Apsara in New York by Sokunthary Svay


Asian American Writers Workshop Reading

Poets House, NYC9-22 Poets House Launch

Apsara in New York by Sokunthary Svay (2017)


Media Release:  Apsara in NY 1-sheet

“The apsara is the mythical deity that decorates most Khmer temples, and it represents the ideal woman in Cambodia. In fact, even the classical dancers are modeled after them. My ‘Apsara in New York’ image meant a meeting of my heritage/culture being dropped into the madness, urban temples (not necessarily religious, but sacred spaces personal and whatnot). I feel like my work and who I am embodies the jarring combination of old world Cambodian tradition and culture with the adjustment of US, the Bronx, NYC in general.” ~Sokunthary Svay

Photo feature in Vogue Italia (2017)Vogue Italia spread Diane Allford

“Sokunthary Svay’s Apsara in New York is truly like no other poetry collection I’ve read.  Transnational and pan-ethnic in scope, the book begins in a refugee camp in Thailand, settles in the Bronx and, driven by memory and desire, returns to the Cambodian cities of Phnom Penh, Battambang, and Takeo.  The poet is both fierce and tender, street-smart and thoughtful, maternal and filial, political and haunted. With Apsara in New York, Svay emerges as a powerful new voice in Cambodian-American poetry.” ~Bunkong Tuon, author of Gruel and associate professor of English, Union College

Sokunthary Svay is a Pushcart-nominated Khmer writer and musician from the Bronx, New York. She and her family were refugees from Cambodia who survived the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. She is the poetry editor for Newtown Literary. A founding member of the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association (CALAA), her work has been published internationally in Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, London and Australia. Svay was a subject in New York Magazine’s “Living in a Sanctuary City” portfolio and featured in the New York Immigration Coalition’s This is Our NY, broadcast in Times Square. Additional writing credits include Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time, LONTAR: Journal for Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, FLESH, Prairie Schooner, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Blue Lyra Review and Mekong Review. She is a past Willow Arts Alliance Residency Fellow and a recipient of the First Friday Residency at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. Svay recently received an American Opera Projects’ Composers & the Voice Fellowship where she will gain experience as a writer for voice and the operatic stage alongside her composer partner Liliya Ugay.