This month, the Lao American poet A. Ou has a new poem up at Little Laos on the Prairie, “The Potomac is not the Mekong.” I have high hopes for him in the future as an emerging voice in Lao American literature.
I’m impressed enough with his potential as an emerging voice in Lao poetry that I included him in my poem “Old Ink Hydras.” I particularly enjoyed this poem because it made me think back to my own days 20 years ago in Washington D.C. as I was starting my own journey, fresh from Otterbein College, to reconnect with my roots and heritage as a Southeast Asian American.
It can often be hard for young men in our community to feel there is a space and a place for them to be heard, especially in the Untied States, but I think it is important for them, and indeed, everyone, to find ways to express themselves and to feel confident sharing their work.
This is not to say that every poem, every story will endure the ages. No one can guarantee that. But it is vital for us to try. As one of the best bits of advice I’d heard this week goes: “You’ll never regret trying; You’ll only regret quitting.”
I’m frequently asked about other journals and locations for emerging Southeast Asian American writers to submit their work, and I’d certainly encourage people to consider The Mekong Review, and the Rambutan literary journal to start with. Others are also coming to my attention, and I’m hoping to share more of those with you in the near future.
In the meantime, be sure to stop by A. Ou’s poem and leave a comment if you enjoy it. He also does a live reading for it as part of Little Laos on the Prairie’s new approach to providing people multiple ways to appreciate a poem.