Welcome to “Sunday Compulsion,” in which creatives answer one question: Why do I create? Here’s poet Khaty Xiong:
There are many reasons, known and unknown, as to why I write; I don’t like to think these reasons change necessarily, but rather, amass over time—no, maybe, these reasons refine over time. These days, I am writing a lot of elegies, so if I had to answer in the present, I write because it brings me closer to the dead, and being close to what is no longer animate, in whatever state or form, makes the pain that comes with loss just a little more bearable. Even death welcomes conversation.
Khaty Xiong was born to Hmong refugees from Laos and is the seventh daughter of fifteen brothers and sisters. She is the author of debut collection Poor Anima (Apogee Press, 2015), which is the first full-length collection of poetry published by a Hmong American woman in the United States. In 2016, she received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in recognition of her poetry. Xiong’s work has been featured in The New York Times and How Do I Begin?: A Hmong American Literary Anthology (Heyday, 2011), including the following websites, Poetry Society of America and Academy of American Poets. She lives in Gahanna, Ohio.
You may find Khaty’s books at the links below:
Poor Anima (debut): http://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9780985100773/poor-anima.aspx
Deer Hour (chapbook): http://www.thediagram.com/nmp/pr_xiong.pdf
Ode to the Far Shore (free, digital micro-chapbook): https://payhip.com/b/eHQw
Read a review of Poor Anima here.
Tupelo Quarterly recently published this review of Ode to the Far Shore and two other micro-chapbooks published in the Platypus Press 2412 series.
Visit the Academy of American Poets’ site to read this illuminating series on Hmong American poets, and to read and listen to Khaty’s poem, “In Mother’s Garden.” You’ll have to scroll down to find it, but it’s well worth the effort. And please read the rest of the series while you’re there.