Manuscript Progress: some brown girl

I am 44 pages of prose poems into this manuscript. I thought of submitting it as a chapbook, but it’s not done yet; it needs more.

I take this stance in my poems, a POV that perceives itself as superior, looking down upon my some brown girl. This POV, this voice is judgmental, prescriptive, insensitive, and then straight up mean-spirited. It berates my some brown girl, it judges her body. It threatens her with violence.

The other voice in this manuscript is the some brown girl herself, speaking from a thoroughly internally oppressed POV. She is compliant, unreasonably so in some cases, motivated by fear and social pressure. She regurgitates the many terrible things others say to her. I am thinking of the archetypes Marjorie Evasco outlines in her essay, “The Writer and Her Roots,” and I think my some brown girl is tragic. I don’t know yet, exactly how self-aware she is of her own plight, so I don’t know how naive she is. I am writing her as “drinking the Kool-Aid,” though we know that is also a strategy. You don’t know, from appearances, what is brewing beneath. She could be making plans. She could be silently waiting for her moment to murder you. You don’t know.

All this to say, my some brown girl exists under harsh and unending public scrutiny, always “under the microscope,” for a viewer who is actively, aggressively fault-finding. Who is reprimanding, scolding, setting up expectations so unrealistic, anachronistic, and contradictory. My some brown girl can never live up to these.

That said, I recently spent a lovely weekend at the Auerbach Artist Colony in San Francisco, and during the course of that weekend, I thought more and more about what I wanted this manuscript to do (and/or what I want to do with this manuscript). I thought about the inner voice of my some brown girl. It was a villainess’s inner voice, something like my Pinay/aswang’s inner voice, but more rooted in the domestic and contemporary/urban scene. Some of these poems already exist, and the voice of these is a tragic. But she could be “bad,” right? Transgressive, IDGAF about your expectations for my domesticity, and here’s exactly where you can put them. I think I’m done with the tragic, especially as a means of garnering reader sympathy. I think I’m at straight up fed up, straight up fuck you for shoving me into your bullshit gendered little box. I see you and your patriarchy and rape culture.

I think this is why I say “villainess.”

So then it sounds like in addition to the outside voice reprimanding and judging, I have a couple of some brown girl speakers: the one who’s speaking in that internalized oppressed voice, mimicking her oppressor and tragic or to some degree naive (at least on the surface); and the transgressive one.

Anyway, also, I am not in a rush. Let’s get Invocation to Daughters into the world first.

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