Poetry Reading - Mai Der Vang, Emily Yoon, Zhou Sivan - Megan Sunyoon

Monday, October 2, 2017 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Mai Der Vang, Emily Yoon, Zhou Sivan, & Megan Sungyoon

Afterland has haunted me. I keep returning to read these poems aloud, hearing in them a language at once atavistic, contemporary, and profoundly spiritual." —Carolyn Forché, judge’s statement for the Walt Whitman Award

"These are poems of violence – against women, and against Korean women in particular – but they are also poems about the pain and pleasure in language itself: ‘pear in Korean is a homonym for ship or boat’; ‘A homonym for apple is apology.’ Ordinary Misfortunes is a remarkable collection.” —Maggie Smith

Mai Der Vang, Emily Yoon, and Zhou Sivan read from their recent award winning collections, Afterland (2016 Walt Whitman Award Winner), Ordinary Misfortunes (Winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Award), and Sea Hypocrisy (Doublecross Press and Projective Industries, 2016). The reading will be followed by a moderated conversation with Megan Sungyoon.

Presented in partnership with the Committee on Creative Writing at the University of Chicago.

At 57th Street Books

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested, not required)

About Afterland: Afterland is a powerful, essential collection of poetry that recounts with devastating detail the Hmong exodus from Laos and the fate of thousands of refugees seeking asylum. Mai Der Vang is telling the story of her own family, and by doing so, she also provides an essential history of the Hmong culture’s ongoing resilience in exile. Many of these poems are written in the voices of those fleeing unbearable violence after U.S. forces recruited Hmong fighters in Laos in the Secret War against communism, only to abandon them after that war went awry. That history is little known or understood, but the three hundred thousand Hmong now living in the United States are living proof of its aftermath. With poems of extraordinary force and grace, Afterland holds an original place in American poetry and lands with a sense of humanity saved, of outrage, of a deep tradition broken by war and ocean but still intact, remembered, and lived.

About Mai Der Vang: Mai Der Vang is the author of Afterland (Graywolf Press, 2017), which received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. She will serve as a 2017-2018 Visiting Writer in the MFA Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her writing has appeared in Poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. As an editorial member of the Hmong American Writers’ Circle, she is co-editor of How Do I Begin: A Hmong American Literary Anthology.

About Ordinary Misfortunes: Korea continues to grapple with the shared memory of its Japanese and US occupations. The poems in Ordinary Misfortunes incorporate actual testimony about cruelty against vulnerable bodies—including the wianbu, euphemistically known as “comfort women”—as the poet seeks to find places where brutality is overcome through true human connections.

About Emily Yoon: Emily Jungmin Yoon is the author of Ordinary Misfortunes (2017), winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize by Tupelo Press, selected by Maggie Smith. Her poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, POETRY, PEN Poetry Series, Apogee, and elsewhere. She has received awards and fellowships for her poetry from Ploughshares' Emerging Writer's Contest, AWP's WC&C Scholarship Competition, The Home School in Miami, the Aspen Institute, New York University, and the University of Chicago. She is the poetry editor for The Margins, the literary magazine of the Asian American Writers' Workshop, and is a PhD student in the East Asian Languages and Civilizations Department at the University of Chicago. Her first full-length collection, A Cruelty Special to Our Species, will be released by Ecco in September 2018.

About Sea Hypocrisy: "Sea Hypocrisy is a modest dazzle-camouflaged proposal for a spectacle world of death camp tourists and celebrity migrants circling this crisis Earth's blurred and turbulent lines, commons, markets, campsites, and seascapes. Zhou asks us 'what have you done about this hoax called living?' By the time we fumble forth an answer we've already been rendered another other. Reading Zhou's work I was reminded of William Burroughs's routines, those short surreal and grotesque works of critical slapstick. There are moments in Sea Hypocrisy that are almost vaudevillian, achieving a frighteningly accurate rendition of what our world and worlds are being ramped up into: flickering global images of fickle and sinister empathy, vile comedy, the horrific moment where a rescue crew tosses down cameras in lieu of life preservers to a couple of suffering sea-lion refugees. In this work Zhou parses what’s at this very moment reaching into all of our bodies, motivating, vectoring, and hungrily replicating." --Jeremy Hoevenaar

About Zhou Sivan: Zhou Sivan (pen name of Nic Wong) has written two poetry chapbooks, Zero Copula (Delete Press, 2015) and Sea Hypocrisy (Doublecross Press and Projective Industries, 2016). His recent work can be found in Lana Turner, Chicago Review, Full Stop, Dispatches, Kisah Journal, Almost Island, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and Asymptote. He lives in Chicago, and is writing a comparative literature dissertation on the genealogies of Cold War Mahua, or Malaysian Chinese, literary history.

About Megan Sungyoon: Megan Sungyoon is a text-based artist living and working in Chicago, IL. Sungyoon's works have been shown in the Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster, NJ; Crude Creatures Contemporary Art Gallery; Sullivan Galleries in Chicago, IL; and F News Magazine, among many others. Her first book of poems, Conversion, is currently on view at Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection, Chicago, IL. 

Event Location: 
57th Street Books
1301 E 57th St.
Chicago, IL 60637