Catzie Vilayphonh's Book of Poetry Arriving 2017
Acclaimed Lao American writer Catzie Vilayphonh and Sahtu Press recently announced the upcoming release of her debut book of poetry in 2017. The collection will contain both well-known and new poems from Vilayphonh, a Philadelphia resident. More details will be announced over the months ahead.
Catzie Vilayphonh is currently an Artist in Residence with the Mural Arts of Philadelphia’s Southeast by Southeast Program. An award-winning writer, Vilayphonh has been a recipient of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Award, a 2012 Creative Capital finalist and a 4-time Leeway Foundation honoree. She was one of the founding members of the spoken word group Yellow Rage, who broke ground as one of the first Asian American acts on Russel Simmons' Def Poetry Jam.
Vilayphonh has presented with acclaimed performance artists including Ursula Rucker, Sarah Jones, Danny Hoch, Beau Sia, and I Was Born with Two Tongues. Vilayphonh uses her literary voice to build awareness for perspectives often assigned to the cultural margins in the United States, advocating powerfully for refugees, immigrants, and Asian Americans through the lens of social justice.
With roots in Vientiane, Laos, she grew up in Pennsylvania, and is one of the co-founders of the National Lao American Writers Summit. She's been an active member of the Asian Arts Initiative, working with her Yellow Rage co-founder Michelle Myers to produce the Family Style Open Mic for emerging and established AAPI spoken word artists in the Philadelphia area. She's an active volunteer with the Lao Family Community Organization of Philadelphia working with refugees who began arriving four decades ago following the civil war in Laos.
Often referred to as "The Secret War," the conflict in Laos lasted from 1954 to 1975. Today, there are over 400,000 people living in the US with roots in Laos, including Lao, Hmong, Lue, Khmu, and the Tai Dam. Pennsylvania has the 22nd largest Lao American population in the country with an estimated 2,200 Lao and 1,000 Hmong, primarily in Philadelphia. Vilayphonh has actively assisted efforts to address issues of UXO (unexploded ordnance) that continues to contaminate almost 30% of Laos over 40 years since the end of the US bombing.
In 2013 Vilayphonh received the Knight Foundation Arts Challenge Award to start “Laos In The House” a project which aims to promote story-telling in the Lao American community through art. This culminated into the curation of a multi-disciplinary gallery exhibit and performance showcase featuring work by other Lao American artists in Philadelphia in 2015. For many of the artists involved it was the very first time they had presented in Pennsylvania.
Established in 2013, Sahtu Press specializes in works by Lao Americans, and has published the books of writers such as Krysada Panusith Phounsiri, Nor Sanavongsay and Bryan Thao Worra. The mission of Sahtu Press is to publish and promote enduring contemporary Lao American literature and to create academic and grassroots learning opportunities. Sahtu Press is committed to publishing exciting, vital, and enduring Lao American authors of our time. You can learn more about Sahtu Press at www.sahtupress.com