Thursday, July 13, 2017

2017 Laodyssey Playlist

So, recently it became necessary to make the transition from California back to the Midwest following a 6-year venture in community building and the arts, among other things. Because it's a bit of a pain searching around for radio stations that play my favorite music, and finding ones who don't repeat the same songs every other hour in horrible rotation, I wound up loading a Samsung tablet with a few to hold me over during the journey, because Manikab's DVD player is currently not working. 

So I have a record, the ones that wound up in the heaviest rotation were the following. Postmodern Jukebox and Puddles Pity Party occupied most of the list during this journey, as did Edith Piaf's "Non Je Ne Regrette Rien," and Tom Waits "I'll Be Gone" and "Hang On St. Cristopher." Jennifer Lawrence singing "The Hanging Tree," and Lana Del Rey's "In the Land of Gods and Monsters" also saw extensive play, along with War's "Gypsy Man," ZZ Top's "La Grange," and the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis. I should have brought along some more Sade.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Asian American issue of Poetry available now

The new issue of Poetry is out, featuring my work as well as the work of many amazing Asian American poets and I'm honored to be among such fine company. Be sure to check it out and get a copy if you spot it out there.

The magazine has since been in continuous publication for more than 100 years, making it the oldest monthly magazine devoted to verse in the English language. Perhaps most famous for having been the first to publish T.S. Eliot’s "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (and, later, John Ashbery's "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror"), Poetry also championed the early works of H.D., Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Marianne Moore.

It was first to recognize many poems that are now widely anthologized: "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks, Briggflatts by Basil Bunting, "anyone lived in a pretty how town" by E.E. Cummings, "Chez Jane" by Frank O'Hara, "Fever 103°" by Sylvia Plath, "Chicago" by Carl Sandburg, "Sunday Morning" by Wallace Stevens, and many others. Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Bukowski, Raymond Carver, Allen Ginsberg, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Tennessee Williams, to name just a few, have also appeared in Poetry’s pages.

This is my first poem to appear in Poetry over the course of 26 years of writing, and that it coincides with the 10th anniversary of my first collection of Lao American poetry, On The Other Side Of The Eye, I'm left with a particular feeling of happiness over the matter.

Friday, July 07, 2017

2017 Southeast Asian American Studies conference approaching July 27-29, 2017, Lowell, MA

A quick shoutout to Phitsamay Sychitkokhong Uy and Sue J. Kim and their team for doing so much work to get the 2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference pulled together with so many fine talents from academia, the arts, and the community. Be sure to register soon and remember the housing deadline is this Friday, 7/7/17. Don't get stuck camping on someone's lawn.

The Southeast Asian American Studies conference is a national summit of researchers, community organizers, artists, students, service providers, policymakers, community members, and others. The purpose is to reflect on the histories and current states of Southeast Asian American communities and to discuss solutions to the most pressing issues facing Southeast Asians in the U.S. The 2017 conference seeks to highlight Southeast Asian American communities in New England and seek to strengthen bridges between researchers, practitioners/service providers, policymakers, and community members.

 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. How are the histories and experiences of Southeast Asian Americans in New England and the East Coast similar to and different from other diasporic SEAAs? What new intellectual, political, and cultural formations emerge from considering this region?

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

SFPA Speculative Poetry Contest now open! Deadline August 31

Please let folks know the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association Poetry Contest is now open! Both members and non-members can enter! Prizes will be awarded for best poem in 3 categories of speculative poetry:

 Dwarf (poems 1–10 lines [prose poems 0–100 words]);

Short (11–49 lines [prose poems 101–499 words]);

Long (50 lines and more [prose 500 words and up]).

Line count does not include title or stanza breaks. All sub-genres of speculative poetry allowed in any form. Prizes: In each category (Dwarf, Short, Long): $100 First Prize, $50 Second Prize, $25 Third Prize. Publication on Poetry Planet ( podcast magazine and on the SFPA website for first through third places.

This year's judge is the award-winning Nikia Chaney, and the contest chair is Mary McMyne! For full details:

Sunday, July 02, 2017

A Missoula Interlude: 40 Years Later

So, the last time I was in Missoula, Montana was in 1997 or 20 years ago as I had begun my search in earnest for my long-lost family. 

