Sheltering: 46 Poets & Writers from Around the World share isolation on MiGoZine

“A day after the seven Bay Area counties issued a shelter-in-place mandate, I called for poems on “sheltering,” and in less than two weeks, received over 90 poems from 46 poets, on their personal and shared experiences of self-isolation, paying attention to and tracing the mundane and the fantastic that have become our new normal.”

Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, Aileen Casinetto forwarded a call-to-write, gathering words from 46 writers from around the world to share their sheltering on MiGoZine. Yours truly is honored and inspired to be among literary lights such as Ivy Alvarez, Lee Herrick, Luisa A. Igloria, Melinda Luisa de Jesús, Tony Robles, Abigail Licad, and so many more. Please treat yourself and consider sharing to your lovers of lit.

Read more here.

Dear 2019: You were one year full of surprises, plenty of rejections, and two much needed, last minute acceptances

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Dear 2019,

What a difficult year you have been with unexpected challenges, surprising scares (that thankfully turned out to be nothing more), and seemingly endless rejections. You held out until the very end to sneak in two amazing acceptances. How could I have anticipated that 2020 and the new decade would kick off with the honor and opportunity to be  a Bainbridge Resident with Seventh Wave and an early summer stint at the Wellspring House Retreat in Massachusetts? But you knew, didn’t you? Oh what a trickster, year you have played.

2019, your lessons were many, some more difficult than others, but I’m grateful to you for once again proving that persistence, commitment to the craft, and being real to my own authentic voice can keep me moving forward, keep my writing growing, and the stories flowing. Thanks for strengthening the will and renewing my faith.

Yours truly,

R

P.S. Here’s to 2020 and new beginnings:

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Pinch me! Yours truly be sharing work with lit superstars @ 2019 SF Lit Crawl

Come join us as we represent PAWA, Philippine American Writers and Artists, for 2019 SF LitCrawl. The night will be mad crazy for all things literary and brilliant.

SF Lit Crawl Phase 1
Saturday October 19, 2019 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Amado’s 998 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

PAWA is a nonprofit arts organization and independent publisher of Filipinx American literature. Poets and writers illuminate the diaspora with works on feminism, resistance, history, mythology, and memory.

Authors

Rachelle Cruz
UC Riverside; Orange Coast College
Rachelle Cruz is from Hayward, California. She is the author of God’s Will for Monsters, which won the 2016 Hillary Gravendyk Regional Poetry Prize (Inlandia, 2017), Self-Portrait as Rumor and Blood and co-editor with Melissa Sipin of Kuwento: Lost Things, an anthology of Philippine Myths (Carayan Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in As/Us, New California Writing 2013, LARB, Yellow Medicine Review, Jet Fuel Review,The Lit Pub, The Bakery, The Collagist, Bone Bouquet, PANK, Muzzle Magazine, KCET’s Departures Series, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, among others. She hosts The Blood-Jet Writing Hour. She is a recent recipient of the Manuel G. Flores Scholarship from PAWA. An Emerging Voices Fellow, a Kundiman Fellow and a VONA writer, she lives, writes and teaches in Southern California.

Tony Robles
The People’s Poet” is a born and raised San Franciscan, Filipino/Friscopino/Black poet currently living in North Carolina. Author of two books of poetry/short stories: Cool Don’t Live Here No More–A letter to San Francisco and Fingerprints of a Hunger Strike, published by Ithuriel’s Spear. Short list nominee for Poet Laureate of San Francisco in 2017. Individual artist grant awardee of the San Francisco Art Commission, 2019-2020. Nephew of the Manilatown poet Al Robles. Author of the children’s books, Lakas and the Manilatown Fish and Lakas and the Makibaka Hotel. Currently working on his first novel. For more info: tonyrobles.wordpress.com

Beverly Parayno

From East San Jose, her fiction, memoir, essays and author interviews have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Bellingham Review, World Literature, The Rumpus, Warscapes and Huizache, among others. Her work has been translated into Mandarin by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Parayno earned an MA from University College Cork and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Currently, she serves on the board of PAWA, a nonprofits arts organization and publisher dedicated to supporting Filipinx writers, and on the executive committee of Litquake. She is a grants consultant for social justice nonprofits in the Bay Area. You can find her at www.beverlyparayno.com.

