Friday, December 18, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

International Conference on Lao Studies Call for Papers extended to 11/30/15

The Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University and the Center for Lao Studies (CLS) are pleased to announce that the Fifth International Conference on Lao Studies (ICLS V) will be held from July 8 to 10, 2016 on the Tha Phrachan campus in Bangkok, Thailand. The main objective of the conference is to promote Lao studies, broadly defined, by providing an international forum for scholars to present and discuss various aspects of Lao Studies.

The theme of the Fifth International Conference on Lao Studies is "Lao PDR in the ASEAN Context," with particular (though not exclusive) emphasis on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). All Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states have committed to creating a region which is highly competitive, equitable in economic development and fully integrated into the global economy. The establishment of the AEC in 2015 will bring enormous opportunities as well as great challenges for the individual member countries in the region, especially for Lao PDR .

Kung Fu Zombies vs. Shaman Warrior: 12/20 Reading, Minneapolis

Coming December 20th at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis:

With Hanuman as her spiritual guide, a young woman must battle zombies in the jungle, monsters that materialize from Buddhist texts, and her own personal demons in a post apocalyptic Laos. Kung Fu Zombies vs Shaman Warrior examines the perception of mental illness as demonic possession within the Lao community. 

Refugenius Labs presents a stage reading of Kung Fu Zombies vs Shaman Warrior. KFZvSW is the second installment from the Kung Fu Zombiverse anthology of stage works. Written by Saymoukda Vongsay, directed by Randy Reyes, and featuring music by DJ Kool Akiem.

Suggested Donations are $5-$15 ($15 gets you a free Kung Fu Zombies tote bag, limited quantity) Arrive Early. Seating is Limited.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

12/4: UC Merced Symposium: Southeast Asian American Legacies: 40 Years After the End of the Vietnam War

The University of Merced is convening an exciting symposium on Friday, December 4th: Southeast Asian American Legacies: 40 Years After the End of the Vietnam War. Mark your calendars and register for this free event that gathers some amazing voices in the community for a special presentation together. According to the organizers:

The symposium at UC Merced will bring together scholars, community members, and artists to discuss the Vietnam War and its human legacies. 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, the end of a war that claimed the lives of an estimated 58,260 American troops and over 4 million Southeast Asians across Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Even 40 years after the war, Vietnam continues to haunt politics and society from debates about foreign policy to popular culture. Free and open to the public. 

This event is sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor at UC Merced and the Office of the Provost at UC Merced. It is co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at UC Merced  and the School of Social Sciience, Humanities and Arts at UC Merced.

The keynote address is Cathy Schlund-Vials, University of Connecticut (president-elect of Association for Asian American Studies). The scholars presenting include Mariam Lam and Davorn Sisavath from the University of California, Riverside; and Kong Pha, University of Minnesota. Also presenting are Steve Arounsack, from California State University, Stanislaus; Leakhena Nou, from California State University, Long Beach; and Lar Yang, Director of the Hmong Story 40 Project.

TeAda Productions will be on hand to present part of Refugee Nation and May Lee-Yang and Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay will come from Minnesota to present Hmong-Lao Friendship Play OR Lao-Hmong Friendship Play.

Writer Mai Der Vang and Bryan Thao Worra will present a special poetry reading at lunch, "The Past is a Secret Country." They will draw on their work as writers from over the years and how that has tied into our understanding of ourselves and our community. This will be their very first reading together.

I-SEA Film Festival in San Francico 11/21-22

In November, You'll want to catch the inaugural I-SEA FILM FESTIVAL, which includes some amazing films from Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and elsewhere. Mark your calendars! As the organizers note:

The I-SEA Film Fest (International Southeast Asian Film Fest, Nov 21-22, 2015) highlights the histories, imaginaries and identities of those with ties to Southeast Asia and its diasporas. This year is the fortieth anniversary of US military engagements in Southeast Asia: the selected films seeks dialogue with local and international communities, drawing connections between wars then and now, overseas and on our streets. The films (9 features and 22 shorts) also query--and queers--standard national narratives of modern love, sexualities, and modernization.

Featuring work by award-winning directors (Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or, Prince Claus Foundation, Macarthur “Genius" award), Oscar nominees, rebels and art-world stars, I-SEA showcases world- class feature films, cutting-edge experimental shorts and controversial documentaries.

