Monday, November 29, 2004
Moi won't be online. But here are two lit events in case we can -- as my puppy Achilles loves to do with everyone he encounters -- "meet and greet"!
Wednesday, December 1, 8 pm
Heather Fuller & Eileen Tabios
The Poetry Project is located at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery
131 East 10th Street at Second Avenue
New York City 10003
Trains: 6, F, N, R, and L.
Heather Fuller's Startle Response is forthcoming from O Books. She is also the author of perhaps this is a rescue fantasy and Dovecote (both from Edge Books). Originally from North Carolina, she lived and worked in and around DC for 12 years before relocating to Baltimore. Eileen Tabios' recent books are Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole and Menage à Trois with the 21st Century. I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved is forthcoming in 2005. Her awards include the Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry, the Potrero Nuevo Fund Prize, and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles National Literary Award.
You are cordially invited to attend
"PINOY POETICS: Filipino American Poetry in Practice"
A PANEL DISCUSSION & READING
Saturday, Dec. 4, 2004
@ 6 pm
room 217 West Lounge
THE HUNTER COLLEGE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT
The event is FREE & open to the public, & will feature the following poets:
BINO A. REALUYO
BARBARA JANE REYES
PAOLO JAVIER (moderator)
The event marks the East Coast launch for the groundbreaking anthology
"PINOY POETICS: A Collection of Autobiographical and Critical Essays on Filipino and Filipino American Poetics"
edited by NICK CARBO, & published by MERITAGE PRESS
LISA ASCALON, a poetry fellow at the 2004 Kundiman Emerging Asian American Poet's Retreat, is based in New York City.
SARAH GAMBITO has had poems appear in The Iowa Review, The Antioch Review, The New Republic, Quarterly West, Fence and other journals. She holds degrees from The University of Virginia and The Creative Writing Program at Brown University. Her collection of poems, Matadora, is forthcoming from Alice James Books. She is co-founder of Kundiman, an arts organization dedicated to emerging Asian American poets.
PAOLO JAVIER is the author of the poetry collections 'the time at the end of this writing' (Ahadada), & '60 Lv Bo(e)mbs' (O Books, forthcoming in the fall of 2005). He has an MFA from Bard College, & teaches Asian American Studies and Creative Writing in New York City.
JOSEPH O. LEGASPI was born in the Philippines, and raised there and in Los Angeles where he immigrated with his family when he was twelve. He holds degrees from Loyola Marymount University and the Creative Writing Program at New York University. Currently, he lives in New York City and works at Columbia University. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, recently in the North American Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, Puerto Del Sol, Poet Lore, The Literary Review, and Tilting the Continent, an anthology of Southeast Asian literature. A recipient of a 2001 poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), he is one of the founding members of Kundiman, a non-profit organization serving Asian American poets.
BINO A. REALUYO's poetry has appeared in The Nation, New Letters, Manoa, Mid-American Review, Puerto del Sol, The Literary Review, The Kenyon Review, etc. He has received a Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from Poetry Society of America and a Van Lier fellowship in poetry. (www.geocities.com/realuyo) OR (http://calzoncillo.blogspot.com/)
BARBARA JANE REYES was born in Manila and raised in the SF Bay Area. She received her undergraduate education at UC Berkeley, and is currently a MFA candidate at SF State University. She is the author of Gravities of Center, and currently at work on her second book (a book-length poem) entitled 'poeta en san francisco'.
PATRICK ROSAL is the author of UPROCK HEADSPIN SCRAMBLE AND DIVE (Persea Books) and the chapbook UNCOMMON DENOMINATORS, winner of the Palanquin Poetry Series Award. His work has been published in many journals and anthologies including NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, COLUMBIA, THE LITERARY REVIEW, and THE BEACON BEST 2001. He has been a featured reader at many venues in and out of NYC, from Boston to Daytona Beach, as well as in London and on the BBC's "World Today." He was the 2001 Emerging Writer in Residence at Penn State ltoona and is currently Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Bloomfield College.
EILEEN TABIOS has released a poetry CD; three e-poetry collections; and written, edited or co-edited thirteen books of poetry, fiction and essays since 1996 when she traded a finance career for poetry. Recent poetry books are Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole (2002) and Menage A Trois With the 21st Century (2004). In 2005, she will release a multi-genre work, I Take The, English, For My Beloved. She writes the infamous poetics blog, "The Chatelaine's Poetics" while steering Meritage Press, a press based in St. Helena, CA where, as a budding grape farmer, she is arduously researching the poetry of wine.
R.A. VILLANUEVA holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from Rutgers University and teaches British and American Literature at Edison High School. He is a recipient of a Geraldine R. Dodge scholarship to the Fine Arts Work Center and was recently awarded a place in Kundiman's inaugural Emerging Asian-American Poets Retreat. He lives in New York City.
Always it is not what I say but something else. Hence the words I write...: We are not meant to live thus. Only for extreme souls may it have been intended to live thus, where words give way beneath your rotting boards (like rotting boars I say again, I cannot help myself, not if I am to bring home to you my distress and my husband's, bring home I say, where is home, where is home?).
...There may come a time when such extreme souls as I write of may be able to bear their afflictions, but that time is not now. It will be a time, if ever it comes, when giants or perhaps angels stride the earth
--from ELIZABETH COSTELLO
Better late than never for Moi to have read J.M. Coetzee's Nobel Prize winning ELIZABETH COSTELLO. Yes, as one of Moi Peeps writes in, "it is an awesome book! coetzee makes you want to drown in his work, it becomes painful to wrench yourself from, ahaha. :-) "
So many things to say about the brilliant ELIZABETH COSTELLO; I'll note just three:
1) It should be read by any poet (or I suppose any artist regardless of form) who thinks s/he is special for being a poet. By "special," I mean more sensitive, more beleaguered, more empathetic, more intelligent, more "impoverished," more put upon by the world, more blah blah than any other human being.
2) Brilliant structure of collage / cutnpaste. Here, Coetzee collages from his own speeches/essays. That he used what can be didactic information into the core of a "character"-ridden and really affecting tale is just a testimony to Coetzee's marvelous story-telling ability.
3) Last but definitely not least, a BRILLIANT ENDING. The ending could have ended with the second-to-last chapter and it would have been a great story. That it ended with the last chapter -- basically just a cutnpaste, it seems, of a standalone epistolary essay -- makes this also a great poem. It ends by challenging what conclusion the story had just made and, thus, opens up the "story" again by putting it back onto the reader's lap to do with as said reader will do, or not. (This is a quality I find inherent in poetry, which is why I call this not just a novel but a poem.)
ELIZABETH COSTELLO asks and fails to answer its own singular question through a structure of offering numerous answers ... thereby, for me, drawing in the reader to live in the book, and then leave the book a changed person, perhaps still a person without answers but at least more determined to ask questions.
And if Greg Perry hasn't yet read this book, you may be interested given your post (which my eyes relished, thank you for writing it) on "metalogos one".
Sunday, November 28, 2004
MOI FOOD POETICS
I'll be in New York as of this Tuesday. Looking forward to dinner with Sarah Gambito who plans to introduce me to Kuma Inn (a take-off on the Tagalog word "kumain" which means "to eat"). Also looking forward to being fed by Sandy and Barbara McIntosh. Check out this poet-chef's menu for Moi and other poet/artists!
MENU FOR EILEEN!
Caviar & Blinis
Smoked Finnan Haddie on Anchovy Toast
Salad Vinegrette (sic)
Corn Pudding & Ice Cream
not to mention Lots of Wine
(and a Special Surprise Tipple for Eileen)
And a tipple to boot! Then, Ignoramus Moi hadda ask Sandy what a "haddie" is. He replied with the following liner notes:
Finnan Haddie = Finnian Haddock. So, smoked haddock from Scotland. A very rough, basic, lusty, smelly and ancient food that should go well with the corn pudding, also ditto. The salad is designed to act as a delicate bridge between the two, something like Franz Lizst's description of the second movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata": "A flower between two abysses."
Yadda! And, uh, hey -- sounds exactly like how _______ likes sex: "rough, basic, lusty, smelly and ancient!" (Go on -- you know you can fill in the blank...!)
Anyway, though unfortunately not for the sex but for the haddie, I am most def looking forward to New York because the dawg has made me a short order cook for the past week. I tell Achilles, "Lissen, Moi don't cook." He ripostes, "Woof. I'm hungry. Feed me and I don't mean kibble!"
Basically, Achilles is underweight (by 15-20 pounds, relative to his siblings) because of his gastro-intestinal problems. Until the past week, he had had almost zero appetite for several weeks and we watched his weight plunge and Moi's heart with it. Since he began his current antibiotic regimen, he finally has gotten his appetite back...except that he won't eat dry kibble, only freshly-cooked meals. Due to his diet travails, Moi am accommodating him for now. This is why I had to write up the following note for Marylou, the house and petsitter while Moi is gone from the mountain:
He’s on antibiotics –- one pill a day, usually with meal at midday. He is good at fooling you that he has swallowed a pill. We found Saturday’s pill on the floor in foyer. Best way to give him pill is wrapped in chunk of real meat.
