Eugene Gloria: “My Bad Uncle” (From HOODLUM BIRDS)

Eugene Gloria’s poems are surprisingly long. Self doesn’t usually read such long poems — they can go on, the dense text, for three or four pages (For the same reason, she doesn’t enjoy reading long stories — A short story should be able to do its work in 20 pages or less, if possible. Just her two cents). But what the heck, she brought this book with her to Southern California, and she’s in Venice Beach, which is all sun and bikers and surfers and funky eateries.

Here’s part of a poem she really likes (because after reading it she thought: “I know this person. Or plenty like him.”).

It’s from Gloria’s collection Hoodlum Birds (Penguin Books, 2006). Self bought her copy from City Lights after a reading in November 2006.:

“My Bad Uncle”

I saw him that night, his hands braceleted
behind his back — our neighborhood lit
like a bad uncle on a pint of scotch.

We all knew his sunnier days,
the perennial garden of his heart,
the shiny coins he doled out on his visits –

How he’d sacrifice himself to woman whims:
his mother’s, sisters’, wife’s, and lovers’. His gold Ford
Falcon that shuttled us back and forth to airports,

he was always available whenever we’d call.
He was a prince of the two-dollar cigarette variety,
a happy man in love.

But goodness is mostly work and hardly pays a thing
to the soul when it has to eat alone.
His own goodness would tell him to drive

all day to his fake errands, or circle round
and around in the El with a hideaway bag.
taking swigs between stops.

So one day when we weren’t thinking,
or were thinking only of ourselves,
he parked outside a Denny’s with his pistol

stuffed in his fanny pack. It was just a last-minute thing,
a quick bite then back to our house to sleep.
Takes very little to rouse the animal crouched in the garden:

The smirk of the local girl at the menu stand,
or the two boys spilling their Cokes on his new adidas.
A loud metal voice he seldom hears wells up

Venice Beach Boardwalk, 17 September 2014

Venice Beach Boardwalk, 17 September 2014

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Available Now: Your Impossible Voice, Issue 5

Today self heard from the editors of Your Impossible Voice that Issue No. 5 is out!

YAY!

The story they took is “The Elephant.” Self actually sent if from Cork, Ireland. It was the morning she was transferring from Ballyvolane House to Café Paradiso. You know, self just fell in love with Cork and wishes she had stayed there an extra week.

But, back to Your Impossible Voice and “The Elephant.” It is actually quite a disturbing story, but it is what it is. Here’s an excerpt:

For over a week, the elephant’s wild thrashings sent reverberations throughout the ship. It threw itself against the walls of its container, again and again. Sea monsters, the crew awoke thinking. We’re all going to die!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Memories of Trees” : Live Now on PITHEAD CHAPEL, Vol. 3, Issue 9

I’m one of three people still living who can tell what a mango tree looks like.  I’m important because they think they can learn how to make more.

– “Memories of Trees,” Pithead Chapel, Vol. 3, Issue 9 (September 2014)

Poem for the 2nd Sunday of August (2014): Angela Narciso Torres

Angela Narciso Torres was one of the contributors to Going Home to a Landscape, the anthology of Filipino women’s writings co-edited by self and poet Virginia Cerenio and published by Calyx Press in 2003.

Her poetry collection, Blood Orange, was the winner of the 2013 Willow Books Literature Award for Poetry. Her recent work can be found in the Cimarron Review, the Colorado Review, and Cream City Review.

Here’s the title poem:

Blood Oranges

At the river’s edge –
strewn seed, vermilion
petals from blood oranges

we ate. A branch
stoops from the weight
of phantom fruit. Falling,

the leaves exhale
the spicy-heavy air,
its punishing sweet.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self Got The Full-On Star Treatment From TAYO Magazine!

Oh the FEEELZ!

TAYO Magazine posted an interview with self.

Check it out.

The banner they used for self’s interview was a picture she took in The Red Room of Café Paradiso in Cork.  That is in fact the ceiling light. Love Ger and her cooking and her warmth and all her fun group of friends who invited self to share their champagne.

Self’s author pic was taken (years ago, cancha tell) by none other than the fabulous Stella Kalaw.

(It’s very funny because self thought all she was doing was having dinner — in Karilagan restaurant, just hailing distance from Max’s in South San Francisco — with Melissa Sipin-Gabon, fiction writer and editor of TAYO, and it turns out what she was actually doing was giving an interview. BWAH HA HA HAAAA!  If only self had an Effie Trinket around to prep for her propo! Any gaffes are entirely her own)

Stay tuned.

 

Poem for the First Monday of August (2014): Maiana Minahal

where is my country?

    by maiana minahal (Scroll to the bottom for a link to Maiana Minahal reading)

right now
in this country
someone wants me to answer
not here
just like last night
in this country
someone invited us to his party
with everyone else
but gave us the wrong directions
just like today
in this country
someone’s wife
hiding behind lacy white curtains
watches me and my brothers
certain that we want to break into her house

right now
someone’s crooked math
calculates how my foreign birth
proves my american roots shallow
twenty years long shallow
just like yesterday
someone’s denying eye
turned the page past my forefather’s obituary
the deceased american life
of another perpetual foreigner
just like last week
someone’s high school history book
forgets my filipino ancestors
started settling this country
in 1885
this history that
for one hundred years
for over one century
refused to see
their american births and deaths

right now
someone wants to take the words from my mouth
someone wants me to close my eyes
and stop listening

right now
i keep writing poems
my sisters and brothers and i
keep writing poems
for our brothers and sisters
for our children and grandchildren
in our country
my country
this country

The poem is from Maiana Minahal’s collection Sitting Inside Wonder (San Francisco:  Monkey Book Press, 2003).

