Open Mic-ing Asian American Style

Yesterday, Karen and I attended an Open Mic session at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in Midtown. After an extensive period of networking, fuelled by wine, water and some leftover French Fries, the crowd settled and the show got on the road. We were treated to a few interesting pieces written by Asian American authors, and an original song by a visiting Kansas City resident, which certainly made me think that reading my own work at an Open Mic session might not be….so bad. Hey, people seem to like it! They applaud! They overcome their awkwardness and appreciate the artistry! (I’m referring to one particular story here which was, shall we say, slightly outlandish).

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Yet the fact that the gathering was hosted by a specific race-orientated group, which of course didn’t exclude non Asian Americans from participating, the works themselves were not focused on identity at all! A few touched on events that had taken place in the context of life in Asia, and reflections on that life from a new perspective in America. Ultimately the subjects were what you’d find in any other short story or song lyric. Love, belonging, first crushes, gender relations, growing up…

There was an emphasis on finding oneself and one’s status in the world but that has been a major theme in literature, art, music and film pretty much since time began. How else do we chart our evolution?

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