Lau, Alan Chong (1948--) By Jeon, Joseph Jonghyun
Alan Chong Lau is an American poet and visual artist. Lau began his poetic career in the wake of the 1970s Asian-American movement, a surge of racial political consciousness inspired by the civil rights and anti-war protest movements. His first book, published with friends Garrett Kaoru Hongo and Lawson Fusao Inada, was entitled The Buddha Bandits Down Highway 99 (1978) after the name they had given to themselves for a 1977 performance in Long Beach and after the highway that connected their childhood homes in different parts of California. The book is a series of peripatetic romps in a beat style refashioned for an Asian-American context. In comparison, Songs of Jadina (1980), Lau’s first monograph and the winner of an American Book Award in 1981, is a much more contemplative, nuanced exploration of Chinese American history and the poet’s ancestry. In 2000, he published his second monograph, Blues and Greens: A Produce Worker’s Journal, which is a poetic record of his experiences in Seattle. His most recent book of poems, no hurry (2007), is a reflection about his travels to Japan. Beginning in the late 1970s, Lau also became an active painter, developing a unique style that blended elements of Chinese calligraphy and the Northwest School. A retrospective of his work was shown at the Francine Seders Gallery in Seattle in 2012.