A memoir in text + image + song. In this unique work of literary multimedia, author/musician Dao Strom navigates the spaces between shores, mother and father, two cultures.

The daughter of writers, she fled Vietnam with her mother at the end of the war. It was not until years later that she learned her father was still alive and that he had spent a decade in Communist “reeducation” camps as persecution for his work as a writer in the pre-1975 era of Saigon. This rift—caught between the forward-looking mother who severed ties with the past, and the only tenuous presence of a father who could not turn away from the past—is the initiating ethos behind this memoir, which renders itself also as an experiment in literary multimedia, combining text, image, and song to express the nuances and buried emotions of aftermath. Strom juxtaposes documentary images next to family memorabilia to ruminate on the intersection of personal and collective histories. She travels between the Pacific coast and the Champa ruins of Vietnam to capture original photographic images that re-imagine folk myths. Her autobiographical essays are candid at the same time they are enigmatic, playing with white space and the shapes the text makes on the page.

The book, We Were Meant To Be A Gentle People, is accompanied by a music album, East/West, that explores two “geographies.” The book's "chapters" correspond with the song titles of the music album, and lyrics are interwoven amid the essays and fragments. The result is a multidimensional work that draws disparate “voices” together into one confluent, challenging whole.

The album can be streamed here.

Genre: Poetry/Creative Nonfiction/Image-Text
200 pages
8x8 in. / Paperback
Pub Date: 10/20/2015
Publisher: Press Otherwise/Paperdoll Works
ISBN: 978-0-990-95551-1

This project received funding from a Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) Project Grant in 2014 & an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship in 2013.

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This title is available to order also from Small Press Distribution


Limited Art Edition

Unwork, Inc. designed a special gate-fold with die-cut cover in white for We Were Meant To Be a Gentle People