Library of Congress hosts 1st Asian American Literature Fest

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WASHINGTON D.C. The Library of Congress will host the last day of the 2017 Asian American Literature Festival on July 29, a Saturday with lectures and readings by fellows from Kundiman, an organization founded by Filipino American poets.

Writer Karen Tei Yamashita will give a lecture, “Literature as Community: The Turtle, Imagination, and the Journey Home,” and fellows from the Kundiman writing organization will give a fiction reading. In the afternoon, Poetry Society of America president Kimiko Hahn will give a lecture, “Angel Island: The Roots and Branches of Asian-American Poetry,” followed by a poetry reading by Kazim Ali, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Paisley Rekdal, and more.

The festival’s concluding day includes two events at the Library of Congress. Both events will take place in room LJ-119 on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The “Asian American Literature Festival,” ran July 27-29 and is co-presented by the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. It was the first national festival of its kind. It features 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.

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.

Kundiman, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation and cultivation of Asian-American literature, presented its inaugural Workshop Retreat at the University of Virginia in August 2004. The annual retreat was created by poets Sarah Gambito and Joseph O. Legaspi. Kundiman is a classic form of Filipino love song. More than 200 writers have attended the Kundiman Retreat.

The events are free to attend, but tickets are required.


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