MINNEAPOLIS — The Horror Writers Association recently announced that Lao American writer Bryan Thao Worra’s new book, “DEMONSTRA” is among nine preliminary ballot selections to consider for Superior Achievement in Poetry in the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards.
DEMONSTRA is the first Lao book to be considered for the final ballot in the 27 year history of the awards. The final ballot of Bram Stoker Award nominees will be announced on February 23.
The HWA is the premiere writers organization in the horror and dark fiction genre, with over 1,100 members. They have presented the Bram Stoker Awards in various categories since 1987.
Thao Worra is the first Lao American to be accepted as a professional member of the organization. He is also the first Lao American to become a member and an officer of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.
“Although the awards have been presented for almost three decades, poetry has been a formal category only recognized since 2001.” Thao Worra said.
Born in 1973 in Vientiane, Laos, Bryan Thao Worra came to the United States as the adopted child of an American pilot flying for a civilian airline in 1973. He grew up in Michigan and the Midwest, attending Otterbein University in Ohio before going to work in Washington D.C. and Minnesota, where much of his professional career has involved Southeast Asian refugee resettlement, especially as a grant writer.
His writing appears around the world in over 100 publications in nations such as Pakistan, England, Australia, China, Canada, Germany, Singapore, Chile, Korea and Scotland.
Thao Worra holds over 20 awards for his community service and his art including a Fellowship in Literature from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work was featured at the Olympics during the 2012 London Summer Games and examples are included in the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit, “I Want The Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story,” which will be coming to the Minnesota History Center in April.
He incorporates many of his experiences and the traditional customs and beliefs of Laos into his books, especially DEMONSTRA, which is published by Innsmouth Free Press.
“This is the company’s first book of poetry,” Thao Worra noted. “I’m honored they took a risk on this collection.”
As a horror writer, his poems and stories frequently ask readers to challenge their perspectives and to question what they fear. Thao Worra’s forays in horror poetry are distinctive because there are few examples of contemporary or traditional Lao horror poetry, although oral traditions of supernatural phi and other creatures of Lao myth and legend abound.
“There are many parts of the world where it is not permitted to write a book like this,” Thao Worra said. “Because of that, I feel those of us in countries where we can write freely need to write challenging works. We need to write to the very limits of our freedom of expression.”
Thao Worra recently debuted DEMONSTRA in December at the Lao Advancement Organization in North Minneapolis with children’s book author Nor Sanavongsay.You can visit him online at http://thaoworra.blogspot.com