It's been a tough month that I hope is turning around finally with the appearance of several interesting encounters with writers last night.

First I ran into Kate Trueblood (fiction, The Sperm Donor's Daughter) at dinner, all tan from hanging out at the waterslides with her kids. Amazingly, she's managing to finish her newest book even though she's without childcare this summer. Writing moms strike again! Just seeing her briefly and knowing she's there, close by, doing the mom thing and the writing thing and soon the teaching thing once the college starts up made me feel so /right/. I could have ridden on that wave for many days to come.

But no...there was more to come! I ran into Carol Guess (fiction/memoir/poetry, Femme's Dictionary) just as I was coming out of a bookstore. I hadn't seen her in over a year I think - she was my thesis chair, back-in-the-day - but we'd also shared a couple of interesting adventures after I graduated. She was going in to do some writing and we hope to get together soon to talk shop, life, and everything. Two writers in a row - unbelievable good luck! She's an inspiration too, doin' the I-5 fly, writing, teaching and generally keeping this little corner of the world from being too..."W"... iffin' yah knowwhattImean.

And even /more/ wonderfulneses was yet to come! At the local B&N they were having of all things open poetry mic night! I didn't even know they /had/ an open mic night there!

So yeah, I'm buzzy...all buzzy today. Oh, and tonight? Tonight will be more storytelling to benefit The Whatcom Land Trust which just continues the theme of the week - how do we bring art into the real world so that it positively changes the social/political/environmental issues that we face? How can we heal the land and it's people with stories?

Today is a /good/ day.



~Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.~ Anon.

Ultimate Palindrome

*gakked from a friend who doesn't know who the author is. quite incredible though!*

A man, a plan, a caret, a ban, a myriad, a sum, a lac, a liar, a hoop, a pint, a catalpa, a gas, an oil, a bird, a yell, a vat, a caw, a pax, a wag, a tax, a nay, a ram, a cap, a yam, a gay, a tsar, a wall, a car, a luger, a ward, a bin, a woman, a vassal, a wolf, a tuna, a nit, a pall, a fret, a watt, a bay, a daub, a tan, a cab, a datum, a gall, a hat, a fag, a zap, a say, a jaw, a lay, a wet, a gallop, a tug, a trot, a trap, a tram, a torr, a caper, a top, a tonk, a toll, a ball, a fair, a sax, a minim, a tenor, a bass, a passer, a capital, a rut, an amen, a ted, a cabal, a tang, a sun, an ass, a maw, a sag, a jam, a dam, a sub, a salt, an axon, a sail, an ad, a wadi, a radian, a room, a rood, a rip, a tad, a pariah, a revel, a reel, a reed, a pool, a plug, a pin, a peek, a parabola, a dog, a pat, a cud, a nu, a fan, a pal, a rum, a nod, an eta, a lag, an eel, a batik, a mug, a mot, a nap, a maxim, a mood, a leek, a grub, a gob, a gel, a drab, a citadel, a total, a cedar, a tap, a gag, a rat, a manor, a bar, a gal, a cola, a pap, a yaw, a tab, a raj, a gab, a nag, a pagan, a bag, a jar, a bat, a way, a papa, a local, a gar, a baron, a mat, a rag, a gap, a tar, a decal, a tot, a led, a tic, a bard, a leg, a bog, a burg, a keel, a doom, a mix, a map, an atom, a gum, a kit, a baleen, a gala, a ten, a don, a mural, a pan, a faun, a ducat, a pagoda, a lob, a rap, a keep, a nip, a gulp, a loop, a deer, a leer, a lever, a hair, a pad, a tapir, a door, a moor, an aid, a raid, a wad, an alias, an ox, an atlas, a bus, a madam, a jag, a saw, a mass, an anus, a gnat, a lab, a cadet, an em, a natural, a tip, a caress, a pass, a baronet, a minimax, a sari, a fall, a ballot, a knot, a pot, a rep, a carrot, a mart, a part, a tort, a gut, a poll, a gateway, a law, a jay, a sap, a zag, a fat, a hall, a gamut, a dab, a can, a tabu, a day, a batt, a waterfall, a patina, a nut, a flow, a lass, a van, a mow, a nib, a draw, a regular, a call, a war, a stay, a gam, a yap, a cam, a ray, an ax, a tag, a wax, a paw, a cat, a valley, a drib, a lion, a saga, a plat, a catnip, a pooh, a rail, a calamus, a dairyman, a bater, a canal--Panama.

Boundaries and Borderlands: A Storyteller's Dream

Recently I've been rolling the ideas of narrative in my brainpan, much like a few poet friends have been doing with the ideas of poetics. Lots of stress out there in poetryland I've heard, which is a sad sort of thing since stress can shut down the old creativity center until that wonderful burst of energy wells up saying "I will /not/ be silenced!"

What is it about the arts that makes folks seemingly mistake 'being helpful' and 'just giving advice' with crossing boundaries onto creative sacred ground?

Creating the space to create art takes a tremendous amount of energy, not a small amount of hutspah, and a general sort of ego-arrogance needed to make a dream materialize from the very ether in which we exist. No small feat for your average artist who already feels 'outside' the mainstream; a damn miracle for the artist who finds herself on the borderlands of gender, race, sexuality, familial relationship, age, economy, and/or politics.

It's easy to slip into a mode of 'protecting our own' by advising certain restraint or the application of certain behaviors designed to placate a generalized, mainstream, dominant Other. The result, however, can be a compromise of artistic integrity and an erosion of the artists creativity and vision. Leveling the field then, flattens what could otherwise be a richer, multidimensional experience for both artist and viewer/experiencer.

But weird things often happen on the borderlands: the richness of culture can be reduced to a shorthand designed to accomodate the slipperiness of living so close and yet so far from the Center; commodities can be perceived as being in short supply; identity is built on a sense of opposites which in turn causes the psyche to internalize Otherness in search of a community. I've learned from the Greymyn who prefer the fog over clear days, the shoreline over the deep woods, the twilight over the midday sun, that the borderlands are an interesting place to travel, but it's really nice to be home once in awhile. A place to rest, share stories, and just enjoy the in-between of adventuring.

I met a new storyteller yesterday, a Tlingit storyteller who's blood carries the memory and understanding of the Tlingit, Cherokee, and Filpino. He was only the second Native American I had ever heard speak about his Filipino heritage. I wondered what deer adobo tasted like. IndoFilipino he called himself.

And he drummed songs, sang thanksgiving and love, beat feet like Hare and swooped like Raven. His grandmother, the Pinay, came to visit and explained how her heart had been gravely wounded from all the colonists insistance to be 'civilized,' how taking a hammer to fix the wounds had not helped, how drinking wine had not helped, how having four lovers (one for each direction) did not help. No, she found her wisdom, her healing in a book. A small book, a thin book, a picture book.

Everyone Poops

And that book, she said, healed her. Helped her realize that what gets taken in and what gets pushed out of our bodies is really the same no matter who you are or what you've done.

And that storyteller told us "You are all storytellers! When you introduce yourself say 'I am a storyteller!'" And he showed us the secret hand gestures that would prove our validity. There was even the special chin lift reserved for us Indo-Pinoys by blood or by culture.

And I laughed and I cried. Because I /knew/ this is what it is all about for me, the writing, the decolonization, the dismantling of master narratives about women and race and literature.

It's about healing. It's about love. It's about home.

And if it's not about that, then it's not about me. And if it's not about me, then it's not my story. And if it's not my story, then I don't have time, inclination, or right to tell it.

So here's to the Raven who danced. Time for this Otter to do her thing.


Norman Mailer's 'Reality'

Norman Mailer is attributed to being the innovator of the non-fiction novel, however, his latest comments in Rolling Stone shows his vision is poor, outdated, and racist. And worse, he can't count.

AAJA reports:

"The upcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine features an interview with author Norman Mailer, who calls New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani a 'kamikaze' who 'disdains white male authors.' He claims her editors can't fire her: "With discrimination rules and such, well, she's a threefer: Asiatic, feminist and, ah, what's the third? Well, let's just call her a twofer. They get two for one. She is a token.'"

It would be too easy to dismiss his comments about this Pulitzer Prize winning critic as the bitterfruit of a man scorned or simply the rages of a nearly-dead, cannonized white guy, but hey now, this is the 21st Century, and if this sort of Asian American bashing is going to happen, then we have to address it face on for the ugliness it is.

The following letter was sent by AAJA's Media Watch Committee today:

June 29, 2005

Jann S. Wenner
Editor and Publisher
Rolling Stone
290 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10104-0298

Dear Mr. Wenner,

Calling out Norman Mailer as a racist, after he described Michiko Kakutani as a "kamikaze," would be easy. But that's not why we're writing.

We take greater offense at his reference to her as a "two-fer" and a "token" because she's "Asiatic, feminist," which essentially diminishes the accomplishments of all women and journalists of color. It insinuates that media companies keep people like Ms. Kakutani on staff simply because they are women and minorities-a dangerous, dismissive and, certainly, misguided notion. (Mr. Mailer must be aware that Ms. Kakutani won the Pulitzer prize for criticism in 1998.)

On a side note, with Mr. Mailer's firm grasp of the English language, we're sure he knows that "Asiatic"--like "Oriental"--has long been considered an offensive word to describe Asians or in the case of Ms. Kakutani, a Connecticut native, Asian Americans.

On behalf of the 2,000 reporters, editors and industry executives of Asian descent represented by the Asian American Journalists Association, we'd like to thank Rolling Stone for exposing the bigotry of one of America's prized authors.

To Mr. Mailer, we'd simply like to say: Shame on you.


Esther Wu, AAJA National President
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, AAJA National Media Watch Representative

I thank Wu and Tan for making a stand and being clear in revealing Mailer's shortsightedness. The "shame on you" seems a bit cliche as to be almost quaint. I, however, would simply like to say, Mr. Mailer, I think you're an idiot.

(thanks to The Carbonator for passing this along)


QOTD and other things...

"Making poems -- or just say, Poetry -- has taught me something that no priest, no parent, no teacher, no friend, no counselor-in-any-guise has ever taught. How to meet disappointment head on, and not be brought to one's knees by it.

I don't quite know how this has come to be the effect. I want to say that it has something to do with how maintaining observance (what I've called practicing "lucidity poetics") paradoxically softens hard edges -- that you are able to see things in context in a way that makes the tough shit be not so shitty. Because you become ever-conscious that there is just so MUCH in the world and so any moment of pain is just one of so many things that you progress quickly to a state of thinking how silly it would be to be overcome by any one thing." - The Chatelaine

*...the lightbulb begins to glow above my head*

In other news, I got a lovely card and gifty from my writing buddy...complete with a nice big piece of bright green tape with bold black letters "CUSTOMS AND BORDER PATROL" holding it together and keeping the slice made to inspect the contents from spilling said gifty all over the place. *chagrin*

Which makes for all sorts of spinny thoughts like How did they know a couple of pinay writers were in contact with each other across an ocean? How many terrorists live in the Netherlands? What watch list am I on now (or have been on for a while)? Did the mail inspector think the gifty was sweet like I did? Did s/he like the card or think it too sentimental?

Oh come on...you can think of other questions...cause it's nearly too weird for words.


Veronica Montes, captured First Prize in The Ivy Terasaka Short Story Competition

***I partied so hard, I forgot to officially post congratulations to Ver . She's the reason we were dancing on the tables, eating good food, and drinking Eileen's wine. Is it September yet? Cause I wanna read this story!***

"Bernie Aragon Jr. Looks for Love," a lighthearted and poignant short story by Veronica Montes, captured First Prize in The Ivy Terasaka Short Story Competition sponsored by Our Own Voice, a literary ezine. The story will appear online at http://www.oovrag.com in September.

