Poets and Musicians


unnamedLloyd LaCuesta was the longtime South Bay Bureau Chief for KTVU Channel 2.  He was awarded 6 Emmy Awards and many other accolades during his broadcasting career, which spanned 43 years, with 36 years at KTVU.  Some of his major stories included the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the Oakland hills firestorm in 1991, and the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999.
He attended California State University, Los Angeles and San Jose State University (SJSU), earning a B.A. in journalism and political science. He won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for reporting while at SJSU. He received an M.A. in Journalism from the University of California, Los Angeles.
He was the first elected national president of the Asian-American Journalists Association, for which he earned a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also president of the Unity Journalists of Color.
He has been an adjunct professor of journalism at San Jose State University for many years and it’s fitting to welcome him back to San Jose State University’s Legacy of Poetry Day.




Photo Credit: Alexander Warnow

Maxine Hong Kingston is the author of the iconic works of nonfiction Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among the Ghosts, and China Men, recipient of the 1981 National Book Award.  She is also the author the novels Tripmaster Monkey, His Fake Book and Hawaii One Summer. In addition, she is the author of mixed-genre memoir The Fifth Book of Peace, and is editor of a collection of writing by war veterans, Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace. Besides her accomplishments in prose, she has all her life been writing poetry. Her long autobiographical poem I Love a Broad Margin to My Life was published in 2011. Her She is the recipient of many awards and honors including: the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, The National Books Circle Award for Nonfiction, a National Humanities Medal, and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. In 2013 she received the National Medal of Arts from President Barak Obama. Kingston, the daughter of Chinese immigrant parents, was born in Stockton, CA.  She is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she recently retired from teaching.



Photo Credit: Jos Robinson

California Poet Laureate Emeritus Al Young is also a novelist, memoirist, screenwriter, and editor. He is the author of nine collections of poetry, including Something About the Blues; Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons: Poems 2001-2006The Sound of Dreams Remembered: Poems 1990-2000; and Heaven: Collected Poems, 1956-90. His novels include Seduction by Light; Sitting Pretty; and Who Is Angelina. His first of three musical memoirs, Bodies and Soul: Musical Memoirs, received the American Book Award. Al Young co-founded The Yardbird Reader and Quilt with poet-novelist Ishmael Reed. And he co-edited Literature of California, Volume 1: Native American Beginnings – 1945 with Maxine Hong Kingston, Jack Hicks, and James D. Houston. He has taught a number of colleges and universities including California College for the Arts, U.C. Santa Cruz, and San Jose State University where he served as Lurie Distinguished Visiting Author-in-Residence.


Poet, performer, and playwright Genny Lim is the author of three collections of poetry: Paper Gods and Rebels; Child of War; Winter Place. She is also the author of the plays Bitter Crane and Paper Angels, which aired on PBS’s American Playhouse. She is also a co-author of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940. She taught for many years in the Humanities Program at the New College of California. She has performed and read her poems at colleges and universities across the United States and around the world.





Photo credit: Oscar Bermeo

Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of To Love as Aswang. She was born in Manila, Philippines, raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is the author of three previous collections of poetry: Gravities of Center; Poeta en San Francisco, which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets; and Diwata, which received the Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry. She is also the author of the chapbooks Easter Sunday; Cherry; and For the City that Nearly Broke Me. Her fifth full-length poetry collection, Invocation to Daughters, is forthcoming from City Lights Publishers. She currently teaches in the University of San Francisco’s Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program. She has also taught in the Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University, and in Creative Writing and English at Mills College.


Gary Singh is an actively publishing poet, an award-winning travel writer, a music critic, and columnist for Metro Newspapers, San Jose’s alt-weekly newspaper, which he calls an offbeat glimpse into the frontiers of the human condition in Silicon Valley.
He is also a chronicler of Dada, music, dance, theater, and experimental art. He is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy, and is currently a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at SJSU, his alma mater.




Photo Credit: Scott Hinrichs

Arlene Biala is an award-winning poet who has been participating in poetry performances and workshops in the Bay Area for over 20 years. She is currently Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County for 2016-17. Her poetry has been described as “grounded in ritual object and ritual practice, mantras that resonate within the body, and plant the body firmly in the world.” She is the author of several collections of poetry: bone, (Helmut Press, 1993), continental drift (West End Press, 1999), and her latest book, her beckoning hands (Word Poetry Press, 2014), which won the 2015 American Book Award.



Asha is an artist, educator, and revolutionary. She is from LA. She moved to the Bay going to school at UCSC and obtained her masters in education, working in Watsonville and Oakland. She was briefly a community organizer against police brutality and domestic violence. Her passion for social justice today focuses on educating youth. Currently, a 5th grade teacher in San Jose, and actively training teachers around California about teaching within a social justice lens in order to create authentic global change, her music, art and poetry act as a mirror into the passion and activism she lives out daily.


Photo Credit: Pasag Photography

Lorenz Mazon Dumuk creates performances and mixed media artworks. He has published two collections of poetry, Ay Nako: Writing Through the Struggle, and I Think In Poetry. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, Dumuk tries to grasp language. He is a highly imaginative person whose heartfelt work gives space for his audience to feel connected with themselves and the world around them.





Photo Credit: Pasag Photography

Quynh-Mai Nguyen is a San Jose-based Vietnamese American social artist and musician. She is actively involved in Silicon Valley multicultural arts education programs such as Bloco del Sol’s Brazilian Drumming and Dance, Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute (MALI), School of Arts and Culture, Silicon Valley De-Bug. In addition she is a graphic designer and event producer, and leads the folk/R & B group Q & A.








