[Some edits below]
My current threads:
I’ve just submitted my selections to Didi Menendez for the Best of MiPOesias 2000 to 2010 anthology, from OCHO #16. Debbie Yee’s “Cinderella’s Last Will and Testament,” included in this issue, is already included in the anthology as it’s been selected for Best American Poetry 2009. That said, my selections for Best of MiPOesias are Dillon Westbrook’s long poem excerpt from “long life,” and Jaime Jacinto’s “World’s Fair.” I’d already previously nominated Jaime’s poem, “Manong’s Gift” for a Pushcart Prize; biased as I am, I believe very much that he is an exceptional poet.
Eileen Tabios has written on her blog this morning something I find myself really very much agreeing with: “…if you believe poetry is marginalized in today’s (U.S.) culture and want to know why poetry is marginalized, it’s NOT BECAUSE POETS ARE WRITING IRRELEVANTLY. It’s not because poets aren’t writing about what’s ‘important’ to write about like politics (what’s ‘important’ is subjective, yah?). It’s not because poets are writing ‘elliptically.’ It’s not because poets are writing ‘narcissistically.’ It’s not because poets are ‘writing to each other.’ It’s not because poets are flarf-in’. It’s not because they’re too ‘quiet’ or too ‘avant.’ It’s not because too many poets write ‘academically’ or got their MFAs. It’s not because poets aren’t doing their job — anyone who feels they can define a poet’s ‘job’ is generally just arrogant or looking for a way to grab attention for himself (yes, it’s usually a him). // If you believe poetry is marginalized (and that is an ‘if’), then poetry is marginalized today in large part because K-12 (Kindergarten to 12th grade) education has, in too many cases, eliminated the relevance of the arts….including any notion that a particular art form can be expanded beyond what is inherited by an artist.”
Rachelle Cruz is asking many good questions over at her blog: “How do writers and poets and artists who constantly promote themselves, their work, the work of their artist-poet-writer friends, submit their work, WHILE doing the ACTUAL work? AND obviously live, maintain relationships, make money, and the rest of it.” My response is here.
Rashaan Alexis Meneses has written two blog posts on critiquing a colleague’s work: “We read for him, not for our own ego, not to bandy about our own intelligence or sharpen the thin blades of superiority. We read for the writer’s sake, or, more precisely, we read for the work itself. The work is a living breathing entity, the spirit in the rock that our writer-colleague is sculpting into shape. We are assisting in the search for veins. We are helping to add perspective, shed new light, and lend guidance to the potential of what is already there.”
Rashaan has responded to another of Rachelle’s very good posts about place and landscape. Here’s Rachelle: “As I write poems for my Aswang project, I think about landscape. About the cities and provinces in the Philippines I visited once. Maybe not often enough to write about? St. Louis, where the 1904 World’s Fair took place (I’m stealing some of the imagery, politics, etc. to create my own twisted Fair.) A city I’ve never visited. // How to make these cities real and intimate for the reader? And for me, the writer? This goes back to the question of creating a world and manipulating it as a character who will have a leading role.”
Bec Mabanglo-Mayor talks about reinserting herself into MFA world over at her blog: “As I read more and more about Kapwa-tao, an indigenous Filipino term meaning community-self that describes the interaction and interdependency we all possess, I understand that my drive to be at residency has to do with kapwa-tao. Writing is solitary and often people think that once a piece is finished and has an audience, then the circle of giving and receiving is complete. In certain ways, I agree, but that’s only from the perspective of the piece. For me as a writer, there is another circle completed when I’m around other artists doing the same things I’m doing, facing the same challenges, and looking at the world in a particular way.”
OK. This is a lot. Piggybacking on Bec’s thoughts on Kapwa-tao, I think one of my major goals as a Filipino American author who is a member of community, and who’s recently been perceived as a leader, is the practice of Kapwa-tao, which is both affirming and challenging, in which work is taken to task. I think this is related to Guy LeCharles Gonzalez’s comment about Seth Godin’s Tribes, and “heretic” leaders: “Change is made by people, by leaders who are proud to be called heretics because their faith is never in question.” Oscar’s response also discusses the critical aspect of community membership and leadership, challenging not coddling, and writing “not only for the audiences in front of us but also for the audience we haven’t met yet.” Here, we can also refer to Maile Arvin’s recent blog post on community and work: “I am hoping Our Sea of Words is the beginning of me tapping into a Pacific Islander poetry community that will eventually be not only a lovefest … but also a solid place of challenge and growth, with a presence not only at readings but online and yes, in print….”
All of this is related. I am sure of it, if only because we are actually all talking to one another substantially and/or addressing community and the individual’s work at challenging and interrogating complacent aspects of the work. Here, I mean the work of writing and publishing, the work of living, the work of activism, promotion, and advocacy.
This is my continued attempt at synthesis (σύνθεσις σύν “with” and θέσις “placing”), at creating selvedge (Middle English selfegge, selvage, from self self + egge edge after Middle Dutch selfegghe).