A prolific and award-winning poet, Lisa Kwong ’05 was selected by Dorianne Laux for inclusion in the book “Best New Poets 2014” for her poem “An AppalAsian Finds Home in Bloomington, Indiana.”
The former English major at Appalachian State University was inspired to claim the AppalAsian identity after learning that poet Frank X Walker had coined the term Affrilachian.
“My creative writing professors at Appalachian were instrumental in helping me build a strong foundation as a writer,” said Kwong, whose other writing awards include two Frost Place scholarships, the Neal-Marshall Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing, the Guy Lemmon Award in Public Writing, and the inaugural Asian Pacific American Inspiration Award at Indiana University.
After graduating from Appalachian, Kwong earned her MFA in Poetry from Indiana University. She teaches in the Asian American Studies Program and Department of English at Indiana University, Bloomington, and she has coordinated Bloomington’s Fountain Square Poetry Series since 2012. Her creative work explores AppalAsian identity, gender and self-image, and family history.
Of her preparation at Appalachian, Kwong said, “The poetry workshops challenged me to revise my work and to learn how to effectively give constructive criticism. My professors and classmates cared about my work and gave me feedback that helped me write better poems.”
Kwong said she found Appalachian’s literature and creative writing courses to be “rigorous and thought-provoking,” and the English faculty members were “generous with their time, help and support… They were always willing to discuss my work and any challenges I faced.”
Among the Department of English’s points of pride, Kwong appreciated the Rivers-Coffey Colloquiums and opportunities to study with poets Al Young and Gerald Barrax “who showed me how to merge my love of music and writing,” she said. “I also had the honor to meet many outstanding writers through the Visiting Writers Series, such as former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.”
Her poems and personal essays have appeared in Naugatuck River Review, Rebelle Society, Banango Street, Appalachian Heritage, Pluck!, and other journals.
Kwong offers this advice to future English majors at Appalachian: “Use and take advantage of campus resources. I credit a lot of my success at ASU to not only the friendly and generous faculty and students, but also such important resources as the Learning Assistance Program, the Wellness Center, and the Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance. Each of these offices helped me to manage my personal and academic life, and gave me skills that I have carried with me to the present. I am thankful that so many people at ASU gave of their time to help me succeed.”