Dear artists, supporters, and friends of Sulu DC:
I am immensely grateful for the love and support you have shown me over the years as a co-founder and Executive Director of Sulu DC, and most of all as a spoken word poet. Creating an organization from the ground up and sustaining it is no easy task but you fueled my spirit with your presence at shows, conversations on the role of art and artists in society, and faith in my vision and leadership. It’s been an incredible journey, laughing and crying with you and being inspired by the various artists showcased at our monthly program, The Sulu Series; working with Sulu DC’s volunteers and leaders; and getting to know our partner organizations. After four years, it is now time for me to get back to my own writing and performance, go to graduate school, and start other artistic projects. It is with a full heart that I step down as Executive Director at the end of April.
Sulu DC will continue to build on the foundation developed over the years thanks to Jackie Branscomb, Alex Cena, Peter DeCrescenzo, Thu Nguyen, Megan Pagado, and Joyce Yin—all are committed, talented individuals whom I trust to move Sulu DC forward and keep the light going. I hope you will show your support for them by coming to the upcoming installments of The Sulu Series: “First Drafts” on Thursday, April 25th at Black Fox Lounge at 8 pm (tickets available here) and the AAPI Heritage Month Bash with ECAASU on Friday, May 31st at U Street Music Hall. We are all excited about the next chapter in Sulu DC’s history and invite you to connect with the organization via Facebook, Twitter, and email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am looking forward to seeing what the universe has in store for me as I explore establishing my own arts social enterprise and apply to graduate schools across and outside of the US. No matter where I end up, I will always carry with me the friendships I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned during my time with Sulu DC. Thank you for your steadfast support and for filling the past four years with such meaning. I hope we will remain connected—drop me a line at email@example.com, read up on my new adventures on this here website, and follow me on Twitter for upcoming performances.
To say “see you soon”—not goodbye—and to ring in the new chapter of Sulu DC, we will be celebrating on H Street NE starting at the Biergarten Haus on Friday, May 3 at 10 pm. Hope to see you there!
jenny c. lares
Last night I had the honor of being on a panel with fellow UMD alums to speak about race and the work place as part of the many events celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) this year. Dropping pearls of wisdom like it was our job, we tackled questions on the extent to which Asian Americans have a responsibility to address racial discrimination in the workplace, the kinds of involvement that are most effective, and how our involvement in student life as an undergrad prepared us for life and working with groups in different environments. Fellow panelists included Alan Lau (2007), Mike Yu (2001), and Karen Tan (2009) and moderated by Dr. James McShay, the Associate Director of Stamp Student Union and Multicultural Advocacy Programs.
With a panel consisting of a former Marine, a local county detective, a senior operations specialist for an international business, an admissions rep and artist, we all had plenty to say and multiple perspectives to share on dealing with military and police life and expectations, gender dynamics, even height dynamics (yes, the tall aura found its way into the conversation). What resonated with me the most was the last question asked of the panel: Do you find your experiences working in groups at the University of Maryland inform or compare to your experiences working in groups in the workplace? As I listened to the other panelists, I realized that since I stepped foot on campus in the Fall of 2002, I have always been involved in AAPI organizations and worked in professional settings where AAPI lives and experiences were at the heart of the organization/school. From being the APA Community Coordinator at Oberlin College, to my own art, to founding and leading Sulu DC. I don’t know why it took me this long to say out loud that the purpose of my life has been to advocate for AAPI peoples within our vast community and outside of it. I hope I’ve been doing it well.
Although this performance was from a very long time ago and I perform this piece far better now*, for those who wanted to hear the rest of the “tall aura” poem, here it is:
*can I just say how interesting it is to hear yourself perform a piece from 4 years ago? The intonation, pacing, and articulation are completely different. I can’t believe I initially performed this piece like this….
This past Thursday, after a full day of helping my friend move and prep her apt in PA, I picked up the rental SUV and embarked on my first trip as an artist road manager. Sulu DC was taking its show on the road! First stop: Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.
In typical road manager fashion, I scooped up artists in our swanky (rented) 2013 Ford Edge with Florida license plates. First was Amanda Lee and Posido Vega, who magically fit 2 guitars, a bass amp, looper pedals, and bags in the trunk with room to spare. Then came Gowri K; G Yamazawa would meet us in NJ the next day from NYC. Along the way, we stopped to eat some greasy French fries and grabbed many more cups of coffee for me.