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of when I'd become a US citizen, so naturally when I was passing through Missoula following the 4th National Lao American Writers Summit in Seattle, I decided to take a stop by the old courthouse steps where I'd taken one of my first picture as an American. I was three years old at the time, and it was Flag Day during the American Bicentennial.

As you can see, a few things changed in the meantime. But hopefully it won't be too long before I have a chance to visit Montana again. When I'd first taken the picture, they asked what I wanted for lunch, and I'd replied hot dogs and apple pie. The shop wasn't there anymore this time, but across the street there was a nice spot where I could get a "Prairie Fire" bagel dog and a cup of coffee before hitting the road. That wasn't so bad.

There are some fascinating connections between Missoula and the original resettlement of the Hmong thanks to Jerry Daniels, a former smoke jumper who became one of the key advisors to the CIA's secret army in Laos during the wars for Southeast Asia. But that's a discussion for another time.

Monday, June 19, 2017

[Poem] The Grass, with Hindi and Thai translations

With a special thanks to poets Abhay K. and Joy Panigabutra-Roberts for their translations of this poem of mine, which first appeared in my 2009 collection Tanon Sai Jai.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Thanks, Hydra Comic Con!

Sahtu Press and I had a chance to attend the inaugural Hydra Comic Con at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Palo Alto, California on June 17th-18th. They faced stiff competition from nearby Wizard World in Sacramento that seem weekend. You can see a full album of my pictures from the event at Flickr.

This was my last convention in California before I left the state back to the Midwest. This was produced by the same organizers who bring the popular Kraken Con to the region. For a first year it was very ambitious, and there were many positive things about the way it was organized and presented to make me hopeful for what they might bring to the community in the future.

One of the fun pieces I picked up was Archie vs. Sharknado on a whim. I do have to say, I found it surprisingly accurate for both mythos that have sprouted up around their respective storylines. Which should not be taken as an endorsement of the book as an epic to stand next to Beowulf or the Ramayana, but technically speaking, if you love Archie and/or you love Sharknado, this is certainly as close to an accurate depiction of how things would go in that setting as you can ask for. Why you would ask for it is none of my business.

I was impressed by the presence of the obstacle course, a rock climbing wall, space for video gaming and playing Rock Band, as well as a space for crafts, photoshoots of your cosplay, and other amenities that might well drive how we could design future events like the Lao American Writers Summit.

One of the interesting finds was a print of Filipina Super-heroine Darna by Danny Bulandi, facing her nemesis Valentina, a Medusa-like being who has fought her in film versions. I'll probably get into a bigger discussion about this character and implications for our approach to superheroes in the Laomagination project at a later point in time.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Lao'D & Clear: National Lao American Writers Summit coming June 23-24th

Coming soon to Seattle! The 4th National Lao American Writers Summit in Seattle at Highline College! See you there! Be sure to visit for more details!

Monday, June 05, 2017

When A Nation Loses Its Literature and creating a Southeast Asian American literary renaissance

A year ago, LitHub had an interesting article concerning the growth and development of the modern Cambodian literature scene. It's interesting to see how much of a shift in the Khmer literary infrastructure has taken place in just 12 months, and I do believe there are applicable lessons for the Lao community to keep abreast of as we continue our own development both in Laos and abroad. It's definitely something I'd add in to required reading for any conversations on building a Southeast Asian American literary movement. It's nice to see emerging writers like Sokunthary Svay, Sok Chanphal, and the Mekong Review getting some press coverage.

In the meantime, I find myself intrigued by the success of Indian literary festivals over recent years and how sustainable that might be for the Lao and Southeast Asians in diaspora. To me, the National Lao American Writers Summit isn't a festival, but a prelude to such events, of preparing our collective infrastructure so that as many of our emerging and established artists and writers have an opportunity to come together with enough notice to bring their best to community events.

I'd encourage many of our community members to take a look at events like the Latino Comic Expo that began with just 12 artists in collaboration with the Museum of Latin American Art for inspiration. What will be the next major project to organize in the years ahead? I'm intrigued by the Latino Comic Expo because of its grassroots approach to building community and how it intersected with their cultural institutions while still challenging our expectations of what our cultural artists can and should produce.

