Giving and growing in the Lao community

Next year we mark four decades since the beginning of the Lao diaspora. Regular readers of my blog know I’m deeply concerned about continuing disparities facing our community. The majority of demographic statistics suggest Lao Minnesotans and others across the country are living a very polarized experience. Continue Reading

Refugee nerdery

MarsCon is coming up this weekend, one of the first major science fiction conventions of Minnesota each year, along such popular conventions as ConVergence, Diversicon, Crypticon, Anime Detour, Arcana, MinnCon, and the like, each a celebration of the fantastic and the futuristic. I enjoy these events. As I often tell my writing colleagues, I think many literary festivals could take a cue from events such as these, where you see so much passion and talent on display. Continue Reading

Laos in the House: Catching up with Catzie

Catzie Vilayphonh was key figure in bringing the groundbreaking National Lao American Writers Summit to Minneapolis in 2010, and has been a frequent visitor to college campuses across Minnesota over the last decade. She is a Lao American writer and performer normally based in Philadelphia, where she is a member of the acclaimed spoken word duo Yellow Rage. She broke ground as the first Lao woman to appear on Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam in 2001. She has performed across the country with acclaimed figures such as Sarah Jones, Beau Sia and I Was Born with Two Tongues. She also writes for a variety of magazines and literary journals. Continue Reading