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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Song Poet

The Song Poet

A Memoir of My Father

Kao Kalia Yang

Metropolitan Books

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From the author of The Latehomecomer, a powerful memoir of her father, a Hmong song poet who sacrificed his gift for his children's future in America

In the Hmong tradition, the song poet recounts the story of his people, their history and tragedies, joys and losses; extemporizing or drawing on folk tales, he keeps the past alive, invokes the spirits and the homeland, and records courtships, births, weddings, and wishes.

Following her award-winning book The Latehomecomer, Kao Kalia Yang now retells the life of her father Bee Yang, the song poet, a Hmong refugee in Minnesota, driven from the mountains of Laos by American's Secret War. Bee lost his father as a young boy and keenly felt his orphanhood. He would wander from one neighbor to the next, collecting the things they said to each other, whispering the words to himself at night until, one day, a song was born. Bee sings the life of his people through the war-torn jungle and a Thai refugee camp. But the songs fall away in the cold, bitter world of a Minneapolis housing project and on the factory floor until, with the death of Bee's mother, the songs leave him for good. But before they do, Bee, with his poetry, has polished a life of poverty for his children, burnished their grim reality so that they might shine.

Written with the exquisite beauty for which Kao Kalia Yang is renowned, The Song Poet is a love story -- of a daughter for her father, a father for his children, a people for their land, their traditions, and all tha… More…

From the author of The Latehomecomer, a powerful memoir of her father, a Hmong song poet who sacrificed his gift for his children's future in America

In the Hmong tradition, the song poet recounts the story of his people, their history and tragedies, joys and losses; extemporizing or drawing on folk tales, he keeps the past alive, invokes the spirits and the homeland, and records courtships, births, weddings, and wishes.

Following her award-winning book The Latehomecomer, Kao Kalia Yang now retells the life of her father Bee Yang, the song poet, a Hmong refugee in Minnesota, driven from the mountains of Laos by American's Secret War. Bee lost his father as a young boy and keenly felt his orphanhood. He would wander from one neighbor to the next, collecting the things they said to each other, whispering the words to himself at night until, one day, a song was born. Bee sings the life of his people through the war-torn jungle and a Thai refugee camp. But the songs fall away in the cold, bitter world of a Minneapolis housing project and on the factory floor until, with the death of Bee's mother, the songs leave him for good. But before they do, Bee, with his poetry, has polished a life of poverty for his children, burnished their grim reality so that they might shine.

Written with the exquisite beauty for which Kao Kalia Yang is renowned, The Song Poet is a love story -- of a daughter for her father, a father for his children, a people for their land, their traditions, and all that they have lost.

Less…

Minneapolis Star Tribune Holiday Book Recommendations, Boston Globe Best Books of the Year, National Book Critics Circle Award - Nominee, National Book Critics Circle Awards - Nominee

TRACK 1

Birth of a Song Poet



“I didn’t have very many people around to say beautiful things to me.”

“I used to go from the house of one neighbor to the next collecting the beautiful things people had to...

Praise for The Song Poet

“Remarkable . . . Yang is an exceptional storyteller, one whose work reminds us that big, timeless truths reveal themselves when we pay attention to small, specific details.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Inventive and touching . . . An elegantly written, moving testament to so many aspects of the human experience.”—Pioneer Press

“Hauntingly lyrical . . . A memorable and moving immigrant story.”—Booklist

“A stellar memoir . . . Yang powerfully demonstrates that much of what society doesn’t hold valuable—gifts and talents that don’t translate into monetary or educational success—still carry immense value, if only we choose to see it.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Kao Kalia Yang allows us to hear the whispered sorrows and hopes of those transplanted onto foreign soil among strangers. I predict that this mystical and historical memoir—of her Hmong family’s suffering in Laos, of the rigors and fears of their life in a refugee camp, of the shock of finding themselves unprepared for city living in Minnesota, and of the pain of discrimination—will become a classic.”—Jane Hamilton-Merritt, author of Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans, and the Secret Wars for Laos, 1942–1992

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Reviews from Goodreads

Kao Kalia Yang

Kao Kalia Yang is the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, which was a finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award and the Asian American Literary Award, and received the 2009 Minnesota Book Award. Her work has been published in Longreads and the Virginia Quarterly. Yang, who has taught at Columbia University and Concordia University-St. Paul, among other places, lives in Minnesota.

Read Author Essays at Onbeing.org

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