Rashaan Alexis Meneses posted this today on Facebook and posed this question: “How you might draw a diagram of your own circle of influence? Who would be in yours?”
According to Maria Popov who collaborated with Michelle Legro and Wendy MacNaughton on this diagram for Longshot Magazine, Circles of Influences is “a visualization of literary, scientific and artistic influences. It’s designed to illustrate the enormous creative indebtedness that permeates humanity’s proudest intellectual output, while also demonstrating the cross-pollination of disciplines across science, art, literature, film and music.”
Below is my Circle of Influence (thank you, Paint!). Instead of renowned white male literary figureheads dominating my circle, there are writing communities such as Kundiman and the PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship, which have shaken up my world, splashed a bucket of icewater on my head, and said, YOU! These communities have expanded my worldview, poetics, process, life. There are teachers, mentors, fellow “emerging” writers (who are the heart/soul of these communities), the first Pinay writers I read, the first writers who I loved first. There isn’t enough space for all of them.
I’ve linked the different writers and artists in my circle by community: where I was when I first met/read them, who influenced/influences their work, other communities in which they belong and overlap.
I forgot to mention The Blood-Jet Writing Hour, a place where I try to link all of these communities and influences.
Pearl Buck, author of The Good Earth, is here. She was the one of the first writers who pissed me off when I encountered her in high school. Her stereotypes of Asian folks, her limited scope, her access to a world and a community that didn’t belong to her.
Last night, I met with the former 2009 Emerging Voices Fellows (now MMIX Writers Los Angeles) at Sylvia and Bonnie’s house for our not-so-regular potluck and sharing of work. We ate our usual Trader Joe’s pizza and drank sangria. We sat on Sylvia’s brilliant red couch to read last chapters of novels and memoirs, fresh poems, a new collection of photographs. Projects we began at the PEN Fellowship are being revised and close to finished.
I shared poems inspired by Sylvia’s photography collection, “I forget myself (I forget you).” A true mix. Many of us have/are attending conferences and residencies frequently, or signing up for the MFA, or getting promoted at work. This was the first community where I truly found home, and I’m grateful to come back and shake my head and laugh at how fast time flies.