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

wilson brown boy

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

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

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).

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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.”

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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.

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