This goes back to my interest in a modified variation of the Creative Cities Network concept of UNESCO. I believe it's possible, but it's also going to be our life's work to make it happen. Ah, well. There could be worse fates to commit to.

In the end, can the Lao point to a sustainable and significant number of quality publishing houses with excellent editors and a diversity of opinions reflected? Do we have a wide range of educational programs focusing on domestic and foreign literature in primary and secondary schools as well as our universities? Do we have an environment in which literature, drama and/or poetry play an integral role?

Do we have experience in hosting literary events and festivals aiming at promoting domestic and foreign literature? Are our libraries, bookstores and public or private cultural centres dedicated to the preservation, promotion and dissemination of domestic and foreign literature?

Is there an active effort by the publishing sector to translate literary works from diverse national languages and foreign literature? Is there an active involvement of media, including new media, in promoting literature and strengthening the market for literary products?

Presently, I don't believe we're fully there yet. But we can make progress.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Haiku Review: Wonder Woman

Amazons, at last.
Overdue, but still thrilling.
When will she return?

So, beyond that, my take is that the Wonder Woman film should finally put to rest the idea that a woman as the lead protagonist can't be successful. This should be a seemingly obvious proposition, but ongoing arguments have been that exceptions such as the Aliens franchise; Fury Road; Rogue One; The Force Awakens; etc. have been ensemble films. 

I'm certainly glad that Wonder Woman came out before the Black Widow film, and despite the flop that Ghost in the Shell deservedly was, hopefully there will be some good lessons extracted so that the script for the Black Widow film can have the even greater depth and thrills than even the very promising looking Atomic Blonde film due out later this year.

I'd easily place the Wonder Woman film as an excellent baseline for what any superhero film should aspire towards, up there with the late Christopher Reeves' Superman 2. (Sorry, I found the first Superman film a little dull to watch). I enjoy many elements of the Nolan Batman films, and the kitschy ambition of the Burton and Schumacher take on Batman but Wonder Woman, while dipping her toes in the Grimdark atmosphere of many DC comics films, ultimately embraces a brightness, a light that should be admired and brought forward in more works. Heroes who are actually heroes, trying to do the right thing.  I'd be worried because it's tempting to let such a character descend into parody. Wonder Woman as Don Quixote. But I appreciate that the film dares to present an unflinching, if challenged optimism. It's refreshing.

It's a fine film that kicks works such as Hancock and My Super Ex-Girlfriend to the curb. For non-comics fans, its accessible, and easy to follow. For fans of the comics, adjustments to the classic mythos of Wonder Woman are solid and provide openings to more interesting updates and storylines in the future that may well be worth watching. 

Is it as groundbreaking and transgressive as Fury Road?Compared to that or Logan, Wonder Woman is very near, and what it's accomplishing is a bit more subtle, but sill well worth watching. I feel bad for Aquaman and other DC films if they aren't poised to address as many interesting questions as Wonder Woman sought to explore. 

I look forward to discussing this with many of my students in the years ahead especially as we consider how a Lao and Southeast Asian perspective might have approached the material, and where her character might resonate with us. I do have one nagging quibble with the film that I won't get into for now because it would involve a massive spoiler, but it's a minor compromise given all of the other interesting things Wonder Woman explored for a Summer blockbuster.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Janine Joseph

Janine Joseph was born and raised in the Philippines and Southern California. Driving without a License (Alice James Books, 2016), is the winner of the 2014 Kundiman Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays about growing up undocumented in America have appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Best New Poets, Best American Experimental Writing, Zócalo Public Square, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, and elsewhere.

Her commissioned libretti for the Houston Grand Opera/HGOco include What Wings They Were: The Case of Emeline, “On This Muddy Water”: Voices from the Houston Ship Channel, and From My Mother’s Mother. Janine holds an MFA from New York University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston, where she was a poetry editor for Gulf Coast.

She has taught creative writing with Writers in the Schools, Community~Word Project, and the Starworks Foundation. A recipient of a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, an Inprint/Barthelme Fellowship in Poetry, a Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center Fellowship for Collaboration Among the Arts, a PAWA Manuel G. Flores Prize, a Howard Nemerov Poetry Scholarship, and an Academy of American Poets prize, Janine is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University.

2018 Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute accepting applications.

If you have $9,200+, the Center for Asian Pacific American Women is currently accepting applications for the 2018 Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute (#APAWLI)

It seeks to promote leadership of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women in the corporate, nonprofit, and government sectors by fostering the development of AAPI women as whole person leaders. This program has been going on for more than 20 years. Applications are due June 6th 2017 and the first session will take place October 2017.

"Partial scholarships" available. A big thanks to SEARAC for letting us know this opportunity is available.

Karst Mountains Will Bloom a success

Thanks go to everyone who came to join us on Saturday, May 27th at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center for the historic Karst Mountains Will Bloom reading. 

Among the scheduled readers for that evening were Dr. Kou Yang, Soul Vang, Burlee Vang, Ying Thao, See Xiong, Kao Kalia Yang (video), Mai Neng Moua (video), Andre Yang, Jer Xiong, Mai Der Vang, Yia Lee, Khaty Xiong (video), May Lee-Yang (video), Anthony Cody, Nou Her, May Yang (video), Yu-Han Chao, Meg Withers, Luna Moua, myself, and Pos Moua.

It was standing room only as community members gathered to pay tribute to the literary journey of Pos Moua. The readers all gave touching testimonies to his influence on their work and what he meant to them as their friend.

This  is a pretty monumental year. It's the 15th anniversary of Pos Moua's Where the Torches Are Burning and Bamboo Among the Oaks. This year saw the release of Mai Der Vang's award-winning debut book of poetry, Afterland, and Mai Neng Moua's memoir the Bride Price. It's the 10th anniversary for my first collection, On The Other Side Of The Eye.

And oddly, for as much as I've encouraged so many members of the Hmong American Writers Circle over the last decade, this is the very first time we've all read together like this, along with so many members of the Paj Ntaub Voice.

It was a great evening bringing together elders and emerging writers and speaks well of what's possible in the years ahead. What a wonderful way to close out the 2017 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month on Memorial Day Weekend, and I was honored to be a part of it.

I look forward to hearing more from so many of the talented young voices I saw reading this weekend.

Although I'd known Pos' work for over 17 years, this was the very first time we'd met in person. I always encourage my fellow Southeast Asian American writers not to take such moments for granted. Though it can seem like we see each other all of the time, in truth, often years pass between such occasions, if they ever happen. It's not something to take lightly.

SEARAC Moving Mountains Equity Summit, Oct. 12-14

SEARAC recently announced:
Scholarship applications are open for SEARAC's inaugural national equity summit, Moving Mountains! To ensure representation across regions, organizations, and generations, SEARAC will be providing a limited number of scholarships to community members who need financial support to attend and who exemplify the spirit and mission of the equity summit.  
"Moving Mountains will bring together 100 of the best and brightest strategic thinkers, trailblazers, and community leaders from diverse Cambodian, Hmong, Iu Mien, Lao, and Vietnamese American communities across the country." The summit will be held in Washington, DC, October 12-14. Apply today, and email with any questions.
While I haven't seen a concrete list of the speakers involved, they are offering to bring together "100 of the best and brightest strategic thinkers, trailblazers, and community leaders from diverse Cambodian, Hmong, Iu Mien, Lao, and Vietnamese American communities across the country."

I'm not certain how they're doing outreach to bring in the Akha, Lue, Khmu, Tai Dam, Montagnard, Karen, and other SEA stakeholders in the US, but it could be something to keep an eye on, especially as the time draws near for Census 2020.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

‘Groundbreaking’ Asian-American Poets to Read With Immigrant, Refugee Roots

This month I helped NBC News Asian America with an article regarding Asian American poets who'd been breaking ground recently, particular among the Southeast Asian American community.

