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Reading, and What’s On My Radar

By Barbara Jane Reyes

Holla, Rigoberto! Whatchu reading, you ask. Actually, I am reading the boisterous novel, Leche, by poet and novelist R. Zamora Linmark, as he will be in San Francisco this week, and I will be interviewing him at his I-Hotel Manilatown event (which falls on the same day as my 40th birthday). I also wanted to link to some poetry happenings, books, chapbooks, and essays that are on my radar or reading list. Maybe these will fill some folks’ literary gaps, as Javier says.

Elisa’s Hunger by Carolina Monsiváis (Mouthfeel Press). I picked up this chapbook in El Paso, where I read with Carolina, and Eduardo C. Corral. In the spirit of my previous posts regarding women of color publishing women of color, let me shout out Carolina for her lovely poetry, and the “Borderland English/Spanish Publisher,” Mouthfeel Press’s co-editor Maria Miranda Maloney.

Uluhaimalama by Mahealani Perez-Wendt (Kuleana Oiwi Press). This is the same press which gave us Brandy Nālani McDougall’s The Salt-Wind, Ka Makani P’akai. As with McDougall’s poems, I first came upon Perez-Wendt’s poems in Effigies: An Anthology of New Indigenous Writing, Pacific Rim 2009 (Salt Publishing), edited by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke.

Tonto’s Revenge by Adam Aitken (Tinfish Press). This is the next chapbook in the Tinfish retro chapbook series. From Susan Schultz’s blog: “You want to shout Fuck Tourism,” Aitken writes, “but that would be nostalgic.” Right?! This is a theme in Pacific poetry that cuts deep into my own concerns.

Running the Dusk by Christian Campbell (Peepal Tree Press). This one’s on its way to me from the UK (both the author and the press are UK-based), courtesy of the author. I am reminded of other English-language writers of color in various places on the globe. This had come up on a Filipinos in Diaspora panel I’d spoken on some years ago, about the hard work of connecting with a readership of other English-language writers of color, especially those of us in the USA. I want to think the internet is making it easier, but then again, perhaps the internet is making us seem farther away from one another.

Through the Stonecutter’s Window by Indigo Moor (Northwestern University Press). This is the inaugural winner of the Cave Canem Prize, and I was glad to read with him last week at the Lyrics & Dirges series, co-curated by Sharon Coleman, at Pegasus Books in Downtown Berkeley. I haven’t cracked this one yet (too much to read right now!) but am intrigued by something he said during his reading. There is one section of his book dedicated to ekphrastic poetry, meditating upon a single painting.

So those are some books and chapbooks I’ve added to my reading list. Here are some happenings (both physical and virtual):

Craig Santos Perez’s excellent essay, “The Poetics of Mapping Diaspora, Navigating Culture, and Being From,” has been rolled out in six parts over at Doveglion.com. It’s been wonderful, witnessing this one unfold, beginning with invisibility and immobilization, and the real intergenerational psychic pain of these, into the opposite of invisibility and immobilization. I always have hope, as poetry can be a vehicle for this movement and assertion of presence in a world that erases, renames, appropriates, seeks to drive a people to oblivion.

Poet David Keali’i has written a poetic response to Perez’s essay, and this response is soon forthcoming at Doveglion as well. “What is a Doveglion?” you ask. It’s Jose Garcia Villa’s pen name, a contraction of dove, eagle, and lion, as well as a poem by e.e. cummings, written for Villa, who described Doveglion as a “strange country with no boundaries,” as “land itself is not a real country.” Certainly for ex-pats, definitions of “land,” “home,” and “nationality,” are things with which many struggle.

Next month is APIA Heritage Month, and I have co-organized and will be hosting Literary Night at Oakland Asian Cultural Center, featuring Jason Bayani, Vanessa Huang, Robert Ricardo Reese, and Margaret Rhee (who also has a chapbook forthcoming from Tinfish Press). There are more things I will be doing for APIA Heritage Month (online and in the real world), but for now, I shall leave you all with this OACC e-flier:

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Posted in Uncategorized on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 by Barbara Jane Reyes.