1 cup cooked rice + garlic, ¾ can of wet food, 1 chicken breast all mixed up and warmed up in microwave.
1 hardboiled egg
½ of pain pill (for his endoscopy and neutering surgeries)
½ vitamin pill
2 turkey burgers + garlic
¾ can of wet food
1 antibiotic pill
1 cup of cooked rice + garlic
¾ can of wet food
1 chicken breast
1 egg (scrambled into rice)
2 turkey burgers + garlic
¾ can of wet food
If he still looks hungry after last meal, feel free to give him another half a can of wet food.
Did you know that I never baked a potato in my life until this past week? (Not as bad as it sounds as I come from a rice culture. Still.) In other words, Moi loves moi dawg but, yeah, New York! A vacation from Achilles!!!
... it is just BLISS to see artists hit their stride and then just waaaaaiiiiiilllllll! I am reading J.M. Coetzee's ELIZABETH COSTELLO. It is just so ...... goooooooooood.
And by being so, an uplifting presence. Coetzee's talent revitalizes me, energizes me to continue trying to improve.
I looked up the book on Amazon to provide the above link. The reader comments offer, I think, proof of how great literature can make one think, feel, learn, shift perspective. All that has happened with every single Coetzee book I've read to date.
Thank you J.M. Coetzee.
P.S. There's a passage in Elizabeth Costello (I'm just on p. 160 as I write this) that goes:
"...she is no longer sure that people are always improved by what they read. Furthermore, she is not sure that writers who venture into the darker territories of the soul always return unscathed. She has begun to wonder whether writing what one desires, any more than reading what one desires, is in itself a good thing."
This passage resonates with me, in part becuase of Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole. I'm glad I wrote it -- but I would not wish the experience of writing it (the way I did it) on anyone I love.
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Just saw a prelim mock-up of the cover and a few pages for Meritage Press' 2006 book, a poetry-painting collaboration between Bruna Mori and Matthew Kinney Sinclair, with the book designed by Brent Martin.
It's gonna be a beaut! I'm honored for Meritage Press' "Meritage Press" Series to be the one to publish Bruna's first poetry book.
(Before Bruna, though, will be Sean Finney's first poetry collection. YaY! Happy to support these talented young uns....and the Chatty one finishes chewing before spitting in the spitoon...!)
"A COMMUNITY-ORIENTED CONCEPTUAL ARTIST"
is an excerpt describing Moi from the book summary for my 2005 book, I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED -- the phrase describes my poetics as fully as any of the blather I concoct. In fact, that fully explains why Moi blogs!
Anyway, my beloved publisher Marsh Hawk Press has put up a "preview" web page for this book where, among other things, this surfaces:
Nonetheless, Tabios—a "transcolonial" poet—refuses to allow adverse socio-political elements to deter her from what she feels she must do as a poet, particularly as a poet of eros: to love her raw material of English.... Tabios considers the term "transcolonial" to describe a postcolonial perspective that goes beyond the referenced context of colonialism.
Thanks to my publisher, and to Managing Editor Sandy McIntosh who's been heartily enthusiastic of my works (in fact, check out the preview page, too, for Sandy's 2005 book, The After-Death History of My Mother.
Matter of fact, speaking of Marsh Hawk Press, check out the names -- the community! -- of the poets via its blog and you'll see a wide variety of aesthetic styles represented. That's the way Poetry should be, in my non-humble opinion. But what does bind us all together is an affinity for the visual arts -- let your eyes stroll through this link, too!
Friday, November 26, 2004
stemmed from an invite to be part of an ekphrasis exhibit being planned for mid-2005. To wit, to ask painters to send me medium to large canvases painted a single color -- such color being their choice in response to the notion of "Poem."
Then, on each of the canvases, I'd superimpose a teensy rectangular canvas, specifically the size of a typical 8 X 11 page. Which would be raw, unprimed canvas with part of its field covered in handwritten
in as many "Poe"s and lines as dictated by the particular space of the canvas after I begin writing on it.
The word for poem would be incomplete as words don't, IMHO, capture the totality of Poetry.
The scale of my contribution would be small (in both canvas size and size of handwriting), thus encouraging intimacy (per drawing in the viewer's face closer as said viewer peers....).
The canvas is unprimed as a poem's material is, uh, raw material.
Size of moi canvas determined as typical size of page from the printer.
My visual is handwriting for obvious reasons.
Color for obvious reasons. But choice of colors to be others' for obvious reasons.
The all of it is collaborative for obvious reasons.
This idea is ... suddenly obvious.
Which, by the way, can be okay for said conceptual underpinning if the canvases made by the painters resonate as monochromatic paintings have proven themselves able...
What this post does remind me is that it's a good idea to not hurry to write the next poem. Moi senses a lot of thinking a-tumbling within as if the brain was a washer or dryer. But nothing fully laundered yet to warrant that next poem....
Sometimes, cogitating can be such a pain.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
ARE NOT FALLEN ANGELS INHERENTLY EXPATS?
Earlier today, a friend jokingly emailed, Hope dinner with the misfits goes well. Misfits is a misnomer -- we're really talking expats.
For Thanksgiving dinner, we did something we used to do a lot when we lived in New York: gather a bunch of non-natives who weren't going "home" for the holidays and recreate the familial with each other. Galatea's mountain is out of the way, but we had three guests: Doe Hee, Patrick and Julie. Achilles had a guest, too, as Patrick and Julie brought their German Shepherd, Reno.
Cheeses, olives and crackers
Roasted Butternut Squash w/ Ginger Soup
Cranberry & Orange Sauce
Wild Rice Stuffing w/ Cranberries, Apricots & Walnuts
Traditional Bread Stuffing
Traditional Turkey Gravy
Carrots and Snow Peas w/ an Orange Honey Glaze
Homemade Egg Nog Bread (a Williams Sonoma brand)
Homemade Carrot Cake
Fabulous menu. Our microwave did stellar duty reheating. Reheating? Yep. Except for the two referenced dishes homemade by the hubby (you surely didn't think Moi cooked, eh?), the above was courtesy of two grocery stores: Bryant's in San Francisco and Sunshine in St. Helena. After all, Moi knows her (of course very few) weaknesses and I'm no super Mom a la Veronica.
1996 Batard Montrachet Etienne Sauzet
1991 Chambertin Domaine A. Rousseau
1987 Mondavi Cabernet Private Reserve (thrown-off green leaf tobacco highlighted how well the wine aged so that it not only tasted superb but absolutely fresh)
1992 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Eiswein
And guests brought a bottle of the 1997 Newton EPIC Merlot (Napa Valley) and a box of one of the great chocolates of the world: Teuscher's Champagne Truffles.
I am thankful Achilles is alive and healthy and happy and energetic. Next week, may his biopsy results come back benign. It would not be fair otherwise, when he finally arrived ... Home:
Ancient tale, Galatea stepped off
A pedestal to become both human
Flesh and St. Helena landscape
Where the grasses, when swayed
By gentle breezes, whisper the sun
-lit thoughts of the Chatelaine:
"Welcome Home, Achilles."
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
The reality of Turkish poetry is that of looking into a mirror. More than giving answers, it reflects with dazzling clarity the crisis and the potential rebirth of our time. This poetry helps us understand the contradictions Turkey is without giving answers or opinions as to what one can do. It only shows that the Turkish crisis is not something which happens "there," in a specific geographic place; but, in a most concentrated form, is the crisis of all of us, East and West, where we stand and where we may go at this moment in our history.
--from "Turkey's mysterious motions and Turkish poetry" by Murat Nemet-Nejat
I'm really happy that poet/editor/critic Murat Nemet-Nejat shared this link to his article "Turkey's mysterios motions and Turkish poetry." I think Murat is right to say, too, that the issues raised "relates to the issue of Pinoy Poetics, how to create a poetry not through western eyes -- searching basically for its appreciation- but in its own terms, how to find those terms."
In fact, this excerpt from his article as regards "Eda" is also, for me, a description of a (my) position in the Filipino diaspora (where I might consider here the "Philippines" with my "empty flagpole" to be akin to Istanbul per:
"Eda" is intimately linked to the city of Istanbul, an imaginary landscape where eternal conflicting forces of history and desire are reflected and synthesized. But the language of "eda" also responds to changes in Istanbul as a historical city, thereby retaining its role as a reflector of historical reality.
I probably need to explain more this notion of "my" Philippines being both real and unreal, but that's a story for another time. Meanwhile, "eda," Murat explains, "is the principle concept in Turkish poetics, is based on the quality of Turkish as an agglutinative language. Possessing total syntactical flexibility, Turkish can suggest subtle nuances of thought and feeling by changes in the word order. This cadential movement -- partly a music of the mind -- surrounds the words with an aura. This aura, this movement is "eda."
