More From Rosario Ferré’s Essay, The Writer’s Kitchen

  • Any writer or artist, women or man, has a sixth sense which indicates when the goal has been reached, when what she or he has been molding has acquired the definitive form it must have. Once that point has been reached, one extra word (a single note, a single line) will irreversibly extinguish that spark or state of grace brought about by the loving struggle between the writer and his or her work. That moment is always one of awe and reverence: Marguerite Yourcenar compares it to the mysterious moment when the baker knows it is time to stop kneading the dough; Virginia Woolf defines it as the instant in which she feeks the blood flow from end to end through the body of the text.

Patient # 4, LET ME NOT BE MAD

For the past two days self has been reading A. K. Benjamin’s Let Me Not Be Mad. She must be in a zone: it’s her third memoir written by a doctor since the start of the summer.

At first, self found Benjamin’s style a little too fraught, but Story # 2 was a shocker. Laid her flat.

Story # 4 is about Michael, 58, who’s recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

He invites his doctor to attend a football match: Arsenal vs. Halifax.

The doc agrees (Self thinks there must be a different level of permissible interaction between doctors and patients in England? In the States, no doctor would accept such an invitation.)

This deadpan sentence has self clutching her sides:

  • He will of course be hyper-litigious in the event of an incident.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“The Son of My Father”: Story # 20 in Carlos Bulosan’s THE LAUGHTER OF MY FATHER

Make no mistake, this father of the narrator’s, to whom Bulosan dedicates 25 (memoir-ish) short stories, would be no one’s idea of a good father. He drinks, he gambles, he sleeps with the neighbor’s wife, he gives the family home to a Mexican beauty he has a crush on. But here we are.

Bulosan treats all his father’s foibles with such affection and humor. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE, BULOSAN MUST BE A SAINT.

From The Son of My Father:

“You are a tragedy, Simeon!” they said.

It was true. Father was a tragedy. My brother Osong was not his spitting image at all. Osong was tall and fair of complexion. His bones were sharp and the hair on his legs was thick and long. He spoke several languages and dialects. He did not drink anything that had alcohol. He smoked American cigars and cigarettes.

Father was small and dark. His bones were soft and the only hair he had was on his head. And it was nothing to brag about, either. He could not read or write.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Flash Fiction Tuesday: Shirley Ancheta

Kristine appeared in Going Home to a Landscape: a Filipino Women’s Anthology, co-edited by self and Virginica Cerenio (Calyx Press). From the moment self first came across the piece in the submissions pile, she fell in love. This is an ace piece of writing, one that straddles prose and poetry, and is so achingly poignant.

Where is Shirley Ancheta now? Self doesn’t know. She hopes she is well.

Kristine turns a corner in San Francisco and is struck by an oncoming car. She is floating, she thinks, in the air with the seagulls. Her teeth ache. A man steps up to her and says, “Dear God, I’m sorry. What can I do? What?”

She thinks he has said, “Desire … here … what will you do?” The only man she wants to reach is married or dead or related to her. She smiles. She can’t remember.

She thought she was kissing a boy in the dark, in the back of the house near the pineapple field. His hands could hold down a pig for the killing. They were caught by their grandmother who threw her slippers across the yard. “No do dat wit your cah-sun! Wassamaddah you kids? You no feel shame o’ what? No good fo’ cah-sins fo’ make li’ dat!”

It is cold on the pavement of Stockton and Pine. The wind is enough to pick up Kristine’s skirt. She rolls her head from side to side. As someone puts a blanket on her, she hears a siren rising to meet the ringing in her ears.

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The Heat Is Back!

Self is soooo glad this little thingamajig from Manila still works. She found it in a desk drawer (she’s doing massive excavations of every single closet in her house). She has no air-conditioning so it is really handy. Amazing! All she needs to do is lift that thing right against her face. Heaven!

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Cool!

She also JUST noticed that the thingamajig is shaped like a penguin. Must sell like hotcakes in Manila. Or other hot places.

Stay tuned.

More from “Like the Molave” by Rafael Zulueta y da Costa (Poet, 1915 – 1990)

Like the Molave was a long poem in eight parts, published 1940:

The little brown brother opens his eyes to the glaring sound of

the Star Spangled;
dreams to the grand tune of the American dream;
is proud to be part of the sweeping American magnitude;
strains his neck upon the rising skyscraper of American
ideals, and on it hinges faith, hope, aspiration;
sings the American epic of souls conceived in liberty;
quivers with longing brotherhood of men created equal;
envisions great visions of the land across the sea where
dwell his strong brothers.

CALYX and the Nineteenth Amendment: Call for Submissions (Ends 31 July)

from Brenna Crotty, Senior Editor, Calyx:

Next year, in 2020, the United States will celebrate the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, and CALYX Press will turn forty-four years old. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing that Calyx has existed for nearly half the number of years that women have had the right to vote in this country, but “astonishing” seems like the right word for it either way.

In anticipation of the centennial, and in celebration of the labor and persistence that went into women’s suffrage, CALYX is open for a special extended submission period now through July 31, 2019. We are accepting poetry, fiction, and nonfiction on women’s participation in the political process, the myriad means through which women engage with and experience socio-political movements, and the ways full citizenship and access have been denied to different communities. Equal rights forwomen have had a long and fraught road, and our celebration of that first monumental victory in 1920 is tempered by the awareness that there is still so much progress to be made.

Poetry Monday: “Like the Molave”

Excerpt from Like the Molave

by Rafael Zulueta y da Costa (1915 – 1990)

Note: The molave is a Philippine hardwood, resistant to fire, used frequently in the construction of Philippine churches and dwellings, now extinct in the Islands.


VI

My American friend says:

show me one great Filipino speech to make your people
listen through the centuries;
show me one great Filipino song rich with the soul of your
seven thousand isles;
show me one great Filipino dream, forever sword and
shield —
speech eloquent and simple as our My Country ‘Tis of Thee;
dream age-enduring, sacred as our American democracy!

Friend, our silences are long but we also have our speeches.

Father, with my whole heart, I forgive all.
Believe me, your reverence.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 55: DREAMY

Thanks once again to viveka for inspiring self to try posting to the current Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: DREAMY.

Self is a short story writer (though some of her stories are over 50 pages!).

  • This Red Riding Hood Lamp followed her from one childhood home to another; self’s parents gave it to her when she was about five.

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She brought it to the States with her, when she left for grad school. And here it is now, in self’s home in Redwood City, California.

It was the perfect gift — one that nurtured her imagination and encouraged her to dream.

  • Here’s an image from the cover of Hotel Amerika, a literary magazine (based in Chicago) which published self’s flash, Ghosts. She loves the surreal, and so she loves the image.
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Hotel Amerika, Vol. 8 No. 2 (Spring 2010)

  • Finally, a landscape absolutely made for dreaming: Mendocino.
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Mendocino Headlands: April 21, 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Walking Around in a Heat Wave

Bookstores are fine places.

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Kepler’s Books, Menlo Park: That woman is very wisely dressed.

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Staff Picks, Kepler’s Books

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More Staff Picks! Leanne Shapton’s mother is Pinay.

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The order line at Café Borrone, around 10 a.m.

 

 

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