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.

 

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.

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.

Inside 7: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Wow, self continues to be madly inspired by the WordPress Photo Challenge this week:  INSIDE.

Heartfelt thanks to The Daily Post for the fantastic prompts!

Here’s a picture of one of self’s Stanford chums, Penny Jackson, as she emulates a Yoga pose in front of the Asian Art Museum. Her arms are pressed together above her head, she is INSIDE the pose.  Get it?

It is always a lot of fun hanging around with Penny.  She is so spontaneous, pure Nitro.

It is always a lot of fun hanging around with Penny. She is so spontaneous, pure Nitro.

Self has always had an enduring fascination with snow globes.  Here’s one she bought about 30 years ago.

Christmas is a great excuse for nostalgia . . .

Christmas is a great excuse for nostalgia . . .

2013 was a special year:  Manila Noir, a collection of “dark” stories about the city of Manila, and edited by Jessica Hagedorn, was published.  Self has a story in this anthology:  The story is called “Desire.”

She’s not a big name, like the others in the collection, so her name didn’t get listed on either book cover.  But, still.  Open to the Table of Contents, her name is there.  She is INSIDE the book.

Manila Noir (Akashic Books, 2013): The covers of the U.S. and Philippine editions

Manila Noir (Akashic Books, 2013): The covers of the U.S. and Philippine editions

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Reading Simeon Dumdum’s “America”

Simeon Dumdum, Jr. has written six books, four of which won the Philippines’ National Book Award given by the Manila Critics Circle and the National Book Development Board. He works as a Regional Trial Court judge in Cebu City and lives with his wife Gingging and daughter Yeni in Mohon, Talisay City, Cebu.

America

by Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

I listened to him speak
of West Virginia
(he was born in Leyte
but was living
in West Virginia)
He spoke as they do
in the movies,
and as Ronald Reagan does
on the radio.
Even the way
he said “Virginia”
was better than the way
Hinying, a girl I knew
whose hair fell down a shoulder
like the tail of a bird,
said her name,
which was “Virhinia.”
And on that warm evening
I told myself,
That’s where I want to be,
in West Virginia, or New York,
or San Francisco,
because cousin says
everything there is big
and cheap — big chickens,
big eggs, big buildings,
And big flowers?
Cousin looked at me
and said, Yes, big roses,
tea roses, and he was
about to name other roses
but the moon was rising
and it was bigger than in
America.

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.

Three-Picture Story: AWP Book Fair, Washington State Convention Center, Seattle

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge was THREES: Telling a Three-Picture Story.

It’s a good thing self is at the AWP 2014 conference in Seattle. She has lots and lots of material. Today, she wandered the Book Fair with her roommate, poet and Director of Creative Writing at Old Dominion University, Luisa A. Igloria.

Stopped at the table for the Hugo House.  Found out that they’re hosting readings every night.  Tonight’s features Roxane Gay (editor of PANK magazine, which just accepted one of self’s stories for publication, Happy Happy Joy Joy!), John Haskell, Leslie Jamison, Brett Fletcher Lauer, and Amy Leach.

At the Hugo House Table, a "Reaping" of Sorts!

At the Hugo House Table, a “Reaping” of Sorts!

The Richard Hugo House in Seattle had a table at the AWP Book Fair.

Luisa reaches into the bowl to find her fortune.

Luisa and self each picked one.

Luisa and self each picked one.  This was self’s (!!!).  She likes!

DSCN4233

Self realizes this is a four-picture story.  But she’s never been good at following directions.  Never.

Stay tuned.

Most Recent, Part Deux

Self thinks that now would be a good time to remind herself that there is a point, after all, in trying and trying and trying and trying, that this is where she’s heading:

  • “Cake” appeared in Alimentum.
  • “Magellan’s Mirror” appeared in J Journal and was nominated for the Pushcart.
  • “Devotions” appeared in Word Riot.
  • “Vagabondage” (self’s first novella) was published by Vagabondage Press, Florida.
  • Manila Noir (Akashic Books) was published.  Self contributed a story, “Desire.”
  • “Bridging”, a piece self began in Hawthornden, appeared in Waccamaw.
  • “Hollow” appeared in 5_trope.

For the purposes of comparison, she includes her original post.

October 2012:  Most Recent

Do you know what this means, dear blog reader?  It means that, in the past 16 months, self has been busy busy busy doing what she loves most:  writing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The 10 Books Self Keeps Near

Self loves surveys of reading habits.

This one’s from Kepler’s Books Facebook page:

Name at least five books you’d keep near.

Self can’t possibly keep it to five.

Here are the 10 books self keeps near (on a shelf right above her MacMini):

  1. 50 Stories From Israel:  An Anthology, edited by Zisi Stavi
  2. The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene
  3. Myths and Symbols:  Philippines, by F. R. Demetrio, S.J.
  4. Drive-By Vigils, by R. Zamora Linmark
  5. National Geographic’s Field Guide to the Trees of North America
  6. Going Home to a Landscape:  Writings by Filipinas, edited by Marianne Villanueva and Virginia Cerenio
  7. Pinoy Capital:  The Filipino Nation in Daly City, by Benito M. Vergara
  8. Another Kind of Paradise:  Short Stories From the New Asia-Pacific, edited by Trevor Carolan
  9. Flannelgraphs, by Joan McGavin (Met Joan at Hawthornden, which was part of the reason self enjoyed Scotland so much)
  10. If I Write You This Poem, Will You Make It Fly, by Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

Lists are fluid; the books rotate per self’s mood.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Gemino “Jimmy” Abad on Language

Two momentous things happened on the way to the USF lecture in the City.

  • Jennifer Lawrence, self heard on the radio, wants to take a break from acting, would love to work with Animal Planet as a narrator on some of its programs. (Can self tell dear blog readers how much she adores J-Law, who in spite of making oodles of money is still so diffident —  about money, about fame.  Sure, she might have clawed her name to the top of the acting heap, but in spite of everything, she wears her anointed titles — “America’s National Treasure” one British daily called her — with self-deprecating good humor)
  • There was an Amber alert. Child abduction by someone in a red Infiniti SUV.  Self began to look around at the passing cars.  The Amber alert even got sent to her cell phone.

Got home, decided to resume reading Upon Our Own Ground:  Filipino Short Stories in English 1956 to 1972, edited by Gemino “Jimmy” Abad.

We say that is land and that “sea,” that “grass” and those “waves.”  It is illusion that “land” is land, yet in language real, for when we read what is written, or interpret what is spoken, we deal not with meaning in the abstract but with meaningfulness: the living become word.  The farmer speaks, Buntis na ang palay.  The meaningfulness of . . .  what he says is an act of the imagination.  For words do not have their meaning from themselves, but from lives lived.  Meanings — of words, as of anything else in human affairs — aren’t fixed once and for all, even as the lives of the speakers and writers of a given language change through their history . . .  it isn’t meaning that language carries, it carries you —  you and your generation . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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