The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father

The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father

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 America'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.

Title:The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father
ISBN:9781627794947
Format Type:

    The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father Reviews

  • Chrissie

    Creative non-fiction of the highest caliber, movingly told. This book isn't perfect and the beginning really did give me trouble and I was sometimes a bit confused, but I ended up totally, totally lov...

  • Thomas

    A "Song Poet" in Laos is a person who sings songs about his family, his village and his country. This is a story of a Hmong refugee living in Minnesota and the songs he sings from memory. He sings of ...

  • Petra

    A lovely memoir of a family. The trials and challenges of their lives, both in their homeland and their adopted land, was enlightening. The strength and love of this family was visible on each page. T...

  • El

    This is an unusual memoir - not only does Kao Kalia Yang tell her own story, but she also tells the story of her family told from her father's perspective. She tells his story as a young man living in...

  • Patricia

    10 stars. This memoir is a gift. It is a treasure. It is filled with insight and words of wisdom lived by and through the Hmong Song Poet and father of Ms. Yang, Bee Yang (born in 1958), and her mothe...

  • Rachel Linnemann

    If you live in Minnesota - this is most definitely a must-read. There were so many points in this book where my heart broke, where I became angry at the systems set in place to oppress and maintain op...

  • Meg - A Bookish Affair

    4.5 stars. There is a tradition among the Hmong people to have dedicated people to sing about their lives and history. It is a time honored tradition and not everyone is up for the challenge. In "The ...

  • CarolineFromConcord

    Extraordinarily beautiful and insightful book focused on the writer Kao Kalia Yang's father, who suffered lifelong deprivations to provide gifts like safety and education for her and her siblings -- a...

  • Robyn

    When I was six, I befriended classmates that were newly arrived in Minnesota, and originally from Laos. Over the years, I learned bits of their histories, but not much. I was often welcomed into their...

  • Gayla Bassham

    I did not think this was going to be my kind of book, but I fell in love with it. In this memoir, Yang attempts to tell her father's story from many perspectives, including his own. It is elegantly an...