The details on my talk at the Library of Congress in May along with Kao Kalia Yang and Thavisouk Phrasavath are now officially out. The conversation will take place May 2, 2022 from 6:30PM to 7:30PM EDT via zoom due to anticipated COVID policies.
The title of the talk is “Memory, experience and imagination in the works of Lao and Hmong American authors.” We’re all excited to be speaking to the United States on this question as we begin Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (Which turns 32 years old this year!)
This event provides a unique forum for Lao and Hmong American authors to discuss their work and intellectual endeavors. As writers, we will reflect on our work before joining a larger conversation with the audience.
The program presents a critical but engaging exploration of the role of memory, experience and imagination in each author’s writings against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and its aftermath, global migration, refugees, the diaspora, and life in America. The talk will locate Lao and Hmong Americans as part of the larger American story, featuring voices not often highlighted at the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. A special thanks to Pacyinz Lyfoung for this photograph of the Library of Congress.
The records suggest that this will be the very first time Lao writers have ever discussed our work at the Library of Congress, although Lao traditional dancers have presented here thanks to the Lao Natasinh Dancers of Iowa in 2006 and a troupe in 2008 thanks to the American Folklife Center.
Thavisouk Phrasavath is a 2008 Academy Award and Film Independent Spirit Award Nominated Filmmaker. He was one of the creators, writer, director, a narrator and a subject of the 2010 Creative Arts Primetime Emmy award winner for Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking – The Betrayal (Nerakhoon). This film was also nominated for an Oscar. His background in community work includes assisting Gang Prevention for Youth and Family Crisis Intervention through the Church Avenue Merchants Block Association. He also worked with the police as a liaison and consultant for the Lao community. Phrasavath has also consulted for the New York City Board of Education. You can see the trailer for his film The Betrayal here:
Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American writer. She is the author of the memoirs The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, The Song Poet, and Somewhere in the Unknown World. Yang is also the author of the children’s books A Map Into the World, The Shared Room, The Most Beautiful Thing, and Yang Warriors. She co-edited the ground-breaking collection What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Native Women and Women of Color. Yang’s work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the PEN USA literary awards, the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize, as Notable Books by the American Library Association, Kirkus Best Books of the Year, the Heartland Bookseller’s Award, and garnered four Minnesota Book Awards. Kao Kalia Yang lives in Minnesota with her family, and teaches and speaks across the nation. Here you can see the trailer for her first book, The Latehomecomer:
For completeness sake with this post, my bio will likely be trimmed down to:
Bryan Thao Worra is the Lao Minnesotan Poet Laureate, serving the Asian Pacific community as a writer, poet, and community activist. Ten years ago he represented the nation of Laos as a Cultural Olympian during the London 2012 Summer Games. An advocate of public art, for over 20 years he has worked nationally on issues of refugee resettlement and the arts. He is the president of the international Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. A 2019 recipient of the Joyce Award, he is the only Lao American writer to hold an NEA Fellowship in Literature for poetry 47 years since the Southeast Asian Diaspora began.
Here is the event information over at the official Library of Congress website: https://www.loc.gov/…/memory-experience-and…/2022-05-02/