The 6th Annual Kundiman Asian American Poetry Retreat Needs Your Help

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I caught this up at poeta y diwata by author Barbara Jane Reyes via Sarah Gambito of Kundiman and am just going to post it up on in full here as it seems like a great resource for Asian American poets and a worthwhile cause to help out.

Please Help: The 6th Annual Kundiman Asian American Poetry Retreat

by Barbara Jane Reyes

From Sarah Gambito of Kundiman:

As you (may) know, Kundiman is playing an important role in the literary world of the U.S. By initiating a summer retreat for Asian American poets five years ago, it has opened doors of opportunity that were previously closed to young poets of the Asian diaspora. Through intensive workshops with renowned poets and the enthusiastic support from staff and peers, the amount and excellence of their output is phenomenal.

Kundiman Fellows have published poems in The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Colorado Review, Pleiades, Black Warrior Review and Crab Orchard Review. They are attending MFA and doctoral programs at The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, New York University, Stanford University, The University of Houston, and The University of California, Berkeley. Three Kundiman fellows have gone on to publish full-length collections of poetry.

What you may not know is how important this program has been in the development of lives of the poets themselves. I’d like to share quotes from just two of the Fellows and I invite you to read the testimonies of others on our website Also, please see Janine Oshiro’s essay on her experience at the Kundiman retreat here:

“Months after this year’s Kundiman retreat, I am still left wondering whether the most intensely beautiful experience, short of falling in love, was an accidental happenstance of a meeting of more than 20 poet-minds at various stages of our writing development; or the intricate design of the driven and artful, purposeful and generous, tactical and loving staff, guest faculty and board of Kundiman. The camaraderie, peer review, professional insight and instruction, mutual support, lack of sleep and utter kindness and friendship fired up the most remote synapses of my brain and my deepest heartstrings. But why qualify the impact of Kundiman? I did fall in love—with my fellow poets, their exquisite analyses of my work and each of their unique poetic voices. I’m both humbled and proud to be a small part of this growing family of writers who even today, are shaping the poetry of tomorrow.” –Debbie Yee

“As soon as I arrived, I was greeted so warmly as if I was among old friends! I felt at home among complete strangers. Here was a group of dynamic people who shared both my struggles—being a writer of color in America—and my passions: a deep devotion to the art of poetry. I’ve always heard, read, and spoken about the importance of community in any artistic endeavor. The poet’s road can be a lonely one; the drifting heart needs its anchors. But I never realized how empowering a community of artists could be until I spent four days at UVA with the Kundiman staff, teachers, and fellows. I found there what I failed to in any other poetry workshop I’ve taken: a deep respect and honor among poets; a desire to talk about race, identity, and history, in conjunction with one’s composition process; and a willingness to be brave.” –Brynn Saito

We are turning to you to ask for your help in insuring that the 6th Kundiman Summer Retreat can take place, to replace funds that we received in the past but that are not available this year because of budget cuts. The $4,000 we need will go toward direct costs of the retreat—faculty and staff travel and faculty honoraria. Again this year, Kundiman staff members will donate their time to coordinate and administer all the stages required to carry out the five day session. What we ask, we ask for the program itself and for the brave and gifted poets it serves.

Poet by poet, Kundiman is helping to change the face of American literature and what it means to document an important part of the American story. We need the certain light of poetry all the more in these uncertain times. With your help, we will continue to light the way for the next generation of Asian American writers.

Please click here to donate:

Please, also, do forward this widely.

Sarah Gambito

P.S. Your donation is tax exempt to the full extent of the law as you have received no goods or services in exchange for your gift. Thank you!