What is Kundiman?
Between our inaugural year, 2004 and 2013, nineteen fellows have published first books and fifteen have published chapbooks and they credit Kundiman as being instrumental in their growth as writers.
Kundiman is dedicated to the creation and cultivation of Asian American poetry.
Kundiman creates an affirming and rigorous space where Asian American poets can explore, through art, the unique challenges that face the new and ever changing diaspora. We see the arts as a tool of empowerment, of education and liberation, of addressing proactively what legacy we will leave for our future generations as individuals and as a community.
In August 2004, Kundiman presented its inaugural Asian American Poetry Retreat at The University of Virginia. This annual retreat was created by poets Sarah Gambito and Joseph O. Legaspi. Through their own experiences as writing students and poets, both recognized the need for a nurturing and yet rigorous space for emerging Asian American poets: such a space would facilitate creation of new work, create mentoring relationships with established Asian American poets, and address challenges that uniquely affect Asian American poets.
Kundiman sees poetry not only as vehicle for cultural expression but also as an instrument for political dialogue and self-empowerment. We recognize the need to create an Asian American poetic community, and, at the same time, engender a commitment among poets to give back to our own communities.
What does Kundiman mean?
Kundiman is the classic form of Filipino love song—or so it seemed to colonialist forces in the Philippines. In fact, in Kundiman, the singer who expresses undying love for his beloved is actually singing for love of country. As an organization dedicated to providing a nurturing space for Asian American poets, we find in this name inspiration to create and support poetic expression.
More than 100 poets have attended the Kundiman Retreat. Fellows report first-time publication in national literary journals, finalist distinction in literary awards and a greater sense of confidence in their pursuit of literary excellence. Kundiman Fellows have published poems in The Best American Poetry, Denver Quarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fence, Guernica, The Colorado Review, Pleides, Best New Poets, The New England Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Women Studies Quarterly, Crab Orchard Review, The Best of the Net, The Cortland Review, Third Coast, Spoon River Poetry Review, Nimrod International Journal, The Drunken Boat, MiPOesias, Poetry Southeast and Sou’wester.
They are attending MFA and doctoral programs at The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Brown University, New York University, Stanford University, The University of Houston, The University of California, Riverside and The University of California, Berkeley.