Thursday, January 26, 2012

Celebrating year of the Dragon: Free e-book of BARROW

To celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Dragon, Bryan Thao Worra is giving away free e-book copies of his current book of speculative poetry, BARROW, to the first 100 people who e-mail him at thaoworra @ The second book of speculative poetry by Laotian American writer Bryan Thao Worra, BARROW includes all-new poems as well as poems that appeared in journals such as Whistling Shade, Northography and Tales of the Unanticipated between 1991-2009. BARROW continues an experimental journey across cultures and language to examine themes of multiplicity and meaning in an uncertain universe. You can visit Bryan Thao Worra at

Refugee Nation coming to LA: May 31st to June 24th


Produced by TeAda Productions and The Latino Theater Company, the acclaimed Lao American play Refugee Nation will coming to Los Angelese at the Los Angeles Theater Center from May 31 - June 24, 2012. The shows will be from Thursday-Saturday 8pm, and on Sundays at 3pm. General admission will cost $30 but Students, Seniors, and Groups can get a discounted price of: $20.

 Upcoming shows this year will be in Portland, Oregon and Vermont.

What is Refugee Nation?

A mother lives alone in the darkness. A father struggles to forget a lost war. A son battles in the streets of urban America. A daughter searches for answers in her community. Refugee Nation is about a young generation struggling to understand their history and the silence of an elder generation still healing from the traumas war. What can we learn from the wounds of a war over 30 years ago in the hope to find healing? 

Refugee Nation tells the stories of a community created by a U.S. led secret war in Laos. Intricately connected to the Vietnam War, Laotian refugees struggle to create a future as their American descendants struggle to understand their past. Since 2005, collaborators Leilani Chan and Ova Saopeng have been collecting oral histories from family and community members across the country to create an interdisciplinary theater performance that explores a growing part of the Asian American Diaspora that is yet to be included as part of the American experience.

Through theater and movement they re-construct the stories of families trying to rebuild a community that has been spread like ashes across the U.S. and the world. More than just a telling of Laotian American history, the two-person performance eloquently touches upon issues relating to the refugee experience, assimilation, generation gap, and mental health using drama, film, music, and audience interaction, and personalizes these issues through a genuine Laotian American perspective.

The result is a product that not only brings to light the hidden stories of Laotian Americans around the U.S., but one that is able to unite people from all types of backgrounds, ethnicities, and histories by relaying the ideas of change, loss, struggle, healing, and the unrelenting strength of the human spirit.

You can find out more by visiting

Kundiman poetry retreat deadline: February 1st

In order to help mentor the next generation of Asian American poets, Kundiman is sponsoring an annual Poetry Retreat in parternship with Fordham University.

During the Retreat, "nationally renowned Asian American poets will conduct workshops with fellows. Readings, writing circles and informal social gatherings will also be scheduled. Through this Retreat, Kundiman hopes to provide a safe and instructive environment that identifies and addresses the unique challenges faced by emerging Asian American poets. This 5-day Retreat will take place from Wednesday to Sunday. Workshops will not exceed eight students."

The Lao American poet Phayvanh Luekhamhan participated in the Kundiman poetry retreat, as has the Hmong American poet Andre Yang. If you're interested in Asian American poetics, it could be of significant interest to you.

The application is free. You'll need to submit 5-7 pages of poems and a brief paragraph about what you'd like to accomplish at the retreat.

Note that the tuition fee is $350 but room and board are free. It takes place in New York City from June 20th-24th. You'll also have to arrange your own transport to New York City and to the college.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Saymoukda Vongsay joins Intermedia Arts and Asian Pacific Endowment board

A big congratulations to award-winning Lao American writer Saymoukda Vongsay, who recently was officially appointed to the board of directors for Intermedia Arts and also as a member of the board of directors at the Asian Pacific Endowment Fund of the St. Paul Foundation.

A pioneer in creative community leadership and engagement, Intermedia Arts has been providing artists and audiences with the tools, support, respect and freedom to make positive social change through art, dialogue and civic engagement since 1973. Over the past 40 years they’ve grown, become multi-disciplinary, changed their name, and gained international recognition for their innovative programming and approach to creative leadership and community engagement. You can visit them at

The Asian Pacific Endowment, a permanent philanthropic endowment built by and for Asian Pacific Islanders, empowers communities to improve and enrich the lives of Asian Pacific Islanders in Minnesota. The Asian Pacific Endowment is a partner in The Saint Paul Foundation’s SpectrumTrust, an initiative to enhance the philanthropic capacity of Minnesota’s richly diverse communities of color.

We look forward to the great work and vision Saymoukda Vongsay will bring to both boards.

Catzie Vilayphonh profiled at the Leeway Foundation

Lao American spoken word artist Catzie Vilayphonh was recently highlighted at the Leeway Foundation website in an interview.

