CRAFT TALK & READING: very peak summer solstice (vpss)
Jasmine Gibson, Fana Fraser, Sokunthary Svay, Annie Heath, Stephanie George, Jean Lee, & Benedict Nguyen
CRAFT TALK & READING: very peak summer solstice (vpss)

Join us for a very special event this summer solstice. Presented by ISSUE Project Room 2019 Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellow Benedict Nguyen, very peak summer solstice (vpss) features performer and performance maker Fana Fraser, poet Jasmine Gibson, dancer and choreographer Annie Heath, and poet Sokunthary Svay. This is their second program in soft bodies in hard places, a platform of trans-disciplinary events circling planetary events over 2019.

very peak summer solstice is almost redundant – on this day, the sun is visible in the horizon for the longest time until 2020. It’s a transition into summer, the sun phasing from Gemini to Cancer. As with the first program in ‘soft bodies’ rnma, the moon will be in Aquarius on June 21, it’s lightness streaming sharp into an ocean, the days shortening once again. vpss proposes collaborations between dancemakers and poets to play, create, and be messy in making new work. There’s a respect for the craft and a suggestion towards de-skilling that welcomes something truly ‘in process.’ Over the spring months, the artists will share in their creative processes and venture to experiment across form.

vpss takes shape through two events. AAWW will host a reading and craft talk by the artists & moderated by Benedict Nguyen on Tuesday, June 18 (RESERVE SEATS HERE!). The artists share a fuller performance of this work at ISSUE on Friday, June 21, the summer solstice.

Co-presented by ISSUE Project Room.

soft bodies in hard places acknowledges its presence on the unceded land of Lenape and Canarsee People.


Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Fana Fraser is a performer and performance maker based in New York City. Her performance work is rooted in a contemporary Caribbean aesthetic and framed by narratives of desire, eroticism, and power.Fana’s work has been presented at Wassaic Project, Brooklyn Museum, The Knockdown Center, Movement Research at the Judson Church, BAAD!, La MaMa Moves!, the CURRENT SESSIONS, Gibney, Trinidad Theatre Workshop, and Emerging Artists Theatre. She has been a CUNY Dance Initiative Artist in Residence (2017-18) and a Movement Research Van Lier Fellow (2017). She also currently serves as the Rehearsal Director for Ailey II and as a Co-Director for Pepatián. Fana was recently commissioned by The Shed to create a new work for the inaugural Open Call program, set to premiere in 2020.

Jasmine Gibson is a Philly jawn based in Harlem. She spends her time thinking about sexy things like psychosis, desire, and freedom. She is the author of the chapbook Drapetomania (Commune Editions, 2015) and the co-author, with Madison Van Oort, of Time Theft: A Love Story (The Elephants, 2018). Don’t Let Them See Me Like This is her debut poetry collection from Nightboat Books.

Annie Heath is a freelance dancer and choreographer based in Brooklyn, NY. She has performed original works by RoseAnne Spradlin, Gabriella Carmichael, Pavel Machuca-Zavarzin and Matthew Westerby Company. Her work, assembled under the collaborative group, Heath in Progress, has been presented at Access Theater, Center for Performance Research, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Spoke the Hub, Dixon Place, TADA! Youth Theater, Triskelion Arts, West End Theater and Alchemical Laboratory as well as out of state venues in Massachusetts, Vermont and Israel. Additionally, she has had a creative residency at La Escuela Profesional de Danza de Mazatlán (Mexico). Annie graduated University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in Dance and BS in Environmental Science.

Sokunthary Svay was born in a refugee camp in Thailand shortly after her parents fled Cambodia after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. They were sponsored to come to the United States and resettled in the Bronx where she grew up. She is currently poetry editor for Newtown Literary, the only literary journal for the borough of Queens, a founding member of the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association (CALAA), the recent recipient of the American Opera Projects’ Composer and the Voice Fellowship for 2017-19, and the 2018 Emerging Poets Fellowship at Poets House. Her first collection of poetry, Apsara in New York, is available from Willow Books. She is currently a doctoral student in English at the The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her first opera, in collaboration with composer Liliya Ugay, will premiere in January 2020 at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.

Stephanie George is a stargazer and storyteller. She melds astrological interpretations with poetic possibilities. In her practice, Love, Steph Gee, she holds space for contradictions, particularly ones that insist the body can still feel, still remember home across temporalities, lifetimes, and bodies. Stephanie uses celestial movements to map, track, and trace artistic potential with clients to bring them, us, closer to the ambitiously vulnerable and transcendent.