2016 had some amazing books of Asian-American poetry come out as well as additional accolades and recognition worth mention, particularly for many of the poets in Southeast Asian American communities often overlooked within the world of arts and letters. A big thanks to Frances Kai-Hwa Wang for reaching out to ask about what's happening in our community. And here's to Mai Do, Mai Der Vang, Khaty Xiong, Sokunthary Svay, Krysada Binly Panusith Phounsiri, Bao Phi, Monica Sok, Jenna Lê, Janice Sapigao, and Peuo Tatyana Tuy, among so many others who've worked so hard to ensure our diverse voices might yet be a part of the great tapestry of human stories for generations yet to come.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Honoring Pos Moua: Karst Mountains Will Bloom

This Saturday I'll be traveling to Merced to honor the journey and work of Pos Moua, a wonderful Hmong poet whose work I've known for nearly 20 years. It will also be the very first time we meet in person. That's how it goes as poets, sometimes: Nearly a lifetime getting to know one another across long distance through our art. Nearly 20 other Hmong and Asian American poets will be reading this evening in a historic gathering. If you're in the Central Valley on Saturday, I encourage you to join us at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.

The Hmong American Writers' Circle, in conjunction with Merced College and the Merced Cultural Arts Center, will present "Karst Mountains Will Bloom." The free public reading will feature nearly 20 of the leading Hmong-American voices in the U.S., as well as friends of Moua and the Hmong American Writers' Circle. Readers will include the 2016 Walt Whitman Award Winner, Mai Der Vang; the first Hmong-American to publish a full-length manuscript, Soul Vang; Nicholls Fellow and HAWC founder, Burlee Vang; among others.

Pos Moua is a Hmong-American writer, educator, and poet based out of Merced, CA. His chapbook "Towards the World Where The Torches are Burning" (Swan Scythe Press, 2001) gives “an account of love and family and identity in the poet’s new land”, and is the first published work from a Hmong American poet. He has published work in in "Tilting the Continent: Southeast Asian American Writing", "UC Davis Poetry Review", Sacramento’s "Poetry Now", and "National Poetry".

 Readers include: Dr. Kou Yang, Soul Vang, Burlee Vang, Ying Thao, See Xiong, Kao Kalia Yang (video), Mai Neng Moua (video),  Andre Yang, Jer Xiong, Mai Der Vang, Yia Lee, Khaty Xiong ,(video), May Lee-Yang (video), Anthony Cody, Nou Her, May Yang (video), Yu-Han Chao, Meg Withers, Luna Moua, and Pos Moua himself.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Paisley Rekdal

Paisley Rekdal is the author of four books of poetry, a book of personal essays, and a mixed media book of photography, poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She lives in Salt Lake City and teaches at the University of Utah.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

July 2017 Presentations and Performances

July is fast approaching and with it, four of my upcoming appearances in which I'll be discussing everything from giant lizards, kung-fu zombies, poetry, to the importance of engaging the imagination in refugee resettlement. For now you can get a sense of my schedule at the following sites. I'll see you all there!

CONvergence (July 7-9th) 

Confirmed panels include: Giant Lizard Theater: Infinity Edition; Asian Folklore 101; The Making of Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals; Peele-ing Back 'Get Out;''and Laomagination: Building Southeast Asian Speculative Arts Movements.

G-Fest XXIV (July 14-16th) 

Confirmed panel: Kaiju in Speculative Poetry

Diversicon (July 21-23rd)

Panels still TBD

2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference: Community Engagement, Research & Policy in Action (July 27-29th)

Confirmed panels include Southeast Asian American Art and Politics; Rising SEAS: Challenges and Strategies for Growth as Southeast Asian Writers; and a showcase performance with Bao Phi and Peuo Tuy.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mai Der Vang's "Afterland" coming to UCLA, May 25th

Delighted to announce I'll be helping to introduce Hmong American poet Mai Der Vang, author of the award-winning book of poetry Afterland from Graywolf Press in Minnesota. Afterland won the Walt Whitman Award from the American Academy of Poets in 2016 and it's finally been released to the public. It's an extraordinary collection and an important addition to the world of Hmong arts and letters.Be sure to join us at UCLA in the Public Affairs building room 2270 at 4PM for what is certain to be an exciting and marvelous reading.

For a preview of what it might be like, here is my post regarding her launch in her hometown of Fresno. I've been reading her poems every day this month to start my morning. Afterland comes with my strongest recommendations and I'm very happy for her, even as I am now also obligated to say: I can't wait to see her second book, now. ;)

Author Spotlight: Lisa Teasley

This past weekend left me with a lot to report from the 6th annual LitFest Pasadena on May 20th-21st with well over 100 authors and 30 events, including formal and informal gatherings throughout the city. My time was split between covering LitFest as well as the inaugural East Los Angeles Comic Con but I'm glad I had the chance to cover both.

