Star Tribune Review: ‘The Song Poet,’ by Kao Kalia Yang

Review: ‘The Song Poet,’ by Kao Kalia Yang

NONFICTION: An award-winning Twin Cities author writes a remarkable book about her father’s life in Laos, Thailand and Minnesota.
A while back, Kao Kalia Yang raised the idea of chronicling her father’s eventful life. Although there was a lot to work with — after a childhood in war-torn Laos, he and his growing family spent almost a decade in a Thai refugee camp before settling in Minnesota — Bee Yang gently discouraged her: “Who would read a book about a man like me when there are books about presidents, men like Barack Obama, written by themselves?”
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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:


Bee Yang: Hmong Song Poetry



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