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Poetry & Short Stories Reading
January 9, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm PST
Join us for a virtual poetry & short stories reading featuring Brian Dempster (Seize), Caroline Kim (The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories), and Maw Shein Win (Invisible Gifts and Storage Unit for the Spirit House).
About the authors and their books:
Brian Komei Dempster is a professor of rhetoric and language and a faculty member in Asian Pacific American Studies at the University of San Francisco (USF), where he also serves as Director of Administration for the Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies. editor of both From Our Side of the Fence: Growing Up in America’s Concentration Camps and Making Home from War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement. Topaz, his debut book of poetry, received the 15 Bytes 2014 Book Award in Poetry.
His book Seize spares no one the highs and lows of fatherhood. The speaker struggles to care for his young and ailing child — a child whose many medical problems create an obstacle course of moral and emotional dilemmas. How does a father come to terms with the large and unknowable mysteries of a child who cannot communicate in a “normative” way? How does a parent — especially one who is dependent on language — guide a child without the use of speech? And how does one become the parent of another when their own uncertainties, their own wounds — intergenerationally from war, from strained race relations, from constantly being denied a place to belong — are still healing?
Caroline Kim was born in Busan, Korea but moved to America at an early age. She has lived on the East Coast, Midwest, and Texas but now makes her home in Northern California with her family. Her collection of stories, The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories, won the 2020 Pitt Drue Heinz Literature Prize. You can find her on Twitter at @carolinewriting.
Exploring what it means to be human through the Korean diaspora, Caroline Kim’s stories feature many voices. From a teenage girl in 1980’s America, to a boy growing up in the middle of the Korean War, to an immigrant father struggling to be closer to his adult daughter, or to a suburban housewife whose equilibrium depends upon a therapy robot, each character must face their less-than-ideal circumstances and find a way to overcome them without losing themselves. Language often acts as a barrier as characters try, fail, and momentarily succeed in connecting with each other. With humor, insight, and curiosity, Kim’s wide-ranging stories explore themes of culture, communication, travel, and family. Ultimately, what unites these characters across time and distance is their longing for human connection and a search for the place–or people–that will feel like home.
Maw Shein Win is a writer, editor, and educator who lives and works in the Bay Area. Win is the first poet laureate of El Cerrito (2016 – 2018) and her forthcoming second full-length collection of poetry will be published by Omnidawn in Fall 2020. She was a 2019 Visiting Scholar in the Department of English at UC Berkeley. You can find her on Twitter @mawsheinwin.
With sharp focus and startling language, the poems in Maw Shein Win’s second book, Storage Unit for the Spirit House, look through physical objects to glimpse the ephemeral, the material, and the immaterial. Vinyl records, felt wolverines, a belt used to punish children, pain pills, and “show dogs with bejeweled collars” crowd into Win’s real and imagined storage units. Nats, Buddhist animist deities from her family’s homeland of Burma, haunt the book’s six sections. The nats, almost all of whom were once humans who died violently, inhabit the storage units and hover around objects while forgotten children sleep under Mylar blankets and daughters try to see through the haze of a father’s cigarette smoke.
You can purchase the speakers’ works here:
The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories: https://www.asiabookcenter.com/store/p2703/The_Prince_of_Mournful_Thoughts_and_Other_Stories_%28_Pitt_Drue_Heinz_Lit_Prize_%29.html
Storage Unit for the Spirit House: https://www.asiabookcenter.com/store/p2189/Storage_Unit_for_the_Spirit_House.html
Invisible Gifts: https://www.asiabookcenter.com/store/p2019/Invisible_Gifts.html
15% off all purchases with discount code HOLIDAY15!
Choose to ship your orders (free shipping for orders $30+) to your home or select in-store pick up at Eastwind Books of Berkeley, 2066 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704.