The Opening night gala will take place on November 20th at Artist Television Access. The festival takes place at New People Cinema in Japantown from November 21-22nd, 2015--select screenings will have post-screening Q&A with filmmakers and panels. The I-SEA Film Fest is founded by the Diasporic Vietnamese Artist Network. 
California is the home to the largest concentrations of Southeast Asian immigrants in the world. There are hundred of thousands of people of Southeast Asian descent in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and other parts of the world. Southeast Asians are both invisible and hypervisible (as model minorities, gangsters, eternal foreigners) in North American mass media. These incredibly diverse Southeast Asian communities voice the ruptures--and re-envision global realities--forged by colonization, militarization and migrations. Providing counter-points to (hetero-)normative ideologies historically constructed by the West and by Southeast Asian nation-states, our Southeast Asian stories are varied and vital.

(Re) Collecting the Vietnam War reading, 11/17

Minnesotans, you'll want to check out the U of M's presentation of The Asian American Literary Review (Re) Collecting the Vietnam War on Nov. 17 at the Elmer L. Andersen Library 5pm-6:30pm. Featuring Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, Bao Phi and Kao Kalia Yang!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lao Hmong Friendship Play a hit in Minnesota

The newest short-run production of Hmong-Lao Friendship Play / Lao-Hmong Friendship Play was a success with sold-out crowds all three days from September 17-19th. Co-written by Saymoukda Vongsay and May Lee Yang, it was presented at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, which many will remember also was the site for the Legacies of War: Refugee Nation Twin Cities exhibit in 2010. News is expected shortly about further plans for the development of the play and future performances.

Lao American Review up and running

While we know there are many of you who enjoy visiting us at the Laotian American Writers Society blog here, we also wanted to draw your attention to a new project many of us are starting up, the Lao American Review, where hopefully we'll be able to get even more contributors and regular readers chipping in through wordpress. Be sure to check it out if you have an interest in Lao American poets and poetry, children's books, memoirs, short story collections, novels and more. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

3 poems by Bryan Thao Worra

Examples of Lao American poetry shared by Bryan Thao Worra at his blog Http:// from his book DEMONSTRA from Innsmouth Free Press:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sahtu Press celebrates Lao arts with Lao Heritage Foundation

The Lao Heritage Foundation is holding their 11th annual cultural Gala on September 26 at Herndon Community Center. with Sahtu Press authors Nor Sanavongsay and Krysada Panusith Phounsiri. The evening starts at 7pm and tickets are $35 for most people at the door.Participants will have a chance to enjoy delicious traditional Lao cuisine, and traditional music and dance performed by the students of the Lao Heritage Foundation. A community dance will follow with music provided by the Woodbridge Band. There will be items for auction and raffles to raise funds to sustain and expand the cultural programs of the Lao Heritage Foundation,

Sahtu Press is a nonprofit publishing company with the mission to promote Lao literature to the world.

Krysada Panusith Phounsiri is a Lao-American Artist and Engineer. His debut collection of poetry “Dance Among Elephants,” was published by Sahtu Press in 2015. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2010 with a Physics and Astrophysics Double Major with a Minor in Poetry. He’s also a dancer, photographer and world traveler, developing the Snap Pilots Photography Project he founded with his friends. His work has been featured in the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement and the Smithsonian’s “A Day In The Life Of Asian America” digital exhibit. He is currently the chair of the 2016 National Lao American Writers Summit. He was born in Laos in 1988 and came to America with his family in 1989.

Nor Sanavongsay is an award-winning Lao American writer in the San Francisco Bay area and the founder of Sahtu Press. He has been a member of the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project, the National Lao American Writers Summit, the Lao Artists Festival of Elgin, among many others. Sanavongsay is the author of children's books inspired by Lao folktales, such as Xieng Mieng: A Sticky Mess. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, he and his family came to the US in 1979.

This year the Lao community observe 40 years since the beginning of the modern Lao diaspora. Over 230,000 Lao are rebuilding their lives across the US in all walks of life with many who hope to maintain the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Laos.

The authors will have copies of their books for sale at the event and are happy to autograph them for friends and families.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Twin Cities World Refugee Day coming!

Lao Minnesotan writer Saymoukda Vongsay has been one of the leading organizers to put together the Twin Cities World Refugee Day coming on Saturday, June 20th! It will take place this year at the Arlington Hills Community Center at 1200 Payne Avenue in St. Paul. It's a free event and a great way to see the diversity and the opportunities ahead for refugee communities around the world. Be sure to stop by!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lao poetry memes

Over on her tumblr at, C.C. Thongdara shared some of her memes she'd made for Lao American poet Bryan Thao Worra. She's planning on doing others featuring other Lao writers in the future because she wants to help get the word out about Lao arts and culture.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sabai Sabai exhibit opens Friday, June 12th to July 3, 2015 featuring the work of Chantala Kommanivanh

Sabai, Sabai, an exhibit featuring new paintings by Chantala Kommanivanh at Nych Gallery opens June 12- July 3, 2015. The opening reception is Friday June 12, 6-10pm.

