Event, Literary

Book Reading with Ru Freeman

Ru Freeman and her new book On Sal Mal Lane. Photo by Peter Hurley.

Monday, May 20, 2013

1 — 2 p.m.

Smithsonian Latino Center
Conference Room, Suite 7042
Capital Gallery, 7th Floor

600 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024
Google Map

Metro: L’Enfant Plaza

Free and open to the public.

Ru Freeman’s new novel On Sal Mal Lane is a tour de force imagining of a quiet street in Sri Lanka just before the start of the country’s tumultuous civil war. Named “Best New Book of the Week” by Publisher’s Weekly, called “stupendous” by Smithsonian’s own BookDragon reviewer Terry Hong, the novel is a crucially important contribution to our understanding of the war and the human lives within it. Come hear Ru Freeman read from her novel for a Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center special Asian Pacific American Heritage Month seminar.

Crafts, Event, Family, Literary, Performance

Volunteer for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2013

Handmade storybook activity. Photo taken during the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Family Day 2011.

We are looking for volunteers who will be in the Washington, D.C. metro area on the weekend of May 4-5 to help with our upcoming two-day Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Family Festival. The festival is inspired by two new exhibitions: I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story and Nam Jun Paik: Global Visionary. This two-day kid-friendly event includes interactive performances, hands-on activities, presentations by local authors, conversations with a curator, gallery tours, a scavenger hunt, and much more.

Click here to view the full schedule
Click here to download the flyer (PDF)

Examples of tasks we need help with on May 4:

  • Talking to the public about their experiences during the festival and using a new evaluation system with iPads
  • Handmade book projects (view photos)
  • Video recording children and participants sharing their handmade books
  • Monitoring a video presentation station

If you think you would like to help out on either day, please contact Lydia Alcock at AlcockL@si.edu as soon as possible.  Please also feel free to forward this page to friends, family, and colleagues who may be interested in helping out.

May 4, 2013

I Want the Wide American Earth
Volunteer Orientation: 10:30am
Event: 11:30am – 4pm
Location: National Museum of American History
Address: 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Metro: Smithsonian, Federal Triangle
Website: http://apa.si.edu/heritage/

May 5, 2013

PaikBot Family Day
Volunteer Orientation: 10:30am
Event: 11:30am – 5pm
Location: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Kogod Courtyard
Address: 8th and F Streets, NW
Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown
Website: Click here

Academic, Event, Lecture, Literary

Event: Book Talk with Dr. Nalini Natarajan

Friday, April 5th, 2013

12:30 p.m. — 1:30 p.m.

CFCH Conference Room
Capital Gallery, 2nd Floor

600 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024
Google Map

Metro: L’Enfant Plaza

Free and open to the public.

The Indian American Heritage Project at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) present a brown-bag book talk by Dr. Nalini Natarajan, Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on her new book Atlantic Gandhi: The Mahatma Overseas.

Atlantic Gandhi examines Gandhi’s experience as a traveler moving from a classic colony, India, to the plantation and mining society of South Africa and argues that his diasporic life resonates with recent perspectives on the Atlantic, as an ocean that not just transported the victims of a greedy plantation system, but also saw the ferment of revolutionary ideas.

Related Links:

Academic, Event, Literary, Performance

Recap and Video: Between Image & Word Symposium

click image to view more photos

The Edgar P. Richardson Symposium Asian American Portraits of Encounter: Between Image & Word was held on April 14, 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery’s McEvoy Auditorium and featured readings by seven renowned Asian Pacific American writers: Bao Phi, Marianne Villanueva, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Kazim Ali, Anna Kazumi Stahl, David Henry Hwang, and Garrett Hongo.

 Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis

The purpose of the symposium was eloquently expressed by Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis, editor of the Asian American Literary Review, in his opening remarks:

“There’s greater production of Asian American arts and letters now than ever before, but I think that it’s easy to see the writers as if they’re at their separate tables at a giant book fair, or artists at their respective galleries, sort of as a chain of islands of disparate talents… And the impetus for this event is to view Asian American arts and letters as a living body, a living community that needs nurturing and provoking, precisely by means of exchange and conversation, and we hope today’s event provides these sorts of exchange and dialogue.”

Konrad Ng, Director of the Smithsonian APA Program, also gave remarks via video that compliment the mission of the symposium:

“…what you do, what you write, what you create, is of great importance and relevance because the meaning of your work far exceeds the fact of its existence.   Your work captures the particularities of this time and allows future generations to admire creative expression and respect critical interventions. The idea of today’s event grew out of the recognition that art and literature possess profound powers, and the encounter between Asian American writers, as they respond to Asian American portraiture, could incubate critical acts of creativity. “

The four-hour symposium also featured the artwork of Roger Shimomura, Hey Yeon Nam, CYJO, Shizu Saldamando, Hong Chun Zhang, Tam Tran, and Satomi Shirai, all of which are currently on display in the Asian American Portraits of Encounter exhibition. Each of the seven participating writers was paired with a visual portrait from the exhibition and asked to create an original literary work in response. Presented in the form of poems, short stories, and plays, these response pieces explored themes of identity, immigration, xenophobia, Asian American stereotypes, and cultural dissonance. The writers also shared personal anecdotes and other works from their oeuvre with similar thematic content. Ranging from comedic send-ups of youth culture to deeply heartfelt narrations of the artists’ own creative and personal journeys, the great diversity of works presented that afternoon provided a bridge between the visual and literary arts, and hopefully prompted some thought-provoking discussions on what it means to be Asian American today.

Watch the webcast video below or on our Ustream page.

Between Image & Word was organized and presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Asian American Literary Review with generous funding from the Commissioner Edgar P. Richardson Symposium Fund of the National Portrait Gallery and OCA-DC.

Related Links:

Event, Literary

Between Image & Word Symposium

Between Image & Word Symposium

Update April 19, 2012: This event has passed. You can view photos and watch the recorded webcast.

Saturday, April 14, 2012
11:15am — 5 p.m.

Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium
National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets NW
Washington, DC 20001
Google Map

Metro: Gallery Place-Chinatown

Related Exhibition:
Asian American Portraits of Encounter

Free and open to the public.
Book signing after the symposium.

Asian American art and literature offer a collective portrait of Asian American identity and culture, one that reflects on lived experience and expresses its textures. The Edgar P. Richardson Symposium Asian American Portraits of Encounter Between Image & Word brings these critical efforts to light by staging conversations and encounters between acclaimed Asian American writers and the artwork of Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter, the exhibition by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. The symposium will feature original literary work composed in response to the themes and feelings raised by the exhibition.

Come hear readings by writers David Henry Hwang, Garrett Hongo, Bao Phi, Marianne Villanueva, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Kazim Ali, and Anna Kazumi Stahl.

National Portrait Gallery curators will give a guided tour of the exhibition that includes artwork by CYJO, Hye Yeon Nam, Shizu Saldamando, Roger Shimomura, Satomi Shirai, Tam Tran, and Hong Chun Zhang.

Academic, Event, Film, HomeSpun, Literary, South Asian

SALTAF 2011 – South Asian Literary and Theater Arts Festival


Saturday, November 5, 2011
10 a.m. — 5:30 p.m.

Baird Auditorium
National Museum of Natural History
1000 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
Google Map

Metro: Federal Triangle

Free and open to the public.

Update: This event has passed, you can read the recap and view pictures.

For ten years, the South Asian Literary and Theatre Arts Festival (SALTAF) has been an annual celebration of South Asian creative talent, showcasing the work of established and emerging artists and connecting them to a wide audience in the Washington, D.C. area. The festival emerged from the book club created by the Network of South Asian Professionals D.C. (NetSAP-DC) and has blossomed with its partnership for the last eight years with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program (APAP).

Featured Literary Artists:

  • Aatish Taseer (Noon)
  • Mitali Perkins (Bamboo People)
  • Nina Godiwala (Suits: A Woman on Wall Street)
  • Shailja Patel (Migritude)
  • Roksana Badruddoja (Eyes of a Storm)

The festival will open with a screening of the film The Boy Mir – Ten Years in Afghanistan to be followed by a conversation with the director, Phil Grabsky.

This event is co-sponsored by NetSAP-DC.

Program Schedule

10:00 a.m. – 11:45 Film Screening of The Boy Mir – Ten Years in Afghanistan (2011)
11:45 – 12:15 p.m. Discussion with director Phil Grabsky
12:15 – 1:00 Break
1:00 – 1:15 Opening Remarks
1:15- 2:00 Discussion with author Aatish Taseer
2:00 – 3:00 Discussion with authors Nina Godiwalla and Mitali Perkins
3:00 – 3:30 Book Signing
3:30 – 3:45 Reading by scholar/author Roksana Badruddoja
3:45 – 4:00 Performance by Shailja Patel
4:00 – 4:30 Discussion with Roksana Badruddoja and Shailja Patel
4:30 – 5:30 Book Signing
Event, Film, Lecture, Literary

The Hip-hop/Kung Fu/Afro-Asian Connection: A Panel Discussion

Click for more photos

From left: Nelson George, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, Barry Cole, and Konrad Ng. Click image for more photos.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

4 p.m.

Meyer Auditorium
Freer Gallery of Art
Jefferson Drive at 12th St SW
Washington, DC 20013

Closest Metro: Smithsonian
Free and open to the public.

Following the screening of Drunken Master at 2 p.m., join a panel of experts at 4 p.m. for a lively discussion about the long-running relationship between martial arts movies and rap music.


Barry Cole, member of Hop Fu (Hip-hop meets Kung Fu)
Nelson George, filmmaker and author of Hip Hop America
Konrad Ng, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program
Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, Chinese Taiwanese American spoken word artist based in Brooklyn

This event is cosponsored with the Freer Gallery of Art. It is presented in conjunction with:

•  The exhibition RACE: Are We So Different? on view at the National Museum of Natural History through January 2, 2012.
•  Part of the series Let’s Talk About RACE – at the Smithsonian
•  Part of the series Sixteenth Annual Made in Hong Kong Film Festival
•  Part of the series The Hip-hop/Kung Fu Connection

Freer kung fu / hip hop event
Academic, Art, Event, Literary, Vietnamese American

Beyond the War: Vietnamese American Film and Literature Envision a New Homeland

Panelists and Moderator

From left: Truong Tran, Mark Tran, Monique Truong, and moderator Isabelle Pelaud.

Click here to view more photos from the event.


Webcast video – Click the play button to watch via Ustream

Part 1: Welcoming remarks, introduction by Isabelle Pelaud, and panel speakers. (1hr 20min)
Click here to watch it on the Ustream website.

Part 2: Audience Q&A (20min)
Click here to watch it on the Ustream website.

Thursday, April 14, 2011
6:30 — 8:30 p.m.

Ring Auditorium
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Independence Avenue and 7th St., SW
Washington, DC 20024

The auditorium is located on the lower level
Metro: L’Enfant or Smithsonian
This event is free and open to the public

Please join us for a panel discussion on new Vietnamese American literature, arts, and filmmaking.

For decades, the Vietnam War defined the history and identity of Vietnamese Americans in the United States. However, for a growing number of people in this community, the war is becoming a distant memory. How are these Vietnamese Americans creating new identities and opening a new chapter in the Asian American experience? The past decade has seen the emergence of a new generation of Vietnamese American scholars, writers, artists, and filmmakers who are redefining what it means to be a Vietnamese American. In doing so, they add compellingly new layers to what it means to be an American.

Click here to download the Program for this event (PDF).

Parking info:
Please click here to download a PDF for more details on where to park at the Smithsonian.

Directions Using Metro Rail:
L’Enfant Plaza Station — Take the 7th and Maryland Avenue exit. Walk north on 7th Street, cross Independence where the Hirshhorn is to the left.
Smithsonian Station — Take the Smithsonian Mall exit. Walk south to Jefferson Drive and east to the Hirshhorn Museum. Entrance is from the Independence Avenue side of the museum.


Monique Truong

Monique Truong
Photo by Marion Ettlinger

Monique Truong was born in Saigon, South Vietnam, and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Her second novel, Bitter in the Mouth (Random House, 2010), was named a 25 Best Fiction Books by Barnes & Noble and a 10 Best Fiction Books by Hudson Booksellers. Her first novel, The Book of Salt (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), was a national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Fiction Book, and the recipient of the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Truong is also a contributing co-editor of Watermark: An Anthology of Vietnamese American Poetry & Prose (Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 1998). She is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia University School of Law.

Truong Tran

Truong Tran
Poet and Visual Artist

Truong Tran is a poet and visual artist. His publications include, The Book of Perceptions, Placing The Accents, Dust and Conscience (awarded the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Prize in 2002), within the margin and Four Letter Words. This year, he will be a featured reader at the International Poetry Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Truong lives in San Francisco and is a visiting professor of poetry at Mills College. His artwork has been shown at galleries and festivals including Intersection for the Arts and SOMARTS. In February of 2010, Truong had his first solo exhibition at The Mina Dresden Gallery. His work can be viewed on his website at http://gnourtnart.com


Mark Tran

Mark Tran

Mark Tran is a Vietnamese American filmmaker born and raised in California. He wrote and directed the award winning film All About Dad, a heart-warming comedy about an “old world” father and his “new world” kids. All About Dad garnered awards at film festivals and was ranked 8th from the Top 10 Asian American Films of 2009 by Asia Pacific Arts. Mark started filmmaking when he was 16 and has since directed over 30 short films, including the award-winning The Fisherman’s Troubled Odyssey, about a father’s immigration from Vietnam, and fan-favorite Binary City, a neo-noir gangster film. Mark is currently working on another screenplay and he hopes to continue telling stories from a Vietnamese American perspective.


Isabelle Pelaud

Isabelle Pelaud
Panel Discussion Moderator

Isabelle Pelaud will serve as the moderator for the panel discussion.  She is an associate professor in Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. She is the author of This Is All I Choose to Tell: History and Hybridity in Vietnamese American Literature (Temple University Press, 2001). Her academic work can be found in Mixed Race Literature, The New Face of Asian Pacific America, Amerasia Journal and Michigan Quarterly Review. Her creative works have been published in Making More WavesTilting the ContinentVietnam Dialogue Inside/Out and The Perfume River. She is founder and executive director of the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN). She seeks to create intersections within academia, activism, and the arts.

Event Flyer (click to enlarge)

Beyond the War flyer

Chinese American, Event, Film, Indian American, Literary, South Asian

SALTAF 2010, South Asian Literary and Theatre Arts Festival Recap

South Asian Literary and Theater Arts Festival 2010

Co-Chairs: Kiran Meegada, Latha Reddy, Mridula Srinivasan
Contact: saltaf@netsap.org

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and NetSAP-DC presented the tenth annual South Asian Literary and Theater Arts Festival (SALTAF). The partnership between NetSAP and the Smithsonian has established SALTAF as a premier showcase for South Asian-themed literary and theater arts in North America.

This past festival’s schedule can be found if you click here.

SALTAF 2010 | Photo by Manish Alimchandani

This year’s festival featured panel discussions, readings, and film screenings by internationally acclaimed writers and artists, including:

  • Award-winning writer Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the bestselling author of Arranged Marriage, One Amazing Thing, and other novels which focus on the themes of women, immigration, and the South Asian experience. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Houston.
  • Born in Sri Lanka and educated at Oxford, the San Francisco-based poet Pireeni Sundaralingam is a PEN USA Rosenthal Fellow. She is also the editor of the first anthology of contemporary South Asian American poetry, Indivisible, as well as the author of the forthcoming Margin Lands.
  • Writer and artist Naeem Mohaiemen‘s photography and video projects have shown at venues such as Laboral Center for Art & Technology and Zurich Shedhalle, and will show next at Sharjah Biennial 2011. He is editor of the just published Between Ashes and Hope: Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Blind Spot of Bangladesh Nationalism.
  • Washington, DC-based journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of the acclaimed Imperial Life in the Emerald City, is National Editor at The Washington Post. He has written extensively on the Middle East and has been widely praised for his reporting on that region.
  • The San-Francisco-based writer, performer, and activist Canyon Sam, author of the 2010 PEN-award winning lyrical memoir Sky Train, has performed across the United States and Canada. Her creative nonfiction has been published in numerous periodicals and anthologies.

The two films showcased were:

Shakti Rising (Shakti Pirakkudhu), created in association with writer and director Usha Rajeswari of Prakriti Jiva Media, is a special tribute to the undying spirit and power of women throughout the world. Based on the true-life stories of a group of women from Madurai, India and their association with Madura Micro Finance Ltd., this inspirational film offers a case study of success and triumph.

Udaan, created in association with director Vikramaditya Motwane and producers Sanjay Singh, Anurag Kashyap, and Ronnie Screwvala, is a story about 17-year-old Rohan who is expelled from boarding school and returns home to his stern and abusive father. Rohan has dreams of becoming a writer but is instead forced to work in his father’s metalworks factory and attend engineering classes at a local university. From the ashes of conflict Rohan has to decide whether or not his dream of becoming a writer is too strong to give up.

See photos by Manish Alimchandani from this year’s event by clicking here.
See the original event listing by clicking here.

Event, Film, Indian American, Literary

SALTAF 2010, South Asian Literary and Theatre Arts Festival Program Schedule

South    Asian Literary and Theater Arts Festival 2010

10:00 – 10:15 Registration
10:15 – 10:20 Opening remarks (Dr. Richard Kurin, Under Secretary of History, Art, and Culture & Acting Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program)
10:20 – 10:25 Introductory Remarks and Program Announcements by 2010 SALTAF co-chairs
10:30 – 11:30 Panel 1: Global (Dis)Placements
Canyon Sam
Naeem Mohaiemen
Rajiv Chandrasekaran

11:35 – 12:35 Book Signings by the Museum Book Store : Naeem, Rajiv, Canyon 

11:30 – 11:40 ~Break~ 

11:40 –  1:30 Movie 1: Shakti Rising 

1:30 – 1:50 Panel discussion with Dr. Tara Thiagarajan, Director – Usha Rajeswari 

1:50 – 2:00 ~Break~ 

2:00 – 2:55 Panel 2: The Poetics of Placement
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Pireeni Sundaralingam

2:55 – 3:00 ~Break~ 

3:00 – 4:00 Book Signings by the Museum Book Store: Chitra and Pireeni 

3:00 – 5:15 Movie 2: Udaan (Flight) Introduced by Director, Vikramaditya 

5:15 – 5:20 Closing Remarks
5:30 ~End~