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Meet Trailblazer Erin Kong

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin Kong.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Erin. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
For most of my life, I have been writing and performing in some capacity. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to Arizona State University, and pursue musical theatre performance. After realizing that my identity as an Asian American womxn was being neglected within myself, I decided to tack on a minor in Asian Pacific American Studies.

My first involvement in the POC performance community was with New Carpa Collective. I had the opportunity to perform in staged readings and showcase my own personal poetry. Through my experiences with New Carpa Collective, and as a marginalized person living in Phoenix, I realized that the intersection of art and identity was something I wanted to passionately and creatively pursue for the rest of my life.

Has it been a smooth road?
The journey to self-acceptance and healing has been a tumultuous and difficult experience. A heavy truth to carry: laborious emotional work is required in order to move forward and thrive in this lifetime.

Most of my struggles revolve around self-image, self-worth, and mental health. A lot of young creators fall into the “tortured artist” trope, and for a long time, I believed that in order to create meaningful work, I had to dig into an unhealthy, inner emotional space. Additionally, I refused help and did not have the vocabulary to create a healthy mindset.

Once I started working on dissecting and understanding my personal trauma, as well as that of my family, it became more rewarding to create art.

My advice to young women starting this journey is to love yourself, create boundaries, and find emotional fulfillment through forgiveness. Also, don’t bone old dudes.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I am a writer and performer, whose written work largely revolves around Korean and Asian diasporic identity. My debut poetry collection, korean mourning rituals, explores the in-between nature of Korean American womxnhood, and identity as an anti-imperial tool. My play, War Brides, debuted Fall 2018 through Binary Theatre Company and explores that same idea of duality in identity, and the effects of western imperialism and violence of wartime.

I graduated last spring from Arizona State University with a major in Performance (Music Theatre) and a minor in Asian Pacific American Studies. My background is primarily in theatre performance, and I look to incorporate some aspect of performance in my personal written work.

Additionally, my best friend Danielle Ganon and I created an organization called Desert Diwata. Desert Diwata is a radical organization honoring Asian and Pacific Islander creation in Arizona. Our first event involved planning the release of my book, korean mourning rituals, at Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, and we look forward to hosting more events and collaborating with more creatives and organizations in Arizona to promote Asian and Pacific Islander, as well as BIPOC work.

Asian and Pacific Islander creators exist in Arizona–yet, we lack a network to effectively collaborate. My hope is that with my work, and with Desert Diwata, I can help create this network for AAPI creators to continue to thrive and collaborate with one another.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
I am largely inspired by local artists and activists, including Anna Flores (author of Pocha Theory), Rosaura Chawa Magaña (owner of Palabras Bilingual Bookstore), Chanel Bragg (local performer), Dr. Karen Kuo (professor at Arizona State University), Dr. Kathryn Nakagawa (professor at Arizona State University), and Marianne Kim (professor at Arizona State University). These are all strong women of color, who have blazed trails in their fields, and continue to do important community work, and make their voices present. They make sure to bring other people in the room with them and use their power and privilege for the better good.


  • $15 – korean mourning rituals

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Amanda Sia

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