Our Own Voice

I found Our Own Voice today exploring links. Once again I'm startled to find something and somefolk who I didn't know existed, but write/discuss things I'm interested in. Too long I've been dry and lost that sometimes being splashed with the cool water of knowledge is something biting and surprising.

There is that word Diaspora... I was born in Seattle, yet at least part of me is diasporic, existing someplace else, displaced in time and space. The split seems unnatural because I am often viewed as very US, very nearly white, coconut in thinking. It would be romantic and verifying to be true diaspora, and I lean toward it as if it were sunlight. It could be my easily-swayed nature looking for attention again, though.

Paper Thoughts

So according to my writing blog I haven't written a blessed thing since May 9, which is mostly true. I've jotted a few things down here and there, but haven't kept to the 1/2 hour a day routine I had set for a goal. This weekend, I plan on cleaning out the LOTR RPG cards I have in boxes *shudder*.

So it was particularly difficult to read the following on Ivy's blog

So often is the virgin sheet of paper more real than what one has to say, and so often one regrets having marred it.
—Harold Acton

It successfully captures the form of my writer's block, that arrogance that I can be perfect on the page first go. I sent it to the Hubby who wrote back:

Hmmmm, I don't buy it, though I understand the sentiment. It is the purpose of paper to take in and share our thoughts. Writing isn't marring virgin paper, it is acknowledging it's innate potential and, married with our creativity, helping to fulfill it.

If you want to get Zen about it...even written upon, the greater majority of the page remains blank. We only cover the part that, helped along by the white space, conveys meaning...

Which I found greatly comforting - the idea that the written word and the blank page compliment each other, are needed by each other to convey that which the artist intuits. Smart guy! I'm gonna keep him.


New and Noteworthy


Meritage Press is pleased to announce that HYPHEN MAGAZINE, Summer 2005 has chosen Luis H. Francia's poetry collection, MUSEUM OF ABSENCES, to be among its "New and Noteworthy" picks. Hyphen suggests you read Francia's collection, which it succinctly describes as:

"Poet Luis Francia introduces readers to characters such as a filipino elder reflecting on a lifetime of invisibility, a post 9/11 New Yorker and a middle-aged Cinderella in Museum of Absences (Meritage Press)."

To accommodate their recommendation, Meritage Press is pleased to announce a Summer Reading Special for Francia's book: a 20% discount off of the retail price of $15.00, plus free shipping/handling within the U.S. (a $3.00 value). If you want to bring Francia's stellar poems to the beach this summer, send $12.00 -- checks made out to "Meritage Press" -- and mail to

Eileen Tabios
Publisher, Meritage Press
2101 Sacramento Street
Suite 202
San Francisco, CA 94109

This Special Offer will run through Summer 2005 (expiring Sept. 1, 2005).


Congratulations to Tabios and Francia!


On Rizal and Teaching

Found a wonderful surprise at Leny's space, namely a reference to the warrior history of Jose Rizal (see Rizal: Zen Life, Zen Death at Rene Navarro's space). Like many of my generation, I know little of Jose Rizal, other than he being the literary voice of the Philippine Revolution. I visited the Jose Rizal Memorial in Manila when I visited in 1997, and gained what little I know as I usually do...by absorption of what was presented there. Because his life happened 'there' rather than 'here' I have tended to focus on the lives of Carlos Bulosan and Philip Vera Cruz when researching...

But there is another part of my story that touches on things Buddhist, Taoist, Warrior in nature, so to come full circle in a sense, and discover that Rizal not only knew of, but practiced various forms of martial arts, both native and European, is to smile in wonderment. A surprising, but welcome connection, that I'll be musing about for awhile.

Leny's May 16th post struck home, though, a reverberation from classes I had first TA'd then taught back at Western. I was pinch hitting for a prof out on medical leave last year, and took on the 300-level PostColonial Lit class for the English department. I had hoped it was the beginning of a long relationship with the Western, but with only an MA and no book publications, my phone has been silent since finishing my stint.

Oddly though, the echoes of the class persist - this last weekend I found myself one moment purchasing pet food and the next exchanging pleasantries with a former student working at the pet store. She told me that the books we read the quarter she took my class were her favorites, and I, of course, beamed proudly. I took risks that quarter, fashioning the class the way I wanted it to be, rather than replicating what the previous instructor had done. I finally taught the class I had envisioned while a TA - an entire quarter devoted to the post colonial literatures of the US.