For more, Moi highly recommends the new anthology, edited by Murat and published by Talisman House: EDA: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY TURKISH POETRY.
Anyway, click on this link for Murat's article "Turkey's mysterious motions and Turkish poetry". Due, I believe to space limitations, the article doesn't include Kucuk Iskender's "SOULJAM" which Murat describes as "simultaneously the most anarchic and mystical of Turkish poems. The contradictory impulses of Turkey coexist in this poem in their most violent and extreme forms, nevertheless, in exquisite balance. Culled from entries in a journal the poet kept from 1984 to 1993, the arrangement of  fragments seems arbitrary, following the subjectivity of the poet's mind: an expression of exploding chaos. On the other hand, a yearning spirit permeates the poem, across fragments, suggesting that the seeming chaos belongs to one single mind, that the chaos is illusionary, its subjectivity divine."
The Chatelaine is at Poetry's service. Do read Murat's article, and then peruse these excerpts from Kucuk Iskender's "SOULJAM"
i will hate the spider crawling on
on me, i can’t kill it
carnation crack in ice.
what if summer’s thaw started at
this critical juncture?
oh, left left your divine body like a
in my hands!
violence is the foreign tongue of
fragmentary improvisations of
verses of adventure:
which color is blowing the dancing
feet and body naked,
i can not tell.
could you understand, the curse of
a course, to be read only by a
spring wrote me no letters of
utopias, winter did.
your loveliness is where
where is missing
is the air!
post naked lunch
penelope’s explosive reweaving
mystic riffs of absence
my soul is a jelly fish, without a
light descends in the gutted out
space of the dome.
So Achilles has been sick. Today, he underwent an endoscopy (involving colonoscopy, sticking a camera through his ass and looking at the insides of his intestines and nicking 10-20 samples from various parts of his colon for testing etc). In the process -- and to preclude yet another invasive surgery in the future -- they also snipped off his balls.
Just thought ... you all would like to know.
Now if you'll excuse the Chatelaine, she's holding on to a bucket of molten brass ... she needs to go do some follow up....
Actually, Moi is feeling rather devastated. I'm just trying to ... cheer myself up with moi own bad jokes....But you should see the hubby -- when the vet confirmed by phone that they neutered Achilles, he hung up the phone and took his pale face off to bed for ... a moment. Ah, yes: men and their balls...
Ah well. Meanwhile, here's a photo of Achilles -- when he still fully trusted Mama Moi coz he still had twin teensy coconuts to swing:
Sigh. Now. How to earn back Achilles' trust ... mayhap (she deludedly thinks) through Moi cooking ...?
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Igarta arrived in the U.S. in 1930 at age 18. In California, he worked in the lettuce farms of San Fernando Valley and the asparagus farms in Stockton. The Great Depression was underway and many Filipino migrant works became jobless after being targets of racial prejudice. In our conversations, Igarta often mentioned a sister he left behind in the Philippines whose advice he never forgot during his most difficult years: "Never beg." Traveling eastward, Igarta arrived in New York City in 1934, jobless and penniless.
Igarta began his art studies in 1937 at the National Academy of Design where he invested his meager salary of $1.50 a day on enrollment costs. The following year, he moved his studies to the Art Students League. He also would come to have his first exhibition in 1938 when one of his watercolors was chosen for a juried show at the Pennsylvania Academy. In May 1942, his "Northern Philippines" was exhibited at the Ferargil Gallery, and then featured in FORTUNE as part of a review. The publicity benefited Igarta as the painting would come to be part of a national juried show at the Met. Subsequently, he would come to show in other major museums and with such renowned artists as William de Kooning, Fernan Leger, Man Ray, Ben Shahn and Rufino Tamayo.
--from "Meditations on Ilokano Abstractions"
As regards December gigs, I certainly should include the exhibit "POETRY and its ARTS: Bay Area interactions 1954-2004" -- read poet/curator Steve Dickison's notice below as it's self-explanatory.
I'm moved to be part of this exhibit, not so much for myself as for the foremost -- but often ignored -- artist from the Manong Generation, V.C. Igarta. Three of his color field works -- including his very FIRST ONE which has never been exhibited before -- will be part of this exhibit because he was part of my "Six Directions" project. I'm glad to help recover/reveal some of V.C.'s art works because, as I wrote in an article on him for OurOwnVoice:
In front of my computer where I compose poems, fiction and essays— where, in other words, I live the lives I prefer to live by writing them out—hangs a self-portrait by the artist Venancio "V.C." Igarta. He had sketched the drawing when he turned 87 years old, captioning it "Am getting blind." Stuck to the lower-right-hand corner of its frame is a June 2000 newspaper clipping with the headline "Painter VC Igarta dies at 89." I retain this depressing image over my computer to remind me: Igarta asked me to write about him and his art, but I didn't—couldn't—while he was alive. Which is to say, I became active in trying to do what I can to lift Igarta's works out from obscurity only after his death, and this exhibit provides another means for me to honor V.C. Igarta's life and (in) paintings.
Anyway, here's the official:
The Poetry Center
WHAT: POETRY and its ARTS: Bay Area interactions 1954-2004
WHEN: Exhibit opening: Saturday December 11, 2004 (noon to 4:30 pm)
Closing date: Saturday April 16, 2005
Galleries open to the public Wed.-Sat., noon to 4:30 pm
WHERE: @ California Historical Society, 678 Mission St. (4 doors east of 3rd St.,
downtown San Francisco, near Montgomery BART), 415-357-1848
CONTACT: The Poetry Center, telephone: 415-338-2227, email: email@example.com
The exhibit POETRY and its ARTS: Bay Area interactions 1954-2004 will open to the public on Saturday December 11, 2004, and will occupy the galleries at California Historical Society in downtown San Francisco's museum district for 17 weeks, until April 16, 2005. More than 100 original works --many never publicly exhibited-- by over 80 individuals will be on display. This first-of-its-kind exhibit represents a collaboration between the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, currently observing its 50th anniversary with poetry programs throughout the city, and the California Historical Society. The exhibit offers a multi-faceted window onto the rich interactions that have taken place over the past half-century, centered around San Francisco's celebrated poetry community.
The exhibit, curated by Poetry Center Director Steve Dickison, is focused on:
~ art made by poets
~ poet-artist collaborations
~ works by artists in poets' circles
The exhibit will prominently feature San Francisco poet and visual artist Norma Cole's site-specific installation Collective Memory, a multimedia work situated in the foyer of the gallery, made in collaboration with the Poetry Center and sponsored by the Creative Work Fund. Cole's activities will involve the composition of a work of poetry within the space of the gallery, with subsequent publication as a fine-print artist's edition by Granary Books of New York City.
A broad spectrum of individual artworks, beginning in the 1950s with original pieces by prominent poet-artists close to the Poetry Center from its early days, will lead up to a diverse array of contemporary artworks that carry on the Bay Area's interactive poet-artist traditions.
Exceptional earlier pieces exhibited in the show include:
* Kenneth Rexroth's distinctive, delicate work with pastels
* rarely shown collaborations and individual works by Robert Duncan and Jess
* Kenneth Patchen's fantastical painted beasts
* Allen Ginsberg's West Coast photos from 1955 during the time of his poem Howl to 1984
* Saburo Hasegawa's wildly exuberant calligraphic work based on Lao Tsu's Tao Te Ching
* an original private press work by William Everson (Brother Antoninus), who undertook the printer's trade while in a World War II Conscientious Objector camp in Waldport, Oregon
* paintings by poets Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Diane di Prima
* Mary Oppen's torn-paper collage depicting her husband, poet George Oppen
* calligraphic works by friends and Reed College alumni Lew Welch, Philip Whalen, and Gary Snyder, students of legendary calligrapher Lloyd Reynolds
* surreal balladeer Helen Adam's otherworldly collage-work
* David Meltzer's collages mining the iconography of Jewish Kabbalah
* Fran Herndon's collages invoking pop-culture icons Willie Mays and Marilyn Monroe
* rare visual works by poets Robin Blaser, Jack Spicer, Madeline Gleason, and Barbara Guest
* major early paintings by Black Mountain College alumni Tom Field and Paul Alexander, regarded as signal works of the time
* the generation of assemblage artists that coalesced in the Bay Area during the 1950s will be represented with works by Wallace Berman, Jess, Bruce Conner, and George Herms
Among new pieces in the exhibit, highlights include recent works by Bay Area painters Carlos Villa, Amy Trachtenberg, Gustavo Ramos Rivera, Arnold J Kemp, and Oliver Jackson. The exhibit will not focus intensively on books, though several outstanding examples of area book-arts will appear on display. Individual photo-portraits and historical shots by area photographers will accent the painted, drawn, handprinted, and constructed artworks.
"In many ways, this exhibit is a tribute to the poet-artist galleries that had short but significant lifespans in San Francisco of the 1950s and '60s: King Ubu Gallery, the Six Gallery, Batman Gallery, Borregard's Museum, Buzz Gallery, and the North Beach coffeehouses and bars that did double duty as art-spaces. The San Francisco of this period served as a geographic confluence of radically realized individual and collective visions. Poets and artists together as friends, lovers, rivals, and audience to one another's practice, creatively imagined a city perched on the country's far coast, and worked together to bring that city into being."
