Tag Archives: The Blood-Jet Writing Hour

On “Liking” and Being “Liked”

I’ve just come across this article, “Against Enthusiasm: The Epidemic Niceness in Online Book Culture” on Slate.

The problem with Liking is that it’s a critical dead-end, a conversation nonstarter. It’s opinion without evidence—or, really, posture without opinion. For every “+1,” “THIS,” or “<3” we offer next to someone’s fawning tweet, a feeling is expressed without saying much at all. And in the next review or essay, it will show.

 

I remember Barbara Jane Reyes writing awhile back about online literary life and dialogue before Facebook and Twitter.  Instead of perpetual “liking” on Facebook (which I admit, I’m apt to doing), folks wrote thoughtful posts on their blogs and their followers responded with actual words and fully-formed sentences.  Thinking about my online work with The Blood-Jet Writing Hour, I try to create honest, critical dialogue with the guests on the show and with listeners through the Facebook fan page.  I’ve found that when I post questions on the page, in order to encourage listener participation and feedback, I’m often greeted by crickets and a host of “likes.” 

Going back to the Slate article on “blind enthusiasm,” I can’t help but think of the communities where I read, write, engage in dialogue and exchange work.  In the effort to build communities online and in-person, especially for writers-of-color, does “niceness” and enthusiasm restrict our ability to give honest feedback or write critical reviews of each other’s work (which is important!)?  Amidst the kumbaya-ing, do we begin to care more about “safe spaces” than the writing itself?  After fostering a “safe” community (and I put safe in quotes because I think that nowhere is a safe space for writing), where do we go from there?  Lastly, if we do practice critical reading and writing of each other’s work, are we afraid of airing our “dirty laundry” for the public to see?

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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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MMIX Readings and “The Blood-Jet” on Poetry Foundation

Phew!

Thanks to MMIX Writers Los Angeles, MorYork Gallery, Cafe Muse, folks who came out to all the wonderful literary events this month.  I love doing themed readings.  The MorYork reading was centered on childhood; Cafe Muse on sex.  It was fun to play around with my setlist and read poems I don’t usually read.  It was also nice to give my aswang poems a break for once.

Below are photos from the reading at the gorgeous MorYork Gallery.

For more photos, check out the MMIX Blog and Sorin Constantin’s website.

In other news…

Thanks to Barbara Jane Reyes who interviewed me about “The Blood-Jet Writing Hour” on PoetryFoundation.org.

“Poetry is the blood-jet. There is no stopping it.” –Sylvia Plath

I wanted to shout out Rachelle Cruz, whose work I was introduced to a couple of years ago at the San Francisco Litquake’s boisterous Litcrawl, where she read for the API arts org, Kearny Street Workshop. I picked up her chapbook, honey may soon run out, because I was impressed with how concrete, meticulous, and emotionally well-considered her poems and her reading were. She’s a young and energetic poet, a recent PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow, and I am confident we’ll be seeing all kinds of good work coming from her in years to come. Currently, she is the host of the weekly The Blood-Jet Writing Hour online radio show.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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