Auto Bulk
Leave a comment

On Poetry and Sci-Fi: Lao American writer Bryan Thao Worra at San Diego's Comic-Con

“Not a lot of folks expected a Lao American poet on stage,” said Lao American award-winning writer, Bryan Thao Worra, who sat on a panel among some sci-fi greats at San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend.


Second from left: Bryan Thao Worra

The panel was on “H.P. Lovecraft and the Necronomicon: 75 years of mingling fact and fiction”, marks the 75th anniversary of the “History of the Necronomicon,” a short essay written by iconic horror author H.P. Lovecraft and published a year after his death.

Since then, the dread book written by the mad poet Abdul Alhazred has appeared in movies, books, comics, cartoons, art, music, and games. Although originally a literary hoax, there are hundreds of products that bear its name today. Audience members were invited to come explore the truth and legend behind the greatest creation of the 20th century’s greatest weird fiction writer, and “learn how and why the book and its creator continue to influence all aspects of culture”.

The other panelists included Brian Yuzna (director/producer of Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dagon, Necronomicon, and more), Mark Kinsey Stephenson (actor, “The Unnamable”), artist Mike Dubisch, editor Leslie Klinger (upcoming “Annotated H.P. Lovecraft”), author Cody Goodfellow (“Radiant Dawn” “Ravenous Dusk”, others) and Arkham Bazaar owner Brian Callahan, who also founded and organized the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon. Aaron Vanek, the chair of the Los Angeles edition of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival served as the moderator.

We asked Thao Worra a few questions about the event.

What was your favorite moment during the panel discussion? 

It was great meeting Brian Yuzna. His films were a very formative part of my childhood, cementing much of my love for the work of H.P. Lovecraft. I had a chance to briefly discuss my work as a writer with him, and how science fiction is a more interesting way to examine the journey of Lao refugees, compared to the way most mainstream narratives have shown our journey so far.

It was also wonderful to see almost 300 people show up late at night for a talk like this. Everyone added in some great points to the discussion. Cody Goodfellow got the panel off to a great start, putting it all in context for newcomers. Mark Kinsey Stephenson’s personal experiences as an actor working with Lovecraftian material also stood out to many of the participants. I’ve been a fan of Mike Duisch’ work, and he brought in great points about what it meant for an artist to try and depict the indescribable horrors Lovecraft hinted at. I’m looking forward to seeing Leslie Klinger’s new book, which has great notes about what inspired Lovecraft and the fears that drove him. Much of Brian Callahan’s experience with the Necronomicon mirrored my own growing up, and I was left wishing it was easier for me to make it up to Portland more often.

While some may have been irked by it, I found the technical difficulties we had getting some of the videos and slides we had planned for the presentation entirely appropriate for a legendary book that supposedly brings doom to anyone who even dares to look at a page of its cursed text.

What did the audience ask from a Lao American poet? 

At the heart of my remarks, I hope I opened a lot of eyes about the connection of poetry to one of the classics of modern horror literature. I also hoped to demonstrate how the Necronomicon played a role in broadening our sense of modern intellectual horror, and the influence it had on figures such as Jorge Luis Borges and other international writers.
As a poet, I consider poetry to historically be the effort to find words for the things for which there are no words. This falls right in line with the cosmic themes of horror Lovecraft was working with. Many writers, though, present the Necronomicon as a book of spells or the Encyclopedia Britannica of demons, and while that’s certainly allowed, I think it gets away from Lovecraft’s original sense of his creation.
How did you feel about being able to speak to an international audience about your work?
It was, in many ways, an indescribable experience, and it was wonderful to have a chance to meet both great old fans and new ones.
What did you learn about comic-con that Lao American artists should also know?
I’ve learned now that much of the Comic-Con experience is one where you have to reconcile with the fact that you’re not going to be able to experience it “all.” There were so many amazing things going on, from an entire building converted into a Godzilla-themed building to a walking 9′ robot, or the entire cast of the X-men showing up on stage to talk about the new movies coming out. You see some spectacular costumes and get to talk one-on-one with so many professionals. As an artist, if you get a chance to go, you’ll walk away energized and excited to create even more work.
There are so many Asian American artists who were creating work there. That was really inspiring. And I was glad to see so many Minnesotans who made the journey, such as the crew from The Source Comics and Games who set up their annual Cthulhiana Corner for fans of all things Lovecraft. I hope it won’t be too long before we get a chance to see a panel on Lao American science fiction, fantasy and horror.
For his latest project, Bryan re-visits Lao horrors, ghosts, and mythical creatures in his speculative book of poetry, called DEMONSTRA, due to be published later this year.
He is also currently encouraging fans of H.P. Lovecraft to consider supporting the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival-Los Angeles kickstarter, which runs until August 16th:
-Chanida P. Potter



  1. Pingback: On Poetry and Sci-Fi: Lao American writer Bryan Thao Worra at San ... | ThisRightNow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *