I’d Rather Be . . . In a Bookstore


Linda Nietes greeting a customer at the bookshop she owns, Philippine Expressions (Inside a 1920s building, 479 W. Sixth St., San Pedro, CA). Linda is 81 years old. She has been running bookstores all her life.

Last Saturday, 17 March, International Woman’s Day, Linda Nietes invited six Filipina authors to Philippine Expressions Bookshop in San Pedro to read from their work. The authors were: poets Angela Narciso Torres and Irene Suico Soriano, and prose writers Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, Tessie Jayme, and self. The reading was held in the beautiful lobby of a 1920s-era building on 479 W. Sixth Street:


Here’s son with Linda before the reading:


Beautiful Event. Self was honored to be a part of it.

Here’s Linda, in her own words, about why she does what she does:

  • It is a ministry, an advocacy, a labor of love, and the results cannot be counted in dollars and cents. It is fulfilling only to the person who accepts the responsibility of creating a greater awareness and a higher consciousness among members of our community. I have found the field, planted an orchard. Saplings are growing and some have already grown and are blooming and even fruiting. Lucky will be the generation that will just pick the fruits of my labor, but I do not mind that because I understand what the role of a trailblazer is! You blaze the trail so that people will find their way. I was inspired by a quote: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Friday: San Francisco Native Son, Tony Robles

From Fingerprints of a Hunger Strike, by Tony Robles (San Francisco: Ithuriel’s Spear, 2017):

An Excerpt from Proud

City of St. Francis
I’m proud
Of being
Loved by you

And don’t worry,
I don’t hold that
Eviction against you

But it did come
As a surprise,
All wrapped in a
Gauze colored envelope

Just the way
It goes, I guess

I’d lived there
45 years, grew up
There, Mom’s died
There, at home,
Where she belonged

I got 60 days
To vacate

I’m proud
Of being loved
By you

And Mr. Fare Inspector,
I don’t got no ill feeling
Towards you for looking me
Up and down as though I
Were defective while you
Scrawled my life story on
That ticket you wrote me,
Legible only to a doctor or

I’m proud
Of being
Loved by you


Tony Robles’s Love/Hate Book About San Francisco Is Beautiful and Tragic

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


This event is sponsored by the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford. It is free and open to the public.

The Clayman Institute’s Winter Artist’s Salon features novelist and Stanford professor Chang-rae Lee. Lee will talk about the women characters in several of his books, giving a short reading, followed by a discussion with the audience on a range of questions.

He will focus on June, the female protagonist in The Surrendered, and Fan, the female protagonist in On Such a Full Sea.

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018
4:15 to 5:45 p.m.
Levinthal Hall
Stanford Humanities Center

RSVP to: gender.stanford.edu


“Rufino” from Self’s Collection MAYOR OF THE ROSES

There were fourteen years before self’s first and second book.

The first was published by Calyx Press in Corvallis, OR.

The second was published by Miami University Press.

The third, The Lost Language, is only available in the Philippines.

The fourth is an e-book published by Vagabondage in Florida.

There’s also an anthology she co-edited for Calyx Press: Going Home to a Landscape.

Recently, she got an email from writer and teacher Susie Hara, who said she had liked the story “Rufino” in Mayor of the Roses.

It was the last story to be included in the collection. She threw it in at the last minute.

Rufino was a real person.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

Towards the end, he couldn’t wear any clothes. They had to cover him in banana leaves.

It was in July he died — I couldn’t believe it. A voice on the phone told me.

“Rufino died na.” It was my mother speaking. Naturally, she had to be the one to break the news.

I was staying in a friend’s house in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the mornings, fog blanketed the hills. We heard the mournful mooing of invisible cows. One or another of us would look east, toward where we heard Neil Young had his ranch, wondering whether we’d catch a glimpse of his pink cadillac that day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


In Honor of International Women’s Day

Books that rocked self’s world:

  • Break It Down, by Lydia Davis
  • Empty Chairs, by Liu Xia
  • The Charm Buyers, by Lillian Howan
  • Yes (A screenplay), by Sally Potter
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
  • Night Willow, by Luisa Igloria
  • Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, by Doreen Fernandez
  • The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
  • Bad Behavior, by Mary Gaitskill
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
  • Memories Flow In Our Veins: Forty Years of Women’s Writings from Calyx, edited by the Calyx Editorial Collective
  • The Infernal Devices Trilogy, by Cassandra Clare
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  • Going Home to a Landscape: a Filipino Women’s Anthology, edited by Virginia Cerenio and Marianne Villanueva

Debut Novel, University of Hawai’i Press

THE CHARM BUYERS, by Lillian Howan, is a novel that describes extraordinary beauty and turbulent change: Tahiti during the last years of French nuclear testing in the Pacific in the 1990s. Tahiti in the 1990s is a place where a supernatural, shamanistic reality exists together with the traditions of the Hakka Chinese, set against the background of the French colonial past and the Ma’ohi struggle for independence. It presents a world in transition and its people — black pearl cultivators, artists, taro farmers, politicians, smugglers, and shamans.

The Charm Buyers is a thought-provoking insight into a time of cultural change. It captures an essence of existing between reality and surreality, dreaming and wakefulness, the past and the future. (Foreword Reviews)

Book Launch!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017
5 p.m.
Maier Room, Fromm Hall
University of San Francisco


Sponsored by the Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies, Asian Pacific American Studies, and the Center for Asia Pacific Studies.

Quote of the Day: Aimee Nezhukumatathil (The Writer’s Chronicle, Sept 2016)

“I do think persona is helpful in however heavy or light the disguise, if only to announce to the reader that if my persona says or does something they don’t find agreeable, it’s just a character, not the person.”

— Aimee Nezhukumatathil, in her interview with Eric Farwell, The Writer’s Chronicle, September 2016

Reading at AWP (Off-Site) for QUARTERLY WEST, 8 February 2017

Participating in a group reading for Quarterly West at Sixth Engine, a converted firehouse in Washington, DC. during the AWP Conference.

Date: 8 February 2017 (Details to follow), downtown Washington DC

Quarterly West Issue # 89 has self’s newest Dragon/Fire Lizard story, “First Causes.”

It’s a sequel to her “First Life,” published July 2015 in Juked.com

Stay tuned.


“Magellan’s Mirror”: Self’s Pushcart-Nominated Story, 2012

Magellan’s Mirror

  • Note: In this story, The Philippines is the home of giants. In the history books, Ferdinand Magellan is credited with their discovery.

During the next week, no natives appeared on the shore. The beach was empty as it had been on the first day, before the crew had sighted Enrique. The men looked up at the sky, cloudless and blue. Under their breaths, they cursed their leader.


The Beach at Capitola-by-the-Sea, late December 2016

In the middle of the third week, four of the giants were seen gesticulating on the shore. The sailors shook their heads. The natives importuned them with tragic gestures. Finally, the tribesmen boarded a massive canoe and began paddling towards the Trinidad. Magellan ordered his men to welcome them warmly. The crew offered the visitors their fill of wine. Just as the giants were sleepily dozing off, Magellan had his men shackle them.

Thanks to J Journal for nominating self’s story for the Pushcart. Self took the historical journey of Ferdinand Magellan and included magical elements. She has a Part II, called “Vanquisher.” And a third story, called “Residents of the Deep,” which she began at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, 2014, which takes place centuries later (1840s)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwriting: Tattoo You


Picture in Front of Moth & Dagger, Bush Street

The long scar from a knife fight several years ago is still visible, just above Gerry’s right ear. His back is covered with a variety of bluish, sloppy tattoos. A map of the Philippines snakes down his back. There’s a rose tattoo between his shoulder blades. Love, Suzy is just beneath his left ribs. Suzy Cheerleader, his girlfriend.

— “Gerry Dreams the Ocean,” short story in progress

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