All posts filed under: Refugee

MIA Erasure, My Reflection

To much fanfare, the exhibit Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975 opened in Minnesota at the Minneapolis Institute of Art this month and will run until January 5th, 2020. It’s billed as a way to look at “the innovative ways artists talked back, often in the streets and other public venues. The exhibition presents nearly 100 works by 58 of the period’s most visionary, provocative artists.” For Southeast Asians of Vietnamese, Hmong, Laotian, and Cambodian descent, and active military veterans, you can even see the exhibit for free. It’s been a long time since I’ve been given free admission to an art exhibit to witness the complete erasure of my community’s perspective and reactions to the Vietnam War, the Secret War, and the Killing Fields. For Minnesotans, who arguably have one of the most deeply tangled relationships with Southeast Asia than almost any other US state, this ought to be a stirring and profound exhibit: one filled with so many heartbreaking memories and reflections on themes and issues addressed over four decades ago, …

Writer Souvankham Thammavongsa featured in award-winning literary journal

Writer and poet Souvankham Thammavongsa’s work will be featured in an upcoming award-winning literary journal. Thammavonga’s short story, “Worms,” is included in Ploughshares’ winter 2018-19 issue, a collection of stories, poems and essays from writers all around the world. In “Worms,” Thammavongsa unravels the layered relationship between a single mother and teenage daughter, both of whom are Lao refugees residing in a western world. They, and other Lao refugees, pick worms from the ground on a farm for meager wages. Although only eight pages long, “Worms” explores privilege and the ache and injustice of uprooting one’s life for the promise of a better future—only to be met with hardship along the way. Thammavongsa herself was born in a refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, Granta, NOON and Best American Non-Required Reading. She is working on her first collection of stories, called “How to Pronounce Knife,” which is set for a 2020 release date. Thammavongsa currently resides in Toronto, Canada. Other stories in Ploughshares’ winter issue will cover topics ranging …