After an uneasy, restless night, we wandered the streets of New Brunswick in search of breakfast. Ironically, we ended up at a bagel place owned and operated by an Asian couple. (Support local businesses!) We rolled back in to the hotel, still looking like we had just gotten out of bed and met with some quizzical glances like we were some college students who rolled in from down the street trying to crash the place. (We’re artists who just haven’t showered yet, buddy). That aside, we checked out and picked up G, grabbed some lunch and made our way to the Rutgers Student Center.
When we arrived, 90s pop filtered into the multipurpose room from the atrium where Rutgers students were having their Block Party. Weren’t they all born in the 1990s??? (This is when all of us but G started feeling our age). After a quick sound check, students started filling the seats, and we opened the show with a little music from Blue Scholars.
When Gowri and G took to the stage, you could feel how their poetry hit home for so many students–ideas and issues of identity, relationships with parents, connections or disconnects with social movements and countries. And love. Love for self, family, your peoples. With an impromptu participation on the bass by Posido, their pieces took on another level, and, with G’s last piece about his father, almost made me cry. As if my heart wasn’t already overwhelmingly full, Amanda and Posido took over the stage and oh how Amanda’s beautiful, strong vocals filled the room and shook us to our bones. That’s the way you end a Sulu DC show.
Immediately after, students scrambled in line to chat it up with artists and buy their merch. When I was finally able to breathe a little and take in that moment, I realized how much of an impact we made on students. One even said, “I’m so glad I came to school today.” (Haha) Later on, I heard that some students had planned on leaving early but decided to stay because they were enjoying the show. And most of all, they want us back next year! Even at an event in NYC this summer.
Once all of the equipment was packed up, and books and CDs signed, the wall of exhaustion simultaneously hit all of us. Hungry, tired, and in desperate need of a drink, I threw our itinerary out the window. To hell with leaving by 8:30 pm, let’s get some sushi and BYOB! And so we did, thanks to my friend, Merz, who paved the way for us to perform at Rutgers in the first place.
Now full on sushi and good vibes from the show and company at dinner, we made our way down the NJ turnpike, through DE, past my house, past Baltimore, then finally the DC metro area. To occupy the time and keep me awake, we played an almost never ending game of name a famous person whose first name starts with the letter of the previous person’s last name. By 2 am, we were struggling with F, G, and W names. The last name we uttered as we rolled into Amanda and Posido’s neighborhood? Usher. As in Usher Raymond.
And that folks, concludes the wonderful tale of Sulu DC’s first show on the road. Keep your fingers crossed for many more to come!
That was the truth I was living in. We don’t rush ahead of the truth that we are in. Tonight I saw this video that made me cry with all these people on it sharing their truths that we’re all in different places. Right now in this room, I could be sharing something from my past or my future and some ya’ll will be like: yo, that’s where I am at right now. Today. In my life. And it will always be that way.
- beau sia @ the 1st Anniversary Show of Sulu DC
I’m back to host The Sulu Series this month! How long has it been? More than a year? (wow, really?)
We at Sulu DC are excited to bring you this show, which is co-sponsored by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), the only multi-issue organization for Asian and Pacific Islander women in the nation. Featuring two of my favorite artists (and people): Michelle Myers of Yellow Rage and Gowri K, local poet and on-the-spot-haiku extraordinaire, this show is bound to empower and inspire you as we celebrate women’s lives and each other.
Saturday, March 16 at 8 pm
Emergence Community Arts Collective (ECAC) – 733 Euclid Ave NW
Tickets: $10 at the door only (cash and credit accepted)
*Space is limited so you wanna get there by 8 pm at the latest*
A little bit more about the artists….
Gowri K. a Sri Lankan Tamil American poet and lawyer. Her advocacy has addressed animal welfare, the environment, and the rights of prisoners and the criminally accused. She has co-authored two peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and her poetry has been published in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Bourgeon, and Lantern Review. Gowri was the first Asian American to represent DC on a poetry slam team and has performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. She hosts open mics at Busboys and Poets and BloomBars, where she serves as poetry coordinator. Gowri is a communications consultant with Making It Slam and a poetry editor with Jaggery: A DesiLit Arts and Literature Journal. She tweets on-the-spot haiku @gowricurry.
