making sh!t for your girlfriend since 2007


soon come

Craft Mart ~ Nov 8 (6pm - 11pm) & Nov 9 (11am - 7pm) ~ Hamilton Artists Inc. ~ 155 James Street North, Hamilton
Halifax Crafters Society Winter Market ~ Nov 30 & Dec 1 ~ Olympic Community Centre ~2304 Hunter Street, Halifax
City of Craft ~ Dec 14 & 15 ~ The Theatre Centre ~ 1087 & 1095 Queen Street West, Toronto

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Read&Write: Souvankham Thammavongsa

A firefly is a tiny elegant speech in the dark.
We're nearing the homestretch, homies. The tenth pencil of the Pencil Project is brought to you by poet Souvankham Thammavongsa, the mind behind the two tiny and elegant volumes Small Arguments and Found, both published by Pedlar Press, and the latter of which was made into a short film by director Paramita Nath . I've known Sou since, get ready for it, seventh grade! Well, actually, I knew her younger brother - he sat next to me in homeroom - but I was much more interested in his sister and before long, we were passing messages to each other through him, and writing each other letters like teenaged girls do. Junior high turned into high school turned into university and I finally re-connected with Sou just a few years ago, when she was doing a reading with Ken Babstock at the Runnymede Public Library a few blocks away from the Book City I was then working at. When I learned about the event, I volunteered to carry a box of her books down the street to sell and for her to sign. Though the books were small, I wasn't ready for how heavy a box of them would be - I still remember the ache in my arms and how embarrassingly out of breath I was when I finally got to the library. Alas, the heaviness did not end there. Sou read from Found, a book I hadn't had a chance to look at yet, and it was quite possibly the heaviest, most intense and moving thing I had ever experienced - all in a good way! I ain't gonna lie, I totally cried. Found is a collection of poems based on a scrapbook Sou's father kept while living in a Lao refugee camp in Thailand, which he threw out and which Sou promptly rescued. In it are stamps, addresses, a few careful and symbolic strokes through the dates on a calendar, and through this Sou manages to piece together a family and a past that I imagine still remain very mysterious to her. Her reading was all the more dramatic because Sou is the most precious little creature you've ever laid eyes on, as small and beautiful as her poems, with a soft voice that you have to strain to hear but that you continue to hear in your head long after she's spoken. Of all the pencil poets, Sou is the one I knew first and she was the first to contribute to this project, and I'm super pleased that she's a part of it.

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