After the United States pulled troops out of the Southeast Asian conflict in 1975, many Laotians were scattered across the world as refugees. “Sabai, Sabai” is Kommanivanh's visual documentation of the Lao American diaspora in Chicago, as 2015, marks their 40th anniversary. His figurative and abstract paintings are a combination of mixed media, oil, and spray paint on traditional canvas that both commemorate and inform viewers about displaced Laotians longing for a place in urban society.

This work is inspired by his family’s migration to Chicago as political refugees, and the struggle with dual identity they shared with many Laotian Americans. Influenced by his hip-hop upbringing, Kommanivanh sampled traditional Lao textile design, and re-presented it by overlapping graffiti marks on top of gestural impressions creating rhythmic dancing pattern. They hope you could join the community in welcoming Chantala Kommanivanh's new paintings at NYCH Gallery​. The gallery is free and open to the public.

Regular gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 12-7pm and by appointment. Nych Gallery is located in the Pilsen Art District at 643 W. 18th st. Chicago IL 60618

Running Home documentary addreses human trafficking, Lao philanthropy

For Portland residents, Running Home is a new documentary premiering on June 6th looking at the philanthropic efforts of Nang Nonnarath Dunn to build a better future for at-risk Lao youth overseas and to fight human trafficking. Many of us had a chance to meet her during the National Lao American Symposium and Writers Summit in Minneapolis in April. You can see the trailer here:

"Our Shared Journey" Lao American symposium and writers summit a success

It was a historic moment for the Lao American community as it recognized 40 years of their diaspora in Minnesota on April 17-18th. Over 125 educators, artists and community organizations were represented from over 13 states, many coming together for the first time in four decades.

The keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Phitsamay Sychitkokhong Uy from Massachussetts which put much of the Lao journey into perspective and gave many in the audience hope for the coming years ahead. One of the highlights this year was the international representation, which included the award-winning poet Souvankham Thammavongsa who recently received the prestigious Trillium Award and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize.

Dean Ketmani Kouanchao from Mendocino College was there, and encouraged everyone to become more engaged with the community as mentors and mentees. Playwright and poet Saymoukda Vongsay shared her experience with the audience and also was part of a new book release at the Soap Factory on Saturday.

Krysada Panusith Phounsiri debuted his very first book of Lao American poetry "Dance Among Elephants" from Sahtu Press and thrilled the audience with a demonstration of his b-boy skills as well. Nor Sanavongsay, the founder of Sahtu Press, had first shown the audience his plans for his first children's book in 2010 at the firt National Lao American Writers Summit. 5 years later, he was at last able to read the finished version, "A Sticky Mess," retelling the classic Xieng Mieng folktale that he spent over 14 years developing.

Ova Saopeng and Leilani Chan from TeAda productions were an enormous hit at the gathering as they helped the participants tap into their creative sides to tell their stories. Oral history collection took front stage as the community saw the many different projects emerging to value and preserve the diverse stories of the Lao in America.

This was Bryan Thao Worra's first reading in Minnesota since winning the Elgin Award from the Science Fiction Poetry Association. His book DEMONSTRA received the distinction of Book of the Year from the organization. The singer Ketsana wowed the audiences with a performance of classic Lao songs, while film-maker Kulap Vilaysack shared footage from her forthcoming documentary, "Origin Story". Champion bodybuilder Ko Chandetka was also in attendance.

This gathering also recognized the 20th anniversary of the SatJaDham Lao literary project and the deep and profound influence it has had on the community such as planting the seeds for the Center for Lao Studies and the Lao Heritage Foundation.

This year there were many Lao American visual artists gathered including Chantala Kommanivanh, Sayon Syprasoueth, and Mali Kouanchao. Aloun Phoulavan was able to exhibit many of his paintings for the community at Co Exhibitions which was selected as the site for the closing reception. It was standing room only by the end of the evening at CO Exhibitions. The evening opened up with a performance by the acclaimed Kinnaly dance troupe from Seattle, which had sent a delegation of 11 participants. Throughout the weekend they shared their stories and perspectives on maintaining the Lao heritage and tradition.

Because of the overwhelming excitement and energy built up from this weekend, San Diego was selected as the next site the community would convene at in 2016.

The event was made possible by extensive support from numerous agencies and community organizations, including the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the The University of Minnesota's Immigration History Research Center and many others.

Laotian-American Community of Fresno hosts 3 Lao American Writers

On Saturday, May 30th, thanks to an invitation by the Laotian-American Community of Fresno, Sahtu Press authors are presenting at the Fresno County Woodward Park Regional Library, 944 E Perrin Ave, Fresno, California from 3:00 to 4:00 with a book-signing briefly afterwards. The event is free and will be providing refreshments and beverages for guests.

The Laotian-American Community of Fresno was founded in 2000 by concerned Laotian community members as a source of mentorship, guidance, and support for community members and their families as new lives were being established in the United States. Fresno has a population of nearly 7,000 Laotians.

This is the first time the three award-winning Lao-American authors have appeared in California together:

Krysada Panusith Phounsiri, better known as "Binly" is a Lao-American artist and engineer. He was born in Laos in 1988 and came to America with his family in 1989. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2010 with a Physics and Astrophysics Double Major and a Minor in Poetry. His debut collection is “Dance Among Elephants,” published by Sahtu Press. His work has been featured in the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement and the Smithsonian’s “A Day In The Life Of Asian America” digital exhibit.

Nor Sanavongsay is an award-winning Lao-American writer in the San Francisco Bay area and the founder of Sahtu Press. He has been a member of the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project, the National Lao American Writers Summit, the Lao Artists Festival of Elgin, among many others. He is the author of children's books inspired by Lao folktales, such as Xieng Mieng: A Sticky Mess

Bryan Thao Worra is an award-winning Lao-American poet. He holds over 20 awards including a Fellowship in Literature from the National Endowment for the Arts, and is the author of 6 books with writing appearing in over 100 international publications. Bryan Thao Worra’s work is on display at the Smithsonian’s national traveling exhibit, “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story.” He represented the nation of Laos in 2012 as a Cultural Olympian during the London Summer Games. His 2013 book, DEMONSTRA, was selected as Book of the Year by the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

The reading is also a historic occasion because this month is Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month and the 40th anniversary since the end of the war in 1975 and the beginning of the Lao Diaspora. After this, they will attend the very first Oakland Book Festival at booth 16 at the Frank Ogawa Plaza near the Oakland City Hall.

"40 Years. Countless Tears." by Mary Keovisai

Over at the 40 & Forward blog by SEARAC, this week they showcased the art by Mary Keovisai who is a Lao American artist currently living in California and is engaged in social justice issues.
Mary Keovisai is the author of the 2012 thesis, Killing Me Softly: Remembering and Reproducing Violence in Southeast Asian Refugees. Over 400,000 Laotians live as refugees around the United States. Consider adding your voice to this ongoing reflection.

Lao American poet Bryan Thao Worra's "The Last War Poem" featured at SEARAC 40 & Forward

In time for Memorial Day Weekend, "The Last War Poem" by Lao American poet Bryan Thao Worra is now up at the 40 & Forward: Southeast Asian Americans Rooted & Rising blog organized by the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center in Washington DC. This is an ongoing effort to look at the various ways we have responded to our journey during the Southeast Asian diaspora that begin for many in 1975.

"The Last War Poem" was featured in 2014 at the Southeast Asian Globe and was also recently performed live by the acclaimed Catzie Vilayphonh in Philadelphia in a stirring performance at the Asian Arts Initiative.

This poem was dedicated to those who served, those who fell, those who remain, and those whose duty it is to remember.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Speculate SF interviews Bryan Thao Worra and Nancy Hightower

This month, an interview with the awesome Nancy Hightower and Bryan Thao Worra went live at Speculate SF  On the podcast, they had a lively discussion on "the unique appeal of poetry, how so much of speculative fiction poetry touches on the dark, grotesque and macabre, and what’s changed (and is still changing) in the field..." Bryan Thao Worra touched on many of the issues particularly from a science fiction perspective, including connections between the work of writers like H.P. Lovecraft and the Lao diaspora.

Nancy Hightower is an author and poet, as well as an art critic and fiction reviewer who currently writes for The Washington Post. Her debut epic fantasy novel, ElementarĂ­ Rising, was published in September 2013 with Pink Narcissus Press and received a starred review from Library Journal. She has co-authored, along with Carrie Ann Baade, the Cute and Creepy exhibition catalogue, an art book of contemporary macabre and surrealist works. You can visit her online at:

If you enjoy the show, consider donating to the Speculate SF Patreon to keep them going.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Our Shared Journey: A Symposium on 40 Years of Lao in the United States

The first Lao symposium is scheduled to be held from April 17-18, hosted in Minneapolis, MN. Free and open to the public at the Urban research and Outreach Engagement Center at 2001 Plymouth Avenue North in Minneapolis. It will also be where we convene the 2nd National Lao Writers Summit after five years. Be sure to join us if you can. Register here.

Anticipated guests include Lao American authors and writers such as Bryan Thao Worra, Nor Sanavongsay, Krysada Panusith Phounsiri, Chanida Phaengdara Potter, Saymoukda Vongsay, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Catzie Vilayphonh, Ova Saopeng, Leilani Chan, and many more! We expect it will be a great weekend of Laotian poetry, prose, spoken word and memories.

Southeast Asian Legacies Symposium to feature Little Laos on the Prairie Editor Chanida Phaengdara Potter

If you're in the LA/SoCal area on Friday, March 6th, check out the Southeast Asian Legacies Symposium at California State University, Fullerton. Little Laos on the Prairie Founding Editor, Chanida Phaengdara Potter, will be on a panel presenting on preserving and sharing our stories. You can register here.

In addition to her work at Little Laos on the Prairie, Chanida Phaengdara Potter has also worked as a consultant for the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota in community health outreach and education. She holds a BA in International Relations and Communications from University of Minnesota.

A former president of the Lao Student Association of the University of Minnesota, she is a community development advocate for the Lao and Southeast Asian communities in Minnesota. Born in Vientiane, Laos; Chanida has been a Minnesotan for over 25 years. She has worked in nonprofits and NGOs on sustainable development, advocacy, and communications for almost a decade.

Lao American Poet to be featured as Guest of Honor at Midwest Science Fiction Convention

Laotian American poet Bryan Thao Worra has announced that he will be one of the Guests of Honor at the 2015 CONvergence convention in Minnesota this July. CONvergence is an annual convention for fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy in all media: a 4-day event with more than 6,000 members, and the premiere event of its kind in the upper mid-west. This year's theme is Doubleplusgood,

This is a great milestone for Laos and our poetry tradition. As a Lao American writer he has worked tirelessly to redefine the limits of Lao writing and our expectations of it. His most recent book DEMONSTRA won the Elgin Award from the Science Fiction Poetry Association for Book of the Year. As the note in his bio:
Bryan Thao Worra is an award-winning Lao-American writer. He holds over 20 awards including an NEA Fellowship in Literature, and is the author of 6 books with writing appearing in over 100 international publications. His work has been featured in Tales of the Unanticipated, Innsmouth Free Press, Journal of the Asian American Renaissance, Dark Wisdom, G-Fan, Astropoetica, Expanded Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, Lakeside Circus, and more. 
He is the first Lao American professional member of the Horror Writer Association and is an officer of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. He is the Creative Works Editor of the Journal on Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement. 
Bryan Thao Worra’s work is on display at the Smithsonian’s national traveling exhibit, “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story.” He represented the nation of Laos in 2012 as a Cultural Olympian during the London Summer Games...  
You can learn more about Bryan Thao Worra at his blog,, and follow him on Twitter as @thaoworra.

Laos in the House: Voices from Four Decades of the Lao Diaspora coming in March!

Lao Spoken Word Artist and community activist Catzie Vilayphonh in Philadelphia had an exciting announcement this week:
"After what seems like years of preparation, we are proud to announce the opening of our very gallery first exhibit "Laos in the House: Voices from Four Decades of the Lao Diaspora" running from March 6 - May 1, 2015 at the Asian Arts Initiative. Presented for the very first time in Philadelphia, this visual exhibit from Lao American artists reflects over 40 years in diaspora. 
Featuring historic war drawings by survivors of the U.S. bombings, illustrations of refugee camp photos, and digital interpretations of Lao folk tales, this integration of storytelling with art seeks to engage community members to share their own personal stories, adding their voices to the larger collective narrative that makes them uniquely Lao American."
It's going to be really exciting for our community, which has been waiting for an event like this in Philadelphia for a very long time. We hope the community comes through and appreciates the tremendous effort it takes for her! Their official website is at where you can see all of the exciting things they've been doing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lao Writer Saymoukda Vongsay to appear at Equilibrium Supershow during AWP: April 10th, 2015