I always think it's the sign of a good literary event when you can genuinely discover new authors, and LitFest Pasadena delivered well in that regard for many of my reading tastes. I'll be covering many of them in the coming weeks ahead, but first up, I want to highlight the work of artist, author and world traveler Lisa Teasley who came to my attention through an act of serendipity while documenting the Tomorrow Prize! for emerging teen science fiction writers at the Pasadena Playhouse.

In no uncertain terms, Ms. Teasley cuts a very striking and dramatic figure upon entering a room, and as she prepared to give her talk as part of the panel on writers within the Black Lives Matters movement, I had a chance to take a few photos of her and her colleagues.

A Los Angeles native, she graduated from UCLA and is the author of several books including Glow In The Dark, Heat Signature, and Dive, each of which has received substantial acclaim as they've come out. Her debut, Glow In The Dark, a collection of short stories, won both a Gold Pen Award and a Pacificus Literary Foundation award for fiction in 2002. Her awards also include the May Merrill Miller and National Society of Arts & Letters award in the Short Story category.

Her current forte is writing tales which have elements of crime, mystery, and passion, and they have been consistently praised for their interesting characters and scenarios.

Her work also includes writing and hosting the BBC Television documentary, High School Prom. 

She was a member of the former art collective HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN, which debuted the film “Good Stock on the Dimension Floor” at the Whitney Biennial 2014. On top of all that, Lisa Teasley is a fiction editor at the Los Angeles Review of BooksHer travels have taken her to Indonesia, China, Alaska, and points in between, with many more sure to come in the years ahead.

This year, Lisa Teasley was presenting with her panelists on Writing in the Times of Black Lives Matter & Resistance to Trumpism in the Pasadena Playhouse – Friendship Room (off courtyard) The aim was to gather black writers to discuss what it means to write during the time of Black Lives Matter and Trump. Her scheduled co-panelists included Gar Anthony Haywood, Dana Johnson (Not Quite Dark), Tricia Alkmia Cochée, James Farr, and Jervey Tervalon (Monster’s Chef)

You can find Lisa Teasley on social media such as Twitter: @TheLisaTeasley and on Instagram at @LisaTeas. And of course she maintains her website at http://LisaTeasley.Com. Be sure to check her out!

The SEAD Project nears its fundraising goal. Can you help?

It's a good time this week to do a shoutout to the Southeast Asian American non-profit The SEAD Project which is just a little over $400 away from reaching its fundraising goal of $1,500. If you can help them out, it would make a tremendous difference for Southeast Asians abroad and in the US. Their Facebook campaign ends soon but every bit helps!

Now in its third year as a fully-recognized 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, The SEAD Project started with the vision of Chanida Phaengdara Potter and a group of Southeast Asian young professionals who wanted to not only connect with their roots and heritage, but to think bigger and beyond preservation.

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Vientiane, Laos, they’re starting a diaspora movement to rethink and reimagine and reshape what’s possible in development and growth for a thriving community with a pivoted focus on empowering young professionals, women and youth.

With roots in 2010, The SEAD Project (Southeast Asian Diaspora Development) is a creative social venture on a mission to be an accessible community hub that provides streamlined cross cultural workshops, exchanges and knowledge-sharing for Southeast Asian locals and diaspora communities. Through safe and welcoming spaces, they hope to connect the disconnected and drive empowerment to plant the seeds of hope and possibility locally and globally.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Happy birthday, Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014)

Happy birthday to the late Yuri Kochiyama. Thank you for the example you set and the work you inspired in so many around the world. Here's to all that was done together, and all that may yet be accomplished. NPR had one of the classic obituaries on her life back in 2014, but of course I think so much more can be written about her life, her journey as a writer, and her commitment to social justice.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

[Neologism] Moronivore

Early birthday present for Gina Kundan, in our annual tradition of coining a new neologism each year for her. I'd save this for 2018 but it's too good to pass up. Welcome, then:

Moronivore: (Noun) (ˈmôrˌäno vôr) Devourer of fools. Usage: "In reality it turns out that 99% of all monsters are actually moronovores, with only a few possessing a rarefied taste for the wise, being referred to properly as sagivorous." May also be regularly interchanged with Moroniphage. 

