[A]s we come more into touch with our own ancient, non-european consciousness of living as a situation to be experienced and interacted with, we learn more and more to cherish our feelings, and to respect those hidden sources of our power from where true knowledge and, therefore, lasting action comes.
. . . I speak here of poetry as a revelatory distillation of experience, not the sterile word play that, too often, the white fathers distorted the word poetry to mean–in order to cover a desperate wish for imagination without insight.
For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.
As they become known to and accepted by us, our feelings and the honest exploration of them become sanctuaries and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas. They become a safe-house for that difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action. Right now, I could name at least ten ideas I would have found intolerable or incomprehensible and frightening, except as they came after dreams and poems. This is not idle fantasy, but a disciplined attention to the true meaning of “it feels right to me.” We can train ourselves to respect our feelings and to transpose them into a language so they can be shared. And where that language does not yet exist, it is our poetry which helps to fashion it. Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.
— Audre Lorde. “Poetry Is Not a Luxury.”
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches.
Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1984.
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There’s too much ugly energy just floating around out there, so at this point, it’s important to me to cleanse the palate and rid my spaces of that ugly energy. You ever wonder why people do this, choose to be writers, when they have no wonder, no love, no great need for it? It’s a good time to revisit an old blog post from 2007: Ten quotes on writing and/or poetics.
As well, I was very happy to read Annie Finch’s blog post, “Women Poets & Mentorship,” at the Harriet blog here. Annie’s post made me think of my women mentors, made me think of whether or not I am doing a passable job of being a mentor. What and how can I do better. That I am reading M. Evelina Galang’s novel One Tribe right now has also got me thinking on specifically Pinay mentorship. But I am also thinking of the women artists and activists whose work, whose very existences have inspired me, moved me to write, given me permission to write, caused me to aspire to write great things and to be great.
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Some things on the horizon: I am finally starting to think in certain terms about my participation as a speaker in the Foothill Writers’ Conference this summer. I’ve just submitted my seminar title. I will be teaching/leading two sessions of the same seminar, “Poetry, Politics, and Prayer: Litany and the Line.” I have also agreed to hold poetry manuscript workshops. Marianne Villanueva has been very encouraging and generous in sharing her experiences and impressions of the conference and its participants with me, as I understand she’s been a speaker in previous years.
As for PAWA, Edwin and I have been speaking about my taking on an official leadership role as well as a board member position, in addition to my current work of curating the reading series and event planning (oh yeah, and blogging). I am self-conscious of being new blood in this org, though longtime members have been pleased with my active participation. We will be meeting soon, and at that time, I also hope to finalize the details of the workshops I will be teaching for PAWA.
Given the above, I’ve decided not to continue on as a SPT board member, and notified them a few weeks back.
My priorities lie in mentoring emerging Filipino and API poets, in bringing Filipino American authors into our community spaces, growing our readership, encouraging book sales. Mitchell Yangson the librarian at SFPL, who came into the retired Estella Manila’s position in the Filipino American Center, has generously offered the spaces there for our events. And for those of you not in the know, the SFPL is a great and well-located space.
So this is what I’m up to over here. Oh, and yeah, I am writing a new book, and editing the forthcoming one.