Saturday, September 8, 2007
A Brief Note on the Book Publication Reading
Thank you to everyone who came out to Samos Kitchen Korean Restaurant last Wednesday night to celebrate the publication of my first book of poems. I could not have imagined a better night, and it felt great to have so many friends and family members there, along with so many people from the community, some of whom I had not seen in years and some who I had the privilege of meeting for the first time, such as Cheng Lok Chua, co-editor of the groundbreaking anthology Tilting the Continent: Southeast Asian American Writing (2000). It was an honor to meet him, and I'm grateful he came to the reading. It was also nice to see Mor Chang, a former student of mine and founder of asianamericanpoetry.com; and to meet Pacyinz Lyfoung, who recently moved from Minnesota. There were former and current students of mine there as well, and it was especially nice to have my oldest friend, Optimism One, there along with my mother, father, and sister who made the hour and a half drive. They're my biggest influences and the most amazing people you could ever meet. They gave me a beautiful gift afterwards as well, which was very thoughtful, and it will be placed prominently in my office.
It was also an honor to be joined by two fantastic poets, Kenneth Chacon and Mike Maniquiz. They read about three or four poems each and were well-received by the audience. Serena and Sam of Samos Kitchen were the most gracious hosts I've ever been around, and the food was incredible! There was jap chae (traditional Korean noodle dish), fried rice and maw tang (a sweet yam dessert), seafood pancakes and all kinds of other delicious Korean dishes. Serena even bought flowers, and the room was beautiful.
I read for around 40 minutes, with a setlist that went something like this: Salvation, Ars Poetica, Adoption Music, Korean Adoptee Returns to Seoul, Raison D'Etre, Ghost in a Museum, Rurrenebaque, Dancing Near a Body of Water, Ode to the Graduate, Yoga on the Beach, A Thousand Saxophones. I also got to tell the backstory of the great cover photo (taken by my wife in Hoi An, Viet Nam). I received so many heartfelt comments before and after the reading, and it was a pleasure talking with everyone and signing copies of the book. Someone said there were around 75 to 100 people there, and I sold about sixty books. Numbers aren't all that important to me, though, quite frankly. But it was nice to have such a good turnout. From the Korean community, to the poetry community, the City College community, and to friends and family and those who wanted to just see what it's all about, thank you one and all. It was a night to remember.