It has been a long year because it has been an eventful year. Some highlights:
I started teaching Pinay Lit at USF in 2012, and having taught the class two semesters in a row, this continues to be one of the most amazing things ever. I am not surprised about the amount of interest in this class, from students and from folks in the community and around the country, as the class is one of a kind in this country. There are never spaces to center Pinay literary works here, especially for some hard discussion of the themes presented/handled in the literature (race/ethnicity, colonialism, work, gender, war, body, sexuality, et al). Here, I mean hard discussion, as opposed to cloying environments of “affirmation” and “empowerment” in the forms of uncritical feelgoodism and anti-intellectualism. As a writer, I am interested in also directing the discussion towards language, form, craft, nuance, and complexity. So teaching Pinay Lit has been a welcome challenge. Having a budget for the class has also been great, having the ability to invite local Pinay writers into the classroom, and to bring students into community spaces such as Bindlestiff Studio.
Diwata won the Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry in 2012. This was really something; recognition is always something for which to be grateful. Writing books is hard work, and so much poetry goes unnoticed out there. Moreover, reading poetry does require some amount of work, which is why poetry stays with us and makes such deep impact on us, and hence, why a lot of people want to try poetry, and are simultaneously (I think) intimidated by it. And not to be undervalued, recognition particularly from Filipinos for my literary work is something I do not take for granted.
For the City That Nearly Broke Me was published in 2012 by Aztlan Libre Press. It was great to return to the manageable chapbook form once again, to be included as an “indigenous voice” in a small press catalog with folks such as alurista, and to have this chapbook relatively well-received by the community. I like this volume, enjoyed writing it — it’s kind of, for me, a return to verse from the dominating prose form of Diwata — and I love the kind of care and attention that Anisa Onofre and Juan Tejeda at Aztlan Libre Press have given me and my chapbook.
I guest edited a Pinay Poetry feature, “Poetas y Diwatas,” at The Bakery online literary journal, thanks to editor Albert Abonado. The feature was his idea — the poems and poetic statements — and I’m so glad he approached me to do it. We have a wonderful group of writers, established and emerging, and in many places in between. Come 2013, I will start querying publishers about a possible Pinay poetics anthology, the logical offshoot of this Pinay Poetry feature. This idea is something I’ve been working out in my head, and while in the process of gathering submissions for The Bakery, Eileen Tabios suggested querying certain presses about such an anthology; she has worked on both the Babaylan and Pinoy Poetics anthologies as an editor and a publisher, respectively. So it’s nice to have that gentle nudge, and a reminder that it is indeed high time for a new Pinay anthology in the world. One that is poetics-based — that’s an added bonus.
Leads and connects would be most welcome.