Additionally, in theory, Moromnivore means "a creature that eats EVERY single fool in sight (or primary sensory range)" But frankly, SFF writers, I'm REALLY rather disappointed NONE of you came up with this until now per a preliminary scan of the extant literature.

[Poet Spotlight] Grace Shuyi Liew

Grace Shuyi Liew is the author of Book of Interludes (Anomalous Press, 2016). Elsewhere, her work has appeared in cream city review, PANK, Bone Bouquet, West Branch, and others. She is an alum of Aspen Summer Words, Squaw Valley Writers Workshop, and the Watering Hole.

She is from Malaysia and used to work as an interpreter. Now, she resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she attends Louisiana State University's MFA program and works as a teaching artist.

2015 was a particularly prolific year for her individual poems finding homes. I found "Publics" in Juked particularly engaging as an introduction to her work as well as "From "Mapping/ A Vanishing or How To," in The Nervous Breakdown. "PROP" won the 2015 Ahsahta Chapbook Contest, judged by Kerri Webster.

You can visit Grace Shuyi Liew at and she IS available to write poems for you. I'd take her up on it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

[Poet Spotlight] Angela Peñaredondo

Born in Iloilo City, Philippines, Angela Peñaredondo is a poet and artist living in southern California. Her first full-length book, All Things Lose Thousands of Times, is the regional winner of the Hillary Gravendyk Poetry Prize.

She is also the author of a chapbook, Maroon (Jamii Publications). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in AAWW's The Margins, Four Way Review, Cream City Review, Southern Humanities Review and elsewhere.

She is a VONA/Voices of our Nations Art fellow as well as a recipient of a University of California Institute for Research in the Arts Grant, Gluck Program of the Arts Fellowship, Naropa University's Zora Neal Hurston Award and Squaw Valley Writers Fellowship.

She has also received scholarships from Tin House, Split This Rock, Dzanc Books International Literary Program among others.

You can visit Angela Peñaredondo at: to learn more about her writing and artistry.

Poem "Ecce Monstro" to appear in Poetry.

I just received word my experimental science fiction poem, "Ecce Monstro" examining the AAPI transcultural adoptee journey has been selected for a special issue of POETRY magazine this Summer.

That's a good feeling. After 26 years of writing poetry and over 20 awards for my literary and community leadership work, this is actually the very first time one of my pieces has been accepted by them. I'd have to go back through the archives to see if any other Lao American poets have been published with them so far, but I feel pretty confident in saying I'm among the first to appear in the journal.

To put it into some additional context for my non-poet readers: Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry magazine is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Harriet Monroe's "Open Door" policy, set forth in Volume I of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry's mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach. As you can imagine, it gets a bit competitive.

It's also particularly gratifying to see this poem accepted because its experimental nature had made it somewhat difficult for it to find a home even among speculative literary and Asian American journals for several years. But you'll see what's going on with this poem  later this Summer.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Primer to Bryan Thao Worra's Science Fiction Poetry

Over the years, I've been giving  numerous presentations and lectures across the country regarding the importance of encouraging refugees to express not only their memories but their dreams and imagination in their creative works. Because of the nature of this work, I'm often given limited time to show people the full breadth of my work that stretches across nearly thirty years of writing (where does that time go?)

Of course, the easiest place to see my principles applied in my writing is in my books, where preview versions are found in various archives online, but it is clear many of you would like a more curated introduction to some essential science fiction and fantasy poems of mine to see what I'm doing.

With this post, then, here are links to nine poems online that can provide a good introduction to what I'm doing and where I may well be headed in the future:
  1. Full Metal Hanuman, Strange Horizons, 2013
  2. The Robo Sutra, Expanded Horizons, 2013
  3. 5 Flavors, Expanded Horizons, 2013
  4. Phaya Nak Goes To The West, Uncanny Magazine, 2016
  5. Narrative of the Naga's Heirs, Uncanny Magazine, 2016
  6. Slices of Failure in Super Science, Uncanny Magazine, 2015
  7. The Deep Ones, Illumen, 2007
  8. Arachne's Daughters and The New Humenu, 2112, Defenestration, 2016
  9. Laostronauts, Demonstra, 2013

I'll soon be releasing a few chapbooks gathering my poems that haven't been readily available for many of my readers so that it will be easier to see these ideas in focus. The above poems will hopefully give you a sense of what's possible and to read my larger collections when time permits. Thanks to everyone for all of your support over the years! 