Veronica Montes
Veronica Montes was born in San Francisco and came of age in the fog and mist of Daly City. Her short fiction has appeared in many print journals and online spaces. Her collection, Benedicta Takes Wing and Other Stories, was published by Philippine American Literary House in 2018, and her chapbook, The Sound of Her Voice, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press.

Barbara Jane Reyes
Author of Invocation to Daughters (City Lights Publishers, 2017), and four previous poetry collections, including Poeta en San Francisco and Diwata. Letters to a Young Brown Girl is forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2020.

Rashaan Alexis Meneses
Visiting Liberal Arts Fellow, Saint Mary’s College of California
Rashaan Alexis Meneses is a past resident of The MacDowell Colony and The International Retreat for Writers at Hawthornden Castle, UK. She has received fellowships from the Jacob K. Javits Program, Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, and an Ancinas Scholarship for the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, California. Her fiction and non-fiction have been featured in various journals and anthologies, including Kartika Review, Puerto Del Sol, New Letters, BorderSenses, Kurungabaa, The Coachella Review, Pembroke Magazine, Doveglion Press, and the anthology Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s hiking trails along the California coast.

Stellar Lit Events for October 2019- Please Mark Your Calendars

Yours truly is excited to be a part of two stellar literary events this October. Check out the line-ups, mark your calendars, and  share with lovers of lit in your circles.

  • Wednesday, October 9, 6:30pm – Pilipinx Writer’s Night with San Mateo County’s Poet Laureate Aileen Cassinetto, Jason Bayani, Beverly Parayno, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, & a surprise guest on Wednesday, October 9, 6:30pm, John Daly Branch Library, 134 Hillside Blvd, Daly City. Bios below.
  • Saturday, October 19, PAWA Lit Crawl Event, Phase II, with Barbara Jane Reyes, Rachelle Cruz, Tony Robles, Beverly Parayno, and Rashaan Alexis Meneses at Holy Mountain on Valencia, San Francisco (to be confirmed).

Bios for Pilipinx Writer’s Night in Daly City, October 9, 6:30pm

ABIGAIL LICAD is a 1.5-generation Filipino American who immigrated to the U.S. with her family at age 13. She received her B.A. from University of California-Berkeley and her M.Phil in literature from Oxford University. Her work has been published in Calyx, Smartish Pace, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times, among others. She has served as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar to Senegal and as Hyphen magazine’s Editor-in-Chief. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.

AILEEN CASSINETTO is the Poet Laureate of San Mateo County. Since she began her term in January 2019, she has visited 10 of the 32 communities in the county, launched her “Speak Poetry” campaign, and promoted events on NBC Bay Area and publications such as The Six Fifty, Half Moon Bay Review, and Redwood City Climate Magazine. She has also been a featured speaker at the College of San Mateo and at Skyline College, and collaborated with other poets to help raise awareness on issues such as immigration and social justice, prevention of cruelty to animals, gun control, rehabilitation of prisoners through poetry, and mental health and suicide prevention. Widely anthologized, Aileen is also the author of the poetry collections, Traje de Boda and The Pink House of Purple Yam Preserves & Other Poems, as well as three chapbooks through Moria Books’ acclaimed Locofo series.

BEVERLY PARAYNO is from San Jose, California. Her fiction, memoir, essays and author interviews appear or are forthcoming in Narrative Magazine, Bellingham Review, The Rumpus, World Literature, Huizache, Warscapes, Southword: New Writing from Ireland, among others. Her writing has been translated into Chinese by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. She has a BA in English from San Jose State University, an MA in English from University College Cork and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she received a Lynda Hull scholarship. She serves on the board of directors of PAWA – Phillppine American Writers and Artists. A resident of Oakland, she is a grants consultant for social justice nonprofits in the Bay Area.

