Sokunthary Svay is a Cambodian American writer and activist who grew up in the Bronx, New York. Her poetry, essays, and reviews appear in such publications as WSQ, Mekong Review, and Hyphen. Published in 2017, Apsara in New York is her first poetry collection. Svay is a founding member and board president of the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association (CALAA) and has been awarded an American Opera Projects Composers & the Voice Fellowship for 2017–2019 and the 2018 Emerging Poets Fellowship at Poets House. She is emerging as an important critic of and groundbreaking voice within Asian American cultural production. Rejecting the genre of survival memoirs, Svay creates a variety of personae across gender and generation. Her choice of language—Khmer, formal English, and urban vernacular—captures the individuality and complexity of each of these perspectives. As a performer, Svay draws on music and theater to move her poems beyond the page. Anita Baksh, Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College at the City University of New York, conducted this interview with Svay in spring 2018.


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