August 4, 2018

Pilipinx American Library: “I dreamt of a place to gather…”

I have so many thoughts, about where and how we gather.

I have written in the past, at the Poetry Foundation blog, for example, in a blog post I can’t find, about how lively our spaces are. We bring food, we do things oftentimes palengke style, and we make a ruckus, the volume is loud, and I love it. And then, as a reader, and as an author for whom solitary time is crucial to what I do, and who I am, I need to retreat from the ruckus and think.

Yesterday, I wrote about how it was so great, to see all of these folks, sitting in the resource room, reading, picking up books that looked interesting to them, and then taking some time with these books, and then sharing with one another what they were finding. It was lovely, to have what are usually solitary moments, and moments of realization, occurring in this public space.

So, I compare this with so many of the other events in which I participate or attend.

When we did Kuwentuhan for CWF, we turned the stage into a large dinner table. The focus of the room shifted, and so did “audience” and “performer.”

For other events, literature can get lost in the fray, too much time is dedicated to speechifying, and to over-explaining to attendees why they must value such-and-such. In these settings, the work itself is no longer there for attendees to find their own meaning, or to create their own relationships. Over-explanation, the death of one’s own process of discovery.

I loved about the Pilipinx American Library opening event, that speeches were pretty non-existent — welcomes, thanks, and then the work, contextualized with discretion by the writers. And then the focus, the library, and the space in which to read. Of course, these are all mediated things, but as a friend recently said, it was elegant. I love this, the ability to move instinctively through a space without being pushed around, herded, or shouted at, without needing a complex set of instructions.

I love a gathering space that can communicate openness of minds and thinking, in which one who has come into the space does not have to be jerked this way and that, spoken at. That even those with perceived “authority” and “status,” can project openness.

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