My poems “The Silent Opening” and “War Dreams” are included in Inheriting the War: Poetry & Prose by Descendants of Vietnam Veterans and Refugees, released in Fall 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company. An address to my mother, “The Silent Opening” considers the intergenerational inheritances of colonialism in French Indochina and war in Viêt Nam. Similarly, my “War Dreams” are a hybrid genre of memoir and imagination revealing the residues of war that linger beyond the spatiotemporal confines of conflict. In this groundbreaking collection, descendants of veterans and refugees confront the aftermath of war and deliver another kind of war story through poetry and prose.
In 2017, I published some of my ongoing “Fear” photos in the “DSM: Asian American Edition,” one of six parts of “Open in Emergency: A Special Issue on Asian American Mental Health,” a courageous publication of the Asian American Literary Review. Rather than trying to recalibrate our existing mental health resources to better engage race and Asian American experience, the editors decided to start on the opposite end, with what wellness, unwellness, and care actually look like in Asian American life. The “Fear” photos were included in a “hacked” mock Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a new catalog of “definitions” and reflections, with alternate understandings of (un)wellness and critiques of Psychology as field, discourse, and industry.
In 2015 I won a contest to write the first line to begin all stories in the following summer’s First Line Journal from Blue Cubicle Press. Inspired by an ongoing ecological disaster in my home state of California, the most severe water shortage in over 1,000 years, I wrote, “By the fifteenth month of the drought, the lake no longer held her secrets.” My writer’s statement was also included in the Summer 2016 issue. It was exciting for me to see where the authors went with my prompt. Since 1999, the First Line Journal has been the original literary magazine where every story begins with the same first line.
My Hiroshima poem “The Time We Broke From Time” was printed in 2016 in Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms in Our Hands by Shabda Press. I’d written the poem in 2004, yet it didn’t find a home for twelve years. Although set in the 1940s, the ongoing threat of nuclear war keeps this poem sadly relevant. The anthology contains the symphonic voices of 163 poets living throughout the United States and world, in countries such as India, Britain, Ireland, Canada, the Philippines, Japan, South Africa, Guam, Singapore, Poland, Australia, France, Vietnam, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Germany, China and Pakistan. We meditate together on the impact of nuclear power and warfare on human life and the planet. Proceeds from sales of the anthology will be donated to the Women’s Center in Downtown Los Angeles.
In 2015, my poems “Maps” and “Postscript” were included in TrenchArt Monographs: hurry up please its time by Les Figues Press. “Maps” traces an intricate cartography of longing and loss, while “Postscript” revisits my pen-and-ink illustration “Slipknot” as the cover of In the Plain Turn of the Body Make a Sentence, printed in 2006 by Les Figues Press. The series took its name from “trench art” — artistic creations produced by soldiers in wartime using materials at hand, from shell casings to scrap metal to bone.
In 2015, my memoir essay “The Gift Horse of War” was included in Completely Mixed Up: Mixed Heritage Asian North American Writing and Art, edited by Brandy Lien Worrall-Soriano for Rabbit Fool Press. Originally published as “an Editor’s Choice,” in Nailed magazine, this essay addresses the liabilities of ethnic ambiguity and Amerasian ancestry in a country that refuses to accept responsibility for genocide and war.
In December 2013, three of my black-and-white photographs — “Fear of Ambivalence,” “Grandma,” and “Tra Cang Monastery” — were included in Troubling Borders: An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora, released in hardcover through University of Washington Press and promoted in this video trailer from the publisher. My memoir essay “Corner Shore” and my poem “Progress Report” are also featured in this groundbreaking collection of sixty-two women artists of Southeast Asian descent.
In summer 2012, the photo essay and critical statement “Luminous Elegies: Chăm Family Photographs in Phước Lập, Việt Nam” was published in positions: asia critique (Duke University Press) in a special issue on Southeast Asian American Studies. The 1999 photo Aunts and Uncle was also chosen for the cover.
In 2012, the black-and-white photograph “Fear of Ambivalence” (2001) was featured as the catalog cover for UC Riverside’s Sweeney Art Gallery exhibit Troubling Borders: Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora, a showcase containing eight of Julie Thi Underhill’s gelatin silver prints. Curated by Lan Duong and Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, the exhibition ran from June 30 through October 7, and it featured paintings, drawings, photographs, videos and sculptures by seven international contemporary artists—Anida Yoeu Ali, Reanne Estrada, Lin+Lam, Ann Phong, Nalyne Lunati, Hong-An Truong and Julie Thi Underhill. The exhibit accompanied the publication of Troubling Borders: An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora, released in 2013 by University of Washington Press.
In spring 2011, the memoir prose poem “Pasadena” was published in Hayden’s Ferry Review (Arizona University Press).
In 2011, the intimate portrait of a Hmong baby and mother, titled “Sanctuary,” was published in Newspace Center for Photography Exhibitions 2002-2011, by Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon. In 2005, Julie had exhibited twenty-three photographs at Newspace in a large two-person show titled Viet Nam & Cuba, with Niki Polyocan. This exhibit also resulted in the publication of “Sanctuary” in Willamette Weekly and, as a result, one of the best-attended opening night celebrations ever held at Newspace.
In 2009, the memoir essay “Ghosts” was published in Embodying Asian/American Sexualities, Lexington Books. A previous version of “Ghosts” was written in 2003 and later revised specifically for this publication. In 2003, as the U.S. military was invading Iraq, Julie felt a moral imperative to portray what most people don’t get to hear—the ghosts, memories, afterlives, and continuities of war that continue to haunt families generation after generation.
In 2006, Julie’s memoir poems “war dream i” and “war dream ii” were published in Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace (Koa Books), edited by Maxine Hong Kingston, 2014 winner of the National Medal of Arts. For seven years, Julie continued to write regularly with Maxine and members of their veterans writing sangha that met seasonally in Sebastopol, California.
In 2006, the pen-and-ink illustration “Slipknot” graced the back cover of In the Plain Turn of the Body Make a Sentence, a collection of plays by Sissy Boyd. Julie wrote, “Slipknot was intuitively based upon an early draft of one play. I drew two crows finding one another, if for a moment, in memory.” This edition was included in TrenchArt’s Casement Series.
In 2002, “One Vet Remembers” was published in Takin’ it to the Streets: A Sixties Reader, by Oxford University Press. This oral history with U.S. military veteran Robert Cagle was recorded in 2001 just prior to their visit together to the My Lai Massacre memorial in Quảng Ngãi province, Việt Nam. This powerful oral history was the first time Robert Cagle had ever talked with anyone about his experiences in Việt Nam as a young soldier.
In 1997, the poem “Across the Aisle” was chosen for the King County (Seattle) Poetry Bus Project, which included a reading at The Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, an interview with reporter Gerry Hadden on NPR’s affiliate station KPLU, and publication on the poetry bus and in the collection Glimpses: Passing Moments, Captured Thoughts (King County Public Art Program).