Dao Strom is a Vietnamese American writer, artist, and musician who has been living in Portland since 2010. Strom was originally born in Saigon, Vietnam, and immigrated to the United States with her mother and brother in 1975. She grew up in Placerville, a small town in Northern California, before attending college in San Francisco and graduate school in Iowa. Before moving to Portland, Strom lived in many places across the US, including New York City, Texas, and Alaska. As a writer, Strom has published two works of fiction, as well as a memoir accompanied by a music album, a bilingual poetry art book, published by a Hanoi-based press, and a poetry-art book and companion “song-poems” album, published by a Portland-based poetry press and music label.

In this oral history interview, Dao Strom begins by talking about her family’s history and how she ended up coming to the United States. After first arriving at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, she and her family moved to Camp Weimar, near Sacramento, California. There, Strom’s mother met her stepfather, eventually marrying and moving the family to Northern California where Strom grew up. She recalls what it was like living in a predominantly white, conversative area and the unique experience being a child of two immigrant parents. She then shares about traveling back to Vietnam at the age of twenty-three to meet her birth father after learning that he was still alive-- it was this trip to Vietnam that Strom also realized the impact of collective memory and experience, a theme that appears in her writing and artistry as well. She goes on to talk about coming to Portland, her impressions of the city, and what it is like being a person of color in this area. Along with sharing about her own writing and art, Strom also talks about other forms of community activism she has been involved in, such as editing the blog diaCRITICS and developing a pop-up library featuring all authors of color. At the end of the interview, Strom talks about Vietnamese representation in American media and culture and how she hopes to show a more individual, nuanced, and “interior” view of what it means to be Vietnamese in her own work.