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Tanon Sai Jai

Tanon Sai Jai - Bryan Thao Worra The reading is a journey through the heart and soul of what Worra calls "the Lao experience." He was born in Laos in 1973 during war, adopted by an American pilot at the age of six months, and raised in America. In 2003 he returned to Laos for the first time, and these poems are a tribute to place, heritage and family. The whole is part journal and part song, and the quest is an inspiring sort for anyone concerned with matters of belonging and identity. Without lapsing into sentiment, Worra confronts loss and grief and celebrates the loves and joys that transcend them. There's much vivid detail; he has a keen eye and an edge, never slighting the complications or belittling the horrors, as well as a great capacity for hope. It's a compelling mix, and the result is brilliant poetry.

Khop Jai For Nothing, Farangs

The bomb popped in his face
While he was digging a fire pit

For his family squatting
On the old mercenary camp

In Xieng Khouang province
So notorious for its UXO.

"They live there for the American plumbing,"
our host said flatly,
watching volleyball games by the airstrip.

This was wholly routine.

The ruined grounds were frozen.
Explosives, dormant blooms below,
Can be mistaken for ice and rock easily.

And he screamed

The whole while as we loaded
Him into the back of our rickety plane
to Vientiane that

Lao Aviation picked up from
The Russians when everyone

Thought the Cold War
Was going somewhere.

The California girl on holiday
Was aghast and found it

Quite unscenic.
What a pall on her search for highs.

In Wat Inpeng
A monk named Souk

Confided discretely:
"We really hate hippies."