4/06/2005

Finding Space

*chuckle* The weird thing about blogs, I've found (this is my second) is how conversations get started/go 'round. I think lit critics out there will be looking at the form seriously soon, because I'm finding that beyond the "So I had breakfast with Pete and then I had a terrible day at work, and Oh isn't that new movie the Bomb?" folk are starting to use the form as a method of social and political commentary, going beyond the basics to something more formalized. With the exception of meme's (of which I'm managed to actually go an entire month without), I've been trying to push beyond the boundaries of daily diary into something more akin to what a columnist does - problem is, I'm still trying to balance all the layers out. There's the emotional me, the critical me, the hopeful me, the angsty me, the mom, the editor, and the 'thing' that I do with words. I'm trying to communicate, I think we all do when we enter a form like this, something very raw and personal. This is one of the reasons why I don't edit my blogs as a general rule, other than what a spell checker tells me to fix (and if it ain't on, yah gets what yah gets).

The results of my new vision of the form have been okay from my point of view, but still somewhat mixed from an outside viewpoint. Eileen responded to my last post via email and as much as I would love life to be as clear as we make it seem on paper, it's not. On the one hand, there was me, trying to find something elusive to my understanding that night, and Eileen trying to respond, with no prior warning, to something actually quite complex in nature. In the end, there was a disconnect which was disturbing to us both. There is part of me that yearns to be able to reconnect, to fix things, to redo the moment of questioning last Friday - perhaps I'd be less aggressive, perhaps the venue would quieter, perhaps the discussion less rushed. There is also a sense of self-censorship, of needing to respond here, yet not wanting make things worse by my continued rambling/questioning.

I have to admit to a certain confusion, though, as to why Creative Non-Fiction (memoir) is often characterized as something less than the other three genres, as something not actually creative/artistic in nature? I’m reminded of memoirists I have talked to lamenting that their work is often marginalized because it can’t be defined very well. What struck me most, then, about the responses to my question Friday was that here were a group of writers marginalized by the lit mainstream apparently uninterested in a marginalized art form. And an art form, I would argue, lush with the opportunity to break the very stereotypes already presented in the Big Three.

So, if I could go back, the original question was "Where can I find FilAm memorists?" meaning where is the fourth genre/creative non-fiction work by FilAms? Not the critical essays, not the historical essays, not the autobiography form of the elder year, but the work that melds it all together - the critique, the poetry, the fiction, the history - all wrapped up in the writing of personal experience in a way that gives a voice of claiming to the unique experience of marginalized groups? The answer appears to be, It's there, but in bits and pieces. Most of the personal experiences of the current writers are being transformed into poetry and fiction. And that's cool, really.

I know that artists use the forms they feel will most express what they are trying to say, and for now, for the FilAms I'm reading, that means forms from the traditional three genres. FilAm lit has had to struggle for recognition, with poets like Eileen blazing the way into our literary consciousness to a brilliance that will not fade. And that's a very much needed thing in this increasingly non-post-colonial world we live in.From her work, and the work of others over the last century, I find the foundation to create my own expression, even if for now, it seems disconnected to the larger FilAm lit movement.

Which brings me to the layer beneath the question I’d originally asked, the reason for the question in the first place – basically I’m looking for mentors to my own writing.

I can find memoirists and I can find FilAm writers, but I can’t find a FilAm memoirist. I’m compelled to write CFN and in that compulsion is a desire for community as well as a sense of direction, the self-recognition that although in my middle years, I’m still a young artist looking to the master’s work for insight and inspiration. I find I can only learn so much from folk like Gutkind, Miller, Hemley, Paola, and Moore before I run into that gap that echoes my experience as woman of color living in white suburbia/academia. I find I can only learn so much from FilAm poetry and fiction before I run into that gap where artistic expression is claimed as both personal and imagined experience. Angelou and Kingston come close, but there is also a generational gap between them and me. What I find, then are gaps, which I can only hope my work can begin to fill, if for no one else, at least for myself.

4 comments:

EILEEN said...

By the way, you ask: ""Where can I find FilAm memorists?" meaning where is the fourth genre/creative non-fiction work by FilAms? Not the critical essays, not the historical essays, not the autobiography form of the elder year, but the work that melds it all together - the critique, the poetry, the fiction, the history - all wrapped up in the writing of personal experience in a way that gives a voice of claiming to the unique experience of marginalized groups?"

I believe Leny M. Strobel's book from T'Boli Publishing (San Francisco) is an answer to your question above. I don't know the final title yet, but check out her blog (it's one of my links) for future updates. It should be released in a few months, and thus indeed meld together various literary forms for an overall memoir.

Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor said...

Thank you Eileen! I've been curious about Leny's work since your post with her critique of your work.

And I appreciate your patience with my often stumbling efforts to engage with our literary community.

madlyme.com said...

Where are the Fil-Am memorists? There's one at katinkabaltazar.com also known as "tongue-in-cheek: a writer's journey." I'm writing a novel based on my personal experience, or book-length work of creative nonfiction as you call it, which uses narrative techniques to tell an autobiographical story.

Entries you might find interesting:
http://katinkabaltazar.com/category/2005/03/hiya/
and
http://katinkabaltazar.com/category/2005/03/araw/

Sorry I am shamelessly plugging my blog. But I just wanted to let you know that I do write from personal experience and I am here, for now at least.

KB

Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor said...

Hi Tinka!

Thanks for writing. I'm very glad to see you're 'out there.' Your blog is very interesting and I look forward to seeing your work published. Please keep in touch!

Bec