All posts filed under: Literature and Writing

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, …

Dances for Salavan

When the mangoes ripen in the smiling sun I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. Wearing a white sinh dress. I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. The deep forest valley will tap its toes. I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. When the frangipanis create a rustling choir. I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. And the moonshine sky a glass floor. I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. With children’s bodies rolling waves. I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. And elephant tusks of songs. I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. Ghostly bamboo houses and whistling grass. I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. Oh Laos, oh winds of sweet rice fields! I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. Oh dried tears and senseless fire! I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. Drops of sugar canes, empty hillside, gazing sunset! I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. I always said I’d dance my feet in Salavan! Wearing a white sinh dress. I’ll dance my feet in Salavan. Rice whiskey dripping from red painted mouth. I’ll dance my …