AAP staff report
MINNEAPOLIS — Organizers of the 2015 Lao Minnesotan Writers Summit, announced Monday that a $10,000 funding award was recently secured for the event.
The Minnesota Metropolitan Regional Arts Council approved award for to convene the Writers Summit, tentatively scheduled for April 18-20 at a place to be designated in Minneapolis.
The grant terms require the Writer’s Summit to raise additional matching funds. This activity is possible in part from an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.
“It is exciting to know that we will be able to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Lao diaspora with an event like this,” said Bryan Thao Worra, a event co-founder and organizer. “Thank you all for your input and support during the planning process and we look forward to keeping you updated on the progress.”
The timing of the event is significant in also marking the 20th anniversary of the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project. The summit will in part serve to remember the deeply influential project on the arts and cultural reconstruction of the Lao community in diaspora.
The national AWP conference takes place April 8-11th, and the timing for the summit was selected to allow community members the opportunity to attend both events. The timing will also be very close to the Lao Minnesotan New Year, welcoming the Year of the Ram.
The Lao Minnesotan Writers Summit will also incorporate community writing workshops during the nine months leading up to the gathering. In the past year Lao Minnesotans have been working together to present many new books and performances, ranging from Saymoukda Vongsay’s “Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals” to “The Wolf and the Moon” a collection of Lao folktales collected by anthropologist David Zander and the Lao Assistance Center, as well as Little Laos on the Prairie editor Chanida Phaengdara Potter.
It will be five years since the National Lao American Writers Summit took place in 2010 at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Many of the participants then went on to national acclaim and performing across the country.
Spoken word artist Catzie Vilayphonh of the duo Yellow Rage has gone on to lead the upcoming Laos in the House Project in Philadelphia, while Oscar-nominated director and artist Thavisouk Phrasavath received an Emmy for his film The Betrayal (Nerakhoon).
Thao Worra represented Laos as a Cultural Olympian during the 2012 London Summer Games. Artist and author Nor Sanavongsay released his debut children’s book, “A Sticky Mess,” based on the Lao folk hero of Xieng Mieng.
“For my Lao American artist colleagues, I hope this serves in part as a vindication and a validation of your work,”Worra added. “I hope that you see it as an affirmation that there is a space for the Lao voice within the world. Keep creating, keep innovating, keep reaching for the best within yourselves and all living beings.”