I’ve been thinking about Camille Dungy’s wonderful posts at the Poetry Foundation blog. Yes, my credo of practicing generosity, having dialogue, being open and answering questions that young writers, emerging writers have about the process of writing, the process of finding publication, figuring out where to find publication. Who do we envision as our readers, audience, and community? What is important for us as writers, in terms of connecting with some kind of community? There are no stupid questions, just the constant work of writing, reading, growing, and sharing.
Wow, seeing and having my eyes and hands all over Diwata in typeset PDF’s makes it more real. It’s such a gorgeous production, and I am more than happy I’ve done things the way I have for Diwata. I always say this one took its own sweet time, and it’s true.
I didn’t really go through a hellish submissions process. I submitted to or queried eleven presses (nine independent publishers and two university presses), and entered into four contests. I didn’t place as semifinalist or finalist in any of these contests. Of the eleven presses I queried or to whom I submitted (and here, it was during open submissions periods):
- one took a week to send me back a form rejection letter,
- two never responded,
- two responded with polite rejection letters citing high volume of manuscript and budget/funding issues,
- four (of course, including BOA Editions) had editors who were so responsive to the work, which they really read and really thought about — the three besides BOA were West End Press, Heyday Press, and Graywolf Press.
Salamat y gracias to Camille Dungy for including Poeta en San Francisco in her Poetry Foundation blog discussion of multilingualism and Englishes in American poetry (link is here). She discusses Keith Cartwright, M. NourbeSe Philip, Cathy Park Hong, and myself. An excerpt:
Though [Cathy Park Hong's] Dance Dance Revolution contains no glossary, the Historian serves as a sort of translator for some of the book’s more difficult passages. On the contrary, though parts or all of Barbara Jane Reyes’s Poeta en San Francisco are written in languages including Spanish, English, Tagalog, and Baybayin, the book includes no translation guides. We come to understand the script in the book in three ways: as image, as sound, and as signifier. For fluent readers of English these three modes of understanding usually align in a manner that sometimes causes over simplified readings. When we are forced out of our comfort zones, the three modes of understanding separate and the results can be particularly exciting and informative. I can’t read the Ancient Filipino script Baybayin, but I sure do love how it looks on the page. In the context of Reyes’s book, I have to question what my de-contextualized objectification of the script reveals. I don’t understand Tagalog, but I love to hear people speaking it. In the context of a book that directly investigates the fetishization of Asian people and lands, a response like, “That sounds so pretty and nice,” adds a layer to what we come to understand about the book and its subject matter.
Poetry reading by Camille Dungy, Oscar Bermeo, and DeWayne Dickerson
FREE! (Please BYOB)
Wednesday, December 3rd, 7:30pm
Books & Bookshelves
99 Sanchez Street, SF
Camille T. Dungy is the author of What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (Red Hen Press, 2006), a finalist for the PEN Center USA 2007 Literary Award and the Library of Virginia 2007 Literary Award. She is assistant editor of Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (University of Michigan Press, 2006). Dungy has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Cave Canem, the Dana Award, and the American Antiquarian Society. A graduate of Stanford University and the MFA program at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, her work has appeared in The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Poetry Daily, and other publications. She lives in San Francisco, Calif., where she serves as an associate professor in the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University. A co-founder of From the Fishouse, she is currently president of the board of directors, and co-editor of From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great (forthcoming in spring 2009 from Persea Books), edited with Jeffrey Thomson and Matt O’Donnell.
Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is a BRIO (Bronx Recognizes Its Own) award winning poet, educator and literary events coordinator who now makes his home in Oakland, where he is the poetry editor for Tea Party magazine and lives with his wife, poeta Barbara Jane Reyes. He is the author of the chapbooks Anywhere Avenue and Palimpsest. Full bio here.
DeWayne Dickerson was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. His first collection of poetry, chunky, was published by v52 press. His unique blend of spoken word and blues fusion became the subject of a B-Roll Films documentary, Incursions in Chunk, which was selected for the 2005 Boston International Film Festival. “A powerhouse performer!” – Molotov Mouths, San Francisco