--Steve Dickison, curator of the exhibit
POETRY and its ARTS: Bay Area interactions 1954-2004 is dedicated to extraordinary San Francisco artist Jess (1923-2004), companion of the late poet Robert Duncan, pioneer of California assemblage art, and great friend to the poets, and to San Francisco literary editor Donald M. Allen (1912-2004), whose 1960 anthology The New American Poetry 1945-1960, and subsequent work as editor and publisher, was instrumental in opening up audiences for an innovative counter-tradition of American poets, many of whom have works on display in the exhibit.
The exhibit will also feature several additional public programs, details to be announced, to take place within the gallery space and at other San Francisco locations.
In conjunction with the exhibit, three special evenings of poetry-related film and video are scheduled to take place November 18, December 2, and December 12, under the series heading Moving Picture Poetics. The series is curated by San Francisco cinema artist Konrad Steiner, and is a collaboration between the Poetry Center and San Francisco Cinematheque. For program details, show times, and locations, contact San Francisco Cinematheque, http://www.sfcinematheque.org, 415-552-1990, or the Poetry Center's website: http://www.sfsu.edu/~poetry.
Gallery admission for POETRY and its ARTS is $3 for adults. Students with ID, $1.00. High school students, with identification, can be admitted free of charge, and docent tours designed for high-school age audiences can be arranged by contacting the Poetry Center, 415-338-2227, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Galleries at California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street (4 doors east of 3d St.) are open to the public Wednesday thru Saturday, noon to 4:30 pm.
POETRY and its ARTS: Bay Area interactions 1954-2004
ARTISTS IN THE EXHIBIT
Chuong Huang Chung
Diane di Prima
Amy Evans McClure
Jack D. Forbes
Juan R. Fuentes
Bobbie Louise Hawkins
Mary Ann Hayden
V. C. Igarta
Arnold J Kemp
R. B. Kitaj
John Kelley Reed
Gustavo Ramos Rivera
C. R. Snyder
# # #
Steve Dickison, Director
The Poetry Center & American Poetry Archives
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue ~ San Francisco CA 94132
Generally, Moi traverses a triangle whose three points comprise of Galatea's Mountain, San Francisco and New York. Here's an example viz announcements for moi December gigs (note addition of a new poet, Kristin Naca, to the Pinoy Poetics Yerba Buena gig below):
Wednesday, December 1, 8 pm
The Poetry Project, New York City
Heather Fuller & Eileen Tabios
Heather Fuller's Startle Response is forthcoming from O Books. She is also the author of perhaps this is a rescue fantasy and Dovecote (both from Edge Books). Originally from North Carolina, she lived and worked in and around DC for 12 years before relocating to Baltimore. Eileen Tabios' recent books are Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole and Menage à Trois with the 21st Century. I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved is forthcoming in 2005. Her awards include the Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry, the Potrero Nuevo Fund Prize, and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles National Literary Award. Read her blog at http://chatelaine-poet.blogspot.com.
The FALL CALENDAR: http://www.poetryproject.com/calendar.html
The Poetry Project is located at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery
131 East 10th Street at Second Avenue
New York City 10003
Trains: 6, F, N, R, and L.
Admission is $8, $7 for students/seniors and $5 for members (though now those who take out a membership at $85 or higher will get in FREE to all regular readings).
InLit: Reading International Literature
Saturday December 11, 2004
Locus Arts in San Francisco
2857 24th Street (at Bryant)
SF, CA 94110
Niloufar Talebi, who is currently editing and translating an anthology of contemporary Iranian poetry in diaspora (1979-2004), just asked me to join a panel to be moderated by The Translation Project. This will be a panel of editors and translators to explore how we read the literature of other cultures and how those cultures are unmade and remade through various representations such as translation.
Other panelists include Ilya Kaminsky, Ravi Shankar, Alejandro Murguia. Ravi Shankar is an Indian-American poet who is co-editing an anthology of East Asian, South Asian and Middle-Eastern poetry. Ilya Kaminsky is a Russian-American poet and translator, and co-founder of Poets for Peace. Alejandro Murguia is a Chicano writer, translator and editor.
HOLIDAY SEASON with PINOY POETICS!
as HOLIDAY GIFTS!
Meritage Press is willing to send copies of Pinoy Poetics out as gifts for this coming Holiday season. Please make your orders by no later than November 30, 2004 to ensure prompt delivery for the holidays. Make checks out ($28 per book) to "Meritage Press" and provide information as to giver and recipient of gift(s). Meritage Press will toss in free shipping/handling as well as lovingly giftwrap each book on your behalf. Send orders to
256 North Fork Crystal Springs Road
St. Helena, CA 94574
TWO HOLIDAY BOOK LAUNCHES
(with readings and discussions on this historic anthology's significance to world literature!)
New York City
Room 217 Lounge
Saturday, Dec. 4, 2005
Sponsors: Hunter College English Department, Kundiman, Meritage Press
Barbara Jane Reyes
some young poets not in Pinoy Poetics but representative of the continued next generation of Filipino American poets: Ron Villanueva & Lisa Ascalon
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission St @ 3rd
San Francisco, CA 94103-3138
Sunday, Dec. 12, 2004. 1-4 p.m.
General admission fee is only $6 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
We hope to see you there. Come meet us and get autographed copies for yourselves and loved ones ... for the Holidays!
Monday, November 22, 2004
Where marble was made of sound
also was a sculpture of breath
And in breathing disappeared, truly a change of form
--from "The Retrograde Harmony Virus" by Geoffrey Dyer
"Our affinity would meet in being filled with archaic darkness and persisting memories of a time when all things were one, even in the midst of individual responsibility."
--from Songs of a Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism by Dawn Prince-Hughes
Stephen, Chris, Sean, Rodney, Joseph, James, Amick, Rena (who generously brought a post-reading bottle of the 1990 Chave Hermitage -- WOW!), Cedar Sigo (I think, as moi was meeting this peep for the first time, as introduced by Sean), Elizabeth, David in spirit...
I didn't know the majority of the lovely crowd at Small Press Traffic Friday night, but I recognized the above -- and do thank you all for coming.
And a delight to read with and finally meet in person Geoff Dyer whose book The Dirty Halo Of Everything you all really should check out. Geoff reminded me that he and I appeared together once in the same issue of MIRAGE #4, ed by Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy (lovely synchronicity! That was one of my first generous welcomes to the Bay Area, courtesy of Kevin and Dodie!).
So, among the poems I read were some of my newest (actually, the last poems I've written). I had just transcribed them from a handwritten journal into a Word document as I'm thinking of sending them to what would be a limited edition "Belladonna Book" put together by the wonderful poets Erica Kaufman and Rachel Levitsky for my reading at their Belladonna Series in NYC in January. Well, since there they were all typed ... I took some of the pages to SPT and read some. Here's a sample -- the "title poem" from THE ESTRUS GAZE(S): UNHEARD SONGS OF THE COLON:
: THE ESTRUS GAZE
: heal face blindness by introducing -- acknowledging -- context
: incomplete narratives formed from remnants not yet borne away by birds, tiny animals, wind
: inevitably, egg yolks fragmenting from a table's edge
: we make love to concede to nostalgia
: the wave is perfect for being temporary, though not conceded by surfers apostrophed by snow flakes coagulating into white ponytails
: relief introduced by words forming a consistent, never-ending pattern
I'd begun my reading by noting that saying about how all Art is presumably about Identity....and "The Estrus Gaze" is one of several poems I'd written as a result of some research I did on autism, specifically the idea that autism is not a disease but a form of identity which "normal" people simply need to learn to accept. This issue affects us all as demographic trends project that, by 2012, perhaps as much as 1 of 7 children will be autistic...and our educational/social/political policies are nowhere near to addressing the iimplications of such. For more, check out this link http://www.autismawareness.com/
As for my poem "The Estrus Gaze," it was written after reading Dawn Prince-Hughes' very moving memoir Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism by Dawn Prince-Hughes (Harmony Books, 2004). Check it out, too, as it's worth a look -- saying much about our society and includes some of Prince-Hughes' own poems written as she explored her ... Identity.
C'mon, peeps. It really won't hurt. Take a chance!
And I'm ranting (so to speak) as I look at this Sunday's NYTimes Book Review which is the so-called "THE POETRY ISSUE."
I haven't read through the whole thing yet but have skimmed the Table of Contents. Thing is, poetry generally gets such short shrift that I am sure every article and poet mentioned is worthy of attention. But, lookit the names -- John Ashberry, Jorie Graham, James Tate....let me not bother with the litany as I'm sure you smart peeps get the drift.
What I am asking for is -- take a chance, you so-called Poetry Editors. Allocate even just 2 paragraphs' worth of space in a so-called "THE POETRY ISSUE" to an UNEXPECTED name! Make the most inside poetry reader pause and think -- hey: never heard of that poet, before. What's s/he about?
