Tag Archives: fun

Staying Sharp: A Post in Four Sections

As my funemployment continues, I’ve decided to make this time as fruitful for my writing as possible. To me, this means reading my butt off, scheduling shows for The Blood-Jet, submitting work, and editing Kuwento for Lost Things, an anthology of Philippine myths with co-editor and lovely fiction writer, Melissa Sipin.

Since my brain has been all over the place, this post is broken into sections as an attempt to organize my thoughts.

I. Ana Mendieta

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I’ve committed myself to writing for 3-4 hour blocks at least once a week (on top of daily writing).  I’m diving in and grazing the ocean floor.  During my first session, I used Cuban artist, Ana Mendieta’s Silhueta series, as sparks to begin writing.  The transitory nature of these works and Mendieta’s use of the body and nature that isn’t idyllic intrigues me.  They’re grotesque, mythic and downright scary.

As I wrote from her images, I thought about Akin’s legitimate rape, the shadows and imprints we leave everywhere we go, women’s bodies.  What is my connection to the earth?  I came across Emily Kendal Frey’s poem, My Definition of Rape.  What is my definition of rape?

II. Create Dangerously

Melissa reminded me of Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, which she’s been reading and I completely forgot I owned.  I read the first chapter last night, and much of what she writes about in regards to lineage resonates with me:

“…the artist immigrant, or immigrant artist, inevitably ponders the deaths that brought her here, along with the deaths that keep her here, the deaths from hunger and executions and cataclysmic devastation at home, the deaths from paralyzing chagrin in exile, and the other small, daily deaths in between.”

The small, daily deaths in between.  “I’ve sacrificed so much for you to grow up here,” the immigrant parent says.  Danticat cites the Colonel’s wife in Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude: “If I have to die for the rest of you to stay here…then I will die.”  I spoke with my friend Angel about the lives of our ancestors, and how are they living through us now?  I’ve just finished Daytripper, a graphic novel by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon.  The protagonist states: “We carry our family with us.”

III. Workshop
I’ve also decided to take an online poetry workshop with Toronto-based poet, Hoa Nguyen.  The workshop itself is focused on the work of Alice Notley, which is new to me.  I’ve never taken a class dedicated to the work of a single poet, so I’m excited to delve into her oeuvre.  I want to keep reading widely and diversely, and I’m hoping that this workshop will help.

IV. Fun

I also want to use this time to catch up on handwritten correspondences, brush up on my arroz caldo and chicken adobo recipes, write for 3-4 hours at a time, and hike.

All of this is to say, I’m grateful.

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Filed under summer, writing process

Brunching with Poetry

Yesterday morning, I ate bacon, lime-spiced papaya, fresh scones, and lox on a jalapeño and cheddar bagel at LADWP (Los Angeles Department of Writing and Power)’s first Poetry Brunch, hosted by the wonderful Alanna Lin.

I underestimate the power of fun at times.

Participants and readers (myself included) gorged themselves on a delicious, home-cooked meal an hour or two before “getting down to business.” Which didn’t feel like business. Poetry isn’t business! But it feels this way, before I do a reading sometimes — why?

Jamie Asaye Fitzgerald and I were the featured readers. Prior to our readings, everyone at the event, around 20 people, shared five-line poems at the mic. I dig this kind of community building in a reading format; everyone eating, drinking coffee and sharing their work. By the time I got up to the mic, the reading was among friends, haiku-writers, and brunch-lovers unbuttoning the top button of their pants.

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I am teaching Introduction to Poetry this coming year. I am trying to remember any “formal” introduction I’ve experienced. In the sixth grade for the poetry unit, I had to interview my best friend as Gwendolyn Brooks who dressed like her (knit cap, large glasses). Does this count?

My first workshop in college wasn’t pleasant. There were little to no poets-of-color on the reading list. I didn’t speak Workshop Language yet. I was skeptical and grouchy, the newness of first winter in New York wearing off.

How were you introduced to poetry? How did poetry introduce itself to you?

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Filed under influences, los angeles, summer, writing process