Keynote Speaker

Photo by Dennis Shyu Photo by Dennis Shyu

Sweet Briar College is pleased to announce that award-winning novelist and memoirist Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint will give the keynote talk at the 2023 Sweet Briar Summer: Arts and Writing Retreat being held on campus June 22-25, 2023.

Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint is the recipient of the Greywolf Nonfiction Prize, the AAPI Award for Literature and the author of the books “Names for Light: A Family History” and “The End of Peril, the End of Enmity, the End of Strife, a Haven.” She holds a BA from Brown University, an MFA from the University of Notre Dame, and a PhD from the University of Denver, and teaches creative writing at Amherst College.

“Names for Light: A Family History” traverses time and memory to weigh three generations of a family’s history against a painful inheritance of postcolonial violence and racism. In spare, lyric paragraphs framed by white space, Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint explores home, belonging, and identity by revisiting the cities Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint, this year's featured speaker. Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint, this year's featured speaker. in which her parents and grandparents lived. As she makes inquiries into their stories, she intertwines oral narratives with the official and mythic histories of Myanmar. But while her family’s stories move into the present, her own story—that of a writer seeking to understand who she is—moves into the past, until both converge at the end of the book.

Born in Myanmar and raised in Bangkok and San Jose, Myint finds that she does not have typical memories of arriving in the United States; instead, she is haunted by what she cannot remember. By the silences lingering around what is spoken. By a chain of deaths in her family line, especially that of her older brother as a child. For Myint, absence is felt as strongly as presence. And, as she comes to understand, naming those absences, finding words for the unsaid, means discovering how those who have come before have shaped her life. “Names for Light: A Family History” is a moving chronicle of the passage of time, of the long shadow of colonialism, and of a writer coming into her own as she reckons with her family’s legacy.

Please check out her website for more information: Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint