Kosal Khiev never knew his country of origin, Cambodia, before he became an exile there. He was one of many Cambodian Americans who were deported back to their “home country” after being convicted of crimes in the U.S. Now, Khiev has emerged from the U.S. prison system to become one of the most eminent poets in his reclaimed homeland, honing a unique spoken word voice that he hopes will carry back to the country that banished him.
Though Khiev is barred from returning to the U.S., his poetry and his unique stories of exile have made him a sort of citizen of the world. He recently shared a stage with scores of other poets from around the globe at the Poetry Parnassus festival in London, part of the city’s Olympic Games celebration. Ironically, when he landed in the U.K., he was detained, again, by immigration authorities. But this time he was released quickly, and hit the London streets just in time to bring his Khmer-inflected spoken word to the global gathering.
Khiev and other fellow exiles also produced a video about the struggle of Khmer-Americans who have been deported under draconian US immigration laws. To learn more about Khiev’s story, visit spokenkosal.com.