Monday, December 29, 2014

Hmong writer releases first full-length book of poetry, To Live Here

We're happy to note the release of Soul Vang's long-awaited full-length book of poetry, "To Live Here" from Imaginary Friend Press.

Laotian Ameican poet Bryan Thao Worra recently pointed out "Soul Vang is easily one of the best Hmong poets of our generation. He's a significant voice and I find his work stunning and profound." Thao Worra first became acquainted with Vang's poetry in the late 1990s while working with the writers and artists of the Paj Ntaub Voice Hmong literary journal and the Bamboo Among the Oaks anthology.

Thao Worra remarked "It's somewhat tragic that his work wasn't picked up by Asian American publisher, particularly a Hmong press. As Hmong and Lao approach 40 years in the US, I think this still speaks volumes about our place within the various worlds of arts and letters." This raises some interesting questions for all of us to consider about the importance of our community's writers working with institutions nominally committed to publishing voices like ours. To Live Here is selling for just $15, shipping and handling included.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Refuge of the InvisibLao: A Visual Essay coming in January, 2015

Come celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Lao Diaspora this January by attending a storytelling art and photography exhibit at the Vine Gallery entitled: “Refuge of the InvisibLao: A Visual Essay.” This is one of the first events of its kind in the country

The exhibit will feature the work of acclaimed neo-expressionist Chicago-based artist Chanthala Kommanivanh and past and present portraits of Lao American journeys that were collected by LLOTP Founding Editor, Chanida Phaengdara Potter, and other special guests.

The event welcomes community members, public officials, advocates, scholars, and those interested in immigrant stories from Laos and Southeast Asia.

They're asking many profound questions during this exhibit:
What is your dream after a tumultuous past? After the Laotian Civil War during the Vietnam War era, thousands of Southeast Asians emigrated to the United States, Australia, France and other countries. Thousands more followed as students, merchants, and to simply start new lives. How have the years changed our sense of who we are, who we have been, and who we can be?
During this time, Little Laos on the Prairie will launch its 2015 #BeLaod campaign to promote historically invisible stories of Lao American journeys in the United States.

Stories of displacement, isolation, identity crisis, reflection, hope and happiness are some of the themes that encompass the depth of the path to an American Dream for the Lao Diaspora.

The opening storytelling reception is Saturday, January 10, 2015 from 5:00pm-8:00pm. Appetizers and drinks will be served. Originals and prints of artwork will be available for sale. All proceeds goes to The Lao Diaspora Project and their collaborators to continue their work.

Exhibition runs January 10-24, 2015. The Vine Arts Center is located at 2637 27th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota. It's  the 2nd level of Ivy Arts Building in the Seward neighborhood.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Meeting the Needs of Lao Writers

Laotian American writer Bryan Thao Worra has a new column in the Twin Cities Daily Planet this month discussing Lao legacies, leadership and the literary arts. His core question is "How do we create events that are meaningful for our writers to advance in their skills and to find their audiences?"

His questions are important for Lao American writers in any genre, whether it's poetry, playwriting, prose, or experimental literature, and applies easily to the traditional arts such as storytelling or textile weaving, the visual arts or other forms.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Krysada Panusith Phounsiri poem featured at Little Laos on the Prairie

Photo courtesy of Roxrite

Laotian American poet and interdisciplinary artist Krysada Panusith Phounsiri was featured at Little Laos on the Prairie this week with his poem, "Brother." His very first collection of poetry drops this month through Sahtu Press. Dance Among Elephants is the title and will be around 75 pages, selling for $15. Krysada Panusith Phounsiri is a multitalented artist based in San Diego. His collection is divided into five parts, embracing his love of dance, Laos, and family. This is the only Lao American poetry collection to come out in 2014. We've seen a complete preview and it's pretty awesome. Don't miss it when it comes out!

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 Rhysling Awards coming Friday, December 12th

The 2014 Rhysling Awards, hosted by Elizabeth R. McClellan and the Science Fiction Poetry Association, honoring the best speculative poetry of 2013, will be held in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, December 12, 2014 at 7:00 P.M. at the Goddess and the Moon, 603 8th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee, as well as being livestreamed online.

A speculative poetry-themed open mic will follow, open to any interested poets. The Rhysling Awards honor short and long form works in science fiction, fantasy, horror and slipstream poetry. The 2014 Rhysling Anthology, the annual collection of nominated works, will be publicly released at the event. Copies will be available for sale, as well as memberships to the SFPA.

