Saymoukda Vongsay

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay aka Refugenius is a Lao American writer. She was born in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand and immigrated to Minnesota in 1985. Because of her unique background, her work is focused on creating tools and spaces for the amplification of refugee voices through poetry, theater, and experimental cultural production.

CNN’s “United Shades of America” host W. Kamau Bell called her work “revolutionary.” Governor Mark Dayton recognized her artistic contributions with a “Lao Artists Heritage Month” Proclamation. She’s a 2019 recipient of a Sally Award for Initiative from the Ordway Center for Performing Arts which “recognizes bold new steps and strategic leadership undertaken by an individual…in creating projects or artistic programs never before seen in Minnesota that will have a significant impact on strengthening Minnesota’s artistic/cultural community.”

Her plays have been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Theater Mu, Consortium of Asian American Theater Artists, Theater Unbound, and elsewhere. She was a 2018 Playwright’s Center and 2011 and 2012 Theater Mu fellow in playwriting, a 2018 Loft Literary Center fellow in poetry, a 2019 Loft Literary Center fellow in children’s and young adult literature, a 2018 Twin Cities Media Alliance fellow in public art, and a 2017 Aspen Ideas Bush Foundation fellow.

Her poetry, essays, plays, and short stories can be found in the Asian American Literary Review, Massachusetts Review, Jungle Azn Magazine, Rubin Museums’ Spiral Magazine, Journal for Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, Saint Paul Almanac, as well as on coffee sleeves (Coffee House Press) and on metro transit (Saint Paul Almanac).