On August 1st, Saymoukda Vongsay became the first writer to receive the Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry.
The award was established to honor Alfred Charles Carey, the grandfather of writer and community activist Brandon Lacy Campos. "Grandpa Carey was a tremendous human being," Lacy Campos remarked. "He was a working class mixed race man of Irish and Ojibwe descent. His mother, Suzanna, was born on La Courte Oreilles Reservation in Wisconsin, and my grandfather worked his whole life as a roofer. He was a scion of one of the original families of Duluth, MN, and he was the gentlest soul I have ever met. I love and honor my grandfather. He was, in many respects, the ideal male figure in my life, and I miss him dearly."
When the award was originally announced, Brandon Lacy Campos noted "Alfred C. Carey was a hard working man from Northern Minnesota. He worked in construction, specifically roofing, while raising a family of 8, including three children not biologically his own. He represented a series of beautiful and sometimes hard contradictions in race, class, and history. He also, without a vocabulary around race and sexuality, accepted all of his children and grandchildren for who they were without judgment."
The first Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry was awarded to Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay for her poem When Everything Was Everything. Vongsay will receive $150 with the award.
A Minnesota-based Lao American writer, essayist, playwright and spoken word poet, Vongsay has performed across the United States and in Italy and Japan. She is currently studying for her master’s degree in public policy.
Vongsay is also co-founder of The Unit Collective, and a member of Imperial DJ Science Crew. She is the 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.
Vongsay is chair of the first Lao American Writers Summit in Minnesota this August in Minneapolis. She has worked actively to support the work of Lao women writers and artists across the country to celebrate heritage, diversity and community development.