergmann

"The Flesh is Weak" • Beth Cato

"Emet" • Deborah L. Davitt

"Just Rosie" • Kathleen A. Lawrence

"The Last Cantina of Love" • Sara Saab

"Eighteen Minutes" • Erica Gerald Mason

Saturday, January 21, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Saba Razvi

I'm just starting to come across the work of the modern mystical Islamic poet Saba Razvi, who is also a scholar who also writes criticism and fiction. She's also a fellow member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and brings a wonderful approach to speculative poetry from a South and West Asian American perspective.

Her diverse research interests include Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, Literature and Science, Literature and Technology, Sufi Poetry, South Asian Literature, Urdu Poetry, Contemporary Fiction, Translation and Poetry, Subculture in Literature, Robots in Poetry and Fiction, Science Fiction Poetry and Literature, and Representations of Poetry and Narrative in Science Fiction or Popular Culture.

The The Poetry Journal has a trio of her poems online that give you a sense of her written and spoken style: "Gingerbread Girl," "Longing Along the Long Winter's Eve," and "On the metropole walkside, he watched the dimming light." I would also recommend taking a look at a 2016 interview she did with Blogging the Numinous to get a sense of her inspirations.

In The Garden of Crocodiles is her first full-length book of poetry.  Employing a provocative, lavish technique with her verse, she "draws contemporary currents of political concern and cultural identity through the sieve of inherited mythos and ecstatic awareness." The poems are said to blossom out of the liminal moments in which familiar narratives begin to unravel, exploring the nature of transgression in emotionally contractual situations that have not retained their structural integrity.

Her poems have also appeared in journals such as The Offending Adam, Diner, The Homestead Review, NonBinary Review, 10x3 plus, 13th Warrior Review, The Arbor Vitae Review, and Arsenic Lobster. Her work has been anthologized frequently, including Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War Faith and Sexuality, The Loudest Voice Anthology, The Liddell Book of Poetry, and Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity.

Her other poetry collections include the chapbooks Limerence & Lux (Chax Press), Of the Divining and the Dead (Finishing Line Press), and the forthcoming Beside the Muezzin’s Call & Beyond the Harem’s Veil (Finishing Line Press)

Limerence & Lux was produced as a limited edition, hand-stitched, letterpressed, chapbook. It featured individually-painted blue and gold covers by artist Cynthia Miller. Her poems in this collection focused on "the lightblooms of desire and lust and heartbreak that fill the intimate spaces of relationships between people and their shared navigation of the world’s darkness."

Saba Razvi's poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net Award, the Rhysling Award, and have won a 2015 Independent Best American Poetry Award. She is currently an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Houston in Victoria, TX, where in addition to working on scholarly research on interfaces between Science and contemporary Poetry, she is studying Sufi Poetry in translation, and writing new poems and fiction.

I'm looking forward to seeing more from her in the future.You can follow her latest work at http://www.sabarazvi.com/ although the website is still a work in progress.

She is available for readings, roundtables on craft, guest lectures in classes, meetings with book-clubs, and microworkshops; if she can’t manage the travel in a particular case, she is available through online video-calls.

Friday, January 20, 2017

World Refugee Day 2017

World Refugee Day has been marked on 20 June, ever since the UN General Assembly, on 4 December 2000, adopted resolution 55/76 where it noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.

That's six months away and it would be good to see if your community is organizing a celebration and if there is a way for you to get involved. Here, we have one of the dance performances by Julie Ha Truong in 2010 giving a wonderful demonstration of her traditional dance skills for the community in Minneapolis.

This also seems like a good time to remind you to get your proposals in to the 2017 Southeast Asian Studies Conference in Lowell, MA by February 1st.

Lao Drug Lord Xaysana Keopimpha Arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Laotian Times reported that reputed Lao drug lord Xaysana Keopimpha was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport by the Thai police this week. Over 100 officers were involved in the arrest as the suspects were returning from Phuket. The Thai police noted in a statement that over the last 5 years, they have already arrested 50 individuals working under Mr Xaysana’s networks. They are believed to have smuggled over five million ya ba (methamphetamine) tablets into Thailand from Laos.