Jean Lee is a writer and anti-imperialist advocate in Brooklyn. Their work has appeared in Canthius Literary Journal, Sinister Wisdom, No Dear Magazine, and Matters of Feminist Practice among others.

Benedict Nguyen is a writer, dancer, and arts advocate based in the South Bronx, NY. Benedict has written for the Brooklyn Rail, Shondaland, The Establishment, Dance Magazine, and Rest for Resistance, among others. In 2017-18, they were a member of the National Center for Choreography (Akron, OH)’s low-res laboratory on dance writing. In their feature writing, they highlight the labor behind of artists’ processes and address questions of power and equity in the dance field at large. Their fiction writing was supported by an AWP Writer to Writer Mentorship in 2017. They’re currently revising a novel and generating short stories. Their e-newsletter “first quarter moon slush” is published on the first and third quarter moon.


Founded in 2003, ISSUE Project Room is a pioneering nonprofit performance center, presenting projects by interdisciplinary artists that expand the boundaries of artistic practice and stimulate critical dialogue in the broader community. ISSUE serves as a leading cultural incubator, facilitating the commission and premiere of innovative new works.

In its third year, ISSUE’s Curatorial Fellowship commissions emerging New York curators to organize challenging time-based projects, serving a central role in fulfilling ISSUE’s mission to support and cultivate innovative art within the local community. The Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellowship supports emerging curators in realizing ambitious new projects that will significantly transform their own artistic practice, move their work in new directions, and enable them to gain exposure to a broader audience.

Named for ISSUE’s visionary founder Suzanne Fiol, the program mentors a curatorial fellow by providing them with financial, technical and marketing support as they work to cultivate, incubate and present innovative music and performance projects.

Established in 1991, AAWW is a national not-for-profit arts organization devoted to the creating, publishing, developing and disseminating of creative writing by Asian Americans.

Launched in 2003 as a blog for Performance Space 122 (Now Performance Space New York), Culturebot has operated independently since 2007, generating and housing critical discourse about performance. Culturebot aspires to be deeply knowledgeable and widely accessible; we believe that criticism is a creative practice and critical discourse is essential for a vibrant and engaged cultural ecology. Culturebot is currently operated by Dan O’Neil, Lydia Mokdessi, and Ben Wagner.

vpss proposes collaborations between dancemakers and poets to play, create, and be messy in making new work. There’s a respect for the craft and a suggestion towards de-skilling that welcomes something truly ‘in process.’ Over the spring months, the artists will share in their creative processes and venture to experiment across form.

vpss refracts these potentialities into soft bodies by introducing a more layered schematic for collaborations among the artists. Some questions are explicit: What does dance say and how do words move? Others are implicit: medium aside, how can the plurality of these artists’ practices, their textures and their content, morph into work that is expansive, overlapping, and specific?

vpss may be awkward, it may be too much, and Benedict guesses that might be the mood. To open to all there is to consider in the artists’ work, what they’re saying and how they’re moving in response to each other, the astrology of the moment, the spaces we’re in: It’s the most.

CRAFT TALK & READING: very peak summer solstice (vpss)

Jasmine Gibson, Fana Fraser, Sokunthary Svay, Annie Heath, Stephanie George, Jean Lee, & Benedict Nguyen
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
6:30 PM
Asian American Writers’ Workshop
112 West 27th Street, 6th Floor
New York NY 10001
Upcoming Events
February 21 6:00 PM
[IN-PERSON] Writing Club: On Passages with maura nguyễn donohue
In collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art, this Writing Club welcomes guest writer maura nguyễn donohue to facilitate a free, in-person writing workshop on the theme of passages, in conjunction with the exhibition An-My Lê: Between Two Rivers/Giữa hai giòng sông/Entre deux rivières.
March 7 6:00 PM
[RESCHEDULED] In Conversation: An-My Lê, Monique Truong, and Ocean Vuong
Join us for our first event of the new year, a very special conversation between An-My Lê, Ocean Vuong, and Monique Truong, on Thursday, March 7.
March 25 7:00 PM
Join Yu & Me Books and AAWW to celebrate Lisa Ko's new novel with Lisa and Ava Chin. MEMORY PIECE is an innovative and audacious story of three lifelong friends as they strive to build satisfying lives in a world that turns out to be radically different from the one they were promised.