This is Poetry. If there's any stage where one should take a chance, this is it.
This is Poetry, People. It's a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE stage!
Sunday, November 21, 2004
As Marsh Hawk Press Managing Editor (and fabuloso poet, too) Sandy McIntosh can attest, it was a bear finishing the typsetting/design of I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved. That's what happens when it's 504 pages of multi-genre work with idiosyncratic placements of some illustrations, paginations, etc. For about the past six months, I went even blinder checking the proofs with Sandy.
Well, right after we shipped the manuscript to the printer (see prior post), I was cleaning up the files and printing latest drafts etc.
So what do I realize then? The very first word in the manuscript is my name ... AND IT IS MISSPELLED!!!!!!
Words fail me...
A while back, some poets were talking about poetry books' Acknowledgements pages. One poet noted they check said Acknowledgements out of curiosity to see what "high-powered" credentials the author obtained. Whatever. But then, geez, one poet said s/he would actually edit the Acknolwedgements to ensure only "impressive" credits were included. Geez. I thought it pathetic then that people would forget the basic meaning of Acknowledgements -- about saying, Thank you....
Thank you very much, indeed. When I write up the "Acknowledgements" sections in my books, I've always tried to be as comprehensive as possible. Not to maximize the string of credits or look impressive (which was a tone in that Acknowledgements-related discussion). It's because I really truly mean it when I say to you People: I am very grateful for your having supported my work.
Anyway, I Take Thee English For My Beloved (Marsh Hawk Press, 2005) was just sent to the printer. So I wanna say thank you to some Peeps! Here's its Acknowledgements sections -- it begins with an Ilokano saying:
Agyamanac Unay (God Will Be The One To Return The Favor) to those who supported various aspects of this project, including but not limited to: Thomas Pollock, John Yau, Barry Schwabsky, Jose Ayala, Thomas Fink, Sandy McIntosh, Leny M. Strobel, Michelle Bautista, Summi Kaipa, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Nick Carbo, Jean Vengua, Kenneth Gurney, Barbara Jane Reyes, Kevin Killian, Alfred A. Yuson and Ron Silliman.
The hay(na)ku poems by Joseph Garver and Kirsten Kaschock, as well as the essay by Ron Silliman, are reprinted with permission of the authors.
More Acknowledgements continue on P. 501.
Some poems previously appeared in the following publications: Ambit; Asian Pacific American Journal; Aught; A Very Small Tiger; BigCityLit; Boog City; Blue Fifth Review; Canwehaveourballback; Creative Insight: Fine Arts and Poetry; Confrontation; Conundrum; Fiera Lingue’s Poets’ Corner; Gargoyle; Harpur’s Palate; Ionic Voices; KultureFlash; Kwikstep; Maganda; MELUS; MIRAGE #4: PERIOD(ICAL); Moria: A Poetry Journal; Muse Apprentice Guild; Mystic Project; North American Review; NthPosition; OurOwnVoice; Orphic Lute; Pettycoat Relaxer; Poetica Nova; Philippine Inquirer Sunday Magazine; Poethia; Poetic Justice; Ravens Three; Rebel Edit; Rife; Score; ShampooPoetry; Sands & Coral (Siliman University, Philippines); Sidereality; Sunday Inquirer Magazine; Suspect Thoughts; Scythian; Tinfish; Tin Lustre Mobile; Tomas (University of Santo Tomas); Tamafhyr Mountain Poetry; Van Gogh’s Ear; and xStream; as well as the author’s art essay and poetry collection MY ROMANCE (Giraffe Books, 2002).
“Epilogue Poem (#18): (Heliotrope)” was translated into Japanese by Toshio Yamakoshi for publication as “Epirogu 18” in The Shijin-Kaigi (Poets' Congress) Magazine (Japan).
“Mudra” was written for “Clit Chat,” a Bastos, Inc. Production presented at Bindlestiff Studios, San Francisco, February 14-16, 2002. “Mudra” was also part of a “Poetry Mobile Project” coordinated by OurOwnVoice (OOV) and OOV Director Reme Grefalda for exhibit at a Book Fair at George Washinton University (GWU). The GWU Fair was part of the “October Heritage Series 2004 Salute to Filipino Authors” sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Division of the Philippine Embassy, with assistance from OOV, held October 15-17, 2004 in Washington D.C.
The following series were first published as poetry e-chapbooks:
xPress(ed): “There, Where The Pages Would End”
Tamafhyr Mountain Poetry: “Crucial Bliss” and “Epilogue Poems” under the title “Crucial Bliss Epilogues”
Some poems were published or accepted for publication in the following anthologies: 100 Love Poems: Philippine Love Poetry Since 1905 (Eds. Gémino H. Abad & Alfred A. Yuson, 2004, University of the Philippines Press); Confluence: A Women's Global Anthology on the Politics of Water (Eds. Paola Corso & Nandita Gosh); EROS PINOY: An Anthology of Contemporary Erotica in Philippine Art and Poetry (Eds. Virgilio Aviado, Ben Cabrera & Alfred A. Yuson, Anvil Publishing, Inc. 2001); ESPIRITU SANTI (Ed. Alfred A. Yuson, Water Dragon, Inc, 2004); LOVE GATHERS ALL: the Philippines-Singapore Anthology of Love Poetry (Eds. Ramon C. Sunico & Alfred A. Yuson (Philippines) and Aaron Lee & Alvin Pang (Singapore), Anvil Publishing and Ethos Books, 2002); PinoyPoetics (Ed. Nick Carbo, Meritage Press, 2004); and Towards A Cultural Community: Identity, Education and Stewardship in Filipino American Performing Arts (Editors Reme Grefalda & Anna Alves, National Federation of Filipino American Associations, 2004).
“Poems Form/From The Six Directions” was exhibited at the Sonoma Student Union Gallery (March 2002) and Pusod Center Gallery, Berkeley CA (August-September, 2002). The “Poem Tree” Wedding Performance Happenings occurred during opening festivities at these galleries, as well as on August 23, 2002 at Locus Arts Events Performance Space (San Francisco) sponsored by the Alliance of Emerging Creative Artists, Locus and Interlope. Some of the poem-sculptures were exhibited in “What's in a Book? A Look at the Book Arts Scene,” New Langton Arts, San Francisco, Curator: Summi Kaipa (June 29, 2004) and “Poetry and its Arts: Bay Area Interactions 1954-2004,” California Historical Society 2004-2005. Thanks to the many artists and cultural activists who enabled these festivities, including: Jose “Joey” Ayala, Michelle Bautista, Barbara Jane Reyes, Leny M. Strobel, Dori Caminong, Malou Babilonia, Cal Strobel, Darius Spearman, Summi Kaipa, Steve Dickison, Leon Chang, Amar Ravva, and Natalie Concepcion. Photographs were taken by Cal Strobel, Michelle Bautista, Thomas Pollock and Mike Price. Thanks as well to the Potrero Nuevo Fund for a 2002 Grant that helped sponsor the Locus “Poem Tree” Happening. Articles about the “Six Directions” project were published in Creative Insight: Fine Arts and Poetry, Factorial, Interlope and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The Six Directions poem, “The Erotic Angel,” was published in Paolo Javier’s poetry book, The Time At The End of This Writing (Ahadada Books, Toronto and Tokyo, 2004).
Certain poems from the “Footnotes to The History of Fallen Angels: An Autobiography” were exhibited at an exhibit for Filipino Fine Arts at Stanford University (April 16-June 15, 2005). Curator: Marilyn Grossman; Facilitator: Carmen Milaflor. Certain poems also generated “Poem-Scarves” by Sandra Hansen.
Chapter 100 in “Footnotes to The History of Fallen Angels: An Autobiography” was previously published as a short story entitled “The Other” in The Literary Review and subsequently in the author’s short story collection, Behind The Blue Canvas (Giraffe Books, 2004).
The play “When I Was Jasper Johns’ Filipino Lover….” was published in Zyzzyva and also presented (under the guidance of director Michelle Bautista) during Small Press Traffic’s Poet’s Theater (San Francisco).
I mean this heart-fully, Peeps. Thank you very much.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Just wanted to post a reminder on two Poetry Submission Calls, both with deadlines of December 31, 2004.
The first is for The Hay(na)ku Anthology coedited by Jean Vengua and Mark Young. Details here at the Hay(na)ku Blog.
The second is for Filipino poets for the 4th Annual Babaylan Speaks Holiday Poetry Contest, judged this year by Sarah Gambito. Details here at "Babaylan Speaks".
No submission or entry fees, Peeps. The Chatelaine is only about facilitating more spaces for your lovely poems.
"...the reason things like this happen is because our history books -- and I mean our American history books -- do not cover this, our Asian American history -- the atrocities, the accomplishments, the contributions, the acknowledgement that we are a part of this America, not visitors, not ghosts, not foreigners, not monkeys.”
