Once again, ’tis that adjunct anxiety setting in. Will my class be a go next semester, and please God, let my class be a go next semester. That, and a DIY course, which I will offer via PAWA, online.
(I keep thinking about Kim Addonizio, who’s taught creative writing independent of institution for a long time now. That’s something I can totally respect and admire. I’m such a weird, many-headed animal, with pieces of myself in all kinds of different places. It works for me, and I like it, but it also requires a lot of moving, shifting, being crafty, negotiating, and having people look at me like I am a crazy bitch they will never understand.)
I rewrote my course description for USF’s Pinay Lit class, and I changed its official title to Pinay Lit. Let’s call it what it is, right? I needed the description to sound more appealing. I hope this sounds more appealing:
Course Description: This class is dedicated entirely to Pinay Lit. This semester, we will read and discuss poems, stories, memoir, novels, and comix all written by Filipino women, about the lives and life experiences of Filipino women and girls in the world. In order to supplement the literature, facilitating our multiple entryways into the texts, we will view/listen to Filipina/Pinay visual and performing art, mixtapes, and video. We will also have the opportunity to interact with local Pinay writers, who will discuss the writing life, and the significance of the Bay Area for their work.
- Barry, Lynda J. One! Hundred! Demons! (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 2002).
- Bobis, Merlinda. Banana Heart Summer (NY: Random House, 2008).
- Galang, M. Evelina. One Tribe (Kalamazoo, IL: New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2006).
- Hagedorn, Jessica. Danger and Beauty (SF: City Lights Publishers, 2002).
- Monrayo, Angeles. Tomorrow’s Memories (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press).
- Reyes, Barbara Jane. For the City That Nearly Broke Me (San Antonio, TX: Aztlan Libre Press, 2012).
- Suzara, Aimee, Souvenir (Cincinnati, OH: Wordtech Editions, 2014).
- Villanueva, Marianne. Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila (Corvalis, OR: Calyx Books, 1991).
A couple of texts here, which I have not previously taught, and am excited about the possibility of handling in a classroom setting, with younger students (first year university students, who still have intact all of the great reading and study habits that got them into college in the first place).
Now, as for PAWA online Pinay Lit and Creative Writing course: I am still working on a course description, which is sounding a lot like a manifesto. Some excerpts, from my draft:
In this eight [or ten?] week course, we will be reading Pinay narratives, writing creative responses, formulating questions and generating writing prompts from our readings of the texts. And of course, we will be generating new writing, based on our readings, and based on the writing prompts we’ve created.
What this course is interested in: fleshing out and complicating Filipina subjectivity, centering a multiplicity of Filipina narrators, speakers, characters, voices.
A note on my teaching. I tend to discourage abstraction-heavy work, and idea-heavy work when it is unmoored from concretes and specifics — scenes, situations, speakers we can see, and touch, and smell. I love ornate and ornamental work, but will discourage it when it is for the sake of itself, and not the narrative.
What I do encourage is the erasure of any perceived line between ethnic and aesthetic concerns — between craft, form, literary devices on the one hand; and language, politics, history, and culture on the other. Let’s talk about how these elements mutually inform one another.
So I figured it would be important to say some things about my teaching and aesthetics/sensibilities, so that folks who would think of joining me and a community of writers online, would have an idea of what to expect. I think, the super-condensed version of the PAWA course description above would be what I’d been asking my grad students about their manuscripts in progress: What’s at stake? Cutting to the heart of the work. Not that our creative writing must be utilitarian! But — perhaps because I’m a poet — I am interested in work that gets into it without wasting any time. You know how sometimes you want to nix opening and closing stanzas out of people’s poems? Oh, um, I want to do that. A lot.