The Mission: Lit Crawl 2014

Tonight was Lit Crawl in San Francisco’s Mission. Self attended a reading of Saint Mary’s College alumna, one of whom was the fabulous Rashaan Alexis Meneses.

Rashaan read the story that was recently in New Letters, a story that happened to be set in Bonnyrigg, near Hawthornden!  (Rashaan should send a copy to Hamish).

But, before the reading, we met up at local fave Puerto Allegre (546 Valencia St) for some yummy sopes and guacamole, where self met poet Raina J. Leon and got her to sign a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn:

Raina J. Leon signing a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn, at Puerto Alegre on Valencia St.

Raina J. Leon signing a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn, at Puerto Alegre on Valencia St.

This picture of Rashaan reading was unfortunately a little blurred, but you can still get a sense of her energy:

The Fabulous Rashaan, reading at Bay Blend Coffee & Tea, 1905 Mission Street, San Francisco

The Fabulous Rashaan, reading at Bay Blend Coffee & Tea, 1905 Mission Street, San Francisco

She happened to take a seat facing the sidewalk, so that as the reading progressed, she found herself watching a building directly across the street. There was a FOR LEASE sign on the front. The ground floor had this rather fabulous home furnishings store (with real-looking white sheep), very “chi-chi” for the Mission.

As it grew dark, the rooms of each floor of the building lighted up. And self has always, always been fascinated by windows.

She remembers staring out the kitchen window of her brother-in-law’s apartment in New York City, just staring at parallel rows of windows, and seeing people doing different things: talking on the phone, reading the newspaper. Each little square a story.

Mission Street, Across from Bay Coffee & Tea

Mission Street, Across from Bay Blend Coffee & Tea

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Silence is your treasure”

Self is reminded of this again when she reads Diane Gilliam’s essay on “Working in Silence,” on A Room of Her Own Foundation’s website.

The full quote is:  Silence is your treasure.  Do not exchange it for an easy life.

Walking to Annenberg from Littlefield, you pass this meadow. Self doesn't know the name of the artist who made this sculpture, but right in front of the Cummings Art Building is a Henry Moore.

Walking to Annenberg from Littlefield, you pass this meadow. Self doesn’t know the name of the artist who made this sculpture, but right in front of the Cummings Art Building is a Henry Moore.

Last night, self found herself back in Stanford.  Self enjoyed the walk through the still campus.  She remembers thinking:  How quiet it is here.  How peaceful.  And that’s what Stanford gave her:  four years of peace.  Two years in the East Asian Studies Program, with a concentration in Chinese, two years as a Creative Writing Program Fellow.  What an unimaginable luxury.

Self originally meant this post to be about the Rolling Stones.  Specifically, the Rolling Stones as they were in 1972, when Robert Frank made the documentary “Cxxxxsucker Blues” (Self blushes to admit that the x’s are her own.  The early 1970s were still the 1960s. What self means by that is that drug use was still rampant, and so was free love. And Mick wore velvet jumpsuits spangled with sequins and looked vaguely reminiscent of Elvis, only much thinner).  They showed it in Annenberg, last night. Amazingly, the theater was packed, even though at that very moment, the San Francisco Giants were facing off against the Saint Louis Cardinals.

Frankly, it was just painful to see the way women were treated in this movie (like pieces of meat — yes, exactly. Thank you Jennifer Lawrence or whoever): they were either in bed or shooting up or sewing. Yes, sewing.

With one exception:  Bianca Jagger. Who was in no way a groupie. Who Mick treated with affection.

Thank God for Bianca Jagger.

The album “Exile on Main Street” was self’s first ever Rolling Stones album. And the Robert Frank documentary was about the 1972 tour for that album. If for nothing else, self had to see the documentary.

And Mick had this amazing, amazing diffidence (Keith Richards had it too, to a lesser degree). At one point, he stares straight at the camera (presumably being held by Robert Frank) and says, casually contemptuous, “Fuck you.” And it’s not as if Frank caught him in an intimate moment, either.  He’s just standing there, and he decides to turn his head, look at Frank, and without his face changing expression, says “Fuck you.”

Now, that’s a moment.

And now, before self gets too carried away with this post, she needs to get moving. She realizes she hasn’t even connected the dots between the quote “Silence is your treasure” to the Stones documentary.

But, ta-ta, dear ones! To be continued.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure” : A Piece About General Yamashita

This piece appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Our Own Voice,  a magazine of the Filipino diaspora.

There’s a legend about General Yamashita, who the U.S. held accountable for war crimes in the World War II occupation of the Philippines.  Yamashita was executed shortly after the war, after a brief trial.

They say he stashed away bars of gold bullion, and treasure hunters have been trying to find the riches ever since.

Self suddenly recalled this piece after listening to Joanne Diaz, a poet, whose reading in Moe’s Books self attended last night, along with Jay D and Lillian H, who belong to her fabulous writing group.

Joanne Diaz is an AWESOME reader. Self bought the two collections that were on sale last night:  My Favorite Tyrants (which won the 2014 Brittingham Prize in Poetry), and The Lessons.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure”

He was a shaman. Oh, something very old.

Like the turtle you forgot about that grew to 10 times its size in your mother’s garden.

My uncle looked for the gold bars, you know.

Under the old fort.

Why would they be there?  Why would General Yamashita leave them behind? Underneath an old fort in Manila?

Tell me where I can find it, the treasure that the Tiger of Malaya stole, the gold Buddha, the bullion.

You remember.

The necklaces of diamonds and jade . . .

The rest of self’s piece can be found here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19 No. 2 (The West Coast & Beyond Issue)

The latest in a series of issues focusing on “Place.” Crab Orchard Review initiated the series in 2009, at a time when, according to the Editors’ Prologue, Vol. 19 No. 2, it seemed that the magazine might go under.

The “Land of Lincoln: Writing From and About Illinois” issue became the first series on place because Carolyn Alessio, Crab Orchard Review’s Prose Editor, was born “in the Chicago suburbs and lives in the city itself today.” The issue focused on two of Chicago’s literary greats, Carl Sandberg and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Next followed “Old & New: Re-Visions of the American South.”

At that point, everyone was very aware that Crab Orchard Review was approaching its 20th year.  So the editors decided to make the review’s 2012, 2013 and 2014 “special issues into a kind of anthology exploring the United States of America and its regions as a subject.”

The series developed into four issues: “Old & New: Re-Visions of the American South,” “the North,” “Prairies, Plains, Mountains, Deserts” and, finally, “The West Coast & Beyond” (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawai’i, the Commonwealth countries, territories and areas of U.S. occupation)

Now, in this “final edition in the series,” the editors point out that they have managed to “include at least one story, poem, or essay about, or work by an author born in or living in every one of the fifteen states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.”

Here’s an excerpt from a poem by one of the writers in the issue, April Christiansen.  Her poem is “The Great Seattle Fire, June 6, 1889″:

Shouts, pitched water, the surface glazed,
boiled over. Glue embers tumbled into shavings
littering a turpentine-soaked floor, and men
grabbed their coats, flew to the stairwell as flames

fastened themselves to the building’s walls,
inching towards the liquor warehouse next door.
Glass shattered, the crisp smell of burnt alcohol and paint
filled the sidewalks, and a crowd gathered.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Elsewhere: a Lit Mag for Writing About Place

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS, ELSEWHERE:

“We envision Elsewhere to be a space for work that has trouble finding its place. We are interested in creative work that deals with marginalization in some form or another. We don’t think of race, gender, class and sexuality as dirty words or as problems to be dealt with outside of literature and art. Rather, we think of them as central to creative activity.”

So, send them your stuff, dear blog readers.

*    *     *    *

A few weeks ago, self was traipsing around southern California in the company of her ex-Assumption Convent classmates (even just typing those words — Assumption Convent — sounds quaint to self’s California ears!). And one of them agreed to spend the day with self, driving to and from San Diego.

And after almost three hours of driving, the two of us ended up in Balboa Park. In a section that was very very hot, with small trails and a children’s playground. And after some woebegone wandering about, self found the greatest discovery:  THE MUSEUM OF TORTURE. And she persuaded her classmate to venture inside and have a look. And indeed there were so many wonders contained therein, wonders such as:

  • the self-mortifying iron ring
  • the iron chastity belt
  • The “Iron Maiden” of Nuremberg (the last recorded use of which was August 1515)
  • All manner of scourges and flails

Self will not get too much into it, but suffice it to say, this museum is so interesting, situated right in Balboa Park.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

White Whale Review

This evening, self decides to re-visit some of the literary journals who’ve solicited and published her work.

There is a reason why, on this blog, self begins to list her publications only starting from 2007: that was the year when she began getting published again.

Yes indeed, dear blog readers:  Just because one has two books under one’s belt is no guarantee of your survival as a writer. And for a period of several years, self received not one single acceptance.

But she hung on.  For which, thank God.

In the meantime, while she was suffering through the acute discomfort of many-years-not-getting-published, she started a blog. This blog. She was writing, but purely for entertainment. Slowly, editors began to write her, leaving comments on the blog.

