Category Archives: currently reading

Summer Slouch AKA I don’t want this blog to die…

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

I have been thinking about blogging a lot lately but thinking isn’t the same as doing. Still, here I am.

I want to talk about the past year in the EM-EFF-AY (OH-EM-GEE), my experience at the VONA Voices Workshop, the progress of the manuscript/s (plural maybe?), some projects/goals I am working towards (a YA book, an anthology on Asian American mythologies, fixing up a paper on Lynda Barry and J. Torres for the upcoming MLA Conference)…which I will write about soon.

For now, I leave you with this …

*An incredible manifesto by the fabulous Ching-In Chen on the Doveglion Press website (curated by the equally awesome Barbara Jane Reyes and Oscar Bermeo).  Read it!

And my ever-growing Summer 2011 Reading List:

*Names Above Houses by Oliver de la Paz  — I’m finally getting to Oliver’s first collection, and falling in love with Fidelito, a boy who longs to fly.

*Steady, My Gaze by Marie-Elizabeth Mali — who will be on The Blood-Jet next Tuesday!  I’m excited to talk with her about her first book.

*Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories From The United States and Latin America edited by Robert Shapard, James Thomas and Ray Gonzalez — I just read the first story, “White Girl” by Luis Alberto Urrea; explosive, haunting, and I wish it were longer!

*Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor —  I love witches!  And I get so excited about writers of color who write “genre” fiction, especially fantasy and sci-fi.  This YA books is by and about a young Nigerian girl with powers.  Check out this list by Adriel Luis who compiled “The Ultimate 21st Century Guide People of Color List” on Colorlines Magazine.

*and one more (a guilty read)…Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin — Because I loved the show on HBO so much, I needed to find out what happened next!  And then I found out there are 4-5 thickass, 1,000 page books that follow. I don’t know if I should keep drinking the Kool-Aid.

What are YOU reading this summer?

oh, and p.s. I have a poem, “Litany for Silence,” on the Splinter Generation website.  If you wish, please read.

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A List – Why Hello There!

-is reading Charles Burns’ Black Hole and is slightly disturbed.

-is writing 75 lines a day as prescribed by Juan Felipe Herrera.

-is grading scantrons and running around the UCR campus.

-is kind of afraid of my Creative Non-Fiction Workshop.  What should I write about?

-is craving Thai red curry.

-is reading Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s Lucky Fish.

-is planning for a creative writing workshop for high school students.

-is hungry.

-is doodling in a sketchbook for homework.

-is reading submissions for CRATE Magazine, UCR’s graduate literary journal.  Please do submit!

-is thinking about submitting, applying, writing, but isn’t actually doing any of these.

-is too lazy to write a real blog post.  Instead, I’ve written 10 status updates!

 

 

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Cacti & Other Updates

Four brand-new cacti gracing my window sill

I think I’m settled in now.  I have about a gazillion books checked out from the UC Riverside Library; I made tatertot casserole and apple pie for new friends in my MFA program; I take the bus for free; new friends and I have a “table” at the local Pho place.  It feels good to be writing lots and lots.  Even though the lots and lots turn out to be mostly crap, it’s good practice, plus it’s fun.  And as it turns out, I’m challenged everyday by new friends, professors, the writers/poets I’ve been reading.  I’ve written my first fiction piece (ahh!), and I remembered how nice it is to have that beginner’s mindset.  There’s tons of risk involved, and you don’t know if it’s good or not but you just keep writing to see what happens.  I sometimes miss that in poetry.  Occasionally when I start a new poem, I have a lot of expectations of what should be on the page.   So, it’s refreshing to not have that in prose.

Okay, here are a list of work/poetry things I’ve been thinking about recently (I apologize — this might be more for me than for you, reader, though maybe you can answer some of my questions):

*ASWANG PROJECT.  Is it appropriate to workshop poems from a larger series of poems?  I understand that poems should stand alone, but must EVERY poem need to summarize or define what the aswang is or detail the world in which the poem is set?

*MANUSCRIPT?  I’ve just re-read Barbara Jane Reyes’s post on the “doneness” of poetry manuscripts on her blog here, which she wrote in response to a question I had.  I’ve sent out a manuscript to a dear Kundiman friend and am planning to send it out to others.  I had originally planned on writing an entire book on the aswang, but now I’m not so sure.  Maybe I’ve been sitting on these poems for too long?  Some of the poems I’ve lightly revised, but now I feel like they’re too dusty to even touch.  I’ve been writing a lot of non-aswang poems and wonder where these poems will go.  Lots of questions on this.

