Interview with bernice yeung who will be interviewing jessica hagedorn at Building legacies: 45 years of art and resistance
Bernice Yeung is an award winning journalist with Reveal | from the Center for Investigative Reporting and the author of In a Day's Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America's Most Vulnerable Workers. She will be interviewing novelist and playwright, Jessica Hagedorn at Building Legacies: 45 Years of Art and Resistance on April 19th at the Chinese Culture Center. Get your tickets today: ksw45.eventbrite.com. We had a chance to sit down and talk to her.
What is your most vivid memory of Kearny Street Workshop?
The inaugural APAture in 2001. I’d heard about KSW through a friend and was excited to learn that there was a way that I could get involved by helping organize a new event for emerging artists. I loved the process of figuring out both the mundane logistics and the big-picture vision with a group of people who gave me an immediate sense of belonging. I had just moved back to the Bay Area from the Chicagoland area and I can’t tell you what a relief it was to instantaneously know that these were my people -- a community that valued the arts and creativity, believed in independent thought and expression, and who were deeply influenced by the Asian immigrant experience. On the day of the inaugural APAture, I felt such a swell of pride in being part of an organization that was showcasing the depth and diversity of Asian America.
You have been involved in other Asian American art and culture projects like founding Hyphen magazine. What influence has KSW had in your endeavors?
KSW has given me the gift of context. Thanks to the opportunities to work across generations on events and projects at KSW, I’ve learned about critical moments in Asian American history directly from people who were actually there. I’ve heard the first-hand accounts from people who fought the evictions at the I Hotel, and who made the demand for Asian American Studies at SF State, among other pivotal moments in Asian American identity and activism. These interactions have had a tremendous influence on me. I don’t think I could cover immigrants as a journalist without understanding the making of my own community’s history.
Many people are familiar with your award-winning reporting for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, and we’re excited for your book In a Days Work based on that reporting. But we want to learn about your writing from back in the day! Can you tell us about the zine you wrote, Option8? What was it about?
I didn’t think anyone remembered Option8! I actually sold issues of it at APAture for a couple years. It was essentially a compendium of rants, raves, indie/punk rock band interviews, plus my mortifyingly bad poetry. Visually, Option8 was a mix of chaotic collage and self-taught graphic design, and they were photocopied and collated at whatever copier I could get my hands on. The last issue (spring 1999) was the “All Asian All The Time” issue, featuring interviews that I or my friends conducted with the Mountain Brothers, Sandra Oh, Mike Park of Asian Man Records (R.I.P), and Gedde Watanabe. Looking back at it, Option8 was fun to put together, and it came out of an creative impulse that I wish I listened to more these days.
What are you most looking forward to at Building Legacies: 45 Years of Art and Resistance?
The special chance to be in conversation with the amazing Jessica Hagedorn!