On Wednesday November 28, after a wet and windy day, yours truly had the pleasure and honor of introducing my grad school mentor and thesis advisor fiction writer and Professor Lysley Tenorio, who’s new book, Monstress, a short story collection, was recently published by Ecco. Organized by PAWA Inc and hosted by the San Francisco Philippine Consulate, the literary event was started off with a welcome from the Consul General.
The introduction went something like this:
A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford, Lysley Tenorio has received a Whiting Writer’s
Award, fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Zoetrope: All-Story, Ploughshares, Manoa, The Chicago Tribune, and The Best New American Voices along with Pushcart Prize anthologies.
His latest book, Monstress published by Ecco/HarperCollins was reviewed in the New York Times where ANDREW HAIG MARTIN called his collection “a refreshingly off-kilter approach to the lives of Filipinos in America.”
Katy Waldman from SLATE.com wrote “it is the unassuming pitch of these stories that makes them so exquisitely deadly.”
And Dan Lopez in Lambda Literary described the collection saying: Hard lives and hard choices take center stage in Monstress, but this is no bleak landscape that Tenorio limns. Woven throughout the collection is a wry narrative of ambition. These characters whether they are gay or straight, American or Filipino, all share an abiding desire to succeed, their shared identity of otherness paradoxically empowering as it appears to disenfranchise. In that sense, they belong to a larger project of outsider fiction.”
ANAKBAYAN East Bay
TAYO Literary Magazine
Philippine American Writers & Artists
“Every colonized people—in other words, every people in whose soul an inferiority complex has been created by the death and burial of its local cultural originality—finds itself face to face with the language of the civilizing nation; that is, with the culture of the mother country. The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards.”
— Frantz Fanon
This political content & engagement workshop invites writers to shape their memoir, poetry, prose, or performance work with an emphasis on impacting perceptions, be thy political, personal, social, literary, or cultural. We exchange our writing and develop voice and authority while working on techniques to elevate the richness and toughness of our voice. We read and analyze authors to observe how they effectively move the reader, affect perception, and perhaps opinion. Class discussions focus how our work affects how we are perceived and how the events of the world are understood. The elements of each genre are addressed as well.
This year’s 18th Annual Associated Core Texts & Courses Conference, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sponsored by Carthage College, and focusing on the theme: “Liberal Arts Education and the World: Inquiring into, Preparing for, and Living in the Real World through Core Texts” took place 29 March through 1 April at The Hilton Milwaukee City Center Hotel, where I presented with the following panel
“Conrad, Ellison, and Narrative Structure:
Blending Critical Thought and Student Engagement”
Aaron P. Smith, Marian University of Fond du Lac, “Authentic Self-Existence for the Visibly Marginalized;” Lamiaa Youssef, Norfolk State University, “Narrative Lenses and the Journey toward Self-Knowledge;” Justin Ponder, Marian University, “A Walking Personification of the Negative: Listening to Stories in Invisible Man;” Rashaan Meneses, Saint Mary’s College of California, “We’re All ‘Others’ Now: Revisiting Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in the Age of Post-post-colonialism.”
Chair: Jean-Marie Kauth, Benedictine University
Some of the speakers and panels that caught my attention were the following:
Robert Gurval, Department of Classics, University of California, Los Angeles: “Harmony and Homer on the Pearl River Delta: The Foundations of a New Liberal Arts in China”-
China is looking at Western liberal arts colleges to help shape their higher education though instead of calling their undergraduate core curriculum “general education” they’ve opted to use the term “gateway education” to indicate that students are beginning the path to learning
self in search of self
self as social institutions
Liberal Studies as training for life
introduce poetry first as foundation to politics, which is the gateway to political and economic theory
From the panel, “The Function of Core Texts and Their Programs,” Nicholas D. Leither, Saint Mary’s College of California, “Skepticism Destroyed Their Paradise: Generative Thinking and and ‘Believing’ in the Text”-
argues that students lose innocence in college when they’re taught to become the skeptic
more often than not in the classroom creative thinking isn’t valued, nor seeing several POV’s simultaneously
Rational thinking limits
“When we take a critical approach, we forget to believe.”
Critical versus generative, students need to take a leap of faith
From the panel, “Concepts of the Self in East and West,” Yaqun Zhang, Xiamen University “Confucius’ Gentleman Personality and Its Influence on Academic Education”
education as a cultural mission
educating students to let them know they are part of a a social and civic commitment
seeking harmony not sameness
having a sense of appropriate conduct
From my own panel on Conrad and Ellison, Aaron P. Smith Marian University of Fond du Lac, “Authentic Self-Existence for the Visibly Marginalized” (concerning Ellison’s Invisible Man)
one must have existence to become authentic, meta-alienation
alienation requires confrontation
those who create new values need an audience to receive
This year’s conference not only emphasized true and vigorous cultural exchange between the U.S. and China since ACTC has been collaborating with Chinese universities to help shape their curriculum, but another important theme emphasized again and again was inter-disciplinary exchange and pairing texts that weren’t so obvious on the surface, but in comparing say Machiavelli to Lao Tzu, professors made profound connections and demonstrated an exchange of ideas and values that spanned time and geography.
Excited and honored to be presenting at the 18th Annual Conference of ACTC: Association for Core Texts and Courses. This year’s theme is “Liberal Arts Education and the World: Inquiring into, Preparing for and Living in the Real World Through Core Texts,” taking place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Yours truly will be presenting the paper: “We’re All Others Now: Revisiting Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in the Age of Post-post-colonialism.”