*THE BLOOD-JET.  I’ve put the radio show on hold, since I’m back in school, but I’ve now finally found some time to broadcast it.  I’m excited to talk to Aimee Suzara, writer and performer, about her new play, A History of the Body.  She’ll be on the show this Wednesday morning.  Check it out.  I’m still planning the Fall/Winter schedule, and it’ll be fun to get into the full swing of things again.

*BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS.  I’m taking a craft of fiction class, and I often feel like I know nothing, which is good because this means I need to read more.

Here’s my short list:

-THE ENGLISH PATIENT by Michael Ondaatje

-THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy

-DRINKING COFFEE ELSEWHERE by ZZ Packer

-INTERPRETER OF MALADIES by Jhumpa Lahiri (I’m re-reading this)

-Both books by Junot Diaz (re-reading)

-SAG HARBOR by Colson Whitehead (Thanks to Rio)

-suggestions?

*AND, YAY.  I’ve just signed up for winter quarter classes, and wow, the time just zips by.  I realize how lucky I am to be writing full-time.  Most people don’t get to do this.  I hear it all the time — the two years in grad school go by quickly– and I want to take full advantage of it.

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A Tree Grows in Riverside

As the summer heat continues on in Southern California, I’m still enjoying my leisurely summer reading before the my first fall quarter at UC Riverside begins.  I’m currently reading and enjoying T’s battered old copy of Betty Smith’s A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN.  I love the young female protagonist, Francie Nolan.  I love her spirit, her love for books and her daydreams about future libraries in her home.  When I read about Francie escaping to her fire escape near her tree to read, I am reminded of Virginia Woolf’s call to find a “room of one’s own.”  I love reading about Brookyn’s history and its people, and can smell the sweat from the tenements, the fresh bread baking, the newly dusted cobblestone roads, the pickles fermenting in a delicatessen.  Books like this remind me to slow down in my reading.  I’ve recently finished plenty of plot-driven page turners like the HUNGER GAME series, so it’s a nice change to read, re-read and appreciate the language in A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN.

In the midst of all my reading, I’ve started my move to Riverside today.  My apartment was certainly not what I expected.  Neon green spiders and dried bird poop spots waiting outside the front door; musty library smell inside the apartment; NO DOOR to my actual room (!).  The forest behind my apartment proves to be frightening at night (c’mon, it’s been a long time since I’ve lived outside a city!).  Although I know I am here to write and study, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed and just plain tired.  But — I remembered my anxiety almost two years ago when I moved to Los Angeles for the Emerging Voices fellowship.  I had moved into an apartment studio in Westwood with two other roommates.  I didn’t know either of them.  One was a sorority sister, the other a struggling actor.  The space was beyond cramped.  The experience actually became funny.  I don’t buy into the starving artist, but I make choices and I sacrifice (money, jobs, proximity to family) to write.  As my father says, poetry is the reward.  I’m blessed to be writing and studying, and hopefully, I’ll be finding my own fire escape or tree to read and write near, and perhaps, a room of my own.

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Summer Reading in Palm Springs

Phew!  In the midst of moving, registering for classes at UCR (yay!), and quitting my jobs, I’ve found time to go on a mini-vacation with my best friends from college this past weekend.  We stayed at a hipstery hotel called ACE, which was fun, retro and reflected the desert landscape of Palm Springs.  We ate tons and laid near the pool for most of the weekend. Everyone brought books/graphic novels/magazines to read poolside, and it was fun for me to see what my friends are reading.  Rio’s reading DRINKING COFFEE ELSEWHERE by ZZ Packer; Kelly had Y: THE LAST MAN 2 by Brian K. Vaughn (a graphic novel series) and SEVERANCE PACKAGE by Duane Swierczynski in tow; Melissa brought SAG HARBOR by Colson Whitehead, and I gave Arielle a copy of Attica Locke’s BLACK WATER RISING.  I’ve succumbed to the Stieg Larsson craze, and am currently reading THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.  And it’s true, the action starts around page 100, and I’m proud that I’ve stuck with it.  Since I started working at a bookstore that expects monthly recommendations and blurbs for its newsletter, I’ve grown accustomed to reading many books at a time, and tossing them aside when they don’t pick up the pace at around page 5.  Summer reading makes me feel more open to reading books and genres I wouldn’t normally read, such as mysteries and young adult books.  I think this openness is important as a poet and lover of books because it makes me remember why I crack the spine of a book in the first place.

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