--from Screaming Monkeys
Jonathan Chua (a professor at Ateneo University in Manila) sends an advance copy of Jennifer McMahon's review of Screaming Monkeys (which will appear in the third quarter issue of Philippine Studies).
Screaming Monkeys is the last Asian American anthology I'll ever do. I'm glad I end on this book. What I learned from doing anthologies is that the best doesn't rely on "best of" lists that rely on the editor(s)' subjectivity. An anthology can only be as good as its editor's perspective, but mere reliance on that can be ... pretty lame. At a minimum, that's sooooooo 20th century. Do something more interesting, challenging, exciting than bringing out new work but based on the same ol same ol premises already.
In fact, (notwithstanding that it omitted Jose Garcia Villa), the most effective Asian American poetry anthology out there is Walter Lew's edited PREMONITIONS (Kaya Press). It's unfortunate that it's out of print as no anthology before or after it has ever serviced well, not just the Asian American but also poetry communities by offering a depth made possible by aesthetic open-mindedness.
It's also unfortunate that projects like these are often done by small presses who don't have, unlike say university presses, the financial wherewithal to keep them in print. Bluntly, the next time a university or bigger press wants to do an Asian American poetry anthology, they should at least first contact Kaya and try to set up a structure for reprinting that anthology. That is, if they are really interested in Asian American Poetry rather than conducting yet another project that commodifies poetry. Or at least look at PREMONITIONS as a threshold to surpass for a new Asian American poetry book.
All that is a digression (Moi tends to digress over her first cuppa java). Here's the review of SCREAMING MONKEYS. Its last paragraph below makes a good point about hearing this book's "SCREAM" -- which is to say, please ask your libraries to order it, professors to teach it and so on. This is a scream for which you shouldn't place your hands over your ears:
Jennifer M. McMahon, Ph.D.
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Hunter College
Book Review of Screaming Monkeys
November 18, 2004
Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images is an interesting anthology for many reasons. The first is the premise. The editors put together a collection which, in its totality, is designed to scream. One often thinks of anthologies as being a rather sedate genre. The second is the sheer variety and juxtaposition of material included in the book – fiction, poetry, essays, visual art, and what the editors refer to as “found images.” The third is the bias toward the experience and expression of Philippine Americans, an unusual bias in Asian American texts.
The anthology was born out of what the editor, M. Evelina Galang, refers to as a faux pas, one grounded in the deeply embedded stereotypes of Asians that are so easily found in mainstream American culture. In this case, the offending piece is a restaurant review from the April 1998 issue of Milwaukee Magazine. The author of the review has visited a Filipino deli, Mango Wango Tango, and describes that she “is looking away from the coconut and stuffed monkey (decorative touches) and tuning out the rambunctious little monkey (Varona’s [the proprieter’s] young son) flicking light switches on and off.” The article was quickly copied on a number of listservs which provoked an avalanche of protest letters to the surprised editor of the magazine (who obviously missed the racial slur the first time and, in spite of different stepped-up versions of apology, never seems to have quite gotten what the faux pas was and why it was so offensive to so many).
This anthology was inspired by the anger that swept through the Asian American and, in particular, the Philippine American community -- thus “the scream.” Ms. Galang and the poetry editor, Eileen Tabios, “concluded that the reason things like this happen is because our history books -- and I mean our American history books -- do not cover this, our Asian American history -- the atrocities, the accomplishments, the contributions, the acknowledgement that we are a part of this America, not visitors, not ghosts, not foreigners, not monkeys.” This invisibility in textbooks leads to a visibility that is too often steeped in misunderstanding and exploitation. The purpose of this anthology is to both redress the invisibility problem by providing several historical pieces, albeit in a somewhat fragmented fashion, and the visibility problem by showing through visual art, the reproduction of “found images” and literary grappling with these kinds of images the ways in which these stereotypes both misrepresent such a diverse community and the damage their circulation contines to inflict.
The book is structured into seven sections: Savage, History, Women, Culture, Men, War, and Transcendence. Each section has something provocative and interesting to offer the reader, though I sometimes found that the placement of certain pieces within and among the sections felt arbitrary and that the movement from piece to piece can be jarring, for example moving in the first section “Savage” from a Carlos Bulosan excerpt from “America is in the Heart” to a provocative reproduction “Pluto on a Plate” by Dindo Llana to a Gish Jen story, “Chin.” Ideally the placement would suggest a conversation among the works and this, at times, is lacking. There is much to absorb in the text and the rich variety can, at times, overwhelm. But perhaps when the perennial issue has been a dearth of offerings, this problem is worth the reader’s trouble.
Philippine writers have complained in the past not just about an under-representation in mainstream cultural offerings but also about a lack of adequate presence in Asian American collections. This anthology, though it includes material from a variety of Asian perspectives, is committed especially to elucidating and exploring the unique history that America has had with the Philippines as a former colonizer. Some of this material will be new to many readers. For example, few know about the American teachers who first ventured to the Philippines to set up an “American” public school system, known collectively as the “Thomasites.” Those who know of them, often have not read from their personal letters and journals. Often valorized as educational heroes, it is, in fact, not that difficult to find statements like those of Harry Newton Cole who wrote, “I find this monotonous work, trying to teach these monkeys to talk. The more I see of this lazy, dirty, indolent people, the more I come to despise them.” Tracing the historical lineage of this kind of stereotyping is one the most ambitious and exciting aspects of this unusual anthology.
Whether or not those who could benefit from reading the material offered in this anthology, one immediately thinks for example of the editor from Milwaukee Magazine, whether he would ever open this book is an open question. Leslie Bow, who offers a “companion” to the text at the end, perhaps as a way of addressing some of the concerns suggested earlier about the confusion one feels when trying to grapple with the text as a whole, writes that anthologies like this one “make it possible to have access to diversity at any Barnes & Noble.” But who is buying this book at Barnes & Noble? I fear that though its contributors and editors are “screaming,” they may be heard mainly by those who are also screaming and not by those who are being screamed at.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
HOW WORRYING OVER ACHILLES NEARLY MADE ME APPROACH BRITNEY SPEARS
I am having fun again reading all the magazines that I enjoy (mainly because I am not on them). At this point and time, what I want is not my face on every cover, but someone else's instead. I really want to help other people achieve their dreams and possibly even develop new artists.
Achilles has soft stool, low appetite and has lost weight in the last four weeks. He's been going back and forth to the vet's. At the moment, he's 20 pounds lighter than some of his siblings. We've got an appointment next week for a gastro-intestinal type specialist. We're really worried.
Meanwhile, on his check-ups and various antibiotics as we try to figger out what's wrong, I've spent the same as one year's publishing budget over at Meritage Press. And we're just starting the investigative process on his surprisingly fragile body. Looks more like I'll have to spend the equivalent of two year's publishing budgets by the time we get any real answers.
And all this made me think of Jewel and her poetry book Night Without Armor. Notwithstanding that Jewel's Night Without Armor is currently available for $0.01 (one cent) on Amazon, it still sold more than most poetry books and warranted both hardback and paperback printings. So, to offset the loss of funds I diverted from Meritage Press over to my puppy's medical treatment, I nearly did something last night.
But a preamble, first. Barbara. Aimee. I confess I actually enjoyed this bit of versification by Britney Spears -- from her "Honeymoon Poem"
“A meal, a shower and some ice cream
Then I threw my man down, you know what I mean!”
So, in my search for revenues for Meritage Press to offset monies lost on moi pup's care, I went over to the official Britney Spears website to get a means for contacting her. Then I began writing up an offer to publish a book of poems by her. I figger that such would turn a profit for my press, all the better for the other poets I'd love to publish.
Then, I got interrupted by a phone call.
When I returned to the publishing offer I was in the midst of drafting, I looked at it, (metaphorically) smacked a palm against my lovely brow and thought:
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?????
Filed the half-drafted offer in the circular file.
But. I still liked how Britney threw down her man. True, it's not perfect -- let's look at it again:
“A meal, a shower and some ice cream
Then I threw my man down, you know what I mean!”
What would have made it powerful, Hon, is replacing the shower with something else. Get reeeeeel musky, you know what I mean?
But it's got energy. So google Moi, Britney. I am a SUPERB editor -- preen. With your energy and Moi editing, Britney dear, you just might publish enough poems with merit such that they won't need to rely on merely downin' da man.
And you'd get comped 40 contributors' copies! What I deal, I tell you. What a deal!
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
I once interviewed the talented artist Theresa Chong. In said interview, she said that when she wants to do something "new", she sometimes tries to do the opposite of what she'd been doing. I remembered Theresa when I began trying to move away from the prose poem form; I probably spent 99% of my 2nd and 3rd year of poetry-writing exploring the prose poem form. I asked moiself, What would be the opposite of prose poem?
I thought: COUPLETS! Coz Moi still wanted to write EXPANSE-ively, which is part of the reason why I'd so loved the prose poem ... yet, form-wise, I had to distill in a manner I didn't have a sense of doing via the sentence or paragraph.