In 1977, Chinua Achebe, through his essay, “An Image of Africa” tried and sentenced Joseph Conrad for being a “bloody racist,” charging that his novel, Heart of Darkness, captured Western imagination at its worst. In light of post-colonial theory, every culture and nation affected by Empire, both colonized and colonizer, was then shackled to a shared and brutal past. Post-colonial theorists like Achebe sought retribution and used discourse as a means of justice. Now that we’ve woken from colonial dreams and post-colonial nightmares of imagined communities, how do we read and critique a text like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness? And, if “multiculturalism has failed,” or if we believe it is possible to “transcend race,” what comes after post-colonial theory?
For more info on post-post-colonialism, check out the following source:
Honored and humbled to have my short story, “Like Fish to Ginger” nominated for a Sundress Best of the Net Prize by The Coachella Review, who published the piece in Fall 2010. What a wonderful way to close the year!
Check out The Coachella Review’s full list of nominationsfrom their blog post:
By Rashaan Meneses
Before I set out to make my mark in Los Angeles, I chased Sunee. We met in a steamy noodle house in the Dusit District of Bangkok where I elbowed my way from dishwasher to sous chef. Sunee worked as hostess. Both seventeen, she knew exactly what she wanted, and it wasn’t me. Like with a delicate soup, I had to know when to stir and when to let the ingredients meld on their own. For seven months I coaxed her to me, savoring every minute of it, the taste of falling in love. This was all ages ago when cooking was like breathing.
On Saturday, October 22, at SMC’s Parent & Family Weekend, “Classes Without Quizzes,” I got to meet 25 parents and family members who were eager “to see Saint Mary’s through their kids’ eyes.” In my session, titled “Classroom as Kitchen Table: Education Through Conversation and Feeding Hungry Minds,” we read aloud Sandra Cisneros’ deceptively simple short short “Eleven.” As always this bittersweet narrative got the packed classroom buzzing and was the perfect inspiration for us to dive into our own childhood memories for a little creative writing exercise of our own. Here’s a quick review from one of the parents I met at the session, author Mitali Perkins:
I’m back from parents’ weekend at Saint Mary’s College of California where we attended classes without quizzes. I, of course, signed up for a writing class taught by Rashaan Meneses, who led us through a brilliant workshop on enhancing voice with detail.
Along with my fellow SMC colleagues, I’ll be presenting my class without quiz, “The Classroom as Kitchen Table: Education Through Conversation and Feeding Hungry Minds” where we’ll be reading Sandra Cisneros “Eleven” discussing and analyzing the text, and, if there’s time, we’ll do some creative writing of our own. Should be fun!
Parent and Family Weekend 2011
NOTE: Schedule subject to change
Saturday, October 22nd
8:30am Parent and Family Check in
9:00 – 10:00am Breakfast
10:15 – 11:15am Classes without Quizze- Families take 1hr long classes from
various academic disciplines
11:20am – 12:20pm Student Support Mini Seminars – Staff share ways to support your student regardless of class standing
12:30 – 1:30pm Lunch
1:30pm Day in the Bay – Enjoy your afternoon with your students!
Here’s a sample of what went down at Eastwind Books of Berkeley on Thursday, September 29, 2011
Thanks to Veronica Montes, Bea & Harvey, Eastwind Books managers, who organized the event taking place Thursday, September 29, 2011, which kicked off the International Filipino Book Festival, where Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Oscar Bermeo, Veronica Montes, Barbara Jane Reyes, Sunny Vergara Jr. and myself read to a packed house.
Bea had a pot of adobo to greet everyone, and the reading commenced with Oscar Bermeo reading from his chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest, Heaven Below and To the Break of Dawn. Some lines that struck bone include the following:
…those born near the sea carry a sense of salt…
born near the Pacific Ocean
…mother and aunt clean the ocean harvest…
the Atlantic tried to wash its taste out of me
For a full report, check out Ruelle Electrique’s post here.
September 29 not only happens to be my birthday, but this year Eastwind Books in Berkeley kicks off the Fil Am International Book Festival with a literary extravaganza:
“THE PLACES WE CALL HOME”
–a literary event in celebration of the upcoming Filipino American International Book Festival
at Eastwind Books, Berkeley, Thursday, September 29, 7-9 pm,
So come out and celebrate!
Authors and Poets reading will include:
Oscar Bermeo was born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx. He is the author of the poetry chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest, Heaven Below and To the Break of Dawn.
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the award-winning author of eight books, including the internationally-acclaimed novel When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, Magdalena, and Vigan and Other Stories.
Rashaan Alexis Meneses earned her MFA from Saint Mary’s College of California’s Creative Writing Program, where she was named a 2005-2006 Jacob K. Javits Fellow and awarded the Sor Juana Ines de La Cruz Scholarship for Excellence in Fiction.
Veronica Montes is the co-author of Angelica’s Daughters, as well as a short story writer whose work has appeared in Bamboo Ridge, Growing Up Filipino, and Philippine Speculative Fiction 5.
Barbara Jane Reyes is a recipient of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets and the author of Diwata, which was recently noted as a finalist for the California Book Award.
Benito M. Vergara, Jr. was born and raised in the Philippines. He is the author of Displaying Filipinos: Photography and Colonialism in Early 20th-Century Philippines and Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City.
For more information about the October 1 to October 2, 2011 Filipino American International Book Festival visit http://www.filbookfest.info/
If you love literature, like supporting local authors and independent booksellers, and fancy celebrating my commencement into this world, please mark you calendars.
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!
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.