Program features Asian writers

by Ronda Bennett

News Reporter

The Asia Society of Houston and Inprint Inc. presented "Voices of Asia in America," a series of readings by Asian-American poets and writers of fiction Tuesday in the University of Houston Architecture Building's theater.

The presentation was the second in a series of three focusing on Asian-American writers, and featured poet Bao Long Chu and fiction writer Prathima Maramraj.

Chu, a graduate of the UH Creative Writing Master's Program, is a native of Vietnam and his works have been published in the American Journal and the Webster Human Review.

Chu, who describes his style as "writing about love," presented seven of his poems at Tuesday's reading. Many of his poems centered around home and family life, like "Travels Last Summer Through Vietnam," which dealt with the narrator's summer travels through his homeland in attempts to find his father's home.

All of Chu's poems carried an underlying theme: the hardships of parenthood and the pain often involved with love. The works were greeted with enthusiasm by the audience.

"He was awesome. His poems are so deep," said audience member Adrianne Hong.

According to Hong, Houston is a hotbed for young artists. "(Houstonians) don't support our artists enough," she said. "Very few of us ever come out to enjoy the beauty of poetry or fiction writing."

Hong also said members of the media do not do their part to promote young artists. "We don't support them, so they take their work to cities that will, such as New York or Chicago. (Houston is) too metropolitan a city to allow that to happen," she said.

Maramraj, who is pursuing her master's degree in creative writing at UH-Clear Lake, was born in India and lived in New York for five years before moving to Houston. She read from her story, "The Wedding Day."

Maramraj's work describes the fears and hopes of a young girl on her wedding day. "Every woman experiences some form of apprehension and fear on her wedding day, regardless of her culture," Maramraj said, decribing the inspiration behind her work.

The Asia Society describes itself as a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit educational organization which provides a forum for building awareness of the more than 30 countries broadly defined as the Asia-Pacific region.

According to Angela Emmett, assistant to the director for Education and Programs, the society presents the uniqueness and diversity of Asia to the American people.

Founded in Houston in 1983 by a group of writers and community volunteers, Inprint presents readings, lectures and seminars to the Houston community.

Inprint Inc. also provides more than $100,000 annually to UH's Creative Writing Program through fellowships and other support.

The third and final reading for the month of June will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Room 150, UH School of Architecture Building. A $5 donation is suggested for those who attend.

For reservations and more information, call The Asia Society at 439-0051.

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