“Thaw” by Luisa A. Igloria

Surprise, surprise, it snowed! In the late afternoon. Self was supposed to go to a reading, but with the snow and all, she chickened out.

Self is rooming with Luisa A. Igloria again. (We were roommates also last year at AWP Seattle) Luisa is very good at attending panels, which is great, because self has been holed up in her hotel room just reading, and if not for Luisa’s recaps she would be in a great blizzard of Know-Nothing.

Self totally bombed about attending the Karen Russell reading this evening. Luisa loved it.

Here’s a poem from Night Willow (Montreal: Phoenicia Publishing) one of two books Luisa had published in 2014 (The other is Ode to the Heart Smaller Than a Pencil Eraser)

Thaw

Warmer days. Light that fades later and later. Finally we can fling the
windows open. The clasps grate and rasp, like throats gargling salt
water first thing in the morning. Rooms crammed with more than
winter’s fat; eaves with bits of leaf and twig, blinds lined with ledgers
of dust. The drawers groan with socks and scarves, the pantry
shelves with unopened cans of beans. I want to scrub all the corners,
scour the tiles in the bathroom with bleach — even the stripes of
grout between each one. I want a pot of yellow strawflowers, a bowl
of blood-red tulips, nothing else but the mellow gleam of wood in
the middle of the room. I read about ascetics and what they chose
to renounce. Sometimes I think I want that. Sometimes I want to
be both the mountains emerging from their heavy robes of ice and
snow, and the streams they feed below, rushing and teeming with
color and new life. Sometimes I want to be the clear unflavored
envelope of agar, other times the small mouthful of sweet azuki bean
entombed like a heart in the center.

Luisa A. Igloria is the author of twelve books of poetry and numerous awards, including the 2014 May Swenson Poetry Prize and 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize.

Symmetry 5: The Mendocino Headlands

Such a gorgeous day! Tonight is self’s talk on Flash Fiction at The Mendocino Hotel.

She walked along the bluffs, just to let her mind organize her ideas.

She’s having different people read her short shorts, and then she’s throwing in two more: the piece that appeared in Vela Magazine right after Typhoon Haiyan, and Shirley Ancheta’s piece “Kristine,” in Going Home to a Landscape (Calyx Press, 2003)

In the meantime, here are some pictures she took of the Headlands, with an eye to the WordPress Photo Challenge this week, SYMMETRY.

Standing on the bluffs, just off Main Street, earlier today

Standing on the bluffs, just off Main Street, earlier today

A Wider Perspective

A Wider Perspective

Port of Richmond, on the last day of the Codex International Book Fair, Feb. 11, 2015

Port of Richmond, on the last day of the Codex International Book Fair, Feb. 11, 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Place, Memoir, Journey” Workshop, This Saturday & Sunday

Self’s primary purpose in coming here to Mendocino is to teach a workshop. A travel writing workshop. A workshop on writing about place. About a physical location. Something that exists. And damn self is going to make the students write as hard as they can. Write write write write write write, dear students. The funny thing about travel writing is: you’re writing about place, but you’re also writing about memory. And damn we will mine those memories to the max, dear students! Especially those of you who arrive in Mendocino from far away. From, say, Louisville! So, in order to prepare the students for this wonderful two-day hard writing weekend, self has been immersing herself in manuscripts. She’s looked at Zack Linmark’s Leche, which is tremendously inspiring for voice work. And she’s reading Tony Robles’s about-to-be-published manuscript Cool Don’t Live Here No More, which is amazing for being about a specific place that he loves so much: San Francisco, South of Market (which may be disappearing under the onslaught of construction and high-tech companies moving in)

She’s also reading the absolutely heartbreaking memoir by Sonali Deraniyagala, Wave. Deraniyagala lost her entire family in the tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004. She lost her parents, her husband, and her two sons. And everyone told her: You’re so lucky you survived! Which just goes to show, people are stupid when it comes to pain. They either don’t feel it, or they feel it but they don’t want to feel it so they fight it and end up doing things like telling a woman whose entire life has been wiped out in one day: Thank the Lord you survived!

