Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Asian American Literature Festival later this month

The “Asian American Literature Festival” will be held July 27-29 in Washington, D.C., co-presented by the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. The first national festival of its kind, it will feature more than 50 award-winning Asian-American poets, writers, literary scholars, graphic novelists, spoken-word artists and children’s literature authors, in an array of live performances, mentoring sessions and interactive workshops.

The first event will kick off at 11 a.m. on Saturday with a lecture by fiction writer and American Book Award winner Karen Tei Yamashita titled, “Literature as Community: the Turtle, Imagination, and the Journey Home.” A fiction reading by fellows from Kundiman, a leading organization for Asian-American writers, will follow.

Saturday’s second event will begin at 2 p.m. with a lecture by poet and Poetry Society of America President Kimiko Hahn titled, “Angel Island: The Roots and Branches of Asian- American Poetry.” The event will close with a poetry reading in celebration of the release of a new Asian-American poetry issue of Poetry magazine, including readings by acclaimed poets Kazim Ali, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Paisley Rekdal, John Yau and others.

For more information, visit

Kimiko Hahn is the author of nine books of poems, including “Earshot” (1992), which was awarded the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize and an Association of Asian American Studies Literature Award, “The Unbearable Heart” (1996), which received an American Book Award and most recently, “Brain Fever” (2014). Her other honors include a PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, a Shelley Memorial Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a distinguished professor in the Master’s of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College, City University of New York.

Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of several books, including “I Hotel” (2010), “Anime Wong” (2014) and the forthcoming “Letters to Memory” (2017). “I Hotel” was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award and awarded the California Book Award, the American Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award. A U.S. Artists Ford Foundation Fellow and co-holder of the University of California Presidential Chair in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Yamashita is currently a professor of literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center is a national resource for discovering the consequence and complexity of the Asian-Pacific American experience through collaboration, exhibitions, programs and digital experiences. For more information, visit Learn more about Kundiman, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation and cultivation of Asian-American literature, at For more information about the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, visit

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at