Most times, when talking PostColonial, folk seem to mean Post-Euro contact, and I had yet to see any anthology on literatures from Post-US contact, in particular those colonies gained through the Spanish American war. I taught Babaylan that quarter, along with a Boondocks collection, Loving Che, and Mestizo. I taught selections from Black America, alongside Native America, Hawaii, Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. The war in Iraq had just recently started, and I wanted to lead my students to a knowledge that what had happened before could and was happening right now, that the US colonial movement was not over, but had changed it's masks, making it more difficult to see and to critique. Some got there, most just got credit for their required class. It was good to know that at least one thought the book selections were worth holding on to.

I've had friends ask if I really want to teach again, and part of me does - I'd like to hone this class into something really solid, use newer anthologies like Pinoy Poetics (so recently and vibrantly reviewed by Ver) and Screaming Monkeys, and find their counterparts in the other cultures I try to cover during the course. But I have to admit to a certain laziness - in order to get this project off the ground and make a living at it, I'd have to get my PHD and there's other things I'd like to do with my time and money.

Seeing my former student though and reading Leny's words was like looking through a mirror into a different future, a wistful smile on my lips.



I found this poetic form mentioned here. Thanks to Jean for mentioning it. (Her thoughts on writing and pedagogy are helpful too.)

Based on an exercise from Poetry Sundays, that stipulates the following:

Biopoem Exercise by Ellen Edwell

Here's something to try, if you like. It's called a BIOPOEM. It has a particular format that I use to get students going sometimes.

line 1: Your first name
line 2: Four nouns or adjectives that describe you
line 3: Who lives in______________
line 4: A lover of.... (list 3-4 specific people, things, ideas)
line 5: Who notices..... (list 3-4 specific things)
line 6: Who feels..... (3-4 specific listings)
line 7: Who learns ________________ from ______________ (2-3 listings)
line 8: Who dreams....or hopes.....or wishes......
line 9: Your full name
line 10: A person who____________________________



Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. - Howard Thurman. American theologian, clergy, mystic, civil rights activist 1900-1981


And they weild many knives on my planet...

Your Star Wars Name and Title

Your Star Wars Name: Rebsa Masea

Your Star Wars Title: Notcho of Nor


After I Die

I'm looking forward to seeing Kate Trueblood and Nancy Pagh this week at the YWCA. I'm not familiar with Nancy's work, but found this at the Bellingham Review site. I quite like it, very NW'ty. And I agree...madrona is best.

After I Die
By: Nancy Pagh

My grandmother's pear or Italian plum
would be comfortable and sweet
but too domestic. I need
a wild tree. Cedar is my favorite trunk
but close-branched;
in cedar I can't see the sky.
Dreamy blossomed dogwood
are too slender for this purpose.
Douglas fir are tall enough and warm
in winter, but I have never felt at home
in a fir. After I die
take me to a madrona.

Choose one red-boled, round-hipped
and open at the shoulders.
Wear pants good for climbing and
bring a few lengths of cord.
Help each other help me
up through the branches,
through rubbery leaves or dry ones,
and tie me supine toward the sky:
I don't want to fall in the first wind.
There are laws against this sort of thing
so choose a place far enough out
that you can't find it again.

After I die the softest places
will come unstitched
and even bitter secrets I kept in my belly
will sound raucous
in the mouths of crows.
Curling red bark of madrona
pulls back from the limbs each summer
and I'll peel too, unwinding from bone.
In rainstorms, hard white pieces,
knuckles and ribs, will drop from branches
through wet green salal. The best part
is being allowed to scatter.


Three Days and Counting

Star Wars Horoscope for Leo

You add a whole new meaning to self-assurance.
You are a nurturing person with great physical strength.
Like many Leos, you will see that your mission for good is completed.
You are very optimistic about the future.