Here’s Maiana, reading an excerpt from her poetry.  She was one of the contributors to the Filipino women’s anthology self co-edited with Virginia Cerenio, Going Home to a Landscape (Calyx Press, 2003).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Virtual Blog Tour: And Introducing . . .

Self got tagged, so now it’s her turn to tag three others.

The three artists self tagged for the Virtual Blog Tour are:

  • Luisa A. Igloria, poet and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA
  • Stella Kalaw, photographer, Emeryville, CA
  • Kathleen Burkhalter, writer, New Bedford, MA

She’ll start with Luisa, and follow up with Stella Kalaw and Kathleen Burkhalter in later posts.

About Luisa A. Igloria:

Poet and Professor Luisa A. Igloria, at home in Virginia

Poet and Professor Luisa A. Igloria, at home in Virginia

Luisa’s recent books include Ode to the Heart Smaller Than a Pencil Eraser (winner of the 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow:  Prose Poems (forthcoming from Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Press, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (winner of the 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), Trill & Mordent (Word Tech Editions, 2005).

Luisa has degrees from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was a Fulbright Fellow from 1992 to 1995.  She has lived and worked in Hampton Roads for the last 13 years.  She enjoys cooking with her family, book-binding, and listening to tango music.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Noteworthy Today (First Wednesday of April 2014)

Self reached p. 266 of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed (Only 400 pp. more to go!)

Self is at the moment extremely bummed out about the fact that she read 58 chapters of what she thought was Everlark on fanfiction.net, and it turned out to be Katniss/Gale.  Boo. Well, the category did say “Angst.”  Self, you should know by now:  angst =  love triangle.  And just like that, three days of her life (24 hrs. x 3 = 72 hours) go up in smoke.  Self adores “dark Peeta” but abhors “dark Gale.” Dark Katniss is pretty much standard.

These are the books she’s read thus far in 2014:

  • In the Shadow of Man, by Jane van Lawick Goodall
  • Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, by Rebecca West
  • The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed

Although this year she has set a record for extremely-slow-to-finish-reading, the three books she’s read so far have been — luckily — outstanding.  And all of them, it just so happens, are nonfiction.  What does that mean.

The next two books on her reading list are by Jhumpa Lahiri: the short story collection Unaccustomed Earth and the novel The Namesake.

Her retired priest friend in Dublin says he’s managed to get a fellow priest to agree to drive her to Tyrone Guthrie.  According to him, it’s a 2-hour drive north. OMG!  Self cannot allow it.  It would mean two hours worth of gas and whatever, each way.  These words from her friend the retired priest stick out in her mind:  wild and remote.  Wild and remote.  Gaaaah!  One more time: Wild and remote.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

EKPHRASIS: Jean Vengua’s The Little Book of Haptic Drawings

The word epkphrasis is one of those words, like deconstruction or meta-fiction, that self has heard floating about, here and there, usually in the most erudite settings — like literary magazines.  Like university websites (She used to have “dystopian” on that short list, but ever since The Hunger Games, and its overwhelming popularity, self hears “dystopian” at least 10x a day and it may be moving from the realm of the esoteric to the realm of cliché)

Ekphrasis refers to poems inspired by another art form — visual arts, say, or music.

The Little Book of Haptic Drawings is about ekphrasis.  But you don’t even need to know that.

It’s available now online in pdf format.  You can read it for free online or download it.  Jean would welcome a small donation — anything you can afford.  (There’s a small donation button on the sidebar).   Just click on the link.  Explore.  Enjoy.

And if you fell in love with it, be sure and let Jean know.

Stay tuned.

 

1st Friday of March (2014): Reading Poetry

P. 1 of Mary Ruefle's SELECTED POEMS (Wave Books, 2010)

P. 1 of Mary Ruefle’s SELECTED POEMS (Wave Books, 2010)

One good thing about rooming with poet Luisa Igloria during the recent AWP conference in Seattle (three shouts out for Seattle, what a gorgeous city) is that self got to learn a little more about poets.

The AWP Book Fair (where self spent most of her time hanging out) is like a big block party, only 10x better because everyone’s artistic and eccentric.  At the Wave Books table, self saw a display of books by poet Mary Ruefle. Until last week, self had never heard of her (Aaaargh, because self is stupid, OK? In her defense, she’s a fiction writer and she didn’t even recognize probably half the names of the fiction writers on the AWP panels).

Luisa, can we room again at next year’s AWP?  Self would dearly love to do a Part 2 of this personalized crash course on contemporary poets!

At the Book Fair, self picked up a collection of Mary Ruefle’s, and today was the morning she finally had a chance to start reading (Her car’s at the mechanic’s. It flunked the smog test. Her mechanic said it would be around $800 to get the engine to a point where it could pass the smog test. Understandably, self is in no hurry to pick up her car)

The very first poem in the book self purchased (Mary Ruefle:  Selected Poems) is this one:

Standing Furthest

All day I have done nothing.
To admonish me a few aspen
jostle beneath puny stars.
I suppose in a rainforest
a draft of hands brought in
the tubers for today, women
scratched their breasts in the sunlight
and smiled: someone somewhere
heard the gossip of exotic birds
and passed it on in the night
to another, sleeping curled like an ear:
of all things standing furthest
from what is real, stand these trees
shaking with dispensable joy,
or those in their isolation
shading an extraordinary secret.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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