Work-in-Progress: Camarote de Marinero (Part of Linked Collection)

“Father, here you go. You have your own room.”

There was a narrow platform which he presumed was his bed. Beneath the platform was a small cabinet.

“Your things here,” the boy said.

Later, he overheard the men talking about him: they called him cochino. Even though Matias was not fat, not even close to, he knew the most well-fed men in the villages were usually the friars. It was new to him, the contempt, the disrespect, because usually men of the cloth were treated with deference.

Another time, he heard the captain say, “sin experiencia del mundo” and assumed he was the one being referred to.

 

The Pearl Shop, Philippines

It always surprises her to learn that self’s got a following. Not here, IN THE PHILIPPINES. Which has thrived in her TOTAL ABSENCE. Like, go figure. In fact, she’s on the curriculum in the University of the Philippines.

She remembers giving a reading at a hotel in Cebu during International PEN, and all her books sold. Every last copy. Amazing, right? It sold out, even though the book was expensive by Philippine standards: 500 pesos per, almost $10 US. For a country like the Philippines, to have sold out at that price, for a writer who rarely goes home, is truly something.

She was at a dinner after her reading, and someone tapped her on her shoulder. She turned, and a woman self did not know said, “I just wanted you to know. I really loved The Lost Language.”

At the Cebu Airport the next day, a stranger came up, introduced himself, and said he flew from Cagayan de Oro to Cebu, JUST TO HEAR HER READ. Her hair was a sweaty mess, her clothes were rumpled. If she had known people would recognize her, she would have gone to a parlor.

Dearest Mum is always berating self for her lack of style. She looks, Dearest Mum said, like a slob. Because she has no compunction about wearing any old thing that happens to be clean.

The man who spoke to her at the airport in Cebu turned out to be a writer himself. He gave her a copy of his book. He writes plays. His book was published IN DIALECT which is so totally earth-shattering and amazing. No English translation, and self doesn’t know the dialect. But. Still. Self really believes in regional literature. Because literature from the margins is MORE powerful.

The writer’s name was Carlos A. Aréjola.

Here are the production notes, setting, cast of characters etc. from his play Unang Yugto:

Tagpuan (Setting): Cottage sa isang resort (A cottage in a resort)

Panahon (Time): Kasalukuyan (The Present)

CHARACTERS:

Edwin – matangkad, guapo (tall, handsome)

Toledo – mestisuhin (mestizo), 18 taong gulang (18 years old)

Dagul – 21, moreno (dark-skinned), medyo pandak (somewhat short), may body piercings.

Falcon – mestisuhin (mestizo), ayos na ayos ang buhok (Hair fussed over; sorry, that’s the best she can come up with)

Dalawang Dalaga (2 girls): college girls, magaganda (beautiful), mapuputi (white-skinned)

Mga Pasahero Sa Airport (Passengers in the Airport)

Cagayan de Oro isn’t exactly unknown, it’s a very populous province. But she’s never set foot in Cagayan de Oro, never given a reading there, doesn’t know a single person from Cagayan de Oro. Somehow, over there, in her home country, her book (with no marketing at all), has trickled from the urban centers to the provinces. Which means her work is embraced as a  vital part of Philippine culture. The knowledge is so humbling.

(Here, there’s a 40 Filipino Writers You Must Read List, which is published every December from San Francisco. She’s never on that list)

A few days ago, on Facebook, she met the owner of a shop called The Pearl Shop. Self accepted his friend request and then he told her that they sell her book. She said, Hey, I could send you some autographed copies if you like!

He was happy at the news.

The store is in Manila, and they are a purveyor of PEARLS (not a bookstore, in other words).

Heart Eyes, Pearl Shop.

To the end of time.

 

Still Work-in-Progress

  • Pitt was the first to board. He was always the first. Whether that made him brave or foolhardy was hard to say.

The Rorqual, p. 5

Why Always Ice?

Excerpt, work-in-progress

Genre: Fantasy/Horror

Status: 52 pp.