Catzie Vilayphonh from Leeway Foundation on Vimeo.

A big congratulations to her as a recipient of the Leeway Transformation Award 2010 and the Art and Change Grant 2010. We look forward to many more accomplishments from her!

Friday, January 20, 2012

2012 Call for Submissions: Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement

It's the start of a new year, and we had a great 2011 at the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement. In addition to 19 academic articles and reviews, we had a record number of submissions in our creative works section from established and emerging Southeast Asian American writers. In 2011, we featured:

* Selected Poems of Andre Yang
* You Bring Out the Laos in the House by Catzie Vilayphonh
* Selected Poems of Toon Souksada Phapphayboun
* The p0wer of numbers of Sumeia Williams
* Selected Poems of Samy Elisabeth Yang
* When the Mountain Spirit Spoke by Anchalee P Roberts
* Hmong Daughter; Womyn by Linda Hawj

JSAAEA is an official publication of The National Association for the Education and Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans (NAFEA), with support from the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual studies and the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

In 2012, we'd like to continue adding more creative voices to the journal. If you or someone you know has work that you'd like to contribute, send them to me at or you can go to the website at

30th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival coming!


When: March 8-18, 2012
Where: San Francisco, Berkeley, and San Jose, CA

The SFIAAFF, presented by the Center for Asian American Media, is the nation's largest showcase for new Asian American and Asian films, annually presenting over 100 works in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Festival's 30th anniversary program celebrates the past, present, and future - not only honoring pioneers in Asian and Asian American media-making, but also new directions in digital and interactive media, sound and youth culture, and gaming.

So, keep your New Year's resolution - get out into the community and learn more about the richness and diversity of Asian and Asian American experiences (Wait, that wasn't on your list? Well, it should be!).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Modern Lao literature since 1975

Back in 2005,The Laos Cultural Profile was created in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Culture of Laos with financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation. It featured a number of good leads, including this overview of modern Lao literature since 1975:

Highlights include the name of several prominent writers in Laos which provides a good start to consider when doing cross-cultural exchanges, but to be honest, given some of the errors they made regarding 'prominent' Lao painters abroad, this information may need to be updated and examined by Lao American writers in the very near future, especially as efforts are made to connect with younger emerging voices in the community.

A quick history of Lao literature

When you are looking at nearly 600+ years of a literary tradition, that's a lot of ground to cover. In English, one of the best places to start can be found in the introductory essay of scholar Peter Koret that served as the forward to the classic short story collection, Mother's Beloved (Phaeng Mae) by Outhine Bounyavong.

This essay is currently archived online at: and is strongly encouraged as essential reading for anyone with an interest in the journey of Lao poetry, short stories and novels. Peter Koret has recently been finishing a number of additional essays which will hopefully be available to the public soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Call for Submissions: Lao American Speculative Arts Anthology

Approaching 40 years in the US, we know Lao Americans love science fiction, fantasy, horror, myths and legends. Now we're looking your stories and art for the first full-length anthology of Lao American speculative art and literature.

Whether it's a story of Lao astronauts in a distant future, nak or phi in ancient Lan Xang, the missing adventures of Sithong or Xieng Mieng, or wild weretigers and kinnali in Laotown, we want to hear about it!

Tales of time-traveling silapin, Lao cyborgs and superheroes, or visitors to haunted villages are all encouraged and welcomed.

illustration courtesy of Nor Sanavongsay

Send us your best original stories between 250 to 5,555 words in length. We also accept up to 10 poems, up to 255 words per poem. For longer or shorter works, please inquire. We are also looking for examples of visual art: painting, illustrations, mixed media, photography, etc. Visual artists can submit between 5 to 10 pieces. Don't send originals, but high quality digital files.

All genres and sub-genres, such as steampunk, are welcomed, but no "fan fiction" or use of characters and settings you do not have the rights to. Work should have a reasonably clear Lao connection.

This anthology is requesting one-time electronic and print rights, after which further publication rights revert to the creator. A physical contributor's copy and e-book copy are provided and a small stipend. Approximately 20 artists and writers will be selected for this project.

To Submit:
We accept RTF files by e-mail only. Put the words: LAO ANTHOLOGY in the subject line with your name. Double spaced manuscript in Times New Roman. Use italics, not underlines when necessary. Use of Laoglish is fine and encouraged, but absolutely NO italicizing Lao words.  Good grammar and spelling appreciated. No simultaneous submissions.

Have your contact information of the first page of the manuscript including e-mail address. Visual art submissions should be able to be reproduced well in black and white and sent as a digital file at 600 dpi or higher. Portrait orientation preferred, but landscape orientation accepted.

Deadline Extended to: March 1st, 2012. If you need more time, send us an e-mail of what you'd like to submit and how much time you need to complete it.

Send submissions or additional questions to: or twitter @thaoworra.