Grief Garden is an immersive interpretation of Khaty Xiong’s poem, “On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens,” which embarks on the author’s journey into the afterlife in search of her recently deceased mother. In the garden, visitors are invited to rest and meditate on personal and collective loss. Flower and fauna from both the garden of Xiong’s mother and the Franklin Park Conservatory are represented, with some designated pieces serving as paper templates for guests to write messages, addressed to those lost. These messages will be added to the garden trellises with the hope of growing a conversation around the ways we engage grief, and providing an opportunity for shared catharsis.
A collaboration between the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, Poetry Foundation, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and visitors, this installation was originally slated to open in A/P/A’s gallery in April 2020. Postponed due to the pandemic, it now takes on new, deeper resonance.
Program: From the Gardens of Our Grief: A Reading
Wednesday, April 13, 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Details to be announced.
Khaty Xiong was born to Hmong refugees from Laos. She is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Poor Anima (Apogee Press, 2015), and three chapbooks: Ode to the Far Shore (Platypus Press, 2016), Deer Hour (New Michigan Press, 2014), and Elegies (University of Montana, 2013). Her honors include a 2020 Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council (2020), the Nadya Aisenberg Fellowship at MacDowell (2017), and an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council (2016). Xiong’s work has been featured in Poetry, The New York Times, How Do I Begin?: A Hmong American Literary Anthology (Heyday, 2011), the Poetry Society of America and Academy of American Poets websites, and elsewhere. In 2018, her poem, “On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens,” which centered on the conversation of grief and loss, was highlighted in an immersive poetry installation at the Poetry Foundation Gallery in Chicago, a collaboration between the Poetry Foundation and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. In 2019, she was awarded Best of the Net for her poem, “Year of the Cardinal’s Song (VII).”
Currently, Xiong is working on her second poetry collection surrounding the sudden loss of her mother, who was a shaman and a medicine woman in her community. The book examines the entanglement of her mother’s violent death, the grief that comes with being a child of war refugees, and the impact intergenerational trauma has had on her identity as a Hmong American poet and researcher. She is the Spring 2022 Artist-in-Residence at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU.