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Father’s Day Essay

Kao Kalia Yang is the author of The Song Poet: A Memoir Of My Father, published by Metropolitan Books.

Thai men and women, smugglers, tried to buy us refugee children, sometimes with money and other times with bottles of fish sauce. To the world around me, I was one more of thousands, little girls with bangs cut straight across their brows, skinny arms and legs, living to die. I was perhaps, they thought, dispensable. My life in the crowded refugee camp could not have looked like much to outsiders. Few knew that in my father’s hold, on the currents of his songs, my world was rich with story, my future the happy ending we were walking toward.

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Bee Yang

Hmong song poetry | kwv txhiaj hmoob

Thaum Hluas Txog Hnub Laus: When the Days of Youth are Gone (Bee Yang, 2014)

This is an album of Hmong song poetry, kwv txhiaj hmoob, composed and sung by Bee Yang, Kao Kalia Yang’s father. The album notes and English translation of one of the songs are by Kao Kalia Yang.

Kwv txhiaj is, in the words of Ralph Ellison on the American Blues, “an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-cosmic lyricism. As a form, the blues [and kwv txhiaj] is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.”

NOTE:  The duration of the songs do not reflect the actual song length.  Please consider ordering the CD for the full songs.  Thank you.

*This CD is available for purchase for $15.  Click below to order:

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