Event details, updates and information are available at : RSVPs are appreciated, but not required.

 The Rhysling Award nominations and selections are made by the members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, founded in 1978 to bring together poets and readers interested in science fiction and speculative poetry. The Rhysling Award honors poetry in two categories: short poems of 1 to 49 lines and long poems of 50 lines or longer.

The annual award is given to one (1) work in each category, and the second and third place works are also honored. The list of the 2014 nominees is available at The Rhyslings are considered in the speculative fiction field to be the equivalent in poetry of the Nebula and other awards given by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America for “prose” work: achievement awards given to poets by the writing peers of their own field of literature.

The winning submissions are regularly reprinted in SFFW’s Nebula Awards Anthology. Past winners include such science fiction and fantasy notables as Ursula K. le Guin, Catherynne M. Valente, and Jane Yolen. Nominees this year have come from around the world and appeared in publications such as Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Apex Magazine, Asimov's Science Fiction, Star*Line and Mythic Delirium. This year, Lao American writer Bryan Thao Worra had two poems nominated, "The Robo Sutra" and "Five Flavors" both in Strange Horizons.

"I think its wonderful that our community takes the time to read and consider the many fascinating approaches people take to express their imagination through poetry," said Thao Worra, who was the winner of the 2014 Elgin Award for Book of the Year.

Elizabeth R. McClellan, the 2014 Rhysling Chair and editor of the 2014 Rhysling Anthology, will be announcing the winning works and honorees, as well as emceeing the open mic to follow. For more about the Science Fiction Poetry Association and the Rhysling Awards, visit For more about the 2014 Chair, visit

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Volume 5 of Lao Studies Journal now available

The latest issue of the Lao Studies Journal is up and available now at:

The Journal of Lao Studies is published twice per year by the Center for Lao Studies, 65 Ninth Street, San Francisco, CA, 94103, USA. For more information, see the CLS website at

This journal provides open access to content contained in every issue except the current issue, which is open to members of the Center for Lao Studies. Once a new issue is published, the contents of this issue will be made freely available. They agree with the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge. Authors who publish with this journal retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in the journal.

Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work. For all others requesting permission to republish, resell, or repurpose material, please contact the CLS at

Global Taxi Driver issues thank you

TeAda Productions recently sent out a thank you to all the supporters of Global Taxi Driver this past summer!

Following the work-in-progress open rehearsal at East West Players in Los Angeles, the show traveled to the Twin Cities for the world premiere at Intermedia Arts. Between August and September the show underwent a tremendous transformation that brought together an ensemble of six performers from two cities to create a dynamic, energetic ensemble show that sparked dialogue and highlighted immigrant communities in the Twin Cities.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Laos in the House calls for Scary Stories

It's October and the organizers of Laos in the House want hear your scariest stories! Submit the most frightening moments, or maybe just tell them a really good ghost story, or perhaps that weird eerie thing that happened to you that one time you couldn't explain. Don't be scared, all stories welcomed.

Submit here:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sahtu Press announces next book, poetry by Krysada Binly Panusith Phounsiri

Lao American publisher Sahtu Press announced their forthcoming next title, Dance Among Elephants, by  Krysada Binly Panusith Phounsiri. This will be his first book.

An international performer, Krysada Binly Panusith Phounsiri is a Lao American who came to the U.S. when he was 2. He is now a resident of San Diego. He began writing poetry at age 11. Dance Among Elephants will have poetry and photography, mostly previously unpublished material. 

Founded in 2013, Sahtu Press specializes in works by Laotian American writers and artists.Their first book was the children's book A Sticky Mess, by award-winning Lao artist and author Nor Sanavongsay, which told one of the classic stories of the Lao trickster figure, Xieng Mieng. They expect to release Dance Among Elephants in December, 2014.

Inspirations: Thep Thavonsouk and Bryan Thao Worra

One of the things that poet Bryan Thao Worra often tells his students is that good writing means being able to draw inspiration from other experiences, other artists. He walks the talk on this subject. One of his poems, "Discussing Principles of Art with Laotians" was published at Cha, a Hong Kong-based literary journal earlier this year. In this poem, Bryan Thao Worra employs his characteristic polylingual technique as he writes about Lao artists grappling with principles of classical Chinese art in Laoglish.

