Fresno poet launching book after winning a prestigious award

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Mai Der Vang's "Afterland" came as a result of winning a Walt Whitman Award last year. She's had poems published in a literary anthology but this is her first book.

"The Afterland of the refugee, where does that refugee end up-- and then I also talk about the Afterland of that country that just gone through that war."

It is a collection of very personal poems.

Vang said, "I hope that it opens up a new opportunity for education on how the Hmong people came to be here."

Vang studied English at UC Berkeley and earned a masters in fine arts from Columbia. But research about the Hmong-American experience always came up empty.

"I never left the library without checking out a book and I always looked for Hmong names but I never found any," said Vang.

Vang is part of a small circle of Hmong-American poets paving a new path.

"It feels incredible to see the book in its final form-- to see my name on it."

The Hmong culture has a form of "sung" poetry. Vang's voice is a modern variation and it helps connect her community.

Vang's book launch for "Afterland" will be held Thursday evening at seven at Bitwise South Stadium in Downtown Fresno.
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