Saturday, August 13, 2011
Oak Among the Bamboos
Bamboo Among the Oaks is the first Hmong American anthology of creative writing, published in 2002 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Edited by Mai Neng Moua, Bamboo Among the Oaks features the work of 23 Hmong writers from across the country. Until the 1950s the Hmong did not have a written language in the course of their 4,000 year history. Due to the war in Laos between 1954–1975 and the subsequent refugee years, it was not until the 1990s that a significant body of creative literary work began to emerge from the Hmong community.
In her introduction, editor Mai Neng Moua posited that most of the writers included in the anthology shared the following characteristics:
1. They are emerging
2. They are young.
3. They write in English.
4. They are from the Midwest.
I titled my China Blog “Oak Among the Bamboos” in contrast to the book “Bamboo Among the Oaks.” For those of you who don’t understand the metaphor, let me break it down for you.
Bamboos mostly grow in Asia. That’s why there are pandas there (duh). Oak trees mostly grow in North America – especially in the Midwest. That’s why there are squirrels here (duh). So when you bring a bamboo to the Midwest (Minnesota, to be specific) this bamboo is among the oaks. As referred from above, Bamboo Among the Oaks is an anthropology written by many Hmong American writers about their experience in the United States.
Let’s reverse that and put an oak tree (Minnesota gal like me) among the bamboos (Asians from Asia). Here’s my journey about my experience among the bamboos. There are many other reasons why picked “Oak Among the Bamboos” as my title for this Blog that will capture my China study abroad experience. You’ll find out in the next blog.