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.
I’ve been doing events at a more manageable pace these last couple of weeks. Last weekend, I read at Eastwind Books of Berkeley with Maiana Minahal and Veronica Montes. Veronica’s write up is here. I think that was a good event; as she says, there was some nice thematic overlap between the three of us, presenting different takes on our own respective Filipina mythic women figures. In Legend Sondayo, Maiana has queered the narrative of Sondayo, and pulled the stories into a contemporary setting. In Angelica’s Daughters, Veronica moves back and forth between present day and the historical time of foremother Angelica. I am interested in the process of writing dugtungan, how each of five co-authors approaches and treats one another’s text. How to add and elaborate on someone else’s story or developing character. And can you even afford to be of the mindset that a particular story or character is yours (singular) or “someone else’s”? As for myself, I talked a bit about simply making stuff up in these poem-stories, as storytellers do, tell what they’ve been told with some degree of faithfulness, and then straight up invent stuff. After the reading, fellow writer Claire Light, who was in attendance, told me she started to think about Diwata as “speculative poetry,” which is something I hadn’t previously considered.
I’m inspired, or touched, or feeling warm fuzzies in general about Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor’s and Veronica Montes’s recent blog posts. With Growing Up Filipino II, Bec is now experiencing her first publication in an anthology (as she notes, an actual book), feeling “less a could-be writer and more a in-fact writer.” Inspired by Bec’s post, Veronica, who is reading for the PAWA-sponsored San Francisco book launch, is remembering her own first anthology publication. In both of their cases, Cecilia Brainard was the editor responsible for selecting their work for publication.
I am moved to think back on my own first anthology publication, which was Babaylan (Aunt Lute, 2000), edited by Nick Carbó and Eileen Tabios. Years later, as Eileen came to speak on her work as a poet and editor at SFSU for Justin Chin’s class, I remember her saying that there were some newbie or emerging poets who’d submitted work, and whom she chose to include in the anthology because she believed publication would encourage or propel these poets to continue with their poetic work. Sitting in the lecture hall audience, I thought to myself, “She must mean (poets like) me.”