Bamboo Among The Oaks
Contemporary Writing by Hmong Americans
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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thank the Minnesota Historical Society Press for giving me this opportunity to edit Bamboo Among the Oaks. I thank the staff (Greg Britton, Ann Regan, and Shannon M. Pennefeather) for working tirelessly with me to make this an incredible anthology. ...
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How much Hmong history and culture must I provide before we can have a conversation about Hmong literature? This is a question that I as a Hmong writer often contemplate. Sometimes it feels like an added burden, one not imposed on writers who are white and from the majority culture. ...
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It was a hot July fourth at McMurray Park, where thousands of Hmong were showcasing their athletic abilities. I watched from a hill as the traffic of Hmong moved in the valley, which had become an arena for soccer, volleyball, and kato. There was a small breeze blowing, sending smells of hot papaya salad, ...
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It’s been nearly six years since these unsettling questions forced me to take a sabbatical leave from my family and the Hmong community altogether to explore the issue of what I am in the shadow of who I am. To further search for answers to the question of where the “I” in Hmong is, I deliberately locked myself ...
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I was eighteen when I married. We had no place of our own. When I came to live with your father, we lived with your grandmother and grandfather. When your father went away to be a soldier, I went with him to live at the military base for a year and then when I had [your older brother] Bee, I came back ...
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After years of going places he had to go—school, work, home, repeat—he decided today to break the mold. He wanted to go someplace else. Someplace where there was very little noise coming in from the window and from the other side of the wall. Because he was new to this neighborhood, or because ...
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If you’ve ever been a daughter-in-law and heard your in-laws saying, “Mai [that’s their daughter], clean up the house” or “Mai [same daughter], do the dishes,” you know they’re not really talking to Mai. They’re really talking to you. It’s their way of discreetly saying you need to work. ...
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Mai Neng Moua
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My mother carried with her one duck, one chicken, one hoe, one sickle, one change of clothing each for all four of us, one bag of rice, one ax, one waterproof cloth, two blankets, two pots, four spoons, four bowls, some silver bars, seeds for two vegetables, family pictures, and medicinal seeds for constipation.. ...
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Perhaps I will not destroy the Hmong Wall, but I already have plans to climb it and break off a piece to bring back to my parents. I’ll say to them proudly, “This is how much you were feared. A powerful emperor and dynasty created this for you and me. Not for Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great, ...
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She did not visit her parents often. They lived in the country, up in Appleton, Wisconsin, and she lived in the city, down in Chicago. After college, she chose to accept a position at an up-and-coming financial corporation in Chicago, as far away from the obligations and demands of home as possible. ...
Bryan Thao Worra
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A small horde of portly blackbirds is huddled on the trash bin behind my home on Edmund Avenue. Their lustrous plumage is as slick as crude oil. They are a brutish pack of mourners in their Sunday best, tittering away freely as they pick about with a ghoulish gourmet’s discretion. ...
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The room is crowded with people dancing to blaring music. Tooj and Jennifer, the only two Hmong in the room, both in their mid-twenties, are on opposite sides of the dance floor, slightly swaying and nodding to the music, each with a cup of beer in hand. They scan the crowd. Finally, they see each other ...
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Mandy stole my boyfriend, Tiny. The RCB, or the Red Cambodian Bloods, called him “Tiny” because he stood at six feet with iron arms. He was big for a Khmer. Everyone respected him because of his size, except me. I didn’t like Tiny because, well, he was tiny, about the length of a fortune cookie and as thick as a Bic pen. ...
M. S. Vang
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Chatter, footsteps, and the sound of doors slamming disturbed the relative quiet, as students of various sizes and colors rushed from another school day. The blue Honda door swung open, and Yer stepped out. She walked to the driver’s side and finger-combed her hair, tucking a stray strand behind her ear. ...
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I was only four years old when my father died. We were living in a refugee camp near the border of Thailand and Laos when he decided to go back to Laos along with his stepbrothers. His stepbrothers told him it was the noble thing for a son to do. My mother tells me that he wanted to please his stepbrothers and his mother ...
Soul Choj Vang
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The last time I talked to him, he was so alive and full of energy. He talked so much, asking me questions, one coming after another as if his natural silence and quietness had disappeared. Although he was only fifty years old, he looked like he was seventy. One could easily notice the wrinkles on his face ...
Kao Xiong with Dia Cha
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Long ago, a young Hmong man and woman loved each other very much, though they lived in separate villages. Since they were so devoted to one another, the young man made it his custom to visit his girlfriend almost every day. Yet, though they loved each other truly and with all the passion and high hopes of youth, ...
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Bee Cha attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and earned his master of architecture degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where he works for Flad & Associates as an architectural designer. Bee was one of the cofounders of Paj Ntaub Voice. ...
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Page Count: 205
Publication Year: 2002