MINNEAPOLIS — Join in on the fun with an historic launch of two Lao American books on Monday, Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m., hosted by the Lao Cultural Center at 2648 West Broadway Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55411.
California-based author Nor Sanavongsay will debut his very first children’s book, Xieng Mieng: A Sticky Mess! from Sahtu Press.
Bryan Thao Worra will debut his lates collection of Lao speculative poetry, DEMONSTRA, from Innsmouth Free Press.
Doors open at 4:30 p.m. The reading will begin at 5 p.m. and conclude at 6:30 p.m., leaving time for a question and answer session with the authors along with book signings.
Award-winning writer Saymoukda Vongsay will also be performing stories. The family-friendly event is free and light refreshments and beverages will be served.
Xieng Mieng: A Sticky Mess is the comedic origin story of one of the most beloved folk heroes of Laos. Author Nor Sanavongsay did all of the writing, illustrations, and layout. The book has been in development for almost 14 years.
Sanavongsay has presented early versions of the project at events such as the National Lao American Writers Summit in Minnesota and the Lao Artists Festival in Elgin, Illinois.
“I’m really excited for this,” Sanavongsay said. “It’s a great chance to connect with old friends and new ones to share a common love of Lao culture. My parents used to tell me amazing stories that I wanted to share with the rest of the world, and now that moment is here. I hope many people will join us.”
DEMONSTRA is a speculative poem collection assembling 20 years of work by award-winning Lao American poet Bryan Thao Worra. DEMONSTRA was described by his publisher as “a book of things glimpsed out of the corner of the eye. It is about a reality that can never fully be demonstrated, authenticated, dissected, for certain visions always remain in shadows.” Thao Worra is the first Laotian American to receive a Fellowship in Literature from the United States Government’s National Endowment for the Arts.
Thao Worra was a Cultural Olympian during the 2012 London Summer Games representing Laos. He is also a professional member of the Horror Writer Association and the Science Fiction Poetry Association.
“Laos is a country the size of Great Britain, with traditions drawn from the beliefs of over 160 different cultures within her borders,” Thao Worra said. “Some ancient, some recent. That influenced many of the poems in this book.”
Thao Worra further noted that in the US almost half a million people trace their heritage to Laos. “Rebuilding our lives here, we’ve seen less than 40 books written in our own words. So I think this is an important moment for us as artists, and as a community. It’s part of a growing movement to turn things around.”
Texas-based visual artist Vongduane Manivong provided many original illustrations for DEMONSTRA, and her has been exhibited in galleries across country, as well as at many national events, including the Symposium of Lao History at the University of California-Berkley, the National Youth Leadership Council’s Urban Institute, and the Cultural Heritage Exhibition at the Laotian Community Center of Rhode Island. You can see examples of her work at www.vmpaintings.com
Saymoukda “Mooks” Vongsay is an award-winning Lao American spoken word poet. A passionate arts advocate, she uses her own art to promote civic engagement within Southeast Asian immigrant and refugee communities. Her recent play, “Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals” performed to sold-out audiences during its run in October.
The mission of Sahtu Press is to publish and promote enduring contemporary Lao American literature and to create academic and grassroots learning opportunities. Sahtu Press acquires, publishes, and markets high quality, imaginative work from emerging and established Lao American writers or those working on issues of interest to the Lao American community. The Sahtu Press website is at http://sahtupress.com.
Innsmouth Free Press is a Canadian micro-publisher of Weird books based out of Vancouver, BC. In existence since 2009, it is responsible for the anthologies Historical Lovecraft, Future Lovecraft and Fungi. Readers can learn more about its titles at innsmouthfreepress.com
Established in 1988, the Lao Advancement Organization provides services to all generations of the ethnic Lao community and is welcoming to people from different cultural communities. Their website is located at www.laoamerica.org.