Working Title: The Rorqual

It began with the discovery of a ship, sailing languidly along the ice-clotted harbor. It seemed meandering, yet sure of purpose. It drifted toward shore, riding high in the water.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Gulls and the Pagophilics

from the Dictionary of Birds (1985):

  • a ‘large, homogeneous, successful group probably at the summit of another evolutionary line.’

from Birds of the Western Palearctic (Unforgivable, in self’s view, that Dee fails to provide a date of publication):

  • ‘Predator, scavenger, food-pirate … taking almost anything available of suitable size, texture, etc’

Self’s horror story The Rorqual (currently 51 pages — self is so out of control!) uses exactly these kinds of dictionary definitions (in self’s case, pages long) to describe her ‘pagos’ and her ‘longnecks’ and her other what-not. She birthed this horror in Tyrone Guthrie. She can’t seem to write any of it until she returns to Annaghmakerrig. California is just too dry, too intensely hot, too savagely suburban.

Stay tuned.

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.

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.

DSCN0099

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.
DSCN0120

Hotel Amerika, Vol. 8 No. 2 (Spring 2010)

  • Finally, a landscape absolutely made for dreaming: Mendocino.
DSCN9990

Mendocino Headlands: April 21, 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Rosario Ferré: Her Island

Self is reading the last piece in Ferré’s book, On Destiny, Language, and Translation. As self has explained elsewhere, she decided to start this re-read with the last piece and work her way front. Nothing can match the genius of the title story, The Youngest Doll, which begins the collection, and self would rather work her way up to the good stuff.

She must have forgotten (honestly, it’s been at least two decades since she’s read Rosario Ferré) or mebbe it didn’t strike her as significant at the time, but Ferré is from Puerto Rico, and her primary subject is the class divisions between landowners and share workers, on an island where the main crop is sugar.

Self knows quite a bit about sugar, because that is her family’s crop, too. Maybe that is why she found Ferré. Yes, she found her.

It’s not as if Ferré is the easiest Latin American writer to read. Before getting to Ferré, self read Clarice Lispector, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Rosario Castellanos, Octavio Paz, Jorge Amado. But when she found Ferré, there was instant engagement.

To read is to engage, but when self found Ferré, she didn’t just engage, she engaged fiercely.

On to Ferré’s essay. She unpacks the process of translating her own novel, Maldito Amor, from Spanish to English.

The title of the novel “is also the title of a very famous danza written by Juan Morelli Campos, Puerto Rico’s most gifted composer in the nineteenth century, which describes in its verses the paradisiacal existence of the island’s bourgeoisie of the time . . . I decided to change the title altogether in my translation of the novel, substituting the much more specific Sweet Diamond Dust. The new title refers to the sugar produced by the De Lavalle family, but it also touches on the dangers of a sugar which, like diamond dust, poisons those who sweeten their lives with it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

“A Good Wife and Mother”: Rosario Ferré

The day of my debut as a writer, I sat at my typewriter for a long time, mulling over these thoughts. Inevitably, writing my first story meant taking my first step toward Heaven or Hell, and that made me vacillate between a state of euphoria and depression. It was as if I were about to be born, peering timidly through the doors of Limbo. If my voice rings false or my will fails me, I said to myself, all my sacrifices will have been in vain. I will foolishly have given up the protection which, despite its disadvantages, at least allowed me to be a good wife and mother, and I will justly have fallen from the frying pan into the fire.

Recommended Reading: Rosario Ferré’s short story, The Youngest Doll, from the collection of the same name

Work-in-Progress, First Draft

“Your Holiness,” Matias said, trying to mask his excitement by imbuing his voice with a tone of the most abject humility. “You have not yet informed me where I am to be assigned.”

The Bishop acted as if he was surprised, but he was not; he had left this piece of information for the last, deliberately.

“Do you know the island called Isla del Fuego?” the Bishop asked.

Matias’s throat contracted. “I do know it,” he answered, carefully. “I believe the natives call it by another name.”

DSCN0048

Self’s novel-in-progress, Blue Water, Distant Shores, is 340 pages of conversations between the Bishop and Matias. And between Matias and his native guide, Diego. Oh, and a few letters. That is all.

Stay tuned.

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