Monday, June 20, 2005

Hmong and Laotian Poets

I was corresponding with someone recently (I think after reading Roger Pao's blog entry on this topic) about the relative lack of published and available Southeast Asian American poets. I should specify here that I will focus this entry on Hmong and Laotian poets, a group perhaps among the least visible. I think of three off the top of my head: 1) Bryan Thao Worra, who has posted comments to this blog and has a website at aol members--a widely published Laotian poet I am glad to have become familiar with); 2) from California's Central Valley, my home turf, the Hmong poet Soul Vang, whose work is anthologized in The Geography of Home, a collection of Fresno poets; and 3) Hmong poet Pos Moua from Merced, whose book is Where the Torches Are Burning from Swan Scythe Press. These poets deserve an audience. I know there are more, so if you want to name a few please do...

I met Dr. Franklin Ng a couple of years ago and I told him about my desire to someday see a new anthology, an updated version of Buddha Bandits Down the 99, some sort of anthology devoted to either the rich and growing tapestry of Asian American poetry in California or one devoted to the similarly fascinating terrain of Hmong poets. Maybe I'll get somthing going on it one of these days.

QOTDS (Question On a Totally Different Subject): Does anyone know members of the Mango Tribe? Ever seen them perform?

9 comments:

Bryan Thao Worra said...

I'll have to put in a plug for the MN Historical Society's anthology, Bamboo Among the Oaks, which features over 23 different Hmong writers, edited by Mai Neng Moua.

It's now in its second printing.

Lee Herrick said...

i couldn't remember that title, bryan. thanks for posting it. i may use this book for a future class of mine, which focuses on SE Asian and Hmong literature. I have used Tilting the Continent in the past.

Mai Der said...

Yes! I'm ecstatic to hear about your support of Hmong and Southeast Asian poets, especially those residing in the Central Valley (my home turf as well). There are so few of us here, and so much of it is happening on a grassroots level. I've been quite anxious to start something--perhaps this is the time.

May Lee said...

I have to second Bryan and say that if you're interested in Hmong writers--poets, prose writers, and even playwright--read "Bamboo Among the Oaks." It is available through Amazon.com too. In addition to the people already listed, I really do like the following people, most of whom were published in the journal, Paj Ntaub Voice: Pa Xiong (CA), Mayli Vang (MN), Kou Lor (WI), Ka Vang (MN)and of course Mai Neng Moua (MN). There are also people who aren't published but who have exposed their poetry via performances: Saymoukda Vongsay, Tou Saiko Lee, and Shoua Lee.

To those who know me, it might seem like I'm listing off a lot of people I know as friends, but I truly admire their work, think they have a lot of potential, and recall that our friendships started through creative writing.

Lee Herrick said...

Mai and May, thank you both very much for posting. I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with "listing friends" because that's normal and a good thing to do, in my opinion. If you can't support your friends, who can you support? Bryan had once mentioned Bamboo Among the Oaks and a colleague of mine mentioned it to me as well. I'll be ordering it this weekend. Keep me posted on your upcoming projects, publications, and/or readings. Thanks...

Lee

Lee Herrick said...

Mai der,

are you from Fresno?

Lee

Mai Der said...

Yes (live and work in Fresno)

mor x. chang said...

Lee,

I agree with you about the Hmong and Laotion poets you mentioned. I believe that they should be recognized.

I barely heard of Bryan Thao Worra and Roger Pao, and I would like to get some of their poems.

I have browsed through some of their works and found them interesting. I myself am a fan of them.

Thanks for your blog postings. You must have put a lot of time to make it somehow glow.

Mor

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am perhaps late to reply to this blog, since I've just registered. Although Hmong writers and poets aren't fully visible on the Asian American literary canon, our voices are getting there.

Bryan's been a real help in pushing me to submit my work. And I believe this is certainly one of the most important things to do as a writer--especially a Hmong writer trying to be heard.

-Burlee Vang