Smithsonian Presents Asian American Literature Festival

Biennale Festival Features Performances and Workshops on the Theme of Care and Caregiving
July 29, 2019
News Release
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Asian American Literature Festival graphic

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center will co-host, along with the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center and the Poetry Foundation, the 2019 Asian American Literature Festival. The festival will be held Friday through Sunday, August 2–4, at the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler and Eaton DC, a hotel offering innovative content and programming in Northwest D.C. The theme of this year’s festival, “Care + Caregiving,” focuses on how care and caregiving are reimagined in literature, and how reading and writing, individually and communally, can serve as care practices.

The schedule for the festival is:

  • Aug. 2: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Eaton DC

          5–9 p.m. at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art

  • Aug. 3: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Library of Congress

           5:30 –11 p.m. at Eaton DC

  • Aug. 4: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Eaton DC

Featuring more than 90 prominent Asian American poets, writers, literary scholars, graphic novelists, spoken-word artists and young adult and children’s literature authors, the festival is a new model of literary programming—literature meets the museum—with an array of interactive programs for sharing and growing Asian American literature.

“Literature has always been a central art form for Asian American communities,” said Lisa Sasaki, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. “This biennale festival is a chance to celebrate Asian American literature’s past and present and to continue to build its future around important topics.”

Among the featured programs:

  • A Poets’ Peace Breakfast in Washington’s Franklin Square Park will open the festival and provide food to the local houseless community
  • Ocean Vuong will read from his new New York Times bestselling novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
  • Novelist Monique Truong and poet Arthur Sze will give intimate lectures on their personal journeys through Asian American literary history
  • QUEER LITERAOKE, a fun combination of literary reading and karaoke, will feature performances by Wo Chan, Jericho Brown and Sarah Gambito and Joseph Legaspi
  • A “MFA of Color” Workshop, designed by local students, rethinks creative writing education to better serve students of color
  • A live broadcast of the award-winning Poetry Foundation podcast VS, hosted by Franny Choi and Danez Smith
  • The Asian American literature donation project, which will flow donated works of Asian American literature to local spaces of need

“The Library of Congress is thrilled to be part of this historic festival and work with both the Smithsonian and the Poetry Foundation to celebrate Asian American literature,” said Robert Casper, director of the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center.

Festival sponsors include AARP and Eaton DC with special thanks to Kundiman, Kaya Press, Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler galleries, Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum and Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for their support. A complete list of participants and programs at the festival is available at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s website.

About the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

Established in 1997, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center is a museum without walls that presents innovative, community-centered museum experiences throughout the United States and beyond. Follow the center on Twitter and Instagram: @SmithsonianAPA.

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