Sunday Compulsion: Khaty Xiong (Why I Write)

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.

Sunday Compulsion: Devi S. Laskar (Why I Write)

Welcome to “Sunday Compulsion,” in which creatives answer one question: Why do I create? Poet Devi S. Laskar kicks off this new weekly feature.

I’ve been writing poems since I was 9 years old. It’s who I am: a poet. I write nonfiction and I write short stories and novels and I do so because I have this desire to communicate. I am interested in all kinds of forms. And I love to read, which is probably why I live to write. I’m trying to write the stories and the poems I haven’t read yet.

Devi S. Laskar is a native of Chapel Hill, N.C. She holds an MFA from Columbia University in New York, an MA in South Asian Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BA in journalism and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A former newspaper reporter, she is now a poet, photographer and artist. Her photographs include the cover of The Florida Review; and in the pages of Tiferet Journal and Blue Heron Review. Her art can be found currently on the cover of L.A. based Las Lunas Locas poetry anthology. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including The Blue Heron Review, which nominated her for Best of the Net 2016 & The Raleigh Review, which nominated her for Best New Poets 2016. She is an alumna of both TheOpEdProject and VONA/Voices, and served as a Tupelo Press’ 30/30 Project poet in December 2015. She is also an alumna of Hedgebrook, and poetry workshops at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. In 2016, she won first prize in poetry at the 27th Mendocino Coast Writers Conference contest. Finishing Line Press published the first of two chapbooks, “Gas & Food, No Lodging” in March 2017; and will publish “Anastasia Maps” later this year. She now lives in California.

You can get Devi’s book Gas & Food, No Lodging at Finishing Line Press and Amazon,
as well as Bookshop Santa Cruz and online at Barnes & Noble.

Read this review!

Read and listen to her poem “Unanswered, Untranslatable”

To learn more about Devi, visit her website, which includes links to her artaday, essays, and various publications her work has appeared in.

And this podcast.