Re-cap of Alumni Reading at Saint Mary’s with Rosemary Graham (excerpt)

Originally posted at Ruelle Electrique:

Rosemary & I, photo by PJ Sanders

Spring 2011 has been nothing but high octane action and on Wednesday, April 27 at Saint Mary’s College’s Soda Center, your salonniere was pushed into full throttle for the Alumni Reading, as part of the Creative Writing Reading Series, which featured Professor and writer Rosemary Graham who’s books include Thou Shalt Not Dump the Skater Dude and her new novel Stalker Girl. Marilyn Abildskov, the program’s director, deemed this annual event a homecoming that, thankfully, doesn’t require football matches or awkward school dances. The SMC Alumni reading is that rare occasion when former students gather together after years apart, to celebrate one another’s accomplishments, and the list of accolades and publications for 2011 was quite impressive.

Many of your salonniere’s students came out in full force support, and I couldn’t be more grateful to see their radiant faces in the audience. Much appreciated!

Elizabeth Stark, current visiting faculty and author of Shy Girl, published by FSG, introduced the reading, and your Salonniere read from her story “Like Fish to Ginger” published in UC Riverside’s The Coachella Review Fall 2010 issue.

For more on the event, stop by the salon.

And! Check out the write-up covered by fellow alum, fiction writer, and English professor, Emily Bruenig on her site, Notes from a Writing Life. Here’s an excerpt on her response:

The reading was wonderful. Most readings are wonderful, really, if you ask me. Just the act of sitting in a literary audience with a notebook will make my evening, and, I must confess, when it’s a poetry reading, the rhythm of the words often becomes the best kind of trance-inducing background music, leading me to my own surreptitious writing, rather than constant attentive listening. But I didn’t get anywhere close to that this particular evening, and not due to any lack of poetics; both Rashaan and Rosemary write beautifully, but they also each write gripping plots and extremely compelling characters. Rashaan joked that you might have to try kind of hard to imagine her as the middle aged Thai restauranteur who narrates “Like Fish to Ginger,” but I’m sorry, Rashaan, you were wrong. It didn’t take any imagination at all. Your story does all the work.

For the full review, click here.

Write-up on ACTC’s 17th Annual Conference sponsored by Yale in New Haven, CT

From April 14 through April 17, 2011, I had the honor and pleasure of presenting at the 17th Annual Conference for the Association for Core Texts and Courses, sponsored by Yale University, and co-sponsored by Augustana College, Boston College, and College of the Holy Cross, hosted at The Omni Hotel in New Haven, Connecticut. This year’s theme was “The Quest for Excellence: Liberal Arts and Core Texts.”

One of the plenary speakers argued for the spirituality of 19th century French poetry focusing on a particular piece by Mallarme, and two scientists, a quantum physicist and a chemist, responded with genuine enthusiasm about the connections they’d made to the poem presented and how the poem demonstrated the fragmentation in quantum physics and solvation of chemistry. The engagement from the scientists was wonderfully inspiring, and I truly hope to see more reaching out across the disciplines.

Thankfully the last speaker for the plenary sessions called for more cross-disciplinary collaboration and criticized the institutions for making such collaborations impossible. ACTC focuses more on critical and scholarly work though some of the panels centered on best practices and pedagogy. The panel “Core Images, Part II: Learning, Examples, Practice” brought together art historians and art professors who urged the use of art as a vital source for discussion and inquiry. Tatiana Klacsman from Augusta State University and her presentation “The Iliad in Teaching Art History within a Humanities Framework” covered how culture and values can be analyzed and evaluated through Greek artifacts. Mona Holmlund from University of Saskatchewan discussed approaches to indigenous art, especially in contrast to the Western canon with her presentation “The Challenges of Integrating Indigenous Knowledge with the Western Canon.”

Another literature scholar posed the worry of art replacing the written word, and an attendee followed up by asking how much time should faculty dedicate to art versus text. I had to counter that time is a measure of value, and everything discussed on that panel came down to values whether we’re comparing Indigenous art to Western or text versus image. As Socrates lamented the rise of the written word claiming that text would corrupt the rich oral culture of his time, everything comes down to values, which is determined by culture. We need to keep this in mind anytime we weigh one thing against another. As scholars we should constantly be checking our values and be wary of how our values factor into our curriculum, especially considering how those values may be servicing our goals for diverse student populations.

My own paper certainly evolved out of this consideration of values, which I presented for the panel “Contemplating Critique: How Far Back in Time is It Used?” Here’s an excerpt:

Engaging First-generation Students with Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality

Through his Discourse on Inequality, Rousseau draws in First-generation students through affective means, modeling an essential method of critique and analysis that demonstrates an individual’s agency of power based on reason, observation, and imagination. Rousseau provides a critical point of connection for students who may not be traditionally accustomed to the culture and privilege of higher education, and, through his narrative and argument, students can discover a means for engagement within their communities.

Nicole, we’ll call her, was a student who had yet to find her footing, academically. By simplest definition, she is a first-generation student. Neither of her parents had earned their undergraduate degree, and the college experience was all together uncharted waters for her and her family. She floated through Greek Thought and listlessly wandered through the likes of Dante, Augustine, and Chaucer in Roman/Christian, consistently feeling estranged by authors who looked and sounded nothing like her, describing cultures and concepts that seemed completely foreign, and irrelevant to her immediate experience.

By the time she came to my class as a sophomore, she had found her niche on campus and was part of a strong social network, but, academically, she was still unanchored and her displacement seriously affected her GPA. Still, Nicole was hungry for intellectual nourishment, knowing she lacked purpose in her studies, which inhibited her from realizing her full potential. By mid-semester, she was barely treading the choppy waters of Cervantes, Hobbes, and Locke, until, suddenly, to both her surprise and my own, Nicole reached terra firma with Jean Jacques Rousseau.

More coverage and reflection post-conference is forth coming.

Swinging into Spring with Upcoming Events

Paper presentation at Yale on “Engaging First Generation Students with Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality”

Paper Proposal: Clearly an outsider looking in, Jean-Jacques Rousseau exploits the adversity and hardships he’s faced as an exile, turning his experiences and observations into a source of empowerment and a means for enlightenment. In “A Discourse on Inequality” Rousseau’s rhetorical strategies, his critical view on hierarchy, and his refusal to accept the status quo, demonstrates for First Generation college students invaluable methods of critique and cognitive processes. First Generation students may often feel over-whelmed and estranged within institutions of higher learning, and a close reading and discussion of Rousseau provides a critical point of connection, shedding light on our own agency of power. While his contemporaries insist on entitlement, Rousseau reveals our own empowerment by illustrating how to engage critically within our community.

 

Frontispiece and title page of an edition of Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality (1754), published by Marc-Michel Rey in 1755 in Holland.

***

Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 7:30pm
Reading with Rosemary Graham and Rashaan Alexis Meneses for Saint Mary’s College Creative Writing Series,

at Soda Center, Saint Mary’s College of California, 1928 Saint Mary’s Road, Moraga, CA.

Rosemary Graham
Rosemary Graham holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Virginia.  She is the author of Thou Shalt Not Dump the Skater Dude and My Not-So-Terrible Time at the Hippie Hotel. Her third novel, Stalker Girl, was published in August of 2010.  She is a professor of English at Saint Mary’s College of CA. 

rashaan meneses

Rashaan Alexis Meneses earned her MFA from Saint Mary’s College of CA, where she was named a 2005-2006 Jacob K. Javits Fellow and awarded the Sor Juana Indes de La Cruz Scholarship for Excellence in Fiction.  She has recently published in Pembroke Magazine and Growing up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults.

***

Keynote speech for  Saint Mary’s College of California’s Tenth Annual Asian Pacific American Graduate Celebration

Saturday, May 14, 2011

2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Le Fevre Theater

Reception to follow in Delphine Lounge


Asian Pacific American Graduate Celebration

Finally, the USF Fiction Workshop Write-Up

Better-Late-Than-Never USF Fiction Workshop Write-up

A better-late-than-never write up on the past fiction workshop held Friday, February 26, 2010 at the beautiful campus of University of San Francisco where your Salonniere visited Poet and Professor Barbara Jane Reyes and her undergraduate section “Filipino American Arts,” part of the Philippine Studies Program. With eight engaged and insightful students, we talked fiction, community, and childhood marvels. Not all of the students were Filipino, and each came from different disciplines and studies, which added to our conversation. They were  exceptionally astute, each armed with provocative questions. For our session, students read works from Gayle Romasanta, “The Bridge” in Field of Mirrors, edited by Edwin Lozado, Lysley Tenorio’s, “Save the I-Hotel” and two stories from the anthology Growing Up Filipino II, edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Amalia Bueno’s, “Perla and Her Lovely Barbie” and your Salonniere’s “Here in the States.” Reyes is committed to curating work from local Fil-Am writers with the intention to bring artists into the classroom, both exposing artists to academia and introducing students to working artists. Her mission cannot be praised nor emulated enough. Reyes dedication is really quite extraordinary as she encourages readers and writers alike to build and fortify community, raise consciousness, and push the envelope in terms of widening perspective and making connections across borders and boundaries. Our class workshop was nothing less than the embodiment of her work.

Read the rest of the article here in the salon, Ruelle Electrique.

Savoring Memories from “For the Love of Chocolate” at the 2010 Asian Culinary Forum’s Symposium

On a windy and chilly May afternoon, when Bay to Breakers turned the streets of San Francisco into a cirque de la jeunesse, the Asian Culinary Forum hosted their 2010 Symposium “Filipino Foods: Flavor + Innovation” at the International Culinary School in the Art Institute of San Francisco-California’s UN Plaza building. Their previous symposium focused on Pan-Asian cuisine and was held at the Ferry Building. We arrived just in time for the Merienda Reception, which featured the special ingredient, tsokolate.

Mangos, sugar snap peas, and strawberries

The bar served VuQ0’s coconut vodka, a refined version of the poison my grandpa spun tall tales about involving heavy doses of tuba, also known as lambanug or bahal. We also sipped sweet mango wine from Haliya, reviewed at Winecentric, but our favorite was the dalandan juice, a tasty sweet citrus fruit that leaves your mouth hankering for more.

Marti Chocolatt

The spread was both elegant and rich, offering tightly wrapped rolls of lumpia, thick turons plump with jackfruit, and platters filled with sweet, sticky bibingka. Marti Chocolatt based in Los Angeles presented a beautiful table of dark and fruity sweets. The highlight of course was champarado (chocolate rice pudding), prepared by chocolatier Toney Tibay and paired with tuyo (salted herring), which was nothing but savory. Samples of chocolate covered langka (jackfruit), kalamansi, buko pandan, and ube tempted every guest who couldn’t just have one.

Champurado with salted fish

Tables for attendees provided individually wrapped uraro, arrow root, candies made of cassava. While we feasted on Filipino favorites, we met Lauren del Rosario, Director of Sales and Business Development for Azukar Organics, which makes coconut sugar and flour. Low glycemic and gluten-free, the sugar is both sweet with a wonderful nutty essence. Delish. We can’t wait to cook and bake with it. If only it was distributed in the Bay Area, but So Cal people can easily get their hands on this product at LA health stores.

The reception eased us into the reading that followed, “Eating Our Words: Writings about Food & Family,” featuring Barbara Jane Reyes, Aileen Suzara, Aimee Suzara, Lizelle Festejo, Yael Villafranca, Lisa Sugitan Melnick, and your Salonniere.  For more on the literary event, check out the post “Writing + Food” on Ruelle Electrique.

“Eating Our Words: Writings About Food & Family” at the Asian Culinary Forum’s 2010 Symposium, Filipino Flavors: Tradition + Innovation

https://i2.wp.com/www.asianculinaryforum.org/ACF/Asian_Culinary_Forum_-_2010_Symposium_Adobo_Throwdown_files/acfhp_web.jpg

Filipino Flavors: Tradition + Innovation

Literary Reading

EATING OUR WORDS: WRITINGS ABOUT FOOD & FAMILY

Sun May 16 | 1:00–2:30 pm, with light refreshments

Local writers share their poems, fiction and essays about two of the most important facets of life: our families and our food. Barbara Jane Reyes, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, Aileen Suzara, Aimee Suzara, Lizelle Festejo, Yael Villafranca and Lisa Suguitan Melnick read from their books and works-in-progress. Oscar Bermeo emcees.

$5 general admission, $3 students. Ticket sales end May 12! [buy now]

Location: The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of California-San Francisco

1170 Market Street, San Francisco, CA

Join the Asian Culinary Forum in the heart of San Francisco for an exciting, weekend-long celebration of the foods of the Philippines. Information on other weekend events here: http://www.asianculinaryforum.org

LIZELLE FESTEJO is the Assistant Director/Program Manager and Job Readiness Instructor at The Bread Project, a culinary and commercial baking job training program based in the East Bay. She was an organizer of Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity’s (FACES) first Kain’Na Cooking School fundraiser and also a 2008 Fellow for Robert Mondavi Winery’s Taste3. Lizelle consults for the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon organized by Tastetv.com. As a writer and community worker, her passion is fueled by bringing communities and families together through the multi-faceted and inter-generational powers of cooking, eating and food itself.

LISA SUGUITAN MELNICK’s daily life is a colorful melange of multi-cultural experience. Yes, she eats adobo with chopsticks, serves miso soup alongside pancit, and adds a touch of shoyu to the vinegar sauce for lumpia. Lisa’s work has appeared in Latin Beat Magazine, Philippine News, CATESOL (California Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages), The Advocate, and Filipinas Magazine. A third-generation Filipina/Latina American, she is currently working on Ima Ni Soledad, a memoir of vignettes which present Filipino-American experience in contexts that highlight the reverence for family and generosity of spirit. Lisa shares her life with partner of 27 years, Mark, their son Ryan Akira, and Miss Jazz, a doberman mix diva dog.

RASHAAN ALEXIS MENESES, born and raised in the seismically diverse and fractured landscape of California, earned her MFA from Saint Mary’s College of California’s Creative Writing Program. She was named a 2005-2006 Jacob K. Javits Fellow and awarded the Sor Juana Ines de La Cruz Scholarship for Excellence in Fiction. She received her B.A. in English with a specialization in Fiction, Creative Writing from the University of California, Los Angeles. Recently, A Room of Her Own Foundation named her a Finalist for The 2009 Gift of Freedom Award and her latest short story, “Here in the States” is included in the anthology, Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults.

BARBARA JANE REYES was born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her B.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and her M.F.A. at San Francisco State University. She is the author of Gravities of Center (Arkipelago Books, 2003) and Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2005), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. Her third book, entitled Diwata, will be released by BOA Editions, Ltd. in September, 2010. Her poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in Latino Poetry Review, New American Writing, North American Review, Notre Dame Review, and XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics. She has taught Creative Writing at Mills College, and Philippine Studies at University of San Francisco. She lives with her husband, poet Oscar Bermeo, in Oakland.

AILEEN SUZARA is a second generation Pinay raised in California and Hawai’i who began exploring the kitchen at childhood. Her passion for social justice led her to the Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity and positions as an environmental educator. Aileen now brings that commitment towards sustaining the recipes and rituals of Filipino foodways. Her words appear in Earth Island Journal, The Colors of Nature, Growing Up Filipino, and others. Aileen received a BA from Mount Holyoke College and recently graduated as a Natural Chef from Bauman College.

AIMEE SUZARA completed her M.F.A. at Mills College in 2005 and has been sharing poetic and multidisciplinary work since 1999. Her play, Pagbabalik (Return) in 2007 was selected for several festivals and granted the Zellerbach Community Arts Fund in 2006-7. Her poetry collection, the space between, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2008, and her writing appears in several journals and anthologies, including Check the Rhyme, An Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees (Lit Noire Press), 580 Split (forthcoming issue) and Walang Hiya/No Shame (forthcoming anthology). Currently, she is collaborating on text-dance works with two companies: Amara Tabor-Smith’s Deep Waters Dance Theater for “Our Daily Bread”; and choreographer Frances Sedayao, Aimee Espiritu and Michael Torres for “A History of the Body,” to be hosted by the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. A passionate advocate for arts and literacy, she teaches English at community colleges and leads workshops on poetry and performance.

YAEL VILLAFRANCA is a Kundiman fellow, an organizer with Babae San Francisco/GABRIELA-USA, and a student at the University of San Francisco. She gets emotional when she eats.

OSCAR BERMEO is the author of the poetry chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest and Heaven Below. Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, he now makes his home in Oakland with his wife, poeta Barbara Jane Reyes. Oscar was the founding curator/host of the Acentos Bronx Poetry Showcase, and a founding curator/host of the synonymUS Collaborative Open Mic at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Oscar has been a featured writer at a variety of venues and institutions including the Bowery Poetry Club, Intersection for the Arts, Kearny Street Workshop, Bronx Academy of Letters, Rikers Island Penitentiary, San Quentin Prison, the Loft Literary Center, Sacramento Poetry Center, UC Berkeley, Columbia University, UNC Chapel Hill, NYU and many others.

Celebrate this Saturday, January 16, 2-5pm @ Bayanihan Community Center (Civic BART)

PAWA (Philippine American Writers and Artists) in conjunction with Arkipelago Books presents a book launch of:

Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults
Edited and Collected by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Saturday, January 16, 2010
2:00 – 5:00 PM

Bayanihan Community Center, 1010 Mission St., San Francisco

Featuring Readers Rashaan Alexis Meneses, Veronica Montes, Tony Robles, and Marianne Villanueva.


By Karen Pierce Gonzales

What I like most about folk stories is that they tell us something important about other people. They create specific examples of universal themes that exist in all cultures; they express the uniqueness of a particular time and a particular people that enlightens us all about our own humanity.

This is what I recently experienced after reading Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, a collection of contemporary stories for young adults collected and edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard.and spread the word to friends, family, students and other interested parties…


…Other stories also reveal the hard facts of immigrant life. Alma (‘Here in the States’ by Rashaan Alexis Meneses) struggles to understand how hard her mother must work as a nanny to make ends meet. Shame and sadness mingle when she questions the discrepancy between her mother’s role as a respected professional back home and her new role as a domestic helper. Adolescent resentment and rebellion about having to help care for younger siblings (something the maid back home did) further complicate Alma’s efforts to make sense of this new world. It is in her mother’s quiet strength and acceptance of life’s uncertainties that Alma finds her greatest comfort and connection.

Read More

BOOK DESCRIPTION: A welcome addition to Filipino American literature, Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults is the second volume of the Growing Up Filipino series by PALH. In this collection of 27 short stories, Filipino and Filipino American writers explore the universal challenges and experiences of Filipino teens after the historic events of 9/11. The modern demands do not hinder Filipino youth from dealing with the universal concerns of growing up: family, friends, love, home, budding sexuality, leaving home. The delightful stories are written by well known as well as emerging writers. While the target audience of this fine anthology is young adults, the stories can be enjoyed by adult readers as well.

CONTRIBUTORS: Dean Francis Alfar, Katrina Ramos Atienza, Maria Victoria Beltran, M.G. Bertulfo, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Amalia B. Bueno, Max Gutierrez, Leslieann Hobayan, Jaime An Lim, Paulino Lim Jr., Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor, Dolores de Manuel, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, Veronica Montes, Charlson Ong, Marily Ysip Orosa, Kannika Claudine D. Peña, Oscar Peñaranda, Edgar Poma, Tony Robles, Brian Ascalon Roley, Jonathan Jimena Siason, Aileen Suzara, Geronimo G. Tagatac, Marianne Villanueva

ISBN: 978-0-9719458-2-1
ISBN: 978-0-9719458-3-8

PUBLISHED BY:
PALH
P. O. Box 5099
Santa Monica, CA 90409
Tel/fax: 310-452-1195; email: palh@aol.com; http://www.palhbooks.com

For more information on the event contact:
PAWA, Inc. at pawa@pawainc.com, http://www.pawainc.com