As an interesting point of historical context ya ba tablets have been illegal in Thailand since 1970 when they outlawed following several horrible bus accidents. They were formerly sold at gas stations and were commonly used by long-haul drivers to stay awake, and are combination of caffeine and methamphetamine which degrade cognitive functions over time with extended use. There were concerns it was spreading into the Israeli club scene as well as some club scenes in the US as a replacement for ecstasy. It was initially used in early forms to help horses pull heavy loads up steep hills and other labor intensive work in Shan State.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 API DAY at the Minnesota State Capitol

On February 8th, 2017 the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans will be gathering community members from across Minnesota for this year's API Day at the Capitol. The purpose of Day at the Capitol is to give every community member an opportunity to speak to their legislators, wield their democratic rights, and be heard during a crucial and strategic time in the legislative session.

Many of our community members may not feel confident or comfortable taking their places in the legislative process. API Day at the Capitol is designed to light the way and empower each individual. The Council has gathered keynote speakers, community leaders and knowledgeable guides to the political process. Every year, community members in attendance are guided through the process of engaging legislators about the issues that are most important to them.

Asian Pacific Minnesotans are becoming more involved in the decisions that shape our lives. It is our duty and privilege as members of the community to dispel the "model minority" myth and passionately represent our lives, families, and issues to our lawmakers.

API Day at the Capitol is a day to unite and display the collective will of our communities. They would like to formally invite you to this empowering event. Register here on EventBrite, this event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Sueyeun Juliette Lee

Sueyeun Juliette Lee's book Solar Maximum came out in December, 2015, and was a nominee for an Elgin Award for Book of the Year from the Science Fiction Poetry Association. It's been my pleasure to know her since at least 2013, and to see how her poetry has continued to grow and challenge all of us.

She grew up three miles from the CIA. She edits Corollary Press, a chapbook series devoted to multi- ethnic innovative writing, and writes poetry reviews for The Constant Critic. Her books include That Gorgeous Feeling (Coconut Press, 2008) and Underground National (Factory School) as well as numerous chapbooks.

Brenda Iijima noted that a "vivid life force surges through That Gorgeous Feeling asserting and affirming the bounty of social complexity in electrified fields of discourse, lived engagement and cultural consciousness. This is tremendously rich language. Acting as lightning rods these poems feed energy along pathways of courageous, dissonant ethical charges. Sueyuen Juliette Lee unsettles illusions, pushes at questionable foregrounding elements, swerves, permeates and injects syntax with intensified feeling. Her words have agency. These poems are full of finesse, radiance and are unsettlingly real."

Underground National was her second book-length collection, tackling the topics of suicide, K-pop, tourism, and atomic explosions. Her premise was that these have emerged as expressions of forces upholding untenable national imaginations. She invited readers to go underground with her and "enter into a subterranean consideration of how History collides with human memory to generate new, unseen currents for being." It was an ambitious text that will hopefully find many readers over time.

A Pew Fellow in the Arts for Literature, she has held residencies for poetry and video art at Kunstnarhuset Messen (Norway), Hafnarborg (Iceland), and UCross Foundation in Wyoming.

In discussing Solar Maximum, Douglas Kearney asked, "Is it a reckoning of human success or error that the cannibalistic clouds over Lee’s blanched landscapes are full of weather and information? That they break themselves down as a body and communications must? Why poetry otherwise? These are stunning poems written to haunt a house we’re in the process of building or, in another light, gently dismantling."  I think it's an apt description of her text. I'm looking forward to what's next in store for her on her poetic journey.

In the meantime, you can visit her online at https://silentbroadcast.com/

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Featured Reader: July 28th, 2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference

In some good news for the week, I'm delighted to accept the invitation to be a featured reader at the 2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference, in July in Lowell, MA on July 28th. I look forward to seeing everyone there! https://www.uml.edu/conferences/seaas-2017/ UMass Lowell is a national research university committed to preparing students for work in the real world— solving real problems and helping real people— by providing an affordable, high-quality education.

The 2017 conference will highlight Southeast Asian American communities in New England. Lowell, Massachusetts, is home to the second largest Cambodian American population in the United States, as well as Vietnamese, Lao, Burmese, and Bhutanese Americans. Nearby Dorchester, MA, and Providence, RI, are home to significant Vietnamese and Lao American populations, respectively.

