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Kaleidoscope Project Reading 1: Afro-Asian Creative Reflections

Also premiering on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ESFLibrary)
and Facebook Live (https://www.facebook.com/EastSideFreedomLibrary/videos/756248508536585/)!

May Lee-Yang | Hawona Sullivan Janzen | Julia Gay | Rebecca Nicholson | Ed Bok Lee

The Kaleidoscope Project is a three-part creative writing and intercultural discourse experience developed and facilitated by creative writer/interdisciplinary artist Rebecca Nichloson. Writers who identify as African American and writers who identify as Asian American were selected to reflect on how solidarity between these two communities can be fully realized through narrative, deep intercultural exchange, and an in-depth understanding of the historical trauma both communities have experienced.

The project consisted of two Generative Virtual Workshops which was originally conceived to allow participants to discuss their experiences with creating during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as it relates to story. A week before the first workshop, the world witness the George Floyd murder, and the conversation changed. What results is a group of writers who are speaking powerfully into this momentous time.

Hawona Sullivan Janzen is a Minnesota based poet, and performance artist whose work explores the complex nature of grief, loss, love, and hope. She is the co-founder of Witness Writing, a free community-based writing workshop at the University of Minnesota. A fan of non-traditional poetry publications, Sullivan Janzen’s work has been read on National Public Radio, featured in 10 foot tall broadsides on the side of buildings for the Poetry of Resistance and Change Project, imprinted on coffee sleeves by Coffee House Press., and performed as a jazz opera at the Soap Factory Gallery. She is currently at work on “BLUE: Our Lives Are On This Line,” a collection of encounter poems about life along the Blue Line expansion route in North Minneapolis and the “Rondo Family Reunion,” a public art lawn sign project featuring poetry and photos of life in St. Paul, Minnesota’s Rondo Neighborhood, a historically African-American community torn apart by the building of Interstate 94.

Ed Bok Lee is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Mitochondrial Night (Coffee House Press, March 2019). The son of North and South Korean emigrants—his mother originally a refugee from what is now North Korea; his father was raised during the Japanese colonial period and Korean War in what is now South Korea, Lee grew up in South Korea, North Dakota, and Minnesota, and was educated there and later on both U.S. coasts, Russia, South Korea, and Kazakhstan. Honors include the American Book Award, Minnesota Book Award, Asian American Literary Award (Members’ Choice), and a PEN/Open Book Award. He currently teaches at Metropolitan State University, and for two decades has taught in programs for youth and the incarcerated.

Rebecca Nichloson. Pronouns: She/Her/Hers. Creative writer, singer/songwriter, playwright and theatre maker. She is the author of numerous works, including Mara, Queen of the World (an acapella musical), The Wild, Bold Enlightenment of Velvet the Mistress, Cooking With Keisha (or Anatomy of Pie), and Jill, Jack & the Martian Lady; a play she created for a children’s educational workshop at the Minnesota Opera. Her fiction and performance pieces include Children of the First Hummingbird, Intelligence, and Zar-Baby, among others. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting (Multiplatform Writing) from Columbia University and an M.A. in English Literature. She was also the recipient of a 2019-2020 Commission from the Cedar Cultural Center and received a 2020 honorable mention from the McKnight Foundation (Spoken Word). In addition, she is the recipient of the Liberace Award, the Howard Stein Fellowship, The Matthew’s Fellowship, an America-in-Play Fellowship and a Many Voices Fellowship from the Minneapolis Playwrights Center (2008-2009). www.RebeccaNichloson.com.

May Lee-Yang is a writer, performer, and teacher. Her theater-based works include The Korean Drama Addict’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity and Confessions of a Lazy Hmong Woman. Her work has been supported by grants from The Playwright Center McKnight Fellowship, the Bush Leadership Fellowship, the MN State Arts Board, the Jerome Travel Grant, the Loft Spoken Word Immersion Grant, and others. She is a co-founder of F.A.W.K. (Funny Asian Women Kollective) and received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of MN.

Julia Gay is a dancer, playwright and stand-up comedian. She is a Chinese adoptee who writes and creates to bridge the vastness between memory, heart and home. Julia is a dancer with Ananya Dance Theatre and was the recipient of The Playwrights’ Center’s 2017-18 Many Voices Mentorship. In October 2019, as part of Dreamland Arts’ Theaterwalla program, Julia produced her one-woman show, Motherlanded, exploring her personal narrative as a Chinese adoptee. Learn more at www.juliagay.com.

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