And that’s how she came to be published in White Whale Review. One of the editors contacted her.  Her story, “Dumaguete,” appeared in Issue 1.2

It’s been a while since she dropped by; she decides to visit this evening, and finds out, Holy Cow, they’re now on Issue 6.2.

So they did not fold.

It’s almost a miracle.

“River, I Have Known Your Source”: Anvil Press Poetry, England

Self doesn’t remember how or why she bookmarked Anvil Press Poetry. She did it a couple of months ago, when she was traveling in Ireland and England. When she was meeting so many artists, so many people.

On the Anvil Press Poetry website, the “poem of the month” is by Nina Cassian. Self loves it:

“Origins”

River, I have known your source:
sparkling water crocheting quickly through
rock’s rigid garment. Yes, I knew,
river, I have known your source.

With my palm I touched your coolness
and beyond, a splendor not to miss,
the new grass was waiting for your kiss.
With my palm I touched your coolness.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Founded in 1968 by Peter Jay and now based in Greenwich, southe-east London, Anvil Press is England’s longest-standing independent poetry publisher.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Busy Bee

Self is extremely, extremely happy this morning. She was able to wheedle a reading date from her local library for Manila Noir, an anthology that Akashic published last year, and for which she has never given a reading.

She’s only one of — ehem — 15 Filipino writers in the book, it was edited by Superstar Jessica Hagedorn, she loves the pieces in it to bits. Why has she never read for it in her own neck of the woods?  OMG, why?

She wrote a brand new story, just for the anthology. Yup, one winter holiday, almost three years ago, La Hagedorn requested a story from self, and after wringing her hands for nearly a month, and subjecting herself to all sorts of angsty emo feelings, self ended the pity party, grit her teeth, addressed the problem (which had been hovering over her head, a veritable Sword of Damocles, making her incapable of performing even the simplest holiday tasks, such as setting up the Christmas tree) and that very same day, she came up with a story. Turned it in. Got quick thumbs up from Hagedorn. Became pride-ful and slothful. Told the world of her inclusion in said anthology. Crowed about her triumph in her little corner of the world, and then waited for — NOTHING. Everyone in the Philippines and Asia and even the continental U.S. of A. read the anthology, but her story was sandwiched between such greats that no one seemed to have time to comment on it. Nevertheless, nevertheless . . .

She did manage to get Lysley Tenorio (a fellow alum from Stanford’s Creative Writing Program, he teaches at Saint Mary’s in Moraga) to agree to read with her. Quite a feat, as the guy’s got a big agent, a big publisher, and he agreed to make the trek to REDWOOD CITY. And besides, self isn’t sure whether she still can read, it’s been a while. So it is good if Lysley reads with her, for he is an excellent reader. And not only that, he is affable and very used to signing author copies.

Now, since self is so energized, she is thinking of contacting other places, such as Books, Inc. in Town & Country. Hello, they already carry it; she’s seen it there, in their Mystery section. So, what’s the problem, self? What’s taking you so long? Get off your couch and who says you can’t? Get yourself over to Book Passage, while you’re at it.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books.  She's holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books, at the 2013 Miami International Book Festival, holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Forgiveness

Below is an excerpt from The Economist obituary for Maya Angelou, who passed away May 28 this year, at the age of 86. Self found out about Angelou’s passing in London. She and an old school friend, Doris Duterte Stanley, had walked to King’s Cross from Euston Station, where self’s train had just arrived from Wales.  In the lobby of King’s Cross, a gigantic video screen flashed the words: MAYA ANGELOU DIES AT 86.

(Self is so way behind in her reading of The Economist. At what point does she say Enough and quit her subscription? One more year, perhaps . . . )

When she was asked what words brought her comfort, she said, “Love.” And, after love, “Forgiveness.” Forgiveness did not mean you would seat your enemy at your table and feed him cornbread and fried chicken (though cooking food, and sharing it, often made peace). But it meant you could move on. In the words of “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she read in 1993 at Bill Clinton’s inauguration:

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

In Progress

Self worked on these stories today:

  • The Mountain Dog
  • The Hole

Why, she wonders, does she keep churning out short stories, when she really ought to be concentrating on a novel, since that is more liable to capture the attention of literary agents and/or big mainstream publishers?

Nevertheless, self is proud about today’s accomplishments.

Both stories were begun ages ago. Suddenly, today, self knew exactly what each story was missing. She had put up the framework, but she didn’t know the story. Not until today.

Go for it go for it go for it

Life is short, the journey long.

Stay tuned.

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