Star wars character you are most like: Princess Leia

Memory Serves

(A variation on the Shopping Blog)

If memory serves (going backward)

1 bag cornchips
1 box generic lactaid
1 box Clean Breeze scented Bounce
1/2 gal whole milk
1/2 gal lactaid milk
5 containers yogurt
2 lb block med. cheddar cheese
3 lb round roast
3 lb boneless pork spareribs
1 bx Haggen Daaz vanilla almond bars
1 can frozen apple juice
1 loaf wheat bread
5 boxes Thai Kitchen instant noodle dish
1 bottle spaggetti sauce (unremembered brand)
10 cans mandarin oranges
1 bottle unsweetened applesauce
1 bag organic rice cakes
1 bag Sunmaid raisins
2 lbs bok choi
2 lbs baby carrots
1 white onion
1 seedless watermelon
1 bunch bananas
1 two bags green table grapes

2 pairs 36" long white athletic shoelaces

2 Subway Kids packs (one with plain turkey, one with ham and cheese)
1 Shredded Beef chalupa lunch plate
1 Huevos Rancheros lunch plate
1 bottle Aquafina

1 tank gas ($2.49/gal)

1 grande decaf soy mocha with whip
1 slice classic coffee cake
1 grande cider

$5 of gas ($2.52/gal)

1 roasted lemon chicken
1 bag Hawaiian bread rolls
2 lbs strawberries

1 tank gas ($2.41/gal)


Discovered Marginalia: Emmy's Legal Pad Project Notes via the ever present Chatelaine (who's name is incredibly appropriate since she is in many ways the Keeper of Keys-everything poetic).

I'm reminded of my thesis "Note from the Margins" which also attempted to decenter that sense of marginalization I often felt as writer, woman of color, or aught else. Taking that space and making it central to an art project is quite brilliant and my favorite pix is the one with the piece mounted in the bathroom, margins to center, framed, yet placed above a toilet. Reminds me of the stories I've heard of Oscar winners putting their statues in the loo.

The other thing I love about this project is its interactivity, where Emmy invites people to add their words, those things that would likely be written off to the side, soto voce, meaningful in the act of being written and given space.

The recursive quality is appealing to my aesthetic sense, something soothing during this rattling time. I wish I could actually /be/ there, maybe take my own set of legal pads there, and get some words on paper.



Little signs of Spring all over here. Sent our youngest off to school with a packet of giant sunflower seeds to plant during today's Garden Party. Yesterday she spotted what we think was a redbreasted sapsucker pecking on a neighbor's birch tree. Today it's that kind of NW grey day, cool, but not likely to rain.

Last weekend was huge with family gatherings, this weekend much the same. But I'm looking forward to catching Kate Trueblood at the YWCA next week. Kate's another mom-writer who's managed that dance with teaching, raising children, and writing. She's giving a talk on Chick Lit, and I'm not sure what to expect, but it will be great to hear her talk.


Manymany Thanks

Thanks and Gratitude to Ivy, Ernesto, Rochita, Barbara, Kelvin, Bino, and Nick for taking the time to read and give feedback on two poems I recently posted.

I really appreciate all the honest comments and positive encouragement I received. Your sage advice and helpfulness are a precious gift I will remember, and you have all helped me become a stronger writer.

…now back to work! *grin*


(Ivy, If you get a chance could you drop me a line at word dot binder at comcast dot net? Thx!)



Just came back from an ab fab lunch with the wonderous Brenda Miller. Hung out, had some de'lish Armenian food and generally talked writing. I've been looking forward to seeing her in forever. Our worlds revolve around different suns - hers the University, me the kids and work. She's my memoir writing mentor, the one who showed me the possibilities of lyrical writing, that fiction tools need not be confined to fiction and now, in talking with her, discover the same applies to poetry.

We're both feeling alone, over-'Net, and lacking writing gumption. We see in each other endless possibility, commisserate the slippage of time and the elusiveness of perfect words, perfect subjects, perfect discipline. Connecting is both comforting and invigorating, much like how Richard Bach once described the spiritual path - you can walk toward the sunset, and beckon other on. You can even describe that sunset in perfect detail, each metaphor richer than the next, but really, that Other must walk themselves to the sunset, and even if they follow your footprints, placing toe where you touched your toe, heel where you landed your heel, they will not experience that sunset like you. As philosphers we can point and guide, but we cannot take, are loathe to take, the experience of Being away from anyone else.

What I wanted to know most of all though, was how to make my work more 'spiritual' to which she said she had no idea, it was something she just 'did' in her writing, which is true with my own, I guess. There is no way to show how to do a thing really when it comes to that kind of nuance but to just stumble along and try. I also wanted to know what she remembered most about my writing and she said she remembered Halo Halo Means Mix Mix, that it was playful and so unconventional, my performance being key. She warned though not to imitate myself, to try to replicate what has succeeded before, because that was death to prose and downright boring. When I complained that I didn't trust myself and how I write, she said "None of us do. None of us have that trust." and went on to say that praise was the worst thing, because it had the potential for writers like us to landlock us into 'easy writing' and prevent us from being challenged.

