The Place Where We Were Born

Leaving is not the same as forgetting…

When does experience end? When does reflection begin? Until a people can reflect on where they’ve been, they will spend all of time searching for where they are. This is the Hmong refugee experience, reflected and refracted in the scope of a lyric documentary by Kao Kalia Yang, writer, and John O’Brien, filmmaker. Funded by the MN State Arts Board and sponsored by the Center for Hmong Studies, this work is dedicated to the Hmong people who lived in the refugee camps of Thailand. Ban Vinai Refugee Camp, like camps the world over, was never meant to last, but in the memories of those who lived there, those who loved there, those who found in that transient space a place for belonging, the camp will always be.

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The Place Where We Were Born

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Leaving is not the same as forgetting…

When does experience end? When does reflection begin? Until a people can reflect on where they’ve been, they will spend all of time searching for where they are. This is the Hmong refugee experience, reflected and refracted in the scope of a lyric documentary by Kao Kalia Yang, writer, and John O’Brien, filmmaker. Funded by the MN State Arts Board and sponsored by the Center for Hmong Studies, this work is dedicated to the Hmong people who lived in the refugee camps of Thailand. Ban Vinai Refugee Camp, like camps the world over, was never meant to last, but in the memories of those who lived there, those who loved there, those who found in that transient space a place for belonging, the camp will always be.

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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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