EQ at AWP Supershow reading featuring Patricia Smith and the hottie Regie Cabico with an epic line up of some nationally recognized writers and artists including Lao American writer Saymoukda Vongsay at the Loft Literary Center on April 10th. Be sure to check her out if you get a chance to go.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Fighting Winds of Destiny now available

"As a young girl, Anita Nina Teso had fought hard to survive. As an adult, she still has had to fight to stay alive. Life has been tough, and it seemed unfair to her, but she will never be ashamed of the scars that life has left her. The Fighting Winds of Destiny, her true life experiences, hopefully will inspire the sick, both young and old, to hang tough. She wants her story to be for those people who might want to give up on life to become stronger persons and also to those who question, "Is life worth living?" She truly believes there is a miracle for those who believe and have faith in God."

First announced in 2014, Lao Minnesotan author Anita Nina Teso's memoir The Fighting Winds of Destiny is now available from Tate Publishing in paperback form for $9.99 plush shipping and handling.

It's a book that has gone through many drafts along the way, and it is one of the only Lao American memoirs to come out in the last few years. It's a book many of us hope will find the readers it's meant to find. An interview with Anita Nina Teso is anticipated to appear in the Sun Current on January 22.

Congratulations to everyone involved. It's not an easy thing to take the time out to sort out all of the things you have gone through in your life, especially when you're trying to navigate several different cultures, and also if you did not go through college as an English major. But her commitment to sharing her story is something to admire and respect.

Refuge of the InvisibLao closes this Saturday!

This is the last week to come celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Lao Diaspora this January by attending the 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. We strongly recommend you see this exhibition which challenges our expectations of what can and should be said by our community as we examine the 40th year of the Lao diaspora. There are those who believe there's only one way to say what happened to us during our journey, but this exhibit challenges those assumptions and that narrative.

The exhibit features 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 exhibit has already been attended by hundreds of 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. 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. The exhibition ends January 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.

YELLOWTAIL SASHIMI stage reading in Minneapolis, 1/23

Lao American writer Saymoukda Vongsay has announced that she would love it if you came to the stage-reading of her work in-progress play, YELLOWTAIL SASHIMI. She's really looking to get audience feedback to make it better as she fleshes it out. "Please come January 23 at 7:30pm at the Playwrights Center, but please reserve your tickets! ★★ its free!! ★★"

It's good to see she is actively at work at her next contribution to Speculative Theater to follow up Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals.YELLOWTAIL SASHIMI promises to be another interesting project from her. It's also exciting to see that Mu Performing Arts is providing significant support to Lao American theater to develop on its own terms rather than catering to conventional expectations, especially as the Lao community marks forty years in diaspora this year.

The Playwright’s Center is located at 2301 East Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis. It is showing on Friday, January 23 at 7:30pm. YELLOWTAIL SASHIMI by Saymoukda Vongsay is being directed by Scotty Gunderson.

The synopisis is "Three generations of Lao Americans – a grandmother waiting to die, twin sisters (one in love with an asianphile, one struggling to come out), and a buffalo boy with zero effs to give – are connected by folktales and ominous dreams."

This is a work in progress. As those who were following the development of Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals will remember, often a play like this goes through many radical changes between its initial readings and the final production that's considered "stage-worthy."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Laotian American poetry collection Dance Among Elephants available now for pre-sale

Sahtu Press officially announced that pre-sale orders for Krysada Panusith Phounsiri's debut Lao American poetry collection, Dance Among Elephants have now opened. 

Krysada Panusith Phounsiri is a Lao American who "was born in Houay Xai, Laos. He immigrated to the U.S. at age two where he lived in Southeast San Diego. He began writing poetry at age 11, but fell in love with poetry when he attended UC Berkeley."

A multi-talented artist, Krysada Panusith Phounsiri's work has appeared previously in publications such as the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, Little Laos on the Prairie, Asian American Press, and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s national photo project “A Day In the Life of Asian America”.

Sahtu Press was established in 2013. Their mission is to publish and promote enduring contemporary Lao American literature and to create academic and grassroots learning opportunities. Their first book was the children's book "A Sticky Mess" retelling the story of Xieng Mieng for modern times. They plan to release a follow up to that book soon. "Dance Among Elephants" is their first collection of poetry they are releasing, although they are looking for additional poets to publish in the future.

Sahtu Press acquires, publishes, and markets high quality, imaginative work from emerging and established Lao American writers or those working on issues of interest to the Lao American community.

Dance Among Elephants is normally available for $19.99, but during the pre-sale will be available for $15 plus shipping. You can order here: