Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer.
A friendly reminder that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and we here Lyricality celebrate and recognize the contributions of those of Asian descent.
Our guest editor for June is Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay
Sabaidee, my name is Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay. I’m a Lao American poet, playwright, and cultural producer who is based in Saint Paul. When I was invited to be a guest editor for the May and June collection of poems for Sunday Lyricality, I was thrilled. For the past several months, I have been a mentor to eight emerging student-writers through Minnesota State Colleges’ Write Like Us Program.
The student-writers represent five MN colleges and are interested in everything from historical fiction, metaphysical poetry, science fiction, prose, screenwriting, children’s lit, prose, memoir, and art criticism. Today, I’ve challenged them to make room for poetry and gave them the theme A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N.
Because they are all trying to carve spaces for themselves in this community.
Because the world is expecting to be moved by them.
Because they have an urgent story to tell.
Because they have a bone to pick.
Because they want to put a smile on your face.
Because they’re inviting you to be interrogative.
Because maybe what they reveal in their poetry is the vulnerability we’re afraid to bring to surface ourselves.
I hope that our readers will find these eight poets to be a balm on their May and June Sundays.
Níce G. Flores
Crow soars high and caws.
Emerald rows of bounty wake from the night’s rest.
Leaves flutter a yawn in a whispered breeze,
tucked behind is a ready, waiting jewel.
Cross-hatched pecan hands, rough like pumice
break a stem. The drummer’s last bang in a movement—
The sharp herbal scent rises from the black-green fruit,
another poblano added to the burlap sack.
Chill air fills their noses;
wet earth, green, and fog melodies.
They breathe in so,
before the warm solar rays,
before the scent that reigns the fields . . .
is engulfed in dripping sweat, of musk and hours, of an angry sun.
So many hours.
they can breathe DEEP.
Virgin cool, green, rushing air filling the nose and the head and the lungs
in pleasure, in stillness, in peace.
Níce G. Flores was born and raised in Los Angeles, but has made the Midwest her home for many years. Her writing style ranges from stand-up comedy to fiction, poetry, and screenwriting. She will be continuing her studies at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine where she will continue to hone her writing skills and nurture her talents.
About Saymoukda: Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao writer. CNN’s “United Shades of America” host W. Kamau Bell called her work “revolutionary.” Governor Mark Dayton recognized her with a “Lao Artists Heritage Month” Proclamation. She’s a recipient of a Sally Award for Initiative from the Ordway Center for Performing Arts which “recognizes bold new steps and strategic leadership undertaken by an individual…in creating projects or artistic programs never before seen in Minnesota that will have a significant impact on strengthening Minnesota’s artistic/cultural community.” She’s the author of the children’s book WHEN EVERYTHING WAS EVERYTHING and is best known for her award-winning play KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS. Her work has been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (NY), Theater Mu (MN), Lower Depth Theater (LA), Asian Improv Arts (IL), and elsewhere. Other awards include grants/fellowships from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Bush Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation, MAP Fund, Playwrights’ Center, Forecast Public Art, MRAC, MSAB, and others. Saymoukda is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Theater Mu, a McKnight Foundation Fellow in Community-Engaged Practice Art, and a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in playwriting. She has served on Governor Walz’s State Poet Laureate design & selection committee, co-hosted a podcast on Minnesota Public Radio, and is currently serving on the City of Saint Paul Cultural STAR Board. You can get to know her at www.refugenius.net and @refugenius on Instagram.