EVENT: Fresno Poets’ Association reading with Hmong American Writers’ Circle (HAWC)


Present their Fall Reading Series with:


Thursday, September 29, 2011, 7 p.m. at:

Fresno State Madden Library, Auditorium Room 2206 (2nd floor, South Wing)

Members of HAWC will read from their recently released anthology:



Readers Include:

ANDRE YANG is a founding member of HAWC. Currently studying in the MFA program at Fresno State, he is a Provost Scholar and a Philip Levine Scholar. He is also a Kundiman Fellow, and his poetry has appeared in “Paj Ntaub Voice,” “Hyphen Magazine,” and the chapbook anthology, “Here is a Pen” (Achiote Press). He is the coeditor of “How Do I Begin?”

BURLEE VANG is a graduate of Fresno State’s MFA Program in Creative Writing. He is also the author of “The Dead I Know: Incantation for Rebirth” (Swan Scythe Press, 2010) and co-editor of “How Do I Begin?: A Hmong American Literary Anthology” (Heyday, 2011). His prose and poetry have appeared in “Ploughshares,” “North American Review,” “Alaska Quarterly Review,” “Massachusetts Review,” “Asia Literary Review,” among other literary journals. His work has also been anthologized in “Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers: Best New Voices of 2006” (Random House), “Highway 99: A Literary Journey Through California’s Great Central Valley” (Heyday), and “New California Writing 2011” (Heyday). He founded HAWC in 2004 to encourage and nurture emerging Hmong writers in the San Joaquin Valley.

Shaping the Hmong American literary voice

Hmong history and culture can be found in the form of oral stories, oral poetry, textile art, and music but there is no written account of Hmong life, by a Hmong hand, passed down through the centuries. As an undergraduate, Burlee Vang experienced this void when he received valuable advice from his English professor: “Write about your people. That story has not been told. If you don’t, who will?”

“How Do I Begin?” is the struggle to preserve on paper the Hmong American experience. In this anthology, readers will find elaborate soul-calling ceremonies, a woman questioning the seeming tyranny of her parents and future in-laws, the temptation of gangs and drugs, and the shame and embarrassment of being different in a culture that obsessively values homogeneity. Some pieces revisit the ghosts of war. Others lament the loss of a country. Many offer glimpses into intergenerational tensions exacerbated by the differences in Hmong and American culture.

“How Do I Begin?” signifies a turning point for the Hmong community, a group of people who have persevered through war, persecution, and exile. Transcending ethnic and geographic boundaries, it poignantly speaks of survival instead of defeat.

HAWC serves as a forum to discover and foster creative writing within the Hmong community. HAWC’s efforts and achievements have been geared toward the creation of a visible body of Hmong American literature and the establishment of a Hmong literary culture.



Book signing and reception to follow. This event is FREE and open to the public. Limited seating.

Free parking passes are available from the volunteers standing near the parking kiosks. Look for their poetry-reading signs as you enter the south side of the campus.

For more information about this event, contact Cindy Wathen at ciwathen@csufresno.edu.


THE FRESNO POETS’ ASSOCIATION is now a formal program of Fresno State’s MFA Program in Creative Writing in conjunction with the Madden Library. Please consider supporting our organization:

Annual memberships: Student $5; Individual $10; Family $15; Contributor $25; Patron $50; Sustaining $100.

Please mail a check made payable to Fresno State Foundation to:

Office of the Dean, Madden Library,

5200 N. Barton Ave. ML 34

Fresno CA 93740-8014


Located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, the Creative Writing Program at California State University, Fresno, has a long history of literary excellence. The program combines studio and academic approaches, providing students with substantial workshop experience and a solid background in theory and literature. The soul of the Creative Writing Program is its nationally and internationally acclaimed faculty, whose writing as well as their commitment to teaching lie at the heart of the program’s ability to attract the best students from across the nation and beyond. Their award-winning faculty has over 20 published books to date. Current MFA faculty include: Steven Church, Alex Espinoza, Corrinne Clegg Hales, John Hales, Randa Jarrar, and Timothy Skeen.


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