Spring 2013: Filipina/o American Literature, Art, and Culture @ SFSU

So I will be back at SFSU next semester after all. Last week, as I was guest speaking in Valerie Soe’s class, I decided to drop in on Lorraine Dong, the Asian American Studies Dept. Chair, just as Allyson was also walking into Lorraine’s office. I told them I was available and interested. And this week, I’ve got rehiring paperwork in my in box. I love it when it happens like this.

The class I taught last year has grown (broadened?) from a literature course to this multi-disciplinary course which is almost the opposite of what I do at USF, where Pinay Lit is a fairly specific focus. Well, that specificity only opens up the problem of “representative” literature, of which I am trying to do the opposite.

So at SFSU then, with this larger, less focused course title, I’ve decided that rather than kick my own ass trying to cram more and more material into the syllabus, I would instead hone it down to a select number of themes instead of trying to do the broad historical sweep. As literature is my strength, I remain focused on it, and branch out into other forms from there. So here’s my preliminary list of required texts for next semester:

  1. M. Evelina Galang, One Tribe (New Issues Press, 2006)
  2. Barbara Jane Reyes, Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2005)
  3. Ronaldo V. Wilson, Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008)
  4. R. Zamora Linmark, Leche (Coffee House Press, 2011)
  5. Rafe Bartholomew, Pacific Rims (NAL Trade, 2011)
  6. Lynda Barry, One Hundred Demons (Sasquatch Books, 2005)

Continue reading


Women’s Work as Guerrilla Fighters, Shipbuilders, Truth Tellers, Dominant Paradigm Subverters

Source: The Atlantic

[Image source (above): The Atlantic]

Here is my presentation for ICOPHIL on teaching Philippine and Filipino American Literature, which will be part of Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program’s panel on (Fil – Phil – Fil Am) intersections. Given that so many people either want my syllabi, reading lists, and/or to be taught (have their work taught) in my classes and/or to come speak to my classes and to be paid honorarium, I am very disappointed that when I ask for advice, when I ask for questions to help guide the crafting of my presentation, I receive only one response.

Continue reading

She is a Picture of Magnificence: Revisiting My Poetics, and Ars Poetica In Progress

It’s timely I should now be coming across Ire’ne Lara Silva’s blog post, “on the necessity of nakedness,” as I’ve been thinking again on this manuscript always in progress, wondering why I have not been able to bite the bullet on this, the way I have for my previous ones.

As some of you may know, this current manuscript is a “mash up” of 20+ different Pinays’/Filipina Americans’ voices/narratives, based on a set of questions very open to interpretation, that I’ve distributed over the past two-three years. One of the reasons I wanted other Pinays to speak to me was because I’d been confused by some of the strongest and consistent responses to my work and to me, what I can best describe as a distancing.

Not to say I want to be every Pinay’s BFF, nor do I wish to be any kind of sole representative. I am Pinay. I write. A vast majority of what I write gets published. Perhaps it resonates with some, and perhaps it doesn’t. I’ve been privileged to witness my readership grow over the past few years, in ways I could not have anticipated.

Because of my writing and publishing work, I was given the opportunity to propose and eventually teach Pinay Literature at USF. I live and I breathe Pinay voices, Pinay social, political, literary, aesthetic concerns. Pinay voices inhabit me. My relationship with it/them is constantly expanding and changing.

That said, I revisited (and revisited again) Estrella D. Alfon’s monumental short story, “Magnificence,” a combination of the most enchanting and gentle tone and language, with the disturbing topic of pedophilia/sexual predation, with a mother who don’t take no mess and don’t make no drama. Alfon’s unnamed mother character handles it, single-handedly, effectively, without hesitation or second-guessing or self-doubt (If only Sandusky were handled this promptly and effectively).

Continue reading

Discussions in Pinay Lit Should Not Be All Feelgood

It’s been interesting, blogging and posting about teaching Pinay Lit, what materials we’re reading and discussing, what difficult subject matter we’re discussing.

What is interesting is the interest out there, many people vocalizing their admiration for the existence of such a course in the first place. Not sure where else in this country such a class is taught. As I’d stated in my first Poetry Foundation blog post this month, “I’m still in disbelief. All Pinay Literature. I always think, wow, where was this class when I was young, and when I needed it most. It seems a lot of people have been asking this question too, as I have been asked by more people than I can count, for my syllabus and reading lists.”

Continue reading

Check In and Working It Out: Against Forgetting

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.

Continue reading

Reading: M. Evelina Galang’s One Tribe

one_tribe_galang[Edits below.]

I have been meaning to say a few things about M. Evelina Galang’s novel, One Tribe (New Issues, 2006). As some of you may know, this is her first novel. Her very first book is a short story collection entitled, Her Wild American Self (Coffee House Press, 1996).

These will be more like notes rather than anything close to a polished statement. I realize that even though I have recently been reading a lot more fiction that I typically do, One Tribe is the first novel that I’ve recently read that I’ve thought hard about in terms of structure in addition to “story.”

The protagonist: Isabel Manalo, a Midwest Pinay who grew up a minority among white folks. She is socially and psychologically scarred, and/or haunted by her recent miscarriage.

The problem: She’s placed herself among the Virginia Beach Filipino American community, and has never experienced this before, a huge, overpowering, and suffocating Filipino social world. I think about its similarities to the sprawling Bay Area Filipino American communities, though the Virginia Beach Filipino Americans are portrayed as tightly tied to the American military.

Continue reading

Current Reading: M. Evelina Galang, One Tribe

I just started reading M. Evelina Galang’s One Tribe (New Issues Press, 2006) and am about two chapters into it. I confess I haven’t read her first book, the short story collection Her Wild American Self (Coffee House Press, 1996), for as a poet, I tend to get to fiction late. Be assured that I do get to it. But for now fiction is a little bit more interesting to me than poetry; maybe it’s the seemingly more accessible narrative. I also really just want to read stories, and sometimes poetry’s way too willfully clever or willfully difficult to just tell a story. Or I read or hear story in poetry and I believe that I am hearing prose somehow broken into lines for no other purpose than it’s trying to be poetry.

So I am catching up on Pinay narratives, as with my recent reading of Marianne Villanueva’s Mayor of the Roses. What Marianne and Evelina have in common in my mind really has more to do with where I place them in relation to me, as literary Pinay role models. Much like Jessica Hagedorn, they were visible presences in a larger (read: American) literary world, and their very presences there were a major source of encouragement before I was even an emerging writer.

Continue reading