Happy Thursday, dear reader! As promised, below is Part 2 of my conversation with two well-known Minnesotan writers. We featured Ed Bok Lee a couple of weeks ago. We now feature Bao Phi, who is getting some rave reviews for Sông I Sing. Again, I personally believe that we in the adoption community, especially adoptees and adoptive parents, NEED to conversationally engage individuals like Bao and Ed. We can learn a lot from them.
P.S. We fully realize that Land of Gazillion Adoptees doesn’t happen in a vacuum. So, we’d like to do our part in recognizing the possible injustice that may have happened last night with the execution of Troy Davis by sending you over to the conversation happening at Minnesota Public Radio. It asks: “Does capital punishment serve a worthwhile purpose?”
P.P.S.S. We’d also like to direct you over to Anna Prasomphol Fiesler and Boa’s op-eds in the Star Tribune. The publication, like other media outlets in MN, has had some difficulties offering a balanced look at Phanthavong/Sensor case.
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Love your recent picture in the Minnesota Monthly with Ed, but you two look like you’re two badass Asians. What were you thinking when they took the pic?
Bao: I was thinking how much I wanted one of those fancy complementary cupcakes that the photographer was standing next to.
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: (What’s up with these guys and cupcakes..?) You are not adopted, but the adoptee community, particularly the Asian adoptee community, loves your work. What is it about your writing that resonates with adoptees?
Bao: Hmmm – I don’t know? I mean, I’m sure for that for every Asian, adoptee or otherwise, who finds something worthwhile or resonant in my work, there’s like three who are offended or hate my work. So, I don’t know if it’s my place to say whether or not specific populations like me, and why. I can only be grateful for anyone who gives my work a chance. One of the most powerful things about my life and work as a poet, is that my poems have given me a chance to connect and dialogue with a lot of different Asian and Asian American people from all over – it’s always great to hear from people and a little bit about their story, and how and why they encounter my work.
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Would you mind giving an overview of your new book?
Bao: Sông I Sing is my first published collection of poetry. I’ve been a poet and performer for a very long time, and I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever see a book of my own poems published by a publishing house during my lifetime. That I’m being published by Coffee House, a Minnesota nonprofit, which happen to publish many of my literary heroes, that’s just unreal to me.
The book is split into four. The first short section is an introduction to my body of work. The second is all persona/character poems. I’ve been writing these poems about fictional characters, all with the last name Nguyen, to resist this idea that there is a singular Vietnamese American or Asian American experience. The third is made up of a lot of the spoken word stuff that I’ve been touring with and working on for the past 10 years or so. And the last is, I guess, my greatest hits section? David Mura and Juliana Hu Pegues looked over my manuscript and advised me to put those poems at the end because they believed they were the strongest.
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Word… To you, dear reader, if you want to see the Ed and Bao show live, go to their joint book launch this Saturday, September 24th, 8:00 pm at Pohland Hall, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. But, if music is more your thing, adoptee Mayda Miller has a show the same night at the Cedar Cultural Center at 7:00 pm to promote her fabulous new album “Tusks In Furs.” Additionally, per a previous post, on Sunday, September 25th, Mu Performing Arts is offering what will undoubtedly be a kick-a community forum for Katie Hae Leo’s play “Four Destinies.”
Man, there’s a ton going on and adoption agencies are nowhere to be seen in any of it. Tee-hee…