Machine Dreams Zine has gone online!

The Machine Dreams Zine is up and running at:

A Zine compilation of creative work and critical theory on the machine, arts, and difference. Contributions largely drawn from the conference, Machine Dreams: A Symposium on Arts, Robots, and Difference held at UCLA in 2015, and co-organized by Lucy Burns, Neil Aitken, and Margaret Rhee.

With additional writing and art included, the Machine Dreams Zine offers provocative and playful remediations on the machine in our digital times. Design provided by The Mystery Parade.

 I'm delighted to appear in Issue 1 with my poem "The Robo Sutra" along with wonderful poets and writers such as Neil Aitken, Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Minsoo Kang, Toaster Betsy, and Sun Yung Shin, among many others. Be sure to check it out, and consider ordering a POD version of it.

CONvergence 2017: To Infinity & Beyond!

I hope all of my colleagues in the Midwest will be joining us at CONvergence this year. One of their Guests of Honor is none other than award-winning Lao American writer Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, creator of the play Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals!

I'll also be returning as an alumni Guest of Honor, so this will hopefully be an exciting and historic moment for Lao American speculative art! My panels are still being confirmed, but I'll definitely be discussing the film Get Out as well as attending the poetry slam! More details will come soon!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

SEA American Studies Conference, Speculative Art and Social Justice

As a reminder, I'll be one of the presenting featured readers of the 2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference in July! I hope you'll consider registering if you're in the area.

It will be my very first time presenting work in Massachusetts and I look particularly forward to sharing the stage with the talented poets Bao Phi and Peuo Tatyana Tuy! This is particularly meaningful for me as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of my first book of poetry On The Other Side Of The Eye, which wrestled with many of the issues of community change and social policy through the lens of speculative poetry.

My panel was also accepted on Southeast Asian American Speculative Art and Social Justice. Here's the abstract:

Many Southeast Asian American communities came into the US as refugees during the rise of science fiction films and literature such as Blade Runner, Alien Nation, Aliens and Star Wars, while also presented with problematic works such as Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon or The Joy Luck Club. 

Examining the journeys of award-winning Southeast Asian American artists such as Jenna Lê, Bao Phi, Kyle Tran Myhre, Saymoukda Vongsay, Krysada Panusith Phounsiri, Mattie Do, Burlee Vang, Khaty Xiong, Sayon Syprasoueth, the Cambodian Space Project, and others we will take a look at efforts to engage in community building and social justice using creative works informed by science fiction, fantasy, and horror to subvert dominant narratives and perceptions of Southeast Asian American identities, and to address sensitive internal community topics domestically and abroad.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

#Blessed Comes to The Institute of Contemporary Arts in Philadelphia

As the  #Blessed pop-up exhibit approaches Philadelphia on May 6th, I've been able to watch Laos in the House founder Catzie Vilayphonh and her team in action readying the site for this event, I'm so proud of her and her tenacity, her vision and commitment to building the community.

I'm honored to be a part of this project with her, and I'll be reading several classic poems of mine at this event at her personal request, including "The Last War Poem," "Laos in the House," "Aftermaths" and "On A Stairway in Luang Prabang," perhaps a few others as time permits.

She's a wonderful role model for Lao artists anywhere, and I can't wait to see how it all comes together.

To put the significance of this gathering into context, this space was founded in 1963 by the visionary dean of the school of architecture, Holmes Perkins, who wanted to expose students to what was “new and happening” in art and culture.

In the time since, the ICA has developed an international reputation for contemporary art and culture. 52 years ago, In 1965, they organized Andy Warhol’s first ever solo museum show, helping propel him to superstardom;. The ICA has presented early shows of artists like Laurie Anderson, Richard Artschwager, Karen Kilimnik, Glenn Ligon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Damian Ortega, Pepon Osorio, Tavares Strachan, Cy Twombly and many more.

That we are now able to bring the work of Lao American artists to this space is a very exciting moment for everyone.