This conference also seeks to build bridges across disciplines (humanities, social sciences, and sciences), and across/among scholars, artists, policymakers, and community members. What are the range of approaches to Southeast Asian American Studies? How might we foster communication and collaboration between fields and disciplines? What interdisciplinary approaches have been fruitful? What are some challenges to working across disciplinary boundaries? Given the opportunities and challenges of community-engaged research, what role can scholarship play in enabling social change for diverse SEAA communities? How can engagement with SEAA communities enrich and inform scholarship, and vice versa?

They seek papers and panels from the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, particularly in the areas of education, health, and public policy.

Monday, January 16, 2017

[Poem] Imperious

My poem "Imperious first appeared in Hyphen Magazine in 2006 and was included in my 2007 collection of Lao American speculative poetry, On The Other Side Of The Eye. It seems appropriate for this week

"Imperious" appeared along with my longer poem "Whorl." It still feels a bit like yesterday I'd been composing this one. A big thanks goes to Barbara Jane Reyes who selected the piece, and to Hyphen Magazine for really trying to make it all come together.

These days, the print magazine industry still doesn't make consistent space for the Asian American voice, and many of our best journals seem to have raised the white flag on that and made the move over to digital. There's a part of me that understands the practicality of such decisions, but I hope for future generations they never see it as the only possible option.

Friday, January 13, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Mary Soon Lee

This time for Poet Spotlight, I'm happy to highlight the award-winning work of one of my fellow members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, Mary Soon Lee. She's had an exceptional journey and is presently based in Pennsylvania.

Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in the US. Crowned is the first part of her epic fantasy about the heroic King Xau, The Sign of the Dragon. Several poems from this epic, including “Interregnum,” winner of the 2014 Rhysling Award for the Long Poem, may be read at thesignofthedragon.com.

Her Elgin Award-winning collection draws upon elements from both Asian and Celtic culture while incorporating dragons, bloody wars, horsemanship, kingship and other tropes of the genre. But she never ignores the human cost of heroism. Gorgeous black-and-white illustrations by M. Wayne Miller complete this first book of The Sign of the Dragon, and epic fantasy in verse.

Mary Soon Lee attended Trinity Hall, Cambridge University where she gained an M.A. in mathematics and a diploma in computer science. There, she also met her husband, Andrew Moore. She later gained an M.Sc. in astronautics and space engineering at Cranfield University.

In November 1990, she moved to Cambridge, Mass., where she lived for three years before coming to Pittsburgh. In 2003, she and her husband became US citizens..

Her other poetry credits include the American Scholar, the Atlanta Review, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Her short stories have appeared in The Year’s Best SF #4 and #5, edited by David Hartwell. She's one of the Lifetime Members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, two children, and two cats.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund 2017: Rhode Island/Eastern MA

Ten years ago I served as one of the scholarship reviewers for the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund when it came to Minnesota.

The scholarships were established to help Southeast Asian refugee students who had been displaced by the wars of the 20th century. So, I've seen firsthand the stories and the difference this scholarship means for many who were applying,

The funds were made possible by the families of those who'd been unjustly placed in the Japanese internment camps during World War 2.

It's only available in one state at a time, and this year it's being made available to students in Rhode Island and Eastern MA. In Rhode Island, there were an estimated 11,971 Southeast Asians living thiere including 5,961 Cambodians, 1,015 Hmong, 3,380 Laotians, and 1,615 Vietnamese back in 2010.

For many of the states where Lao, Khmer and Hmong resettled, fewer than 2 in 10 successfully complete college, and scholarships can play a key role in preventing financial distress from being a reason for students dropping out.

Historically, it's also been very important for us to actively help get the word out to these families because many the scholarship wants to serve most don't have a frame of reference for what and when to apply.

The deadline is February 1st but it can make a real difference in students lives, especially for those who are among the first in their family to attend college.

I strongly encourage you to please help spread the word and assist students in applying if you have relatives or friends in Rhode Island or Eastern Massachusetts.

