Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer.
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.
I have known pain a long time now
An ever-present familiar that strikes at will
A headache a day
A random popping of the jaw
A rip down the middle of my foot suggesting a broken bone where there is none
The crippling aches in my abdomen that switch up depending on the time of the month
Food I eat, air I breathe and
The violent nausea from random smells and scents that never fails to surprise
You name it, I’ve felt it.
So when someone asked if I loved my body
I didn’t have an answer
How can I love something that keeps me miserable?
How can I love something that won’t love me back?
There have been days I’m tempted to cut myself
Just so I could release some of the biting sensations
trapped inside my unforgiving body
But then I remember that that too is pain.
Some days I fantasize about the possibility of taking off my skin
as I undress at the end of each day
Some days I want to shave my head
Because my hair feels like a million fire ants colony going about their day
Some days I sit naked and bare
Hoping to give my body some respite
Because her discomfort is my discomfort.
Some days I look for clues on how to love my body and some days I never find one.
Priscilla is a proud native of Lagos, Nigeria. She is an avid consumer and creator of stories, real and imagined. She enjoys ruminating on the meaning of life, how our experiences are shaped, and all the ways we can tell our stories. She’s currently exploring ways to incorporate her creative hankerings in her community engagement efforts. Her budding collection includes a creative writing portfolio of poetry and nonfiction flash essays and a future blog called Do you speak African?
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.