Khaty Xiong was born to Hmong refugees from Laos and is the seventh daughter of fifteen brothers and sisters. She is the author of Poor Anima (Apogee Press, 2015), which holds the distinction of being the first full-length collection of poetry published by a Hmong American woman in the United States. She was recently awarded a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council (2020) and has held the Roxane Gay Fellowship in Poetry from Jack Jones Literary Arts (2019), the Nadya Aisenberg Fellowship at The MacDowell Colony (2017), and an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council (2016). Xiong’s work has been featured in Poetry, the New York Times and How Do I Begin?: A Hmong American Literary Anthology (Heyday, 2011), as well as on Poetry Society of America and Academy of American Poets websites, and elsewhere. In 2018, her poem, “On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens” was highlighted in an immersive poetry installation at the Poetry Foundation Gallery in Chicago (June – September) centering on the conversation of grief and loss.
Currently, Xiong is working on her second poetry collection surrounding the sudden loss of her mother, who was a shaman and a medicine woman in her community. The book examines the entanglement of her mother’s violent death, the grief that comes with being a child of war refugees, and the impact intergenerational trauma has had on her identity as a Hmong American poet and researcher. This body of grief work is an ode to the inability to “return home” as a descendant of illiterate diasporans, interrogating, as well as creating, myths around mothers, death, and gardens.