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On A Stairway In Luang Prabang Step as you will through life, A thousand ways, a thousand places. Carry a home in your heart Or spend years seeking the door Where your soul will always smile. Do you ease the way for others, Or just yourself? Do you climb great mountains Just to leave them unchanged? One day, the heights of holy Phou Si Will lay as soft valleys. We, only memories. But our children's children? Will they, too, have reason to smile, Like those dreaming strangers Who finished their stairs for us?


The Last War Poem I tell you, this is the last word for this war. This little side war we were the center of. There is no justice from poetryAny veteran can tell you that. They want their land, their lives Their livestock back. Grenade fishing in the aftermath of Phou Pha Thi Has lost its novelty To the man with a bullet fragment rattling In his body, slowly tearing him apart. Write, they tell me. Write what? We lost, we were forgotten, we are ghosts. We are victims of fat tigers and foreign policy. There is no Valhalla, only memories of Spectre gunships There is no Elysium, only pleas for asylum. This jungle was filthy. There was shit. There was blood. There were refugees Who to this day cannot explain why they were the enemy When the war came. Their sons fought. Their brothers died. Their uncles, maimed, were hauled screaming into the shadows of the Plain of Jars. Write, they tell me, so people won’t forget. So someone will know. Lift the broken bodies with my words, bring them out And say ‘we did not die in vain’.


For every bullet hole, let there be a word to stand as a monument. For every lost limb let there be a sonnet to stitch the truth back together. For every eye gone blind, let there be something to take its place. Something. Anything. How can you not have words for the war of whispers? How can you not shout, now that the whispering is done? And I swear, each time I break this promise, that the next time Will be the last word I write about this damn war.


What Is The Southeast Asian American Poem Of Tomorrow? It is not hip hop, Despite some hopes. It is not slam. It is not even an antipoem. It is not the form Of old Europeans or The resurrected ghazal. The authors' words, I must inform you, Will not even resemble or recall The old kwv txhiaj, ca dao or the __________, Much to our parents' regrets, Who pray among wats and steeples For good grandchildren, lucky numbers And doctors in the family. If our lovely readers do Not grow free, we will be Unreadable. If our writing is too Predictable, we will lie In the ditches unsold. If our words don't speak What's in our souls and skulls, We will forget ourselves, Our bodies, our shapes, Our language, And the true shape of the Southeast Asian American poem of tomorrow will become An exercise in modern myth.


Bryan Thao Worra is the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, a 40-year old international literary organization celebrating the poetry of the imaginative and the fantastic. A Lao American writer, he holds over 20 awards for his writing and community leadership including an NEA Fellowship in Literature and was a Cultural Olympian representing Laos during the 2012 London Summer Games. In 2009 he received an Asian Pacific American Leadership Award from the governor's Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans. He also holds a 2011 Youth Media Innovation Award from the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center and won the 2014 Elgin Award for Book of the Year from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. He has presented at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Loft Literary Center, Intermedia Arts, Kearny Street Workshop, the Institute for Contemporary Art, among many others, and recently as a Visiting Artist with University of Merced Center for the Humanities. He is the first Lao writer to be professional member of the Horror Writers Association and trained several years with Asian Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy on social justice during their National Gender Equity Campaign. One of the co-founders of the National Lao American Writers Summit, he is the author of 6 books, with work appearing internationally in Australia, Canada, Scotland, Germany, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, and Pakistan. In his 26 years as an artist, this is his very first presentation in Massachusetts. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of his first full-length book of poetry, On The Other Side Of The Eye. You can visit his website at http://thaoworra.blogspot.com.

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Memories and Tomorrows 2017 SEAAS poems Bryan Thao Worra  

The poems read by Lao American poet Bryan Thao Worra at the 2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference in Lowell, MA during the benefi...

Memories and Tomorrows 2017 SEAAS poems Bryan Thao Worra  

The poems read by Lao American poet Bryan Thao Worra at the 2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference in Lowell, MA during the benefi...

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