Photo Credit: Penn State

PJ Hirabayashi is the Artistic Director Emeritus, former Artistic Director, and founding member of San Jose Taiko (SJT), a world-class performing ensemble of taiko drummers. She is a pioneer of North American taiko, recognized in the international taiko community for her distinctive performance and teaching style. She earned a B.A. from UC Berkley and a Masters from San Jose State in Urban and Regional Planning. She wrote her thesis on San Jose’s Japantown, a historical and visionary survey of the survival of an ethnic community. She has participated in notable SJT collaborations such as with George Coates Performance Works, American Conservatory Theater, Asian American Jazz Orchestra, San Jose Repertory Theater, Brenda Wong Aoki , Zakir Hussain, Kodo. As a solo guest artist, she has performed with Hiroshima, David Benoit, San Jose Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Ondekoza, Margaret Wingrove Dance Company, and Theatre Yugen.



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Roy Hirabayashi has been playing taiko and shinobue since 1973 and is one of the original founders of SJT. He has led master classes and workshops throughout the country, composed original works for SJT and other taiko groups, toured with Kodo and Ondekoza, and performed with various jazz musicians, dancers, actors, and performance artists. Roy is the chairperson of the Executive Committee of the North American Taiko Conference and has been a judge for the International Taiko Contest in Tokyo, Japan. Roy is one of the founders of 1stACT, and is an American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow and Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute Senior Fellow. He is on the boards of First Voice, Japanese Community Congress of San Jose, and Artsopolis. Roy, along with his wife PJ, received the 2011 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award for their lifelong contributions to the art form of North American taiko.

unnamed-5JIMMY BIALA
Jimmy Biala is a professional music educator and performer. He performs regularly playing Latin percussion and drums with the James Robinson Ensemble and with the Bay -based Sound and Social Justice Collective which includes the ensembles – Music At Large featuring Lewis Jordan and Creation Story directed by John-Carlos Perea. He has performed in China, Taiwan, Germany, France, Canada and the United States.
He has received a DownBeat Magazine award from for excellence in jazz recording and performance. And a 2002 Artist in Communities Grant from the California Arts Council and a Meet the Composer commission grant in 2004. From 2005-2007 I lived and traveled throughout the country of Taiwan as part of a special residency commission to teach Brazilian percussion to Taiwanese Aboriginal youth and adult students in the Tribal areas of the Paiwan, Amis, Atayal, Bunun, Saisayat, Tao and Tsou peoples.
From 2007 to 2010 he lived in Beijing where he founded SambAsia Beijing ( now called Templo do Samba), the only community ensemble of it’s kind dedicated to the education and performance of Brazilian percussion music and dance in China.
In 2008 he recorded music for director Wong-Kar wai’s film Ashes of Time Redux, which also features musician Yo-Yo Ma.

unnamed-4BILLY BIALA

Bill has been playing the saxophone for 40 years; a successful result of the California public schools instrumental music programs of the 1970s. He has also studied saxophone under Professor Donald Trimmer who conducted the CBS orchestra for 30 years. Bill has been nominated for best saxophonist by the South Bay Blues Society 3 times. Working as a freelance saxophonist he has performed with John Lee Hooker, Lydia Pense, Greg Allman, Kate Webster, Deacon Jones, Albert Collins, James Cotton just to name a few. His strong experienced background performing in Funk, Rock, Punk, Latin, Jazz and Blues bands gives him a wide musical vocabulary to utilize at his discretion. Bill is a true believer for all things associated with the old school and is an advocate for Jazz standards, vintage American saxophones and Classic Chevrolets.



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As an epic composer who writes large scale works for large and small chamber music ensembles, Jang’s other works include:  When Sorrow Turns to Joy – Songlines: The Spiritual Tributary of Paul Robeson and Mei Lanfang , Reparations Now! Concerto for Largez Ensemble and Taiko, Island: the Immigrant Suite No. 2  for the Kronos Quartet and Cantonese Opera singer and the score for the dramatic adaptation of Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior  commissioned by the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre in Boston and Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles (Mark Taper).

 Pianist/composer Jon Jang has co-composed, co-led and recorded with great artists such as Max Roach, James Newton and David Murray. His ensembles have toured at major concert halls and music festivals in Europe, China, Canada, United States and South Africa

As a scholar, Jang has taught at Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley and was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr.-Cesar Chavez-Rosa Parks Visiting Professor recognition at the University of Michigan. During 2016, Jang presented his lecture, The Sounds of Struggle: Music from the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s to the Asian American Movement of the 1980s at Columbia University and other universities on the East Coast.


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Few musicians are as accomplished as Francis Wong, considered one of “the great saxophonists of his generation” by the late jazz critic Phil Elwood. A prolific recording artist, Wong is featured on more than forty titles as a leader and sideman. For over two decades he has performed his innovative brand of jazz and creative music for audiences in North America, Asia, and Europe with such with such luminaries as Jon Jang, Tatsu Aoki, Genny Lim,William Roper, Bobby Bradford, John Tchicai, James Newton, Joseph Jarman, Don Moye and the late Glenn Horiuchi. Key vehicles for his work are Asian Improv aRts, the company he co-founded with Jon Jang and as a Senior Fellow at the Wildflowers Institute. In addition, Wong was a California Arts Council Artist in Residence, and a Meet The Composer New Resident. He was also a Rockefeller Next Generation Leadership Fellow. He has also been a guest member of the faculty at San Francisco State University and at University of California at Santa Cruz.