In some good news for the week, I’ve been informed by the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota that I am the inaugural Lao Minnesotan Poet Laureate as we prepare for the 45th anniversary of the Lao community in diaspora in the US. This is an honorary literary designation recognizing my 20 years of service to the Lao community in Minnesota as an artist, educator and community builder.
The Lao Assistance Center is the first and oldest non-profit organization established in Minnesota to assist the Lao refugee community reconstruction in the aftermath of the war for Laos that ended in 1975. Over the decades, among their numerous projects have been art and cultural programming, including their work bringing the Lao American Writers Summit and the Legacies of War: Refugee Nation Twin Cities exhibition to Minneapolis, as well as the Lao American Storytellers Festival and the Before We Remember We Dream exhibit to the community. They’ve regularly convened the Lao New Year’s Festival and supported traditional music and dance education with several programs throughout the years.
During my tenure as the Lao Minnesotan Poet Laureate, my duties will include: Giving public readings in urban and rural locations across Minnesota and the US, educating civic and state leaders about the value of Lao American poetry and creative expression, and undertaking a significant cultural project, with one of its goals being to bring Lao American poetry to those who might otherwise have little opportunity to be exposed.
In practical terms this is most likely going to be an iteration of the Laomagination project, but we’ll see if an even bigger idea comes along soon! My thanks to all of you who’ve been so wonderful and supportive along the way!