One of the key inspirations for this poem was a meeting with the master Lao painter Thep Thavonsouk, whose work can be found at Thao Worra first came across the work of Thep Thavonsouk in 2001 during discussions at the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project conference in Minnesota. He had a chance to actually meet Thep Thavonsouk in person in 2002 while convening the "Five Senses Show" an exhibition of Lao and Hmong art at the Babylon Gallery on Lake Street in Minneapolis. It had a profound effect on his approach to writing.

Various forms of "Discussing Principles of Art with Laotians" were written in the time since but never formally published until 2014. This October, Bryan Thao Worra met Thep Thavonsouk again, this time during the Beverly Hills artShow in California, where they caught up and saw how much progress each other had made, while still remaining true to the artistic spirit that drove them to their paths in the first place. They promised each other it would not be another 12 years before they met again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Souvankham Thammavongsa wins Trillium and CBC Bookie Award

Lao literature marked a major milestone this year. Lao Canadian writer Souvankham Thammavongsa’s book Light won the CBC Bookie Award for Best Book of Canadian Poetry.

Souvankham Thammavongsa was born in Nong Khai, Thailand, in 1978. Now a resident of Ontario, her third poetry collection, Light, was launched in Toronto on September 12th, ten years after the launch of her first book Small Arguments, also by Pedlar Press.

The New Quarterly readers named her Best Beloved Canadian Poet and she recently won the Trillium Award for her writing.

Lao American science fiction artists wins Book of the Year

In September, the Science Fiction Poetry Association announced that Lao American writer Bryan Thao Worra and Vongduane Manivong's book of art and poetry, "DEMONSTRA," won the 2014 Elgin Award for Book of the Year. Thao Worra currently resides in North California, where he works as a non-profit grant writer specializing in the arts and Southeast Asian refugee issues.

"DEMONSTRA" was released in 2013 by Canadian publisher Innsmouth Free Press and features the original visual artwork of Texas-based artist Vongduane Manivong, who exhibits nationally. Both artists' families are from Vientiane. They first met in 2002 and collaborated previously with Manivong providing the cover for his second book, "BARROW."

The timing of the award is particularly exciting for the community as it prepares to mark 40 years of the Lao Diaspora in 2015.

Established in 1978, the Science Fiction Poetry Association has almost 300 members internationally. The Elgin Award is named after SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin.

In the chapbook category, the winner was Helen Marshall's 2013 book "The Sex Lives of Monsters" from Kelp Queen Press.

Additional details can be found at the SFPA Website:

Lao Diaspora Project seeks submissions

Do you have photos worth a thousand words? Does it tell a story about your family’s history? Does it reflect who you are? Does it speak of the journey of where you came from and where you are now?

Little Laos on the Prairie, in collaboration with Laos in the House and artist Chantala Kommanivanh, want to share your story, and those of friends and family! Please spread the word and learn more at:

The Lao community’s stories will help educate the public and officials about our shared journey that has been left out of mainstream history. This is a chance for your story to be honored and featured on Little Laos on the Prairie’s website, highlighted in a mini-booklet, turned into a painting, and/or shared in a public gallery, and it’s an opportunity to reflect, relate and learn from others in the Lao Diaspora.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Upcoming Lao American Book: The Fighting Winds of Destiny

Our community can look forward to a debut book from Lao Minnesotan author Anita Nina Teso later this year: "The Fighting Winds of Destiny." Called an "Amazing Story about Tough Times and Inspirations. Based On A Real Life Story."

It is being published by Tate Publishing. More details will be forthcoming in the months ahead.

New Lao Minnesotan book: The Wolf and the Moon and Other Lao Folktales

Over at the Lao Assistance Center, executive director Sunny Chanthanouvong and cultural anthropologist David Zander worked together on a new book, "The Wolf and the Moon and other Lao Folktales." The layout, design and production by the students of the Design and Graphics Technologies Department of the Dunwoody College of Technology.

The collection was made possible by a story circle grant from the Bush Foundation, the Minnesota Humanities Center and support from the Lao Assistance Center. The suggested donation is $5 and delivery is currently only available in Minnesota.

 It's divided into four sections: Animal tales; Fairy tales, wisdom & magic; Wisdom stories; and Lao Buddhist principles for living. It also includes background notes on the Lao in Minnesota. Of particular note are folktales from Chanida Phaengdara Potter and her mother featured in the booklet.

