Advice From Elders by Maikao Xiong

"When you're older, you'll understand." It is a phrase we have all heard. As we grow older, situations from our youth begin to make sense. However, despite all the knowledge, life experience, and "adultness" you have acquired over the years, there are still those matters you may never understand like tipping, car mechanics and how many exemptions you should claim on your taxes? Read “Advice From Elders” by Maikao Xiong and you will come up with your own list of: I still don’t understand.

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. 

Fondly, Saymoukda

Advice From Elders
Maikao Xiong

You’ll learn when you grow older

You’ll know when you experience it
You’ll see it when it happens
You’ll understand when you grow older
I still don’t understand


Maikao Xiong is a Hmong American writer from Maplewood, MN. She enjoys watching documentaries about story processes, animation processes, and character analyses. She was inspired to create joyful, comedic, and light-hearted stories that include deep meanings. She is starting to write again after a long time of not writing. She is currently studying psychology, is a Write Like Us mentee, and bakes often while writing short stories.

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 and @refugenius on Instagram.

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