IVY ALVAREZ is the author of verse novel Disturbance (Wales: Seren, 2013), which was adapted into a musical and premiered in Tokyo in July 2019. A MacDowell Colony, and Hawthornden Fellow, thrice-nominated for a Pushcart Prize, both Literature Wales and the Australia Council for the Arts awarded her grants towards the writing of Disturbance. Widely-published and anthologised, her poetry also appears on a mobile app The Disappearing, in Takahē, The Age / Sydney Morning Herald, and Best Australian Poems (2009, 2013), with several poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. Her poetry collections include Mortal, Hollywood Starlet, and The Everyday English Dictionary. Her latest, Diaspora: Volume L, is available from Paloma Press.

JASON BAYANI is the author of Locus (Omnidawn Publishing 2019) and Amulet (Write Bloody Publishing 2013). He’s an MFA graduate from Saint Mary’s College, a Kundiman fellow, and works as the artistic director for Kearny Street Workshop, the oldest multi-disciplinary Asian Pacific American arts organization in the country. His publishing credits include World Literature Today, BOAAT Journal, Muzzle Magazine, Lantern Review, and other publications. Jason performs regularly around the country and debuted his solo theater show “Locus of Control” in 2016 with theatrical runs in San Francisco, New York, and Austin.

RASHAAN ALEXIS MENESES earned her MFA in Fiction, Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California, where she was named a Jacob K. Javits Fellow. Awarded a 2018 Author Fellowship from Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and an Ancinas Scholarship for the 47th Annual Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, she has earned fellowships at The MacDowell Colony and The International Retreat for Writers at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland, and was named a finalist for A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Gift of Freedom Award. A 2015 finalist for the Center for Women Writers International Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award and nominated for a Sundress Best of the Net Prize, her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Kartika Review, BorderSenses, Puerto del Sol, New Letters, Kurungabaa, Doveglion Press, UC Riverside’s The Coachella Review, University of North Carolina’s Pembroke Magazine, and the anthology Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults. She is currently a Visiting Liberal Arts Fellow for Saint Mary’s College of California.

REME GREFALDA is the founding curator of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Collection at the Library of Congress. She is also the founding editor of Our Own Voice Literary Ezine and Qbd ink theater group. The author of baring more than soul: poems and The Other Blue Book: On The High Seas of Discovery, she is also the co-author of a Ford Foundation report, Towards A Cultural Community: Identity, Education and Stewardship in Filipino American Performing Arts. She is the recipient of the Philippine Palanca Award for her full-length play, In the Matter of Willie Grayson, produced and staged at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

WALTER ANG is the author of Barangay to Broadway: Filipino American Theater History. He currently covers Filipino American theater for news site Inquirer.net and was a contributing writer for the Theater Volume for the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Philippine Art recently published by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Before moving to the US, he covered the Manila theater industry for the newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer. Ang was a juror for the Philstage organization’s Gawad Buhay theater awards from 2008 to 2009. He was a Fellow at the 2009 University of Santo Tomas Varsitarian-J. Elizalde Navarro National Workshop on Arts and Humanities Criticism Writing. Visit WordsOfWalter.blogspot.com.

Round II Teaching “The Art of Race: (Re)-Imagining Ethnicity and Identity in Literature, Art & Pop Culture for January Term 2019

A new year, a new chance to teach a class that is my life’s work. Once again, for January Term 2019 at Saint Mary’s College, yours truly is teaching “The Art of Race: (Re) Imagining Ethnicity and Identity in Literature, Art & Pop Culture”. For four weeks, four days a week, two hours and thirty-five minutes a day, our class will read, screen, listen, and view art, literature, music, TV shows, and other creative works that reconstruct, reclaim, interrogate, re-imagine, re-invent, subvert, and explode notions of race, of gender, of ethnicity, and of sexuality.