Michelle Myers is a spoken word poet, community activist, and educator. She is a founding member of the spoken word poetry group Yellow Rage, a dynamic duo of Philly-based Asian American female spoken word poets; the group is best known for appearing on the first season of the critically-acclaimed HBO television series Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry and performing in the first-ever live Def Poetry Jam show at the 2001 HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO. In the spring of 2011, she released her solo poetry book The SHE Book; all proceeds from the book support two projects: 1) Write the World, a program that seeks to connect children around the world to one another through the arts and letter-writing, and 2) Odanadi-U.S., an anti-trafficking organization that services women and children in India. Finally, Michelle was a featured performer in the First Person Arts’ RAW Festival; her show The SHE Project was presented at The Painted Bride Arts Center in November 2011.
There are always the simple events
of your life
that you might try to convert
- Stephen Dunn’s “Some Things I Wanted to Say to You”
And Sulu DC is back with another full season of the brightest, fiercest, most fly artistic talent in API communities locally and regionally. Presenting…
Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 8:00 pm
Black Fox Lounge, 1723 Connecticut Avenue NWDC
Tickets are $10 and will only be sold at the door (cash and credit accepted)
At the beginning of anything big, a ‘sound check’ must be performed to ensure the best possible sound and experience for performers and the audience. Join us for our 2013 kickoff show–a melding of art and community collaboration, bringing together artists and organizers in the DC Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Hosted by Azizah Ahmad, the show features Diana Bui and Vincent Lacsamana and guest performances by Bryan Lozano, Anirudh, DISE, Jo Quiambao and Pia, and Christian Oh.
the transition from oral to print resulted in the loss of memory
July 4th weekend. 2012. That was the start of what soon became a drama obsession (Filipino and Korean). I’ve watched Filipino soaps (aka teleserye) on and off for years but I was never emotionally invested nor watched consistently. As for kdramas, my first exposure was in 2005/2006 when my college roommate introduced me to “my lovely samsoon.” That was all I watched and didn’t pick it up again until that fateful weekend in July.
Now this may bear no significance except that I’ve recently found myself emotionally invested and immersed in these dramas and yikes!–dare I say it–the actors portraying the characters. As in a squealing fangirl rooting for her man, shaking my fist in the air at the injustice of being the second lead who really deserves the girl but doesn’t get her. I confess: I have spent countless hours turning off my brain–sometimes my better judgment–watching stories unfold in a world not based on any true reality.
I suppose it started off as an escape, a major function of entertainment. But it’s gone beyond that now that I was even compelled to write a blog post and fess up my guilty pleasure to the internet universe.
What is it about these dramas and celebrities that make us go gaga? That turns a woman in her late 20s into a giddy 16 year old? Is this some late (or repressed?) onset of fangirldom I missed out on in my teen years? Like how I never had acne as a teenager but my face broke out when I was 24? I’ve even gone so far as to rationalize my obsession as having educational purpose: learning to analyze literature again and improve as a writer. (Yes, these dramas do have plot and you can learn a lot, from the Korean ones, not so much Filipino soaps except that Filipinos really love to drag out drama on screen and off when you really don’t have to).
Is it because we want happy endings, we want fairy tales, we want hope, we like to feel the angst of love but only temporarily? Do we really see a part of ourselves in those characters or who we hope to be? Is the connection we feel meaningful? What value does it have? Or is it all a waste of time? Or is it because it’s the only way we feel something, anything when the rest of the world has us anesthetized?
I’ve never been sucked into this world so this curiosity about actors and celebrities is new to me. I’ve even gone and started following a few Filipino celebrities on twitter, reading their thoughts about the mundane, taping, travel and interviews. It’s like a look into what I had briefly a few years ago when I was performing nonstop. The bigger than life feeling you get after a phenomenal performance. The pressure to entertain and be on all the time on social media and in person. Maybe I miss all of the glitz and excitement knowing that people are curious about your life and want to know your thoughts. Like you’re some important being on this earth. And through these tweets I get to live a fantasy in my head of what could have been for me.
Perhaps what’s really going on is my subconscious reminding me not to forsake art, to not give up on my own talents. At least not quite yet. Maybe I needed to dive in completely, lose track of time a bit so I could emerge with newfound conviction. So I could pick up my pen again and write despite the fear of judgment, rejection, and disappointment. To write again, beginning with this blog post.
my wish for you is that you fall into love like a burning coal that falls into water and keeps burning