dao strom is an artist whose work explores hybridity through melding disparate “voices”—written, sung, visual—to contemplate the intersection of personal and collective histories. Her bilingual poetry/art book, You Will Always Be Someone From Somewhere Else, is forthcoming from the Hanoi-based AJAR Press in Fall 2018.
She is also the author of a hybrid-forms memoir, We Were Meant To Be a Gentle People, accompanied by a song-cycle, East/West (2015), in which, according to the LA Review of Books, “Strom embraces the fragment as the smallest reliable unit of truth"; and two books of fiction, Grass Roof, Tin Roof (2003), a novel, and The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys (2006), a collection of novellas, the latter praised by The New Yorker as being “quietly beautiful […] hip without being ironic.” She is a 2016 recipient of a Creative Capital Artist Award in Literature. Her work has received support also from the Precipice Fund, Regional Arts Culture & Council, Oregon Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, James Michener Fellowship, and the Nelson Algren Award. She was born in Vietnam and grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Strom is a founding member of She Who Has No Master(s), a collective of women writers of the Vietnamese diaspora, and co-facilitator of a PoC library collective/social engagement project, De-Canon, and the editor of diaCRITICS.
My work seeks to meld disparate “voices” - written, musical, visual - to contemplate the intersection of personal and collective histories. I was born in Vietnam in the wake of a war. My parents were writers and artists before me, in a time and setting when performing such acts of “voice” was perilous—my birth father spent 10 years in "reeducation camps" after the war as persecution for his work as a writer. I emigrated with my mother and grew up in a Vietnamese-Danish-American family in a small town in the hills of northern California on the same riverbanks where gold was “discovered” in 1848. I grew up communing with pine trees and ponies. I don’t speak Vietnamese but have wrestled for many years with a sense of burden, legacy, sorrow and debt to those origins. At the same time, identity and self-definition remain fluid and elusive matters for me. Due to the roles language and memory (or lack thereof) have played in my life, I have a healthy distrust for the assumed authority of words, dominant narratives, ideologies. I use image, text design, narrative and poetic experimentation to subvert and question those assumed authorities. I use music as an oral/aural, embodied, non-intellectual path by which to evoke and re-inhabit/re-shape story and experience. I am also interested in elucidating the smaller, quieter aspects of life, love, longing, the subtleties and nuances of perception and emotion, the in-between states of vulnerability and self-dissolution.