New titles have been added to last year’s reading list, such as Tommy Orange’s, There, There and Allan de Souza’s How Art Can Be Thought. Our class will have a special class visit from poet and author liz gonzalez, where we’ll read and discuss her latest book Dancing in the Santa Ana Winds. And, to top it all off, we have a class field trip to the Museum of African Diaspora, which yours truly is both excited and nervous to coordinate.

In teaching this class for the second time around, I’ve found, once again, how hungry students are to learn and share experiences, thoughts and questions about race, racism, our U.S. history, and legacy. I’ve also found that students are primed and prepped to discuss these incredibly difficult and complex issues.

More to come as we venture into the second week, so stay tuned…

 

The Art of Race: (Re)-Imagining Ethnicity and Identity in Literature, Art & Pop Culture

COURSE DESCRIPTION

How do writers and artists such as David Mura, Tommy Orange, Harryette Mullen, Beyoncé, Kara Walker, and other historically marginalized creative practictioners, subvert, de-center, and make new notions of race, identity, gender, and sexual orientation? How do they challenge cultural otherness to incite as writer Pankaj Mishra calls “a bolder cartography of the imagination”? In this class we will explore how writers, musicians, artists, and comedians make stylistic choices of form and content to challenge dominant narratives and put center stage traditionally marginalized voices, neglected histories, and sub-histories. The aim of this course is to discover how art can complicate and challenge some of our greatest public narratives: race and gender; and how these narratives serve as writer Kaitlyn Greenridge says as a “collective and imagined space that exists only as a metaphor, rhetorical argument, figurative language, in short, as a fiction, though that does not mean that [they are] not real.”

Reading from diverse authors and viewing other artistic forms, we will consider the many different ways art and pop culture help us understand and challenge identity and politics, and conversely how we can interrogate notions of identity and politics to create art that incites a world awareness.

 

REQUIRED TEXTS

  • Tommy Orange, There, There
  • liz gonzalez, Dancing in the Santa Ana Winds
  • Allen deSouza, How Art Can Be Thought

 

READING LIST

Media Selections from Beyonce’s Lemonade, Key & Peele, El mar la Mar

Art Selections from Kara Walker, Ramiro Gomez and Jennifer Wofford

Poetry and Essay Selections:

  • Harryette Mullen, The Cracks Between What We Are and What We Are Supposed to Be, “Imagining the Unimagined Reader: Writing to the Unborn and Including the Excluded”, “Kinky Quatrains: The Making of Muse & Drudge”, “Optic White: Blackness and the Production of Whiteness”
  • Kevin Young, The Gray Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, “The Shadow Book”, “How Not to Be a Slave: On the Black Art of Escape”
  • Dorothy Wang, Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry 
  • John Yau, “Please Wait By the Coatroom”
  • Diane Glancy,In-between Places, “July: She has some potholders”
  • David Mura, A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity, and Narrative Craft in Writing

In Honor of Filipino American History Month an essay for #allpinayeverything

 

Honored and grateful to share this essay resurrected from three years ago when I was a inhabiting a different body and anticipating two new lives for myself and my soon-to-be-son. Wishing I had more time and energy to write, revise, and polish pieces like this one. A writer-mother-teacher can dream. Thankful to Barbara Jane Reyes and #allpinayeverything for giving this little meditation a home and allowing these words to see the light of day.  Here’s to more writing & reading for #FAHM and for every day of the year.

Excerpt from “Waters I’ve Known”

We sip from the stars. This blue marble fed by interstellar ice. Before the sun had ever formed, from a cold, molecular cloud come our seas, lakes, and rivers that once were ions and ices fused in frigid chemistry. Our water sprang from the void, was launched from one stellar system to another, and then packed as frozen, cometary time capsules composed of gas, dust, and ice. Born of an interstellar heritage, our oceans travelled first as comets, asteroids, and hybrid space voyagers known as centaurs.

Read the entire essay here.

New Prep for Fall 2018: Questions of Citizenship

Fall 2018 has been breathing down my neck really since the start of this year, knowing I’d have a brand-spanking new prep to teach that’ll be off and running no sooner than next week when the semester kicks off. The Common Good Seminar: Questions of Citizenship dives into a powerhouse reading list, which I’ve adopted thanks to Professor Kathleen Tierney, who previously taught the course. (May the teaching saints help me do justice to her syllabus). In the next fifteen weeks we’re tackling:

Kwame Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (W. W. Norton, 978-0393061550)

Aristotle, Politics
Translated by Ernest Barker, Revised by RF Stalley (Oxford University Press, 9780199538737)

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
(Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 9780679744726)

Ta Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
(Random House Publishing Group, 9780812993547)

Plato, The Trial and Death of Socrates: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Death Scene from Phaedo Edition 3 Translated by GMA Grube, Revised by John M. Cooper (Hackett Publishing Co., 9780872205543)

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Marx-Engels Reader
Robert C. Tucker, editor (Norton, WW & Company, Inc., 9780393090406)

Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 9781555976903)

Jean-Jaques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality

(Dover, 9780486434148)

Hopefully, we’ll not only be practicing Socratic Dialogues, where students should be taking responsibility for the “health and well-being” of our Seminar class and discussion, but the conversations we share should circle around and center on citizenship and, definitely in this climate, non-citizenship.

The course description reads pretty hefty:

The Common Good Seminar: Questions of Citizenship

The liberal arts were originally understood in part as the arts proper to a life of political freedom; one aim of a liberal education was to prepare students to be citizens of a free state. This course is meant to support that aim by engaging students in questions of citizenship and the common good. Where did the institution of citizenship come from? How has it evolved? Who has been included or excluded by evolving definitions of citizenship? What does it mean to be a good citizen? How can citizens best contribute to the common good? How best to understand the common good itself? How do different visions of the good entail different views of human nature? How do views of human nature underlie ideas of the most just social order? How can citizens best work for a more just society? Does the concept of citizenship imply allegiance to a particular state, or can one be a cosmopolitan “citizen of the world”? Can one balance the claims of patriotism and cosmopolitanism? How should we understand the meaning of citizenship today?

The course presents a series of texts in conversation with one another around these questions of citizenship and the common good. Through critical engagement with the readings, students will engage in these conversations on human nature, the common good, and a just social order. The current reading list examines competing claims in the Western tradition about the nature of human beings and the conditions of human existence, and explores the implications of these claims for our understanding of social justice and the ends of civic and human life. As students gain a deeper understanding of these debates, they will learn to uncover and to critically the assumptions about who we are that underlie claims about how we should live together. Moving deeper into issues of social justice, the course will look at how evolving definitions of citizenship have enfranchised and disenfranchised people in America, and how this evolution has been driven by movements of politically engaged citizens and non-citizens. The last part of the course challenges students to analyze current political issues from local and global perspectives, and to think about how citizens can best act together for social justice.

In the model of Collegiate Seminar, students will engage in the process of shared inquiry through close reading and discussion. Students will practice the skills of civil discourse necessary for politically engaged citizenship. The seminar setting itself models a type social order where students are members of a learning community with roles, rights and responsibilities to oneself and to the group. The pedagogical model of the course generates a experiential learning environment, where students wrestle with the difficult issues raised by the readings in an effort to reach a common good for the seminar.

Stay tuned and Happy Fall!

SMC MFA Reading Series Video with Shanthi Sekaran Now Online

This past April 4, 2018, yours truly had the honor to introduce and chat with the poetic storyteller Shanthi Sekaran about her new novel Lucky Boy. Sekaran is currently the 2018 Distinguished Visiting Writer in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College, and her work includesThe Prayer Room. Lucky Boy is the tale of two women who’s lives are forever linked by love and loss.

The video of her reading and our Q&A is now up as part of SMC MFA Creative Reading Series, so you can see for yourself the brilliance of Sekaran. Please treat yourself and share with other lovers of word and story.

Magkwento: The Philippine Anglophone Literature List

Thanks to the amazing vision and dedicated work of Alden Sajor Wood, a PhD candidate in English and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine where he is completing a dissertation on Filipino and Filipino diasporic literatures, I’m honored and thrilled to be included in Magkwento: The Philippine Anglophone Literature List.

This invaluable resource is a comprehensive and inspiring directory to a growing list of literary luminaries. Please treat yourself and share the love with students, colleagues, and your favorite readers & writers.

“Recall work day mornings with your parents or guardians and write a description of their morning ritual before leaving for work”: Creative Prompt #3 for JanTerm043 “The Art of Race”

Image result for junot diaz drownStudents in yours truly Jan Term course “The Art of Race: (Re) Imagining Ethnicity, Race, and Identity in Literature, Art, & Pop Culture” are working hard on their final project, which is a creative writing assignment to write poetry, short fiction, or a personal essay inspired by the artists, writers, musicians, and theorists we’ve studied on how race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality inspire and shape creative work and how the different forms of art can redefine and interrogate notions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. We’re ending the term by looking at Junot Diaz’s Drown and his MFA vs. POC written originally for Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing for VONA workshops and later published by The New Yorker.

The students have really responded to and ran with the prompts we’ve been working with and requested a third and final prompt, which I’ve included below for you to have a go if you so choose.

Poetry:

Create a list of fifteen items, including objects, images, songs, movies, TV shows, magazines, albums, clothing, jewelry, toys, household items, etc. that remind you of your childhood. Don’t edit or over-think but try to list as many items that represent your childhood and adolescence then chose two or three and write about them in as full description as you can. What do they look like? What colors? What do they smell like? What do they sound like? What are the textures? Where are they soft? Scratchy? Smooth? Bumpy? What did it feel like to hold them? What kind of feelings surfaced when you engaged with them?  Where did they come from? Who gave them to you? Do you remember when you first received them or noticed them? What kind of memories are they attached to? What kind of wonder do they spark? Examine each carefully as if it were a precious stone or a sacred relic. How would you describe them to someone who couldn’t see and who didn’t know what your childhood meant to you?

Non-fiction:

Taking a cue from both Junot Diaz and Barbara Jane Reyes, recall work day mornings with your parents or guardians and write a description of their morning ritual before leaving for work. What did s/he wear for work (tie, heels, uniform, cuff-links)? How did s/he prepare in the morning? What kind of ritual did s/he practice? Hurried? Slow paced? Make breakfast? Rush out the door before you were awake? What kind of expression did s/he usually have? Worried? Tired? Excited? What did s/he take with him to work (briefcase, purse, coffee mug, water bottle, packed lunch)? Did you have time to talk with your parent or guardian before you both left for school or work? What did you usually talk about? Was there a specific memorable morning you shared together, and if so, what made it memorable? Conversely, recall the evenings or afternoons when your parent/guardian returned from work? What hour? Was s/he tired? Did s/he need time alone to decompress? Did s/he start cooking dinner immediately? What was the ritual returning from work?

Fiction:

Inspired by Junot Diaz, pick a memorable moment with a significant other or close friend and recreate the details of that moment. What time of day? Where were you? What where you both wearing? What was the weather like? What time of year? Who else was there? What were they saying? What were they doing? What was the dialogue between you and your significant other? What kind of tension were you facing together? What kind of tension were you both facing individually? What were your fears at the time? What were your hopes? What were your significant other’s fears and hopes? How did his/her fears and hopes conflict with yours? How did they coincide? Now twist the moment. How would it have gone differently if you said something opposite to what you actually said or did something opposite to what you actually did? Would you still be together as friends or partners? How would you have fractured or mended the relationship? How would you have complicated or simplified the moment?

More to come on “The Art of Race”…