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Genny Lim (San Francisco) collaborating with Asian Improv aRts (San Francisco)

Award: $20,000 Literary Arts grant awarded in 2005

Manuscript completed: 2006

Writer and performer Genny Lim and Asian Improv aRts collaborated to create True Freedom:  Anatomy of an American Family, the manuscript for a new short story collection that was informed by the writer’s residency at the Chinatown Beacon Center–then at Jean Parker Elementary School.  Jean Parker is the school that Genny Lim attended as a child, and the project enabled her to connect her coming of age experiences in the 1950s and 1960s in San Francisco’s Chinatown and North Beach neighborhoods to the issues facing the neighborhoods’ immigrant children and their families today.

During the project’s initial nine months, Lim held weekly workshops at the Chinatown Beacon Center, using her own stories and poetry to inspire young participants to create photographs, stories, and poems about their elders, community heroes, and themselves.  The workshops culminated with an exhibit, a journal of the students’ writings, and a reading by workshop participants. Lim found that the residency at her old school enriched her palette for her own stories.  After completing her fiction manuscript, she returned to the Beacon Center and to other sites in the neighborhood to present public readings with guest artists.

Genny Lim is the author of the play Paper Angels, the bilingual children’s book, Wings of Lai Ho, and collections of poems. She also is co-author of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island.

Over 16 years, Asian Improv aRts has cultivated, presented, and documented artistic work expressing the Asian American Experience.  It was founded by musicians Jon Jang and Francis Wong, both of whom have collaborated with Genny Lim on performing arts projects.