Paul Tran News

Asian Student Alliance Welcomes Paul Tran to Pitt

“I write to investigate what goodness looks like in the face of such evil,” said Paul Tran, poet and poetry editor at The Offing Magazine, “to determine, announce, and celebrate the sophistication, tenacity, audacity, and ferocity of goodness and altruism and love in our world.”
 
Paul Tran (They/Them/Theirs) is a Vietnamese-American poet, poetry editor for The Offing Magazine, and a 2018 recipient for the Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship. Their work has also been featured in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, and the Boston Review. Their work focuses on examining intergenerational trauma, sexual violence, and the repercussions of the Vietnam war on people of Vietnamese descent.
 
On Sunday November 4, Tran joined Pitt’s Asian Students Alliance for a discussion on being part of the LGBTQIA+ community and the intersectionality of being Asian-American. Tran says, “There are some people that this country does not want to relate to. But those of us from the margins will learn how to write poems for them so their stories can be told too,” Tran says.
 
Tran also drew on their own experiences to connect to their audience and answer students’ questions. In their junior year of college, Tran was sexually assaulted. But when they reported the assault, they were brushed off and told that if they did not finish the school year with passing grades, they would lose their scholarship. Tran’s assaulter walked free. “When I needed the actual resources, I became a liability,” Tran said. “So I rescued myself and came back to tell my story.”
 
Tran also talked about their struggles from being a queer, Viatnamese-American person. “I have to constantly make sure I’m not diminishing myself for other people’s comfort. Because I’m not here to make you comfortable; I’m here to make myself free.” They urged the audience of Asian-American students to stand up for themselves and tell their own stories. “If we don’t teach people how to treat us, then we are vulnerable to them treating us the way they want.”
 
Aside from being a recognized poet and performer, Tran is also a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow in The Writing Program at Washington University in Saint Louis where they teach poetry to university students. “Part of my role as a teacher is to make my students feel smart and empowered,” Tran says.
 
They ended with encouraging and reminding us to vote. “During so much of our shared histories, we were not given the right to vote. It is now time to exercise that right”. Today is the official voting day for the 2018 midterm elections. Make sure you exercise your right to vote and encourage those around you to do so as well.
 
By: Mehaa Shah