2014 Magazine Markets for Lao Speculative Literature Writers

It's a fresh new fiscal year for various for-profit and non-profit magazines. Here's a beginning round-up of markets emerging and experienced writers of Lao science fiction, fantasy, and horror can consider submitting work to.

In comparison to previous years, 2014 appears to be a year of serious contraction in the field, with many publications closing down or at least, not taking new submissions for the time being. Others have been excluded in the current round-up because they don't really meet even the minimum standards for acceptable presentation of an author's work. This

As we point out every year: Some pay, some do not. Naturally, of those who do pay, some pay well, and others barely provide enough for a cup of cyber-coffee and bus ride home.

But the markets listed below are still currently or will be accepting writing in the future.  Some may be more receptive to stories that have overtly Lao or Southeast Asian American elements to them, but this is the sort of thing one finds out only by applying.

Remember, do your research and read a few issues ahead of time to get a feeling for whether or not your work would be a good fit with them. Don't send science fiction splatterpunk short stories to a journal that only accepts fantasy poetry, for example.

As always, caveat scriptor: Most have been vetted for reliability and good terms regarding their publishing rights and professionalism, but one should do their research on other writers experiences with them when you can. Most of these journals should provide interesting opportunities and good homes for many of your works.

Good luck!

  • 365 Tomorrows 

  • Allegory   

  • Analog 

  • Andromeda Spaceways

  • AntipodeanSF  

  • Apex 

  • Aphelion   

  • Asimov's  

  • Aurealis 

  • Bewildering Stories  

  • Big Pulp   

  • Digital Dragon Magazine  

  • Expanded Horizons 

  • Fabulist 

  • Fantasy and Science Fiction   

  • Future Fire   

  • Goblin Fruit 

  • Grantville Gazette   

  • Ideomacer   

  • Innsmouth Free Press

  • Journal of Unlikely Entomology:

  • Jupiter Science Fiction  

  • Kaleidotrope  

  • Lakeside Circus:  

  • Leading Edge Magazine  

  • Lightspeed Magazine 

  • Lontar: 

  • On Spec  

  • Quantum Muse   

  • Revolution Science Fiction   

  • Shimmer  

  • Space and Time  

  • Space Squid   

  • Strange Horizons 

  • Tales of the Unanticipated 

  • TTA 

  • Uncanny Magazine (Coming soon in Fall, 2014)    

  • Vestal Review  

  • If you have additional journals to suggest, please share them in the comments below!

    Lao Minnesotan Writers Summit is a go!

    In exciting news for Lao writers everywhere, the organizers of the Lao Minnesotan Writers Summit announced that a $10,000 award was recently secured for use in 2015.

    The Minnesota Metropolitan Regional Arts Council approved an award to convene the Writers Summit, tentatively scheduled for April 18-20 in Minneapolis. The location will most likely be near North Minneapolis where many of the 12,000+ Lao Minnesotans reside since the beginning of the Lao Diaspora.

    The grant requires the Lao Minnesotan Writers Summit to raise at least $1,000 in additional matching funds, while ideally raising $15,000 for the full budget. This activity is possible in part from an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

    Organizer Bryan Thao Worra said "It is exciting to know that we will be able to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Lao diaspora with an event like this." The organizers are convening this to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project. The summit will in part serve to remember the deeply influential project on the arts and cultural reconstruction of the Lao in Diaspora.

    The national AWP conference takes place April 8-11th, and the timing for the summit was selected to allow community members the opportunity to attend both events. The timing is also very close to the Lao Minnesotan New Year.

    The Lao Minnesotan Writers Summit will convene community writing workshops during the 9 months leading up to the gathering. In recent past years, Lao Minnesotans have been working together to present many new books and performances. This includes Saymoukda Vongsay's "Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals" to "The Wolf and the Moon" a collection of Lao folktales collected by anthropologist David Zander and the Lao Assistance Center, as well as Little Laos on the Prairie editor Chanida Phaengdara Potter and her mother.

    It will be 5 years since the National Lao American Writers Summit took place in 2010 at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Many of the participants then went on to national acclaim and performing across the country. Spoken word artist Catzie Vilayphonh of the duo Yellow Rage has gone on to lead the upcoming Laos in the House Project in Philadelphia. Oscar-nominated director and artist Thavisouk Phrasavath received an Emmy for his film The Betrayal (Nerakhoon). Bryan Thao Worra went on to represent Laos during the 2012 London Summer Games as a Cultural Olympian. Artist and author Nor Sanavongsay released his debut children's book, "A Sticky Mess," based on the Lao folk hero of Xieng Mieng.

