Wow, lapses in blogging have become the norm for me. I told Oscar recently that I missed blogging, and feel I haven’t had a substantial e-space to work out stuff needing working out. I am guilty of becoming the kind of social networking person I dislike — posting up quickie FB updates, oftentimes with minimal context, and oftentimes with very little conversation. The good news is that while kicking my ass, teaching is going very well. I suppose that’s become my space to work stuff out, engage in the kind of necessary dialogue about community and literature.
(I’ll generally be offline for the next week or so, as I will be traveling; I’m reading with J. Michael Martinez at the Fall for the Book Festival at GMU in Fairfax, VA tomorrow, and then seeing family and friends in NY.)
So, just one (not so) quick question:
Remember back in the day, when everyone wanted to be THE BOMB-ASS PINAY POET? Remember that “Everyone wants to be the next Jessica Hagedorn” attitude that stifled Pinay artist and academic relationships and support systems? Here, I’m alluding to Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales’s work on Pinayism (which has obviously stuck with me in a good and critical way), and thinking on the fact that Jessica, Allyson, and I all very happily spoke at the same event yesterday evening to honor Al Robles, and that each of us shared something particular and distinct.
It was a wonderful event with wonderful energy, with many meaningful things said, and with community folk/extended family in attendance. The house was packed. No one flexed ego on anyone. If folks had baggage, they left it at home or elsewhere. Local college students (and recent grads) were walking around the place afterward, just effervescent, articulating how uplifted they were made to feel. Yesterday evening, something important crystallized for me belatedly — the fact that as Pinays and professionals, we have all worked to become experts or even masters in our own respective fields, that there are indeed many places in which a Pinay can be ambitious, can excel, gain recognition, and we can do so without disenfranchising other Pinays. Therefore, it should no longer be relevant, that impulse to be the singular publicly recognized Pinay. I am hoping that younger generations of Pinay artists, academics, and activists have and will continue to come up more community-minded and simultaneously ambitious.
I am increasingly feeling this need to move my writing outside myself. I’ve been writing these “she” and “we” personae which are way too rooted in my own brain. I am feeling the limitations of my own imagination, my direct experience and what I know of my family’s, and reading of others’ voices and experiences, such that my next “she”/”we” project needs to incorporate the words and lives and souls of other Pinays who are not myself and not my world. So I am in the process of compiling a list of “questions,” perhaps along a similar vein to Bhanu Kapil’s The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers.
I am interested in expanding and plumbing the depths of the Pinay voice in my work, creating a remixed Pinay narrative in the form of a long poem. I am interested in debunking what assumptions I am certain I have made over time, and I am especially interested in the kind of exceptionalism which other Pinays over the years have constantly bestowed upon me, my work ethic, my gender relationships. This has led to another kind of othering and distancing with which I have been terribly unhappy and disturbed. This is an othering I would like to think I have been trying to undo, though as I continue to work at my work with the kind of bluntness and grit that are terribly improper for a Filipina lady, I am sure I have been doing a really shitty job of undoing the othering. I am sure I am reinforcing it.
I haven’t heard from poet and novelist Bino Realuyo in a long time; you may remember him as the author of The Gods We Worship Live Next Door and The Umbrella Country. I’d been wondering what he’s been doing. Then just the other day, he resurfaced to point us to his page of Filipino American authored books and their covers, published since 2005. Bino points out that none of the book covers include “exotic” images, no coconut trees and the like.
Not sure why 2005 is his cut-off year, though we can see from his web page that much work has been produced and published in our community in a rather small amount of time. We see this has happened in all kinds of places in the American publishing world/industry.
As well, he points to my comprehensive Filipino American Literature Bibliography, which I’ve been continuously updating since I created it in August 2006. The original reason I created the list was for Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales’s book Pin@y Educational Partnerships: A Filipino/o American Studies Sourcebook, Volume I: Philippine and Filipina/o American History, which I believe was released early this year. So this is why my Fil Am Lit bibliography includes a non-fiction, literary and art criticism section. This is why it also includes some of the works of playwrights with whom she’s been professionally affiliated (she has taught or currently teaches their work).
For my purposes, I am thinking of omitting the aforementioned non-fiction section, and some of the playwrights whose works are anthologized, rather than in single-authored full-length collections.
But anyway, so there’s that. High output community, we are, as also evidenced by these Eastwind Books of Berkeley tables at a UC Berkeley event couple of years ago: