Refugee Poetics: Southeast Asian American Poets, Literary Institutions, and Structures of Postmemory


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




“Refugee Poetics” examines how 1.5- and second-generation Vietnamese, Hmong, Lao, and Cambodian American lyric and spoken word poets conceive of making poetry as making refuge. Years after their families were forcibly displaced by war, these poets have embraced a refugee subjectivity in their writing, through which they mediate various temporalities of trauma, history, and memory, and refigure refugees as creative agents against humanitarian and governmental bodies that view them otherwise. Drawing on oral history and ethnographic interviews with poets alongside textual analysis, this project explore these poets’ practices of “refugee poiesis,” a term that not only indicates Southeast Asian American poets’ creative production, but also the networks, collectives, and organizations—or refuges—where they workshop, perform, and circulate their poetic remembrances of their shared histories.