Friends & Neighbors: Sulu DC’s 2nd Anniversary Show

Sulu DC 2nd Anniversary Show
Sulu DC's 2nd Anniversary Show

Our friends at Sulu DC (whom we profiled in LR Issue 2 and had the privilege of featuring on the blog last year through Simone Jacobson’s “Sulu Spotlight” column) are celebrating their second birthday this Saturday night (Nov 19th) with a special Anniversary and Awards show.  The event, which will be held at 6:30 pm at Artisphere in Arlington, VA (at 1101 Wilson Blvd), will be hosted by Regie Cabico and will feature a screening of “Wedding Night” by deaf filmmaker Sabina England, as well as performances by Keva I. Lee, Chip Han, J Pharaoh & the Manhattan Project, and DJ Boo. The following awards will also be presented: Artist of the Year, Community Contribution, Community Partner, and the Sulu DC Audience, Star, and House Awards. Tickets are available online for $20.

Congratulations to Sulu DC on two fabulous years of art, community-building, curation, and performance! If you live in Virginia or the DC Metro area, please do consider helping to support their work by checking out their show.

Sulu Spotlight: A Conversation with Robin Park

Robin Suhyung Park. All photos by Canh Solo.

On March 19th, Sulu DC, in collaboration with DC APA Film and NAPAWF-DC, paid tribute to Women’s History Month with “Herstory: The Lives of Fierce AAPI Women.” Hosted by Sri Lankan American poet, singer and lawyer, Gowri K., Herstory featured short films curated by DC APA Film, 17 year-old wondergirl Shaylyn on piano and vocals, Sui Lang Panoke hula’ing for Japan, my own experiment in character poems (in the voices of Aung San Suu Kyi and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s father) and most explosively. . . Robin Suhyung Park.

What began as a “Sulu Star” with five committed performers in 2009 has expanded to form a “Sulu Galaxy,” with over 18 individuals putting their love and energy into making a DC home where AAPI artists can thrive. This month’s Sulu Spotlight shines bright on Robin Suhyung Park, a 21 year-old spoken word artist and organizer I first met in 2009 at the APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit in the Bay. I must admit, I was a bit intimidated by Robin’s inner fire when I first heard her birth poems from deep within her knotted gut. She was part dragon and part b-girl, donning a basketball jersey, adorned in gold jewelry and swaying as though every word was a tiny piece of glass being dislodged from her throat–bittersweet relief. This young woman, as her debut chapbook diamonds & pearls suggests, knows from what raw earth precious stones emerge. Over several conversations and an e-mail exchange, Robin explained why she retired (early) from the slam circuit, what a “Macktivist” is and what self-care for the thankless organizer might look like.

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LR: How do you identify?

RSP: I identify as a queer, second-generation, Corean American, able-bodied, middle class, formally educated, young, cisgendered, womyn, student, teaching artist, organizer, activist, poet, artist! Continue reading “Sulu Spotlight: A Conversation with Robin Park”

Sulu Spotlight: A Conversation with Wajahat Ali

Wajahat Ali. Photo by Ayoob Syed.

After celebrating a year of presenting nearly 60 artists from the Asian and Pacific Islander Diaspora, Sulu DC rang in the new year with Christian folk rock band Saving Thomas, outspoken Indian comic Vijay Nathan, singer/songwriter Jay Legaspi, pop music trio conjen (who make “songs your girlfriend will enjoy”), and sounds by The Pinstriped Rebel. A new partnership between Sulu DC and DC APA Film launched with an on-stage chat between filmmaker Steven Mallorca and Franco Salvoza of DC APA Film to discuss Mallorca’s work and what to expect from upcoming APA films.

In keeping with Sulu DC’s vision to provide empowering and nurturing spaces for all Asian and Pacific Islander artists, each “Sulu Spotlight” aims to give LR readers insight into something unexpected, innovative and inspiring. This month’s light shines on Wajahat Ali, a Muslim American playwright of Pakistani descent. In January 2011, Sulu DC presented several excerpts from The Domestic Crusaders, Ali’s first full-length play, at the Artisphere. During the lively e-mail exchange that birthed this interview, Ali was honest and accessible, sharing with me his favorite poets, his creative education, and who’s coming to dinner.

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The cast of Domestic Crusaders gathers for some biryani.

