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In the depths, half-hidden under still waters, await strange and vicious creatures .... Cthulhu, Godzilla and nagas mingle in Demonstra, a speculative poem collection which assembles 20 years of work by Bryan Thao Worra. Demonstra is a book of things glimpsed out of the corner of the eye. It is about a reality that can never fully be demonstrated, authenticated, dissected, In the depths, half-hidden under still waters, await strange and vicious creatures .... Cthulhu, Godzilla and nagas mingle in Demonstra, a speculative poem collection which assembles 20 years of work by Bryan Thao Worra. Demonstra is a book of things glimpsed out of the corner of the eye. It is about a reality that can never fully be demonstrated, authenticated, dissected, for certain visions always remain in shadows. Bryan Thao Worra is the first Laotian American to receive a Fellowship in Literature from the United States Government's National Endowment for the Arts. He received the Asian Pacific Leadership Award from the State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans for Leadership in the Arts in 2009. His previous books include On The Other Side Of The Eye and Touching Detonations. He was a Cultural Olympian during the 2012 London Summer Games representing Laos. He's a professional member of the Horror Writer Association and a regular contributor to Innsmouth Magazine.


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In the depths, half-hidden under still waters, await strange and vicious creatures .... Cthulhu, Godzilla and nagas mingle in Demonstra, a speculative poem collection which assembles 20 years of work by Bryan Thao Worra. Demonstra is a book of things glimpsed out of the corner of the eye. It is about a reality that can never fully be demonstrated, authenticated, dissected, In the depths, half-hidden under still waters, await strange and vicious creatures .... Cthulhu, Godzilla and nagas mingle in Demonstra, a speculative poem collection which assembles 20 years of work by Bryan Thao Worra. Demonstra is a book of things glimpsed out of the corner of the eye. It is about a reality that can never fully be demonstrated, authenticated, dissected, for certain visions always remain in shadows. Bryan Thao Worra is the first Laotian American to receive a Fellowship in Literature from the United States Government's National Endowment for the Arts. He received the Asian Pacific Leadership Award from the State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans for Leadership in the Arts in 2009. His previous books include On The Other Side Of The Eye and Touching Detonations. He was a Cultural Olympian during the 2012 London Summer Games representing Laos. He's a professional member of the Horror Writer Association and a regular contributor to Innsmouth Magazine.

54 review for Demonstra: A Poetry Collection

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ann Schwader

    This is one of the most remarkable – and, at times, the most frustrating – speculative poetry collections I’ve read in a long time. Bryan Thao Worra’s Laotian-American view of the Lovecraft Mythos, Japanese monster movies, American pop culture in general, and the mythologies of several other cultures makes for a heady reading experience. The poems themselves (mostly free verse) are well-crafted and diverse, with a few more mainstream offerings among the speculative ones. The poet’s voice is sure This is one of the most remarkable – and, at times, the most frustrating – speculative poetry collections I’ve read in a long time. Bryan Thao Worra’s Laotian-American view of the Lovecraft Mythos, Japanese monster movies, American pop culture in general, and the mythologies of several other cultures makes for a heady reading experience. The poems themselves (mostly free verse) are well-crafted and diverse, with a few more mainstream offerings among the speculative ones. The poet’s voice is sure and experienced, with a strong love of story. My frustration came when I tried to understand these poems more completely, rather than being swept away by that story-telling and imagery. Although this collection offers two very useful appendices, I was still getting lost in the richness of the Lao language/cultural references. Many readers might benefit from a few actual footnotes, and “A Lao American Bestiary” could be expanded considerably with no loss of interest. Speculative poetry enthusiasts looking to widen their worldview will find Demonstra well worth acquiring.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kristine Muslim

    Demonstra is borne of the extraordinary imagination of Bryan Thao Worra, who draws inspiration from the Cthulhu Mythos, the Laotian pantheon of ghosts and monsters, and the horrors of the modern world, among other things. Something sinister and enchanting beckons out from every poem. There’s the enthralling journey across the dream highway of Ms. Manivongsa. There’s the poignant meditation on Egyptian iconography as a harbinger of death. And there’s the paean to Mothra. Demonstra is absolutely e Demonstra is borne of the extraordinary imagination of Bryan Thao Worra, who draws inspiration from the Cthulhu Mythos, the Laotian pantheon of ghosts and monsters, and the horrors of the modern world, among other things. Something sinister and enchanting beckons out from every poem. There’s the enthralling journey across the dream highway of Ms. Manivongsa. There’s the poignant meditation on Egyptian iconography as a harbinger of death. And there’s the paean to Mothra. Demonstra is absolutely evocative and haunting.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    It was a bit intimidating, getting a few poems into the collection and realizing how many of the references to Laotian folklore I didn't get at first. But Bryan Thao Worra is a clever guy: he includes a glossary in the back that explains some of the creatures who appear in the book, and he mixes nyaks and phi and kinally with kaiju and Elder Gods. It's a heady mix. There are so many images and lines and poems that moved me. Like this stanza from "Silosoth's Secret Roads to Himapan." If you take th It was a bit intimidating, getting a few poems into the collection and realizing how many of the references to Laotian folklore I didn't get at first. But Bryan Thao Worra is a clever guy: he includes a glossary in the back that explains some of the creatures who appear in the book, and he mixes nyaks and phi and kinally with kaiju and Elder Gods. It's a heady mix. There are so many images and lines and poems that moved me. Like this stanza from "Silosoth's Secret Roads to Himapan." If you take the journey, bring provisions, seek wisdom. Be prepared to wander a lifetime. It is beyond belief how easily you can get sidetracked Before you even reach the gateless gate. Or this, from "The Doom that Came to New Sarnath." The Melted Face and Traceless Blade Laugh from the charred hills, merciless, Cactus for souls, waiting for smugglers. This isn't an easy read by any means, but well worth the effort. Like the best poetry always does, this collection made me look at things differently.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Maria Mitchell

    This book has a blend of sci-fi, horror and humor. Some standout poems were Laonomicon, The Robo Sutra, Digging for Corpse Oil and Wendigo Blues.

  5. 4 out of 5

    T.D. Walker

    One of the reasons readers seek out poetry is that the genre offers a way of looking at the world that can be more expansive than, say, the essay or the short story. Lines break like worlds just out of view, and language calls us back to linger on what was just said or not said. This is the power of the work in Bryan Thao Worra's Demonstra, a collection of poems that reference, among others, figures of Lao myth, Grendel's mother, kaiju, and Lovecraft, and which ask us to consider whether these r One of the reasons readers seek out poetry is that the genre offers a way of looking at the world that can be more expansive than, say, the essay or the short story. Lines break like worlds just out of view, and language calls us back to linger on what was just said or not said. This is the power of the work in Bryan Thao Worra's Demonstra, a collection of poems that reference, among others, figures of Lao myth, Grendel's mother, kaiju, and Lovecraft, and which ask us to consider whether these references resist closure just as poems do. Poems of note include "The Dream Highway of Ms. Mannivongsa," "The Last War Poem," and "What Is The Southeast Asian American Poem of Tomorrow?" which concludes the collection. This is a book I returned to a number of times, and I highly recommend it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marj

    This was a fascinating collection of speculative poetry steeped in mythology and Laotian culture. I learned a bit, was inspired to research some and was overall delighted by his clever writing. I do with there were footnotes or ready translations, but this was mitigated when I saw found the appendices including a bestiary and recommended additional reading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    K.H. Vaughan

    It took exactly seven lines for me to decide I was onto something special with this new release from Innsmouth Free Press. This book is just that good. In Demonstra, Bryan Thao Worra presents an unusual collection of speculative poetry, filled with references to popular horror tropes, traditional Laotian folklore, and Buddhist musings in striking and unexpected combinations. Within, the classic monsters from Universal Pictures and Creature Double Feature rub elbows with Laotian Phi, Rakshasas, a It took exactly seven lines for me to decide I was onto something special with this new release from Innsmouth Free Press. This book is just that good. In Demonstra, Bryan Thao Worra presents an unusual collection of speculative poetry, filled with references to popular horror tropes, traditional Laotian folklore, and Buddhist musings in striking and unexpected combinations. Within, the classic monsters from Universal Pictures and Creature Double Feature rub elbows with Laotian Phi, Rakshasas, and Nyak. The author was adopted as an infant during the Laotian Civil War, and grew up in America, returning to Laos and reuniting with his biological family some 30 years later. The mythology and folklore of both nations intertwine, reflecting the icons of an American youth and the rediscovery of the culture of his family of origin. Poems about Lovecraftian shoggoth and the hungry ghosts of Southeast Asia intermingle with poems about cultural and personal identity. The result is entrancing, delightful, sad, and philosophical. Horror is consistent throughout, but it is different from much of the conventional gloomy and spooky verse that frequently appears in anthologies and magazines. At times, the work is sublimely ridiculous. A poet asks a monk, “Does a zombie have a Buddha nature?” Later, an aged shaman, speaking through a translator, asks the poet “Who’s your favorite wrestler?” and poses like Randy Savage. At other times, the horror is more serious, and there is a darker subtext that permeates the work. Worra speaks of a people haunted not just by monsters, but by war and diaspora. Popular culture is juxtaposed against references to refugee camps and battles from what was, to most of the world, a secret sidebar to the war in Vietnam. The poetry describes the echoes of an ancient culture ripped violently into modern times. Beyond these concerns are universal human stories of meaning and impermanence, set against the black void of space and rampaging kaiju. In a deft balancing act, Worra retains a sense of wonder and humor that complements the darkness. The collection communicates a broad range of emotions. It is a skillfully crafted collection, featuring a fresh and exciting voice. To supplement the work, the author has provided appendices, including a Lao American Bestiary, describing the many spirits, powers and entities that populate the poems in great detail; a rich bibliography of Laotian culture and history; and translations of Cthulhu Mythos entities in Lao. It isn’t necessary to read them to appreciate the poetry, but they do enrich the volume and add layers of meaning. If you know the language and the culture, I imagine it would be a different experience, but wonderful nonetheless. The poetry is also complemented by illustrations by Vongduane Manivong. Having read it once, I look forward to revisiting it again. The talent that earned Worra a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and various other awards is on full display here, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. More on the poet and his work can be found at http://thaoworra.blogspot.com/ [Review originally published on Hellnotes.com]

  8. 5 out of 5

    Walk-Minh Allen

    To anyone starting to read Worra's newest collection of poetry, I'd like to give one big hint: Read "Appendix A: A Lao American Bestiary" toward the back of the book first. That way, you can familiarize yourself with the names and characteristics of the mythological beasts and creepy spirits who inhabit this book's poems. It should provide you with a clearer vantage point with which to navigate the labrynthine structure of his poetry. However, and you'll see for yourself, although the poems are s To anyone starting to read Worra's newest collection of poetry, I'd like to give one big hint: Read "Appendix A: A Lao American Bestiary" toward the back of the book first. That way, you can familiarize yourself with the names and characteristics of the mythological beasts and creepy spirits who inhabit this book's poems. It should provide you with a clearer vantage point with which to navigate the labrynthine structure of his poetry. However, and you'll see for yourself, although the poems are substantially grounded in Lao (and by extension, Southeast Asian) mythology, that is certainly not the only context with which you should view Worra's writing. He is a literary artist who possesses multiple identities that both made him into what he is and are made by him to continue who he chooses to be. Reading through many of the poems, you eventually get the sense that Worra is politely yanking your chain, having fun with your perceptions and assumptions, layering meanings with disguises to throw you off the scent or having you believe that there was a scent to follow in the first place. If you choose to stick with these poems, you won't necessarily be rewarded, but you will be gratified.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Quinn

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rod Burch

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kham Sanavongsay

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ross Lockhart

  13. 4 out of 5

    Neda

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jaymee Goh

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mia Redgrave

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Fosburg

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wuttipol

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emmeline Solomon

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dara Stieglitz

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rand Burgess

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Toh

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paula Stiles

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Muenzler

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ketmani Kouanchao

  25. 5 out of 5

    Conrad Zero

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ally Yohn

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kit Findley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  31. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

  32. 4 out of 5

    K.H. Vaughan

  33. 4 out of 5

    Renee

  34. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

  35. 5 out of 5

    Marge Simon

  36. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Blythe

  37. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Xiong

  38. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

  39. 4 out of 5

    Foz Meadows

  40. 4 out of 5

    Ann Schwader

  41. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  42. 4 out of 5

    Karen Bainbridge

  43. 4 out of 5

    Kim Coomey

  44. 5 out of 5

    Betty

  45. 5 out of 5

    Jazz

  46. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Fantom

  47. 5 out of 5

    Kiran Parry

  48. 5 out of 5

    Donald Armfield

  49. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

  50. 4 out of 5

    Gracey Thomason

  51. 4 out of 5

    Sally

  52. 4 out of 5

    Haven Gordon

  53. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ahmed

  54. 4 out of 5

    Tina Marie

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