So, notwithstanding Small Press Traffic's official notice below, this Friday, I'll actually be reading couplets. I'll be reading with talented Geoffrey Dyer who wrote the fabulous The Dirty Halo of Everything. Hope to see you there!
Friday, November 19, 2004 at 7:30 p.m.
Geoffrey Dyer & Eileen Tabios
Join us to hear from two local latter-day prose poets. According to the Poetry Project Newsletter, Oaklander Geoffrey Dyer's debut, The Dirty Halo of Everything "unfolds a musical dream world, where travel logs, late night talks, and enigmatic characters are taken through a philosophically spiritual sense of interconnection." Eileen Tabios' books include Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole, Behind the Blue Canvas, and the just-published Menage a Trois with the 21st Century, which Kevin Killian says "moves from melting prose poetry to a fully lineated, musical demand for action...you will find yourself asking 'where is the world that is waiting to happen?'"
Unless otherwise noted, events are $5-10, sliding scale, free to SPT members, and CCA faculty, staff, and students. Unless otherwise noted, our events are presented in Timken Lecture Hall, California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco (just off the intersection of 16th & Wisconsin)
Elizabeth Treadwell Jackson
Small Press Traffic
Literary Arts Center at CCA
1111 -- 8th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Apparently, moi story in prior post is "ho hum," sez Jim, but at least Moi presumably has improved, as in the political erotica in Behind The Blue Canvas (Huh. Well, Jean -- don't that just make Toi geeeegle.).
Got no problem with your take on moi story, Harley Guy. That's one of my baby stories, after all. Now, just don't ever forget your brain bucket. You still got a novel to put out.
So, I found my old files of old stories (see prior post for context). YaY. But in rummaging through an old computer's hard drive, I also found stories I'd forgotten about (I haven't looked at these files in at least two, three years...). And it includes an unpublished story that was inspired by an incident that happened to me shortly after I started writing poetry. This incident, as much as anything else, probably turned me off from floating about New York City's downtown poetry scenes.
Rereading this story now, I got so pissed off I even thought of outing the name of the journal and its editor who was abusive of me as a newbie poet. To wit: this is a poet/writer and editor of a journal who conducts private writing workshops. The journal conducts literary contests. From the list of those who submit to the contests, she trawls for names that she can convince to join her workshop -- for a fee, of course.
It's a good thing this poetry "industry" makes little money given its lack of regulation.
So I got hit by this editor -- the story below ("Jinny's Aftermath") is fiction but the underlying inspiration is true. I once submitted a poem to her journal's contest. It was one of my newbie poems. So when she telephoned full of praise with it, it meant a lot to me, being a newbie and less cynical/jaded poet as I can be (but try not to be) now. In the story, I tried to show some compassion for the editor's character -- but in reality, I think she took advantage of me and probably other poets.
And as I think of myself back then, I feel even worse for that younger poet I used to be. I remember being so confused by her that, for months, though I avoided seeing her again, I made sure to maintain an amicable relationship when she phoned or when I wrote (to avoid phoning her) because, I just wasn't sure of what was going on. But I'm sure now. She was an aging poet who'd lost her Muse and was feeding off other poets' insecurities to maintain.
Anyway -- read the story; I'm just cutnpasting it below as I found it in my old files. Its literary merit -- or lack thereof -- ain't the drift. Read and you'll get the drift of said, uh, drift. I'm not the first to say this on poetry blogland: Oh ye young poets -- beware of sharks masquerading as older (more learned) "poets"!
Afterwards, I saw Angst in the window of Bison's Bookstore. It preened like a diamond necklace in one of Tiffany's windows. I approached, and when I placed my palm on the glass a sunray slashed across the journal's metallic cover to flash like an obscene wink.
I entered the bookstore, nodded at Tom Bison behind the counter and walked towards the rack of literary journals. Jinny's publication, Angst, took up half a shelf. I recalled that Tom had ordered more copies than his usual three copies when I told him five months ago what Jinny said about my poem, "Simultaneous Submissions."
On my answering machine, Jinny introduced herself and then called my poem, "a wonderful mix of memory and desire--absolutely brilliant!"
Naturally, I immediately returned her call.
"My dear, it so resonates that it infiltrates my dreams," she breathed into my ear. I pumped my fist silently in the air and waited eagerly for the rest of her news.
"I recommended to the judge, The Poet Formerly Known as Royal, that 'Simultaneous Submissions' should win Angst's poetry contest this year," Jinny proclaimed. Then she paused expectantly.
Recommended? I thought she was calling because I had already won.
"Well, I don't know what to say," I lied. Then I lied some more, "Thanks."
"Not at all, not at all. As I said, it's wonderful, absolutely brilliant. Lyrical. Elegiac," she responded happily. In my memory, I pictured Jinny throwing back her mane of red hair and delightedly nodding to her image on the mirror hanging over her desk. I imagined her clad in the outfit she wore in her book’s author photo: a long green velvet dress, black cowboy boots and purple staining her fingernails, eyebrows and plump lips.
"So, listen," she continued after I refused to keep lying and remained silent. "I'm also calling because I lead a weekly writers' workshop down in SoHo. I was hoping you'd join our group. I think you'd fit in real well. We've got some excellent writers."
"Sounds interesting," I said, truthfully this time. "In fact, I'd been thinking of joining a writers' group to get feedback on my works and just hadn't gotten around to it. Tell me more."
Frequently interrupting herself with "Isn't this great!" Jinny explained that she limited the number to a maximum of eight people per group, three separate groups met Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, each group is guaranteed to benefit from the experience of at least two attending writers who have published a novel or a collection of poetry and--"most importantly!" Jinny stressed--most members were able to strike a balance in providing criticism without demoralizing the other writers.
"Great!" I succinctly replied. However, Jinny also said that each writer must sign up for a minimum number of ten sessions, each session costs $25, and after each meeting the writers retire to Le Poo's for dinner. I had heard of Le Poo's--the food was basic fare but the prices haute cuisine.
Nevertheless, I emptied my checking account and went for a "trial session" that following evening. Seven people attended, including Mimi, an anorexic-looking blonde whose poetry collection on coping with child abuse was published last year by a non-profit press headquartered in Trenton, New Jersey ("It had a press run of 75 copies," she said sheepishly at one point, though I didn't recall asking). As for the second published writer in the group, that was Jinny who, I remembered from reading her biographical notes in Angst, had published a poetry collection twelve years ago, followed by a novel two years later.
Hmmmm, so each group would need to include only one other published writer since Jinny was present at all the sessions. Still, technically, Jinny didn't lie, I thought as I reached for some grapes. Two slabs of cheddar cheese, a bowl of green grapes and two baskets of whole wheat bread mingled with our manuscripts. We sat around Jinny's dining table and took turns reading our works. Some were bad, some promising; none stood out as the embodiment of excellence. But this wasn't unexpected since the works were all early drafts of works-in-progress. Some feedback was fair, some very much on point; none were cruelly offered.
Jinny spoke last. She also was bound by the workshop's requirement to bring three to seven pages to each session. But she was only able to offer that evening a proposed opening sentence to her second novel, she said, raising her hands in a mock plea for forgiveness. We laughed, responding to the cheer in her eyes as she whispered, "I was naughty."
Then, waving her hands to silence us, she asked, "How's this for a beginning line: 'I glanced towards the window and was stunned to witness an act I had not experienced for two decades: a kiss’?"
Very nice, we all agreed amicably, and the workshop ended.
As we cleared the table and waited our turns to use Jinny's bathroom before heading over to Le Poo's, Jinny asked, "My dear, how do you like the way we do things?"
Her question lowered the level of conversation in the room. I responded appropriately and loudly enough for all to hear. After everyone nodded at my unqualified praise, Jinny pointed a purple-tipped finger towards a side table where a stack of her ten-year-old novel hibernated.
"You might want to read just the first page to get an idea," she suggested. Curious, I picked up one of the books.
"Wonderful--I wouldn't have thought of likening a waterfall to Rapunzel's hair," I lied after catching her eye. She had engaged Mimi in conversation when I first started reading, a courtesy I appreciated.
"Would you like a copy?" she asked, pleased.
"Sure," I said, and didn't even mind forking over a $20 bill whose denomination rarely entered my wallet.
As we walked towards Le Poo, I chatted with Mimi and Ray. In their early twenties, both wore cracked, black leather jackets replete with steel zippers. They were discussing the band of a mutual friend, "Pimple On The Buttocks."
"After our next session, maybe we could catch their act at the Amber Violin instead of going to Le Poo's. Amber Violin serves food, too," Mimi suggested, her beady eyes shiny with enthusiasm.
"Naahhh, are you kidding? Jinny'd never go for that," Ray said, blowing through the scraggly bangs that fell over his pock-marked nose. I wanted to ask Ray what he meant but we had arrived at Le Poo's and Jinny was holding the door open.
"Let's go, let's go! I'm starving," she called out to the stragglers.
