All posts filed under: Bryan Thao Worra

Southeast Asian American Verse in the Time of Coronavirus

Looking for something to read because you find yourself suddenly with a lot of free time but no place to socialize? This year is the 45th anniversary of the Southeast Asian diaspora, especially for the Lao and Hmong community. Because April is National Poetry Month, Little Laos on the Prairie is providing a reading list of poetry books that are still relatively easy to order from Southeast Asian poets. We recommend ordering directly from their publishers to support them, but you can also find many at major new and used bookselling websites. Lao Poets Light by Souvankham Thammavongsa, Pedlar Press, 2013. This collection won the Trillium Award in Canada for the best book of the year, examining life in Ontario. Light is among the one of the author’s books that are easier to find hers compared to her classics Small Arguments and Found, the latter of which was inspired by a scrapbook she discovered in the trash her father had kept while in the Thai refugee camps. Found later inspired a short film. Her latest collection, Cluster tackles everything from war to …

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, …