Friday, July 16, 2010

Updated speakers coming to the Lao American Writers Summit

Confirmed writers who will be attending include:

Leilani Chan is a nationally known performance artist and Founding Artistic Director of TeAda Productions. For over ten years, TeAda Productions cross-disciplinary performances have addressed health, education, and social justice issues of communities of color. Ms. Chan received the 2009 Los Angeles Women’s Theater Festival Rainbow Award. She is a founding member of the National Coalition of Asian American Theaters & Artists and Legacies of War. Leilani co-creator of "Refugee Nation," a play about Laotian refugees in the U.S. Her work, including two solo shows "E Nana I Ke Kumu" and "Tita on the Run," has been presented across the country. Leilani has participated in UCLA's World Arts and Culture HOTHOUSE and TCG/Center Theater Group's Solo Performance Workshop led by Roger G. Smith. Her performance installation "Life as a Dashboard Hula Dancer" has been presented as part of Guillermo Gomez-Peña's La Pocha Nostra at LACMA and FITLA. Born and raised in Hawai’i, Leilani attended Hampshire College and obtained her M.F.A. from U.C. Irvine.

Boungheng Inversin is a prominent Asian American activist and community member who has played a prominent role in Laotian refugee resettlement through her involvement with the Lao American Women's Association in Washington D.C. and many other causes. With Daniel Duffy, she edited the 1999 short story collection of Outhine Bounyavong, Mother's Beloved:Stories from Laos,, presented by the University of Washington Press.

Phayvanh Luekhamhan was born in Champasak, Laos in 1975. She is a Juried Artist with the Vermont Arts Council. She has written poetry for performances and exhibits throughout New England for over ten years. Her work has appeared in Bakka Magazine, Chrysalis Education; Vermont Folklife Center Archives, and The Commons. She has held artist residency fellowships at The Vermont Studio Center (2004) and the Kundiman Foundation's Emerging Asian American Poets' Retreat (2005 & 2006). You can visit her at

Khetphet Phagnasay was born in Laos. His family escaped in 1979 from the communist government to find a better future in America. KP earned his B.A in Theatre Arts from California State University, Fresno, then pursued his MFA in Acting from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, where he studied Asian Theatre forms. KP is an Actor, Director, Playwright, and Acting coach for over 15 years. As an acting coach, he has taught at various studios in California and Hawaii.

He has worked and trained in many of the theater organizations, and talent agencies, and has helped cast talents, and translators for many projects like Lost (Thai- Laotian actors) , Finding Hope Now (Asian cast), California Babies First (South-East Asian mothers) , San Jose Juvenile Center (Vietnamese voice over/translator) various other commercials , and voice overs for non specific roles. KP has been featured in commercials, film/television such as Lost,Hawaii, Northshore, independent films and local theatre. KP worked on the feature film Finding Hope Now and is well known with non-profit organizations as a consultant or committee member to groups including FIRM, Stone Soup, and Asian Fest, Better Healthy Community Initiative, California Arts Endowment, and South-East Asian Writers/Artists, and LA’s East-West Players Asian Theater Company.

Mali Phonpadith is a Lao American writer/poet. She is the co-founder of Reflections Within, LLC and she has been writing poetry, short essays, and short stories for over 20 years internationally. She has over 400 pieces of written work and was nominated as “Best Poet of the Year” by the International Society of Poets in 2007. Mali has been a tireless activist within the community, and often volunteers many hours and resources to the causes she loves, including the Young Professional Leadership Group, the International Society of Poets, the National Association for Women Business Owners, the Lao Heritage Foundation, Arts of Falls Church and is an active volunteer with Teatro de la Luna.

2009 Academy Award (Oscar) and Film Independent Spirit Award nominated Thavisouk Phrasavath is an accepted member of WGAW (Writer Guild of America West). Also a creative consultant for film, television and other media, Thavi has directed documentaries, dramatic short and music video for independent record label and artists, published poetry and won awards for paintings and illustrations. Author of the upcoming book “Step Out of the Womb” (Memoir of the Journey to Land Where the Sun Fall) and “Old seed on The Soil” (Planting Generation) and a new screenplay for his upcoming feature “Lover Beloved”. His background in community work includes assisting Gang Prevention for Youth and Family Crisis Intervention and working with the police as a liaison and consultant for the Lao community. Thavi has consulted for the New York City Board of Education. The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) was the film that he was both subject and a filmmaker.

Ova Saopeng is an actor and writer from Los Angeles, he was born in Savannakhet, Laos and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a TeAda Productions Company Artist and co-creator of "Refugee Nation" a play about the Lao-American experience, based on the stories Lao communities across the U.S. ( He received his B.A. in Theater from the University of Southern California and since then has performed nationally with theater companies including the Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis, Mark Taper Forum/P.L.A.Y., East West Players, and hereandnow. He is a member of We Tell Stories and Water's Edge Theater children's theater companies.

Catzie Vilayphonh is a Lao American writer and performer. A child of refugees, she was born prematurely on the way to America, and considers herself part of the ".5 Generation". A member of the spoken word duo Yellow Rage, Catzie appeared on Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam in 2001 and performs at various venues across the country. She has performed with Ursula Rucker, Sarah Jones, Danny Hoch, Beau Sia and I Was Born with Two Tongues. Vilayphonh was the Fashion Director for magazine in Philadelphia, where she also wrote her weekly column Catz Out The Bag interviewing everyone from designers to directors and artists to actors. She was also the Transmit Editor for Theme Magazine, a contemporary Asian American culture publication based out of New York. Visit her at

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is the Lao American author of No Regrets, a collection of poetry and haikus published by Baby Rabbit Publishing. Her work has been published by Altra Magazine, the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, and Bakka Literary Journal, to name a few.

A Minnesota-based spoken word poet, she has performed and taught creative writing workshops nationally across the United States and internationally in Italy and Japan. She has worked with the Anchorage Urban League of Young Professionals lecturing and performing at the university-level and local high schools to urge voter registration and civic engagement and also served as liaison between local government and the Southeast Asian community regarding public policy.

Vongsay is a co-founding member of The Unit, a collective of emerging playwrights of color. Her short plays are staged at The Minnesota Playwrights’ Center. Her piece, Yellowtail Sashimi, will be part of the 2010 MN Fringe Festival's line-up this summer. She is a co-chair of the first Lao American Writers Summit in Minnesota and has worked actively to support the work of Lao women writers and artists across the country to celebrate heritage, diversity and community development.

Bryan Thao Worra is a 2009 NEA Fellow in Literature, Laotian American writer and the literary editor for Tripmaster Monkey Magazine and Bakka Magazine. His work is featured in over 70 international publications and his work is taught in schools around the world. He is the author of 5 collections of poetry including On The Other Side Of The Eye, Touching Detonations, The Tuk-Tuk Diaries: My Dinner With Cluster Bombs, Winter Ink and Barrow. Currently residing in North Minneapolis, he is a Many Voices Fellow of the MN Playwrights Center, and has received support from the MN State Arts Board and the Loft Literary Center Career Initiative Grant. He received a 2009 Asian Pacific Leadership Award for the Arts from state Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans. You can visit him at

Additional writers will be added as final confirmations are  received!

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