Tag Archives: Melissa Sipin

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

Image

 

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

Work Update: Summer Sessions with the Aswang

Cristina Victor, an artist friend of mine, drew this incredible aswang a year or two ago, in response to one of poems.

*The Aswang Manuscript

The aswang manuscript is undergoing some radical revision.

The manuscript is organized by the different creatures the aswang embodies:

1.) Weredog

2.) Vampira

3.) Viscera Sucker

4.) Witch

5.) Manananggal

I’ve revisited a number of poems to play with form.  I want the form to reflect the changing, elusive creatures of the aswang, which means working with the fragment and the image even more.  For a long while, I felt tied to the linear narrative of the aswang and her mother, even when it wasn’t working.  I’ve cut a bunch of lines and poems, which was liberating.  I am also letting go or saving some of the world’s fair poems I’ve written.  They just don’t fit right now.

When I sent my manuscript to friends and other poets, the question of my body came up.  Where was it?

I’m interweaving the difficult poems I wrote in Chris Abani’s workshop last spring with the aswang poems I already had.  Poems of trauma, colonization, violence among families and women, violence committed against the body, the Filipina brown body.  Poems of girlhood, motherhood and daughterhood.  Some in persona, a few not.  For a while, I’ve kept these separate, but it’s fascinating to see them in dialogue.  I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere with organizing the manuscript.

During VONA, I spoke with Elmaz Abinader about her thoughts on this project.  She suggested playing with the performance of it, which speaks to the persona nature of the project.

This fall, I plan to stage a section of the aswang poems  in conjunction with UC Riverside’s Golden Mean Theater Group this fall.  If you all know of any Pinay actors, let me know!

*Writings on Filipino Mythology

TAYO founder and fellow VONA attendee, Melissa Sipin and I have been in dialogue about editing an anthology of literature inspired by Filipino mythology.

We found this call for submissions on the PAWA blog, but we want to open it up to other genres, besides fiction, and we want Filipino writers from all over the diaspora to submit.  We’re inspired by the work of Barbara Jane Reyes, Aimee Nezuhukumatahil, Ninotchka Rosca, Noel Mariano, Oliver de la Paz, Maina Minahal, Aimee Suzara and more…

We want seasoned and emerging Filipino writers represented in the anthology (which we want in both print and online venues).

Is there something like this out there already?  Who are other Filipina/o writers who could fit into this project?

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Filed under aswang, writing process