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.

 

The Story “Rufino” (from MAYOR OF THE ROSES, Self’s 2nd Collection)

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.

*     *     *     *     *

Mayor of the Roses was published by Miami University Press in 2005. The press was known as publishers of the American Poetry Series. Self’s collection was the first book of fiction that Miami University Press ever published.

Heartfelt thanks to Brian Ascalon Roley for bringing the manuscript to the attention of the press and Keith Tuma.

The collection’s been taught at Bates College (Maine), Pampanga Agricultural College (Magalang, Philippines), Skyline College, and Stanford University.

One story, “Lenox Hill, December 1991,” was in the syllabus of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, in a course on Ethics and Medicine.

Mary Ruefle: From SELECTED POEMS

The last AWP conference was in Seattle. Self roomed with poet Luisa Igloria. When self is with writers from another genre, she loves to pick their brains. So, one day, Luisa and self happened to be strolling through the Book Fair, when she asked Luisa about her favorite poets, and since we just then happened to be passing a table selling Mary Ruefle, self stopped and purchased a copy of Mary Ruefle: Selected Poems. (Wave Books: Seattle and New York, 2010)

(Oh, did self ever mention to dear blog readers that she brought more poetry collections with her to Mendocino than fiction?)

Anyhoo, today self cracks open Ruefle’s Selected Poems (About time, too: the AWP conference was almost a year ago), and this is the very first poem:

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.

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.

Self’s Writing

Her first collection of short stories, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, was published by Calyx, a women’s press (which has survived over 30 years) based in Calyx, Oregon:

Self's first book became one of five finalists for the Philippine National Book Award.

Self’s first book became one of five finalists for the Philippine National Book Award.

At around the same time, Penguin put forth an anthology of short stories by Asian American Writers called Charlie Chan is Dead, which included self’s story “Lenox Hill, December 1991″:

The story in this anthology, "Lenox Hill, December 1991," eventually became part of self's second collection, MAYOR OF THE ROSES, which Miami University Press published in 2005.

The story in this anthology, “Lenox Hill, December 1991,” eventually became part of self’s second collection, MAYOR OF THE ROSES, which Miami University Press published in 2005.

Self co-edited an anthology of Filipino women’s writings called Going Home to a Landscape. It included Filipina women from all over the world.  Calyx Press published it in 2003:

Cover Art was "Tropical Landscape II" by San Diego-based Filipino artist Dixie Galapon.

Cover Art was “Tropical Landscape II” by San Diego-based Filipino artist Dixie Galapon.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Achievement: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Stories of Achievement:

1st, Nutschell Ann Windsor, Filipina American, writer, brown-belter in the Philippine martial art of arnis

Nutschell Ann Windsor is a graduate of the University of the Philippines, a UCLA Extension Program Administrator, and co-editor of an anthology called SPROUTS.

Nutschell Ann Windsor is a graduate of the University of the Philippines, a UCLA Extension Program Administrator, and co-editor of an anthology called SPROUTS.

2nd, Angela Narciso Torres, whose poetry collection Blood Orange won the Willow Book Prize in 2013:

Angela Narciso Torres, poet, reading from her poetry collection, BLOOD ORANGE, at Beyond Baroque Literary Center in Venice Beach, CA, Nov. 2

Angela Narciso Torres reading from her poetry collection, BLOOD ORANGE, at Beyond Baroque Literary Center in Venice Beach, CA, Nov. 2

3rd, Matthew Torres, son of Angela, a visual artist and a junior at USC. He painted this in honor of his mother’s poetry collection, Blood Orange.  Took the shot in the lobby of Beyond Baroque Literary Center, just before Angela’s reading.

Matthew, son of Angela Narciso Torres, is a junior in USC. He painted this for his mother, to illustrate her collection BLOOD ORANGE.

Matthew, son of Angela Narciso Torres, is a junior in USC. He painted this for his mother, to illustrate her collection BLOOD ORANGE.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

ELSEWHERE Issue 3 Coming Soon!

And self has a story in it.

Triple somersault! Lubots up!

Her story is a short short called “The Lady of the House Trains Esperanza.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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.

 

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