She’s also reading Thomas Lynch, who’s a poet but also an undertaker and also a memoir writer. She’s reading Nandini Dhar’s Lullabies are Barbed Nations. She wishes she had something by Atul Gawande and Abraham Verghese but after all, she could not bring her whole personal book collection to Mendocino. She’s still reading Roberto Bolaño and on the basis of the individual sentence, he is amazing. She thinks he has one sentence that goes on for two pages (Translator Natasha Wimmer, self salutes you) She will include the first page of her story “Rufino,” because it’s so far the only one of her short stories that mentions Neil Young. And Luisa Igloria’s poem “Oir” from her collection The Saints of Streets. And that’s as far as she’s taken her reading list at the moment. Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading (First Tuesday of February 2015): Luisa Igloria

Fish is much on self’s mind these days.

That’s because she has successfully avoided eating any meat (rib-eye steak* cough* Mendosa’s Harvest Market* cough!) during her stay in Mendocino.

No, that’s not quite true. She has had a roast beef sandwich from Cultured Affair Café; and she tried some lamb from Ledford House.

But for the most part, her daily diet has consisted of: fish and chips; cod; clam chowder; scallops; pasta; ramen and vegetables (She had the most wonderful cod from Ledford House, just last Saturday)

Ledford House, Albion: Saturday, 31 January

Ledford House, Albion: Saturday, 31 January

Given her new eating habits, it is fitting that the first poem self reads this morning, from Luisa Igloria’s collection The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House), is about fish:

Parable of the Fish

A bitter heart, a few little fires
abroad in the countryside. The skeleton
of a life shaved down, both bait and
barb. So here is the fisherman
who never caught a thing, having moonlit
conversation in the reeds. She
is covered with scales and sinuous
as brocade. She listens
but will not grant
a mansion for his wife.
His hair is fading to the color of shells.
Maybe he will cross the river tomorrow.
Maybe he will beg a boon.
Maybe he will take her back
and hide her raincoat in the garage
among the power tools and
rusted lawnmowers.

How beautiful is the language!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“To Do” : from BLOOD ORANGE: POEMS, by Angela Narciso Torres

from Blood Orange: Poems, by Angela Narciso Torres (Willow Books: Detroit, Michigan, 2013)

To Do

Call repairman about refrigerator gasket,
find model number first. Buy chicken-flavored
toothpaste for Lilli. Consult vet about lump
in her eyelid. Ask Jade if she can pick up Timmy from band.
Yoga class. Write Ian at camp. Search the basement
for Bishop’s Collected Prose, re-read the piece about
her mother’s getting fitted for a purple dress in Nova Scotia.
Buy folder with metal prongs for Matt’s book report. Schedule
the boys’ dental check-ups, mammogram for me.
Write Irene about the boy with the faux-hawk and good
shoes on the train from Chicago, reading a Bible
from a zippered case. Tell about the elderly couple
and their two-year grandson, how the grandfather clutched
the boy when the train lurched, then picked him up
as though lifting a brittle Chinese urn from the mantle.
When the boy wriggled into his grandmother’s lap, how she,
so unconcerned and vast, kept her eyes on her paperback,
held open with one hand, her other arm around the boy
who draped his body over her chest, his cheek on her padded
shoulder so he could look out the window. The grandfather
watched the boy with utter concentration, no — amazement —
at the small face, smooth as cream and lit from within,
watched him with the kind of awe for the young that only intensifies
as one grows older.

It is truly amazing for self to read Angela and realize how she juggles all the competing roles in her life — mother, wife, poet, poetry editor, friend — so expertly and with such aplomb.

From women everywhere, Angela, major kudos.

Poet, Looking Fabulous: Angela Narciso Torres on the Streets of Chicago, October 2014

Poet, Looking Fabulous: Angela Narciso Torres on the Streets of Chicago, October 2014

Stay tuned.

The Past Exists

A number of years ago, self wrote a story called “Don Alfredo & Jose Rizal,” which wasn’t so much about Don Alfredo or Jose Rizal but was about a young woman who can’t seem to stop cutting herself (sins of the past!)

That story was published in Sou’wester in 2007.

Here’s an excerpt:

I think about her ex-husband, who left her for a kindergarten teacher while they were both waiting tables at the Captain’s Bar in Compton. Was that last year, or the year before? Time — the past — tunnels its way into our hearts, there is no way of knowing where all of this will end.

And then self thinks, also, of the Miguel Hernandez poem (translation by Don Share) that she’s had taped to the bookshelf above her computer, for over a year:

Pierced by your hair,
everything is filled with you,
with something I haven’t found,
but look for among your bones.

Self, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, May 2014

Self, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, May 2014

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Twinkle 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge this week urges us to “share with us your photos of twinkling light.”

Here goes:

One of Hundreds of Christmas Ornaments Self Has Collected Over the Years

One of Hundreds of Christmas Ornaments Self Has Collected Over the Years

Another From Self's Collection of Tree Ornaments (None of them Match)

Another From Self’s Collection of Tree Ornaments (None of them Match)

And here’s a picture self took when she visited Chicago in October. It’s the interior of Mooh Dulce (2602 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago), an art gallery which is also the site for America’s oldest Filipino American Theater Company (founded earlier even than Michael Shannon’s The Red Orchid Theater!), Circa Pintig. Much thanks to poet Angela Narciso Torres for hosting self in Chicago and taking her to see Conrad A. Panganiban’s collection of linked one-acts, Apat.

Waiting for Circa Pintig's Apat to begin: Chicago, Mooh Dulce Art Gallery, October 2014

Waiting for Circa Pintig’s Apat to begin: Mooh Dulce Art Gallery, Chicago, October 2014

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Coming Up 2015!

  • Being in Mendocino as Writer-in-Residence, starting January. Giving a whole bunch of readings and teaching a workshop on travel writing (offered through the Mendocino Art Center). Reading at the invitation of the California Writers Club, Feb. 18!
  • Visiting Valerie Miner’s Stanford class, early February!
  • Having Drew Hemenger’s “Marife Suite” (based on self’s novella Marife) performed by Hampshire Symphony on March 14, 2015. Seeing friends in New York afterwards!
  • Having a piece come out in Witness’s Translation issue (March 2015)!
  • Attending AWP in Minneapolis and seeing ex-Assumption classmates!
  • Reading with fellow Stanford Creative Writing Program Alum at Redwood City Public Library (Downtown Branch) in May!
  • Self also intends to start her New Year’s reading with a bang: reading George Eliot’s Silas Marner and Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn. Right now, she’s about halfway through William Maxwell’s short novel (or novella) So Long, See You Tomorrow; she is loving it so much.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Karen Llagas in RHINO 2012

Raining cats and dogs here in the San Francisco Bay Area. When it rains it pours.

The Man decided not to go into the office.

A friend’s Sausalito reading, scheduled for tonight, was cancelled due to weather concerns.

So, a perfect day for self to continue making inroads into her Pile of Stuff. Today her focus is RHINO Magazine, which published her piece “Eating” in 2012.

The same issue in which “Eating” appeared has a fabulous poem by San Francisco poet Karen Llagas:

Poet Karen Llagas, reading in the San Francisco Main Library, October 2012

Poet Karen Llagas, reading in the San Francisco Main Library, October 2012

Tamayo’s Animales

by Karen Llagas

Two dogs bark at a moon that mocks
the little it takes to give them pleasure.

Or, two dogs laugh at something as far
as the moon, at how little it takes
to give them pleasure.

Their eyes smolder chili and charcoal,
letting the world know

not what but that they want,
Here in the beginning of the world,
three polished, symmetrical bones —

because to be an animal is to glow with hunger
for what is discarded, or lost.

Isn’t that beautiful? Gave me chills. There’s more, but self is not sure if she can put the entire poem on the blog without violating some sort of copyright. So she will just link to RHINO 2012 here.

About Karen Llagas: Her first collection of poetry, Archipelago Dust, was published by Meritage Press in 2010. She has an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and a BA in Economics from Ateneo de Manila.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

CHINESE YANKEE, by Ruthanne Lum McCunn

(Not a third-person post, for once!)

Many of the stories in my second collection, Mayor of the Roses, were shaped when I was in a writer’s group with Ruthanne Lum McCunn.

Lives diverge, self hasn’t seen Ruthanne for many years.

But, a month or so ago (first I typed “weeks ago” then decided to double-check the date on Ruthanne’s e-mail — time moves like a river oh me my), I got an e-mail saying she’d written a new book: Chinese Yankee, a True Story From the U.S. Civil War (Design Enterprises of San Francisco, $16)

Here’s something from the Hong Kong South China Morning Post:

Chinese Yankee is an extraordinary story that still resonates 150 years later. With her empathy for the central character and her engaging and accessible prose, McCunn is ideally qualified to tell the tale.

Ruthanne Lum McCunn is also the author of: Sole Survivor, God of Luck, The Moon Pearl, Thousand Pieces of Gold, Wooden Fish Songs, Chinese-American Stories, and Pie-Biter.

More about Chinese Yankee can be found here.

Stay tuned.

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