LR: The Domestic Crusaders began as a means to an end—quite literally, an undergraduate writing assignment—but has taken on its own life. Can you talk a little bit about why you were encouraged and inspired to transform the short story into a full-length play?

WA: The play began as a short writing assignment for my “short fiction” writing program taught by Ishmael Reed. He told me stop writing short stories and instead concentrate on writing plays. So, I had to submit the first 20 pages of the play to pass the class.

But, the process of creation is inspiring, maddening and addictive. It consumes your mind and soul. The characters start growing; they evolve; they develop personalities and voices, and they never shut up—you ultimately have to release them to the world.  So, I began the play for my 21st birthday and finished it as a present to myself on my 23rd birthday.

Continue reading “Sulu Spotlight: A Conversation with Wajahat Ali”

LR News: Issue Two Is Here!

LR Issue 2
LR Issue 2

We are delighted to announce that Issue 2 of Lantern Review is now live on our web site!

This tighter, more-streamlined volume contains 60 pages of extraordinary poetry and visual art, and features, for the first time, not only a page-bound sample of performance poetry (as part of our Community Voices feature), but also a special audio performance of that poem, which the artists recorded especially for LR.  Contributions to this issue include poetry by W. Todd Kaneko, Kenji C. Liu, Kathleen Hellen, Aryanil Mukherjee, Lek Borja, Wendi Lee, Aimee Suzara, Michelle Peñaloza, Rajiv Mohabir, JoAnn Balingit, Kimberly Alidio, and Marc Vincenz; as well as a range of beautiful photographic work, including a diptych of layered portraits by Bethany Hana Fong and the striking image of a blackbird by Anannya Dasgupta that appears on the cover.  Additionally, our Community Voices section in this issue features a profile of Sulu DC, as well as the collaborative poem mentioned above, which was created and is performed, in this issue, by three of the organization’s featured poets.

Before entering the issue, you might want to take a moment to check out our recommendations for optimum viewing, located here.  To listen to the audio in the issue, you’ll also need to have an updated version of the Adobe Flash player plugin installed, and will need to have Javascript enabled (more details and troubleshooting suggestions can be found on the issue’s masthead).  If you want to proceed to the issue right away, click here or on the cover image at the top left of this post. Issue 1 can now be accessed via the new “Archives” page on our main site.

We hope that you enjoy Issue 2!  As usual, we would love to hear any feedback that you might have regarding either its content or the [technical] navigability.  Please feel free to drop us a line any time at editors[at]

Many thanks for your continued support,

Iris & Mia
LR Editorial Board

Friends & Neighbors: Sulu DC’s 1st Anniversary Show

Sulu DC's 1st Anniversary Show (Click to enlarge the poster)

Our staff columnist, Simone, who is one of the organizers of the Sulu DC series, recently alerted us to the following very cool event:

On November 20th,  Sulu DC will be celebrating their first year with a special anniversary show hosted by Kundiman faculty member Regie Cabico and featuring—among other music, dance, and poetry acts—a special performance by celebrity spoken word artist Beau Sia.

Here’s the dish on the event, as described in their official press materials:

On November 20th, under the Artisphere’s Dome Theatre—a new and innovative arts space in Arlington, VA—locally and nationally renowned AAPI performers will ignite the stage. From Bollywood flares to Taiko drums, spoken word to modern dance, comedians to rock bands, the Anniversary Show will surely entertain and inspire. Hosted by Regie Cabico with music by DJ The Pinstriped Rebel, the Anniversary Show will pay tribute to leaders who have significantly contributed to the local and regional AAPI community through art and arts education, and celebrate Sulu DC’s accomplishments. Additionally, ticket proceeds will provide scholarships for 5–7 Sulu DC representatives to participate in the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Spoken Word & Poetry Summit in Minneapolis in 2011.

The Sulu DC 1st Anniversary Show will take place on Saturday, November 20th at 6 pm, at ARTISPHERE, 1101 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209 (1 block from the Rosslyn Metro station; parking validated on site).  Tickets, which can be purchased in advance by following these instructions (scroll down to the bottom of the page to find them), include the price of food and drink, and cost $25 for Advance Purchase Online ( or $20 for Student with valid ID (or LiveGreen members).  Tickets will also be sold at the door for $35.

If you live in the DC area, we definitely encourage you to go and check out this landmark show.  As Simone has reminded us, tickets can sell out fast—so reserve yours soon.

Happy Birthday, Sulu DC, and congratulations on a successful first year!