Monday, November 5, 2007

gratitude & love to the incredible bay area

The AKA-SF Ten-Year Celebration and Korean Adoptee Artists Showcase last Friday in Oakland was an amazing and rewarding experience, and I send my most heartfelt thanks to the Board of AKA-SF for organizing such a wonderful event. It was an honor to read at the event. In particular, Hyun Jin was instrumental, I think, and everyone involved---Amie, Zack, Nick, Jessica, Young Hee, Michael, Hilary, Heather, everybody (sorry if I'm forgetting someone)---I know everyone contributed. Looking back, I would say it is one of the more memorable events I've been a part of.

When you are on the same bill as Deann Borshay Liem and Amy Anderson, and vocalist Katie Tupper, you are in great company, that's for sure. Deann showed a trailer for her forthcoming documetary, Precious Objects of Desire, and introduced her co-producer. I can't wait for the film to come out. Katie sang beautifully with nice accompaniment, and Amy is simply hilarious. Amy also emceed the event, where I read for about fifteen minutes (I read four poems and then spoke a bit during the Q and A). There were over one-hundred people, I think. Beer, wine, and an incredible feast of Korean food by Ohgane Korean Restaurant on Broadway Ave. in Oakland. The food was amazing!

It was great to see the adoptee crew out in force---Elleen, Don (who won a copy of my book in the raffle), the nice couple from San Leandro, the new folks I knew but had not met until Friday, including Lisa Marie Rollins of A Birth Project and Susan Ito of Reading, Writing, Living. So awesome to finally meet them! It was also a great honor to meet the visiting Korean scholars and writers-in-residence at UC Berkeley, including the renowned Korean poet Kim Ki-Taek. There were also some journalists there---one from Korea Daily and a nice student journalist named Jane, who took great interest in the event. All of these good spirits made the event one to remember, as you can imagine.

After the event, a group of us went for a drink and talked into the night. We talked at Zack's place and heard Michael's powerful story about going on KBS television. On Saturday I got to hang out some more and had a great conversation with Amie in SF, and on Saturday morning after the event I spent an incredible five hours with poets Barbara Jane Reyes and Oscar Bermeo. I won't bore with you all the details, but I'll say that they're some cool folks. Barbara, Oscar and I had an awesome breakfast, then visited Eastwind Books in Berkeley (where I bought Cheers to Muses, Waylaid by Ed Lin, and a few other books), and then had awesome desserts at a bakery by the lake. Can you say, great conversation?

I usually don't post after each reading (that would get quite difficult)---and I'm sorry I don't have any pictures to share---but I just wanted to send some positive vibes into the world about the good work from AKA-SF and the amazing talents of Katie Tupper, Deann Borshay Liem, and Amy Anderson. Thank you to the kind folks who bought a copy of my book, too. I donated a small portion of the proceeds to the fundraising effort to support Deann's film, which you can still do as well.

I'm probably going off the grid for a little while (a minor hiatus) as I play catch up on some projects---writing, working, cleaning---before I'm off to read in Modesto this Saturday and Berkeley on Sunday. I am still on a high from the great weekend in the Bay Area---but I'll come down soon enough.

I hope you have a good week with the good things going on where you are.


Didi Menendez said...

Michael Parker is doing a review of your book in the December issue of MiPoesias -


Lee Herrick said...

That's what I'd heard from him a little while back. I'm looking forward to reading it, and I'm glad it's going in the issue---I appreciate the space in your magazine, Didi.

have a good one.

Hyun said...

it means a lot to hear you say the artist showcase meant so much to you. i'm happy and thankful you participated in the event. see you, again, in berkeley soon.

barbara jane said...

likewise, lee, awesome hanging out with you and looking forward to your next bay area visit. sorry you spent so much $$ in eastwind! :-)

Susan said...

lee, it was great to meet you and hear your poetry, which was so moving. it is always so powerful to have a bunch of adoptees in one room and to express the experience through art, it's a powerful thing.

Love the idea of the Asian Adoptees event in Berkeley but I wonder... will it ever open up to include Asian-American adoptees? (I'm a domestic AA adoptee) There's not that many of us but enough, I think, to want a place at the table...

Lee Herrick said...

hyun jin, yes---it was incredible! i hope to see you again soon, and i hope you and n can still come down to stay with us next easter in santa barbara!

barbara, visiting with you made the trip extra good, really. eastwind was great. i've started looking through cheers to muses, which a beautiful book. thanks for taking me there.

and susan, thank you for your kind words about my poetry and the reading. your point is well-made about asian american adoptees and the various fracturing going on, but i'd say that even panels like the one at berkeley are relatively new. in fact, i am going to be reading with two other korean adoptees in NYC in jan, but with writers/scholars like you, bryan, and others, more panels and discussions will emerge, undoubtedly. often with things like this (the panel in berkeley) i am approached to take part, and as i meet more folks, i hope to take part in (and be an audience member of) more panels of diverse adoptee combinations. the similarities would be interesting to examine.

have a great one today.

Debbie said...

Hi Lee: I am so happy that you found Cheers to Muses at Harvey Dong's store! Thanks for buying it (and, of course, supporting an independent bookseller). It is a major project of a nonprofit called Asian American Women Artists Association, and has even been picked up as required reading at one SF State class.

Lee Herrick said...

It's an incredible book, Debbie--one I'll cherish for years to come. I see you're reading at the KSW soon---hope you have a great one.