As we entered the dimness of Le Poo's, the bartender called out, "Hey, Jinny! Here with the literati, are you?"
All the staff hailed Jinny as if she owned the place. We were led to a corner round table that Jinny whispered she had persuaded the owner to buy for her writing groups.
"Round table--cute," I noted as we sat down. "And you're Dorothy Parker?"
"Oh, no. I’m much, much nicer," she laughed.
Everyone ordered a dinner salad, except for Jinny who ordered the grilled salmon special and Ray who ordered a soft drink and picked at the bread basket. No wonder he ate most of the cheddar cheese, I thought. As Ray later calculated everyone's share of the tab, Jinny leaned across the table and asked, "How'll you pay for tonight's session?"
I had thought the "trial session" was free. Shrugging, I replied, "I hope you’ll trust a personal check?"
She laughed at my question as if it was the funniest thing she had heard in a long time. As I wrote out the check and tried to ignore how that would leave $7.35 in my account, we agreed that I would give her a call next month as I was about to visit my sick mother in Florida.
"Your call was timely," I said politely. "I was thinking of returning to my novel after my trip, good timing for joining your group."
Jinny stretched her grin in response. As we stood to put on our coats, I asked, "By the way, when do you think The Poet Who Used To Be Called Royal will choose the winners of the poetry contest?"
Jinny threw her eyes behind me as she replied, "We should know in a couple of weeks."
"Fine. I'll talk to you next month," I promised.
As it turned out, I never ended up visiting Florida. My mother recovered and husband, Larry, who was supposed to accompany me had to cover for a co-worker who unexpectedly quit at the hospital where they both worked as janitors. A sculptor, Larry made even less money than I did. But since I had just received an assignment to review four books for a friend's magazine, I also decided to wait out the month to call Jinny.
Two weeks later, I received Angst's notification that "Simultaneous Submissions" failed to win first, second or third place. I wasn't surprised. I understood that Jinny's recommendations might be meaningless to The Poet Who used To Be Called Royal. Different people often respond in different ways to the same poem.
But Angst's one-page announcement also revealed that Angst would be printing fifty other entries. Though these poems did not place in the contest, Angst's editors felt there was sufficient merit in the poems to warrant their publication. Finally, the notification stated--as such notifications often professed so that many doubted their veracity--there were many "worthwhile entries which, unfortunately, could not be printed due to lack of space."
"I don't believe it," Larry heatedly announced during dinner that evening. "She was the editor-in-chief! Her recommendation might not have swayed the poetry judge--and why does the judge have such a moronic name anyway?--but if Jinny had really liked your poem enough for her to say she was going to recommend it as the winner, how could it not be one of the fifty—fifty!!!!--published entries."
I thought about saying something about there being other members of Angst's board who undoubtedly possessed views on what the journal should publish. But the idea of defending Jinny lacked appeal.
"I think she was just going through the list of contestants to see who she could lasso into her workshop sessions," Larry said, pointing his fork at me, forgetting how much I hated having him gesture with eating utensils. "Let's see. A minimum of ten sessions at $25 each; three sessions a week. Let's assume that she manages to work about seven months a year, what with summer and all, and that eight people attend each session. That would earn her $17-$18,000 a year."
I considered Larry's words. I remembered that Jinny lived in a one-bedroom, railroad flat apartment on the first floor of her building. I remembered that her couch was an off-white futon with faded rust stains. I remembered seeing paint peel in the corners of her ceilings. I remembered the cracked tiles in her bathroom and that she used a generic dandruff shampoo on her long, wavy hair. I remembered that her kitchen was more like a hallway and contained a refrigerator whose white door was spotted with brown moles.
"$18,000? That's not a lot of money, especially in New York," I said.
"But she probably underreports to the IRS and has a few other things going. Didn't you tell me that she teaches somewhere? And she might get paid something for editing Angst. Then there's her advance on her second novel. And didn't you have to pay entry fees to submit to the poetry contest? You said about 250 poets submitted and most probably submitted more than one poem. You submitted five!"
"Well, any advance could be minimal and she did acknowledge that she's about a year late on the original deadline her publisher gave her. Also, not enough students signed up this semester for a poetry course at the New School so she didn't end up with a course," I said. "As for the entry fees, it's still not a lot of money. We're talking $2 a poem for the first poem and $1 a poem thereafter. And maybe they use the fees to defray printing costs."
"So what?" Larry scoffed. "I bet she gets a kickback from Le Poo's for ensuring that her groups eat there."
"Hmmmmm," I replied, recalling what Ray said as we walked to Le Poo's after my "trial session" with Jinny's workshop.
"I know, I know," I sighed as Larry glared at me mulishly as if I was the culprit. "Maybe there's nothing insidious going on here but I do recognize the possibility that she was praising my poetry to recruit me for her workshop."
After a few moments of silence, I added, "Well, I think a workshop is still a good idea to get my novel going. But I'm sure there are other groups out there."
Larry grunted and returned to his food. Not wishing to hear anything else from him on the subject, I didn't share that I was mostly disconcerted over how the incident had made me question the quality of my poetry. "Simultaneous Submissions," I felt, was the best poem I had written to date. Was it any good, as Jinny had claimed, or was I fooling myself?
"Tough luck, eh?" Tom Bison whispered softly behind me as I stared at the copies of Angst. When I didn't say anything, he patted me on the shoulder and returned to his cash register.
Angst's cover wasn't actually silver, more like metallic gray. Lined up in a row, they looked formidable. I reached for one copy and flipped through its contents. I wasn't surprised to see a short story by Jinny. Why not--editors are writers, too, struggling for publication, I thought as I began to read her story titled "A Slap On The Cheek."
I felt violated by her opening sentence, "Poets are the most pathetic people I know." I took a deep breath before continuing to read. The protagonist, Beulah, was a fast typist who did temp work throughout New York City to support herself while she wrote poetry. "Can't live without poetry, can't live on poetry," Beulah noted in the story's first paragraph.
Beulah also volunteered for Pop Poetics, an organization which sponsored poetry readings featuring emerging poets. Jinny set the story at a local synagogue which agreed to lend its basement one evening for a poetry reading. The featured poet, Lukas Sakul, was described as having published four poetry chapbooks and possessing The New Yorker as a credit. But since he worked as a sous chef at The Fifth Season, a favorite with investment bankers on hefty entertainment budgets, Lukas also earned an annual, six-figure salary.
During the reception following Lukas' reading, Beulah eagerly cornered him, waving a $100 check.
"What's this?" Lukas asked. Six feet, four inches high, he looked down at Beulah's raised face.
"I managed to get donations from some of the ladies of the synagogue," Beulah chuckled. "I had impressed upon them that poets rarely get paid for what they do and often struggle to pay the gas bill."
"Great," Lukas smiled and reached for the check.
Beulah promptly danced away with it and said, "And, in turn, wouldn't it be nice if you donated it to Pop Poetics? We're a non-profit, you know, and we're always short on even basic supplies like stationary and postage.
"I even had to dig into my own pocket to lay out the refreshments for tonight," Beulah added, waving the check towards a table featuring plates of cheese, crackers and sliced, raw carrots.
Lukas looked at Beulah silently until her smile faded. He extended his hand and said, "You're at least right about one thing: poets should get paid."
"But I'll tell you what," Lukas offered as he walked away, slipping the check into his wallet, "Stop by The Fifth Season sometime and I'll be sure to have the house pick up your dessert."
"I can't even afford the phone call to make a reservation there, you pretentious dirtbag!" Beulah yelled at his receding back. Lukas ignored her as he continued walking towards a makeshift bar where volunteers from Pop Poetics served wine in plastic cups.
Beulah smiled gamely at the stunned crowd. They started moving away from her as if they were at a post office and Beulah was suspected of hiding a shotgun under her long, green velvet skirt.
I closed Jinny's magazine. Pathetic, I thought. But I wasn't sure whether I was addressing Beulah, Jinny or my reflection in a nearby mirror. It was true that, at the time Jinny contacted me, I was trying to finish a novel and wondering whether I should join a writers' group. But was it not also true, my reflection interrogated me, that I would not have rejected Jinny's offer to sample one of her workshops--a rejection that could have offended Jinny and, hence, possibly jeopardized my poem's chance at winning Angst's poetry contest? If Jinny was trying to milk workshop fees to finance either Angst's costs or her rent, who was I to chastise Jinny's way of surviving the demands of the same choice I had made with my life?
In the mirror's cracked face, I saw myself standing still--frozen as if I was caught crossing a road in darkness and surprised by the furious beams of something big and dark about to run me over. I was shocked to see myself look older than my sense of myself. I raised my right hand to stroke my neck, amazed at how deeply the lines were etched. Then my fingers rose to touch the skin under my eyes--how fine and dry, like brittle paper instead of flesh, I thought as my astonishment continued to rise. How often, I asked my stunned reflection, how often have you been unaware of hidden curves and what lurked on their paths twisted to avoid the edge of canyons bordering depths so deep they might as well be bottomless?