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Lights, Trauma, Revelation

August 17, 2014

Inspired by the directorial cue—”Lights, camera, action!”—award-winning poets Cathy Linh Che, Jess X Chen and Paul Tran embark on a cross-country extravaganza to read from their first and upcoming books.
From New York City to Seattle, these fearless poets combine the ferocity of oral history, spoken word, and Asian American poetics to extricate new narratives of trauma, exile, colonialism, and love in the aftermath of war.


Their poems turn from anger to sorrow, mercy to compassion, the erotic to the crowning of one’s own life. Nothing is spared or unexamined. Here is a desire to witness and write it all.

Cathy Linh Che is the author of Split (Alice James, 2014), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize. A Vietnamese American poet from Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA, she received her BA from Reed College and her MFA from New York University. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from Poets & Writers, The Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, Kundiman, Hedgebrook, Poets House, The Asian American Literary Review, The Center for Book Arts, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Residency, and a Jerome Foundation Travel Grant. A founding editor of the online journal Paperbag, she is Managing Director at Kundiman.
Paul Tran is a Vietnamese American historian and performance poet. He represented Brown University three times at the Wade-Lewis Poetry Slam Invitational (WLPSI) and the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI), where he won Best Poet and Pushing the Art Forward. Co-founder of the Gravediggers Poetry Collective, he is committed to language and performance as necessary tools for teaching and creating new understandings of power. Paul is currently working his first chapbook of poems with Rick Benjamin, RI State Poet Laureate, to be released by Sibling Rivalry Press. It juxtaposes rape as a colonial weapon used during the American War in Vietnam with his own memory of childhood sexual violence. He is a recipient of the Kundiman Fellowship for Asian American poets, the Asian American Literary Arts and Performance Festival (LAPP) Featured Artist Fellowship, the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop at UC Berkeley.
Jess X. Chen is a Chinese American multi-disciplinary poet, illustrator, filmmaker and the author of From The Earthworm to the Night. Her work has been recognized and shown by Asian American International Film Festival, Yale Environmental Film Festival, CURA magazine of Art and Action, Beasts of the Southern Wild and more. She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design’s film program, and studied poetry at Brown University where she coached the 2013 College Union Poetry Slam (CUPSI) team and was awarded Pushing the Art Forward. She co-founded of LoveHoldLetGo, a film and theater production collective whose full-length play, Silence and the Earth strives to rethink what the Earth and its ravaged landscape might say to its colonizers if it hadn’t been ignored and casted as a exploitable space. It toured the North American continent in 2013, playing over 50 shows and is now being adapted into a feature film.


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