Tough love to hear, but what I /needed/ to hear, that bumbling around, letting the wind carry me from project to project isn't such a bad thing since it produces /something/. That being jealous of other writers is natural if not something to be avoided. Admiration and excitement from reading others work was key. All in all, I'm looking forward to it being a regular thing, she and I, and perhaps the loneliness will be that much less for us both.


Careful....it's addictive...

Throw Paper

It's A Beautiful Thing

It's a beautiful thing to discover that what you've written for yourself affects someone else enough for them to quote you in their own blog.

Thank you, Ernesto


The Long Emergency

I found this article today and find it extremely lucid, if not alarming because it echoes my own concerns about the use of oil and the impact of higher gas prices on the economy.

The Long Emergency

Random Thoughts

Why does it seem like there is no room for mysticism in evangelical Christianity?

Could Christianity be viewed as an appropriation of the Jewish faith? (Why Jews Don't Accept Jesus)


Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

- Karl Barth



I am a mosaic of pieces, each bit glitters, beckons to be examined, extolled, elevated.

But each piece a whole does not make and I am tasked with tearing my attention away from each particular, to create the whole, set one beside/against another, nearness giving new meaning to that which has been nearly destroyed, forgotten.

I wish then that I did not bleed when each piece cuts deep, did not mourn for pieces forgotten that somehow float to the surface, displaced in time and space. The pain is distracting yet philosophically necessary. Still I yearn for wholeness, understanding, layering without discarding, embracing without forgetting.


All I Ever Wanted to Know About Poetry...

...online today, but didn't think to ask about.

Thanks, Nick for mentioning this terrific essay on Poetry online.

Best Quote: "unshakeable belief in the traditional avant garde" (in relation to the electronic poetry center at CUNY Buffalo).

...traditional avant garde...that just makes me *giggle*.

Chinook Wawa

One of the tough things I find when talking about race and culture is that it's often difficult to talk about one without an automatic reference to the other. As a full blood Filipina, I'm often mistaken for being able to speak Tagalog fluently and overlooked as a person more comfortable talking about the Native American tribes of the Northwest. More often than not I've been mistaken as truly local, whether that locality is Nez Perce, Salish, or Puyallup. Skin color is an easy marker of race, but not necessarily of culture, something my huband struggles with often. Being a white guy, it's often assumed that his only interesting cultural tie is me, as if living deeply in the land is somehow not cultural and alternative to the dominant culture that he is often lumped into.

That's why I'm very proud to announce the creation of ukuk lalang and look forward to reading his thoughts.

Welcome to blogland, Kel!


Quietly Horrified

*sputtering denials - But I /love/ SF! Why don't Star Trek, Star Wars, LOTR, Buffy, Angel, Xena, McCaffrey, Flewylling, OS Card, C DeLint, etc count???*

The Academic Geek part definitely true, though...

Your Geek Profile:

Academic Geekiness: Highest

Geekiness in Love: Moderate

Internet Geekiness: Moderate

Fashion Geekiness: Low

Gamer Geekiness: Low

Movie Geekiness: Low

Music Geekiness: Low

General Geekiness: None

SciFi Geekiness: None

Keeping It Real

So I've made that writing contract with myself finally.

It's a tad nervewracking, of course, since I've made and broken several writing contracts over the years. I tried to make it reasonable and flexible while also keeping me on track with my writing projects. It seems such a small effort, only a half hour a day, but that's more than I've written on any given day with the exception of RP.

In other realms, I spent much of the weekend spending money (and no, I'm not going to list all the items, cause my conspicous consumption is just too embarassing - I haven't even entered the receipts into Quicken yet), all to get ready for this coming weekend's adventure - the Parental Visit. And not just any Parental Visit, but both sides of the family all here to celebrate Mother's Day, First Communion, and Hubby's Birthday. I need theobromine !

Still much to do, but I'm not going to be able to wiggle out of writing very easily now that I have my accountability out there in public.

*facepalm* What have I done?


gakked from Jean


Which just doesn't sound as romantic as Chocolate.

Rich, creamy, decadent, European chocolate...yes please.