[Minor edits below.]
Yesterday evening I had a late visit to Bob Glück’s Writers on Writing class at SFSU, to read from and talk about Diwata. It was an interesting class. There is one student’s question that I’ve been thinking about since last night: How did I make the decision to use very culturally specific references, language, etc, and did I fear alienating readers from the work.
This is a very valid question. The funny thing is that lately, I haven’t really felt this kind of fear, at least about non-Filipinos turning away from the work because they can’t relate to it. I told the students I’ve had a lot of time to work this out, to think about the risk of alienating folks culturally dissimilar to me. Certainly, my readership has grown, due in very major part to the relative “success” of Poeta en San Francisco, which some years ago, I really believed no one outside of my political poetic cadre would read, precisely because I believed it was very specific.