    Thao Worra said "For my Lao American artist colleagues, I hope this serves in part as a vindication and a validation of your work, I hope that you see it as an affirmation that there is a space for the Lao voice within the world. Keep creating, keep innovating, keep reaching for the best within yourselves and all living beings."

    Saturday, April 5, 2014

    Refugee Nation returns to Minneapolis, 2014

    Just in time for the Lao New Year!

    Intermedia Arts is bringing back the acclaimed play Refugee Nation after 4 years to Minnesota.

    Refugee Nation is about a young generation seeking to understand their history and a community healing from the traumas of war.

    It will only be presented 8 times, from April 10-13 and April 17-20. The Sunday shows are at 2:30 in the afternoon. The Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows start at 8pm promptly. Tickets are $15 at the door, although $12 advance, student and senior discounts are available.

    Intermedia Arts Executive director Theresa Sweetland said, “It is moving, powerful, hopeful and even funny at times and opens up a necessary and meaningful conversation about the legacies of war on individuals, generations, families and communities.”

    Award-winning writer Bryan Thao Worra has described it as “one of the most significant plays of Lao America in our first 40 years.”

    Over 1,000 people came to see this play the last time it came to Minnesota. In this iteration, guest performances will be performed by Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, Karimi Robert, May Lee-Yang, Ibrahim Kaba, Abdi Phenomenal and more.

    This production was made possible in part by National Performance Network (NPN) Performance Residency Program and by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts also made this year’s presentation possible.

    The two-week run starts April 10th. Tickets are on sale now at:

    Friday, April 4, 2014

    Catzie Vilayphonh Performing in April for a cause:

    Catzie Vilayphonh is organizing the 2015 Laos in the House project. Because one of the duties of Lao New Year is to settle debts and practice philanthropy, she's donating all the money from herspeaking gigs for the entire month of April. If you want to see her:

    4/5 - Rethinking Activism Conference at Penn

    4/10 - Yellow Rage at University Nevada, Las Vegas

    4/16 - "Shade: A Panel Discussion on Race & Feminism" hosted by Pussy Division at William Way

    4/18 - Family Style Open Mic at Asian Arts Initiative

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

    6th Annual International Lao New Year Festival: April 26th, 2014

    The sixth annual International Lao New Year Festival is coming to the Richmond Civic Center Plaza on Saturday, April 26th from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Details are likely to come out in the next few weeks about the acts and opportunities that will be specifically Hopefully they'll include Lao American art and literature.

    Monday, March 31, 2014

    Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay presents in Minnesota at the start of National Poetry Month

    It's a busy week for Lao American writer Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay. This Thursday April 3, 11am-12:30pm she is guest lecturing at a Asian American Identities, Families, and Communities class at the University of Minnesota.

    On Thursday, April 3, 4:30pm-6:30pm, Duangphouxay Vongsay is speaking at Metro State University on how her Lao-ness "made me an awesome artist." Come join the conversation.

    On Friday, April 4, 7pm-9pm, she's performing at this month's Poetry for Thought at the Demera Ethiopian Restaurant and Bar 823 W. University Ave, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104. Come hear them. Free to the public!

    Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is an award-winning Lao American poet and playwright whose poetry, essays, plays, and short stories have been published by literary journals, lifestyle magazines, almanacs, newspapers, anthologies, and scholastic journals nationwide. Her play Kung Fu Zombies vs Cannibals was named Best Production of 2013 by L'Etoile Magazine and as Theater Mu's 45th world premiere is it's highest grossing production to date.

    Her literary, theater, and advocacy work is made possible through generous support from organizations such as the Jerome Foundation, Mu Performing Arts, MN State Arts Board, Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota, Loft Literary Center, Joyce Foundation/Alliance of Artist Communities (IL), Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (DC), Asian Economic Development Association, and the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (DC).

    She's lent her experience in literary arts and community engagement to the work and programming of organizations such as the Smithsonian Institute, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (DC), Legacies of War (DC), the MN Historical Society, and the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre in Luang Prabang, Laos. Vongsay holds an English degree from the University of Minnesota and pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies focusing on public policy and arts and cultural leadership at the University of Minnesota.

    She currently serves on the Board for Intermedia Arts, Saint Paul Almanac, Saint Paul Foundation's Asian Pacific Endowment, Dispute Resolution Center, and the Asian Economic Development Association's Arts Advisory. She's the Lead Chair for the National Lao American Writers Summit and Chair of the Twin Cities World Refugee Day Celebration Committee. Get to know her at

    Lao Heritage Foundation Pacific Northwest 7th Annual Benefit Dinner a success!

    The Lao Heritage Foundation's Pacific Northwest Chapter held their seventh annual benefit dinner at the Foundry in Seattle, Washington on Sunday, March 30th. They were completely sold out. They are grateful for all the support and humbled by the generosity of our community times and again.

    Those who had tickets were encouraged to "Bring your dancing shoes, dress for their amazing photo booth, explore their night market, and have your very own copy of the Xieng Mieng children's book signed by the author Nor Sanavongsay himself."

    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    1st Lao American writer included at Poetry Foundation website

    Lao American writer Bryan Thao Worra became the very first Lao American poet to be featured on the Poetry Foundation website. Established in 2003 by a major gift from philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the Poetry Foundation evolved from the Modern Poetry Association, which was founded in 1941 to publish Poetry magazine, now in its 73rd year.

    Over 3,261 American poets are currently featured at the Poetry Foundation, including many Asian American poets, but Bryan Thao Worra sets precedent for the community as a Lao American writer.

    On his blog at On the Other Side of the Eye, he wrote,  "I hope my fellow Lao Americans see this not just as a personal victory, but a community victory, and that we recognize the value of our words and the things we can change from sharing our voices. That comes with responsibilities, but also infinite potential worth fighting for."

    Lao American Writers on Campus: 2014-2015?

    The Lao American Writers Society is beginning outreach to see if different college campuses and institutions would be interested in having Lao American writers or artists speak to students during the 2014-2015 academic year. 

    The 2014-2015 year is a significant one for the Lao community in the United States because it marks 60 years since the recognition of Lao independence by the United Nations and 40 years since the end of the Lao civil war and the start of the Lao diaspora. 2015 is also 20 years since the founding of the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project.

    Less than 40 books about the Lao American experience have been written by the Lao in their own words. Laos is a nation the size of Great Britain, or in the US, it's comparable to Utah, or just a little larger than Minnesota. Today, there are more Lao living outside of Laos than inside it, with expatriate communities scattered across Asia, Europe, and the Americas. 

    Over 400,000 Laotians are resettled in the US. 

    There's still a long way to go for the Lao: 9 out of 10 have not successfully graduated from college, and many continue to live below the federal poverty line. But for those Lao who are engaged in the arts, there is often a strong connection to lifelong success. The timely introduction of Lao American writers to these students may play a key role in Lao American cultural development over the next 20 years if history is any indication.

    Several of our award-winning writers are available to speak with different classrooms in almost every region. They can work to provide a sense of how the Lao American community came to form in the US and where the arts have played a vital role in our reconstruction. 

    The writers are available individually or as a group, and they'd be delighted to work with college institutions to meet their budget and specific needs. 

    You can also mail the Lao American Writers Society at:

    Lao American Writers Society
    PO Box 907

    Winchester CA 91724

    Thursday, March 13, 2014

    Bryan Thao Worra calls for Lao Writers to "Ratchet Things Up A Notch"

    This week, Lao American writer Bryan Thao Worra posted on his blog, "On The Other Side Of The Eye" that it was time for Lao American writers to "Ratchet things up a notch." 

    He cited a recent conversation with Saymoukda Vongsay, saying that "as Laotian Americans, we need to ratchet things up a notch, not only within Lao science fiction, fantasy and horror, but in all of our books."

    He said: "As proud as I am of Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals, Nor Sanavongsay's A Sticky Mess, my own DEMONSTRA, and so many others, I also know we can do better. Many of our recent films are in the same boat. As we approach the next horizon, mediocrity needs to be stomped on. Hard."
    He goes on to discuss other key issues Lao American writers are facing, even with their success, closing with:  "This is a hard critique to write, but we owe it to ourselves and to our readers to hold ourselves to the highest standards. We may not always hit J.K. Rowling or Stephen King numbers, but when we create, we must do so passionately to the very limits of our abilities. It must be breathtaking in its risk, it must be an experience to encounter. We should never settle for less."

    "Our very future depends on it," he says. But what do you think? Is he right on the money? Or are we doing fine with our current progress creating a Lao American literary tradition?