“Say Flip, you is so funky…” — Vince Reyes, “For My Stylin’ Brothers.”
[Photo credit: Tony Remington, Liwanag (1975)]
Some things I am thinking about today: I am thrilled to have found some poetics essays by Al Robles (1930-2009), and Serafin Malay Syquia (1943-1973)*. I am also thrilled to have found an article by Ninotchka Rosca on Asian American artists and the Asian American audience (I will talk about this Rosca article another time). These things I’ve found while on my usual scour of academic e-archives, and my bookshelves, for my USF Filipino Literature syllabus.
Al Robles wrote “Hanging on to the Carabao’s Tail,” a creative essay published in Amerasia in 1989. It’s very critical of the Asian American poet, or of the poet in general, of the work we are to do, and of the alliances we are to form. He references Russell Leong’s essay on Asian American poets 1968-1978, also in Amerasia, Leong’s discussions of Third World reorientation, and the enacting of Tribe: “We read as we wrote — not in isolation — but in the company of our neighbors in Manilatown pool halls, barrio parks, Chinatown basements.”
I understand why this mode of poetic creation and creativity is the preferred mode; in order to write about community and tribe, we must practice and embody community and tribe.
I therefore also understand why those who engage in the solitary act of writing and reading are viewed with suspicion, even contempt, by the tribe.