The Song Poet

  • by Kao Kalia Yang
  • Narrated by Kao Kalia Yang
  • 8 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the Hmong tradition, the song poet recounts the story of his people, their history and tragedies, joys and losses; extemporizing or drawing on folk tales, he keeps the past alive, invokes the spirits and the homeland, and records courtships, births, weddings, and wishes.
Following her award-winning book The Latehomecomer, Kao Kalia Yang now retells the life of her father, Bee Yang, the song poet, a Hmong refugee in Minnesota driven from the mountains of Laos by America's Secret War.
Bee lost his father as a young boy and keenly felt his orphanhood. He would wander from one neighbor to the next, collecting the things they said to each other, whispering the words to himself at night until one day a song was born. Bee sings the life of his people through the war-torn jungle and a Thai refugee camp. But the songs fall away in the cold, bitter world of a Minneapolis housing project and on the factory floor until, with the death of Bee's mother, the songs leave him for good. But before they do, Bee, with his poetry, has polished a life of poverty for his children, burnished their grim reality so that they might shine.
Written with the exquisite beauty for which Kao Kalia Yang is renowned, The Song Poet is a love story - of a daughter for her father, a father for his children, and a people for their land, their traditions, and all that they have lost.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Beautiful, full of sadness, power, and heart.

Would you listen to The Song Poet again? Why?

Yes, this is such necessary listening for everyone-- especially those who don't know the experience of immigrant and refugee families.


What other book might you compare The Song Poet to and why?

It's impossible to compare. Perhaps The Namesake?


Which character – as performed by Kao Kalia Yang – was your favorite?

I came to respect and love this entire family through their stories.


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

There were many points where I cried. The stories are heartbreaking, but so strong and determined.


Any additional comments?

This is one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking, real, and insightful books I've ever listened to.

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- Melissa L. Magana

A must read

I read Latehomecomer a few years ago in book club. This book was difficult to hear at times but what amazes me is the universality of certain things. We are all connected. We love our children, miss our families and worry about the future. Lao Kalia Yang has a gift as a story teller. I thank her for reminding me what a gift my family is.
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- Nell

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-10-2016
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books