by Michael Shareshian, Literary Arts intern
Literary Arts, in association with Tell It Slant and Late Night Library, presented The Refugee Experience: A Reading and Panel Discussion on December 3rd. Curated by Danielle Frandina, the evening played host to writers Olivia Olivia, Doa Strom, and Vu Tran.
Offering an array of perspectives and experiences in varying styles and voices, the Literary Arts’ event space provided a venue to share stories about how and why the writers left their respective countries of origin. Curated by Danielle Frandina, the event featured Strom and Tran, authors from Vietnam and Olivia Olivia, a Salvadorian American. Stories of loss, grief, war, torture, and love were presented to an eager and thoughtful audience.
Danielle Frandina modeled a panel discussion following the readings. Olivia Olivia revealed her parents were anti-American guerilla fighters in the Salvadorian War. Ms. Olivia discussed her difficulty assimilating into American culture and how she yearned “to be western and white so bad.” It was also divulged that Ms. Olivia’s father was essentially “erased” amongst dangerous conflicts.
Doa Strom, a musician, poet, and writer, spoke of her mother who was a Vietnamese war refugee. Ms. Strom admitted worries that peace may be unobtainable. Born in Saigon but raised in Oklahoma, Mr. Vu Tran was faced with difficulties when trying to integrate his Vietnamese history into western life. When asked how he felt countries were reacting to sudden influxes of refugees from Syria, Mr. Tran said he felt “sympathetic to people who are afraid of refugees.”
Featuring readings of original works and engaging conversation, Literary Arts was pleased to provide a forum for the authors to share their stories and connect with the Portland community.