From June 19th – 23rd, Kundiman hosted its 16th Annual Retreat at Fordham University, where 36 Fellows in Poetry and Fiction gathered to laugh, share, and sing, in-between lots of generative writing.
Fellows arrived, shared their first meal together, toured Fordham's Rose Hill campus, and attended Opening Circle, their first salon, and a welcome event.
At Thursday morning's Orientation, Fellows received Patron Writers to guide their writing throughout the Retreat. They also participated in a Spark Writing Exercise led by Matthew Olzmann, and Asian American Literature Seminar led by Tim Yu.
This summer's Master Classes were taught by Myung Mi Kim, Craig Santos Perez, Jennifer Tseng, Tania James, Padma Viswanathan, and Shawn Wong. Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai also hosted an active and engaging Reading and Performance Seminar for fellows. At night, we held our second salon, which was live-tweeted here!
Friday began with individual Mentorship Meetings between Fellows and Faculty, Spark Writing led by W. Todd Kaneko, and more Master Classes. That evening, Fellows gathered for a Writing, Professionalization, and Community Seminar led by staff, and held a third salon, live-tweeted here.
The last day of the Retreat started with a Spark Writing at the New York Botanical Gardens, led by Ching-in Chen, and included more Mentorship Meetings and Master Classes.
On the last night of the Retreat, we held our Graduation Ceremony for fellows completing their third Retreat. This year, graduating Fellows Diana Park, Heather Nagami, Jane Lin, and Chen Chen invited us to look into each other's eyes and bond over favorite meals, the people important in our upbringing, and the contributions we can make to Kundiman moving forward. Each Fellow received special and traditional graduation gifts from Kundiman. Then, Terisa Siagatonu and Craig Santos Perez surprised everybody by gifting each Fellow a lei and explaining that the lei is a representation of the stringing together of an inclusive body of Asian American literature.
This year's Fellows were a karaoke crowd, so every night a sing-along party erupted––turns out there is no quicker way of building friendships than belting out love ballads together.
A big thanks to our staff and interns for helping to organize the Retreat and to our Fellows and Faculty for their exceptional community building! We already can't wait for next summer!