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Join us for an evening with authors from Kaya Press, the group of dedicated writers, artists, readers, and lovers of books working together to publish the most challenging, thoughtful, and provocative literature being produced throughout the Asian and Pacific Island diasporas, with special guest Abeer Hoque.
The Secret Room
In Kazim Ali's wildly inventive novel The Secret Room, written as musical score for a string quartet, he asks: How does one create a life of meaning in the face of loneliness and alienation from one’s own family, culture, or even sense of self? During the space of one single day, the lives of four people converge and diverge in ways they themselves may not even measure.
Sonia Chang, a violinist prepares for a concert. Rizwan Syed, a yoga teacher who gives so much to others, makes one last panicked attempt at reconciliation with his own family. Jody Merchant tries to balance a difficult and stressful work-life with a dream she abandoned long ago. Pratap Patel trudges through his life trying to ignore the pain he still feels at old losses.
Just like the real musical quality of a string quartet, these four characters weave in and out of one another's experiences in a raw, fluid song that mimics the hidden lives that exist within us all.
Praise for Kazim Ali
“Here are new organizing principles; to allow ourselves to be organized by music; to be scored. This is a text that suggests not to worry about how to read it. Rather, it extends an invitation to allow the text to happen with us (and/or for us to happen with the text), and this is a Revolutionary Hermeneutics: to open to the experiences of pain and awe. Text as ambient drift we can move through (the same space where healing and magic happens). The way a line divines another, a voice divines a voice, and the emergent conversation, and how this conversation is a hidden music, the music we have been waiting for.”-- Selah Saterstrom, author of Slab and Ideal Suggestions: Essays in Divinatory Poetics
"Kazim Ali has managed to render into the English language the universal inner voice." -- Lucille Clifton
Kazim Ali's books include five volumes of poetry, The Far Mosque, The Fortieth Day, Bright Felon, Sky Ward, and All One’s Blue: New and Selected Poems; three novels, Quinn’s Passage, The Disappearance of Seth and Wind Instrument; a collection of short stories, Uncle Sharif’s Life in Music, and three collections of essays, Orange Alert: Essays on Poetry, Art and the Architecture of Silence, Fasting for Ramadan and Resident Alien: On Border-crossing and the Undocumented Divine. He has translated books by Sohrab Sepehri, Ananda Devi and Marguerite Duras. He is an associate professor of Comparative Literature and the director of the Creative Writing Program at Oberlin College.
The Flayed City
Hari Alluri is an author who, according to U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, “carries a new, quiet brush of multi-currents, of multi-worlds to paint this holographic life-scape.” In The Flayed City, Alluri gives an intimate look into the lives of city dwellers and immigrants, imagining the souls that reside in “broom-filled nights”, “skyscrapers for buoys”, and under an “aluminum rising sun”. The charged poems in The Flayed City sweep together “an archipelago song” scored by memory and landscape, history and mythology, desire and loss. Driven by what is residual—of displacement, of family, of violent yet delicate masculinity, of undervalued yet imperative work—Alluri's lines quiver with the poet's distinctive rendering of praise and lament steeped with “gravity and blood” where “the smell of ants being born surrounds us” and “city lights form constellations // invented to symbolize war.”
Praise for Hari Alluri
“Hari Alluri is Michaux for our time. Which is to say: he is the poet who is able to find myth in our days of sorrow and displacement, when so many lose homes and identities, Hari Alluri offers a new music. When cities are destroyed by fire, Hari Alluri offers lyric fire that heals the heart, that lets theimagination save us. When there is nothing left to say and the page of our drive to stop the pain is brightly-lit and blank, Hari Alluri brings a few words that sing, brings them by the hand, gives them to us—not just words but images, sparks, from which the fire comes, from which whole villages are alive again. This is the poet to live with."-- Ilya Kaminsky, author of Dancing in Odessa
[Hari Alluri] carries a new, quiet brush of multi-currents, of multi-worlds to paint this holographic life-scape; a most rare set of poems—with jazz beat word lines, long-line wisdom and open space scenes where you can widen your eyes, scrape your hands and rush into colliding worlds. Bravo, many bravos!”
Hari Alluri, who immigrated to Vancouver, Coast Salish territories at age twelve, is the author of Carving Ashes (CiCAC, 2013) and The Promise of Rust (Mouthfeel, 2016). An award-winning poet, educator, and teaching artist, his work appears widely in anthologies, journals and online venues, including Chautauqua, Poemeleon and Split This Rock. He is a founding editor at Locked Horn Press, where he has co-edited two anthologies, Gendered & Written: Forums on Poetics andRead America(s): An Anthology. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University and, along with the Federico Moramarco Poetry International Teaching Prize, he has received VONA/Voices and Las Dos Brujas fellowships and a National Film Board of Canada grant. Hari currently serves as editor of pacific Review in San Diego, Kumeyaay land.
Photo by Cynthia Dewi Oka
Olive Witch (Harper 360)
In the 1970s, Nigeria is flush with oil money, building new universities, and hanging on to old colonial habits.
Abeer Hoque is a Bangladeshi girl growing up in a small sunlit university town where the red clay earth, corporal punishment and running games are facts of life. At thirteen she moves with her family to suburban Pittsburgh and finds herself surrounded by clouded skies and high schoolers who speak in movie quotes and pop culture slang. Finding her place as a young woman in America proves more difficult than she can imagine. Disassociated from her parents and laid low by academic pressure and a spiraling depression, she is committed to a psychiatric ward in Philadelphia. When she moves to Bangladesh on her own, it proves yet another beginning for someone who is only just getting used to being an outsider – wherever she is.
Arresting and beautifully written, with poems and weather conditions framing each chapter, Olive Witch is an intimate memoir about taking the long way home.
Praise for Abeer Y. Hoque
“Told with vivid lyricism yet unflinching in its gaze, Abeer Hoque's memoir is the coming-of-age story of migration on three continents, and about the pain, rupture, and redemptive possibilities of displacement.” --Tahmima Anam, author of The Bones of Grace
"An unflinching yet luminously beautiful take on family, race, sex and the treachery of memory. Don’t be fooled by the frangipani beauty of Abeer Hoque’s prose. Its razor-sharp edges can draw blood."--Sandip Roy, author of Don't Let Him Know
Abeer Y. Hoque is a Bangladeshi-American writer and photographer. Her first book of fiction, The Lovers and the Leavers, was published by HarperCollins to critical acclaim. She also has a book of travel photographs and poems, The Long Way Home. She lives in New York City.