Students will need to write a Personal Statement of 500 words or less (2 pages and typed) that will help the local committee understand why the student wants to continue their education or career training after high school. they are asked to select from one of the following topics as part of their essay:

– Are there any outstanding circumstances that may help the committee better understand you/your life and goals?

– What obstacles or challenges have you faced in getting an education?

– What are your personal and career goals?

– What contributions do you see yourself making to your ethnic community in the future?

– Describe how you have demonstrated leadership in or out of school.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Jennifer S. Cheng

Jennifer S. Cheng, is the award-winning author of House A (Omnidawn 2016). She received her BA from Brown University, MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa, and MFA in Poetry from San Francisco State University.

HOUSE A was selected by Claudia Rankine as winner of the Omnidawn Poetry Book Prize. She is also the author of Invocation: An Essay (New Michigan Press), a chapbook in which fragments of text, photographs, found images, and white space influence one another to create meaning.

A U.S. Fulbright scholar, Kundiman fellow, and Bread Loaf work-study scholar, she is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Harold Taylor Award, the Ann Fields Poetry Award, the Mid-American Review Fineline Prize, and two 2015 Pushcart Prize nominations.

Her poetry and lyric essays appear in Tin House, Web Conjunctions, Mid-American Review, AGNI, The Normal School, The Volta, Tupelo Quarterly, Seneca Review, Fifty-Fifty (an anthology of Hong Kong writing), and elsewhere. Having grown up in Texas, Hong Kong, and Connecticut, she currently lives in rapture of the coastal prairies of northern California. She participates in women-curated adventures at Drop Leaf Press. You can visit her at http://jenniferscheng.com/

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

[Lao American Poetry] Catzie Vilayphonh, 2009

This year we'll be seeing the release of Catzie Vilayphonh's first book of Lao American poetry from Sahtu Press. Here's a video of her performance in Sacramento as part of the ALEC conference for Lao youth as community builders encouraged the students to study and make college a part of their education plans for themselves.

Monday, January 09, 2017

[Poem] Recovering From War

My poem "Recovering From War" from my first full-length collection of Lao American speculative poetry, On The Other Side Of The Eye in 2007.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Vince Gotera

Vince Gotera is an award-winning member of the international Science Fiction Poetry Association with me. His collections include Ghost Wars (2003) and he was the poetry editor of the journal Asian America. He is the recipient of the Global Filipino Literary Award in Poetry. I've had the pleasure of knowing him since 2008, happily following along with his blog, The Man with the Blue Guitar.

His award-winning Ghost Wars featured sixteen new and previously published poems of his to  "understand the effects of war on all who are touched by it."  As a writer working with the Secret War for Laos as a frequent element of my work, I appreciate deeply what Vince was trying to accomplish with Ghost Wars and it's one of my favorites of his body of work.

Vince Gotera drew upon his experience as a veteran during the Vietnam War-era, and his experience being the grandson, son, and brother of combat veterans. In Ghost Wars, he explored the contradictory psychological demands made of soldiers. In this collection, men in combat existed in the moment, capturing and being captured by the power of violence.

But what of the aftermaths, he asked? How do these soldiers live with the implications of their actions? What do make of their struggles with a persistent sense of the past, to reconcile, to heal, to understand, and to come to a point of forgiveness and love? As we look at our present conflicts, I think there's much in Ghost Wars that can speak to the veterans of any conflict and their communities that try to understand them.

Vince was born and raised in San Francisco and lived in the Philippines for part of his childhood. He completed undergraduate studies at City College of San Francisco and Stanford University, where he earned a BA. He earned an MA at San Francisco University and both an MFA and a PhD at Indiana University.

In his narrative poems, he often engages with themes of family life and romantic love, employing vivid imagery and a range of formal and metrical constraints. He is also the author of the poetry collections Dragonfly (1994) and Fighting Kite (2007) and the critical volume Radical Visions: Poetry by Vietnam Veterans (1994).

He is the editor of North American Review. In 1997, Gotera and Nick Carbó founded FLIPS, a listserv for Filipino/a literature and arts.

Gotera’s honors include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Mary Roberts Rinehart Award in Poetry, and a Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. He has taught at Humboldt State University and the University of Northern Iowa and lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Be sure to check his work out at: https://vincegotera.blogspot.com/