Veronica Montes is a native of San Francisco, California. Her fiction has been published in the literary journals, Prism International, Furious Fictions, and maganda, and in the anthologies Contemporary Fiction by Filipinos in America (Anvil, 1997), Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, 2003), and Going Home to a Landscape: Writings by Filipinas (Calyx, 2003). She maintains a
blog at www.vmontes.blogspot.com/

Dr. Luisa Igloria, sole judge for the competition, is Associate Professor in the Creative Writing Program & Department of English at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. In reviewing the entries, she praises Bernie Aragon as a 'well-rounded story' because of its balanced mix of humor and pathos." As a fictionist herself and a multi-awarded poet, Dr. Igloria notes that Bernie Aragon possesses a "confident sense of dialogue and place...resurrect[ing] the narratives of [an] era rife with the tensions of racial violence, anti-miscegenation and other discriminatory practices; and dramatizes the situation of Filipino busboys and migrant workers in 1927 Watsonville and up and down the West Coast."

Veronica Montes will receive a check for $100 and a copy of Our Own Voice Literary / Arts Journal (Firstfruits/PWU, 2003). Our Own Voice extended an invitation for her to read her prize-winning story at a gathering of writers in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC in Spring 2006 for the LOC Asian Division's centennial commemoration of the Filipino First Wave Migration to the U.S.

The competition was named for Ivy Terasaka who was an emerging writer vacationing with her family when the Tsunami of 2004 swept the beach resort where they were to spend their holiday. For a short while, she was a familiar face and voice at various Singapore literary events. In late 2003, Ivy discovered Our Own Voice and submitted a short story. The "Last Time I Saw Nanay" was published posthumously in the January 2005 issue of Our Own Voice here.To honor her dream of being a writer, the editors of the cyberspace ezine will be holding the annual competition in her memory.

Ten finalists were selected by the Editorial Board and presented to the independent judge for selection of the winners. No awards were given for Second or Third Prize this year. The competition attracted entries from around the world. A majority of submissions were from the United States and the Philippines, and other entries came from The Netherlands, Denmark, and Australia.
-- C. Brainard



*Congratulations, Bino! I can harldy wait to read your book! Your hard work and honesty are an inspiration. Sharp, gritty, romantic without sentimentality, incredibly detailed and visceral: all these things and more are the shape of your poetry*


Bino A. Realuyo's first poetry collection, The Gods We Worship Live Next Door wins the 2005 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry and will be released February 2006.

Honoring the memory of a celebrated poet and a beloved teacher, the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry is awarded annually and is sponsored by the University of Utah Press and the University of Utah Department of English. The competition is open to poets who have previously published book-length poetry collections, as well as unpublished poets.

From The Gods We Worship Live Next Door, a sample poem:


The silence. The silence.
The silence covers everything.

Teresa de Jesus

In this town, everybody bends all morning,
to bury an acre of fear each hour, to feed
the ground with all the words they will not say.

Another man was found last week: caned
powdered, tied with grass.
She was there: crawling on mud, hiding

behind a rock and spires of grass,
and days later, hiding from the memory
of faces and voices: the foundered glint of a man

in the sun, the broken words, wound upon wound,
the thin blur of those around him, their laughter,
the whippings, their tight grasp of their whips-

Is to speak of this to finally forget?
To speak of it is to know that so much here
remain hidden-the silence, the air,

all inhaled, kept inside, food for fear.
At twilight, dogs begin to bark. Broken twigs,
bullets and shadows flee between trees.

Not again. She cups her mouth, hoping
that there is no spill of blood, parts of limbs
scratching soil. She firmly holds herself,

latches the door with wood, tight as teeth.
Night seeps through bullet holes on the walls,
sits with her while she listens, wilting, on the chair.

Cotabato, Philippines

Chance Encounters

The thing that makes blogging adventurous is that you never know who will drop by and who might be reading you at any given moment.

Thanks to Lorna Dee Cervantes, I have a new poet to explore!

Mebbe I should start a library blog like the Chatelaine...


Chatelaine's Chapbook Release!

During my sweeps of blogs I read, I was happy to learn that the ever prolific Chatelaine has released a new chapbook.

Songs of the Colon has been released by abadada books.

In this chapbook, Eileen extends her reach into the spaces created by the implied meanings of ":" with a first set of poems called Estrus Gaze(s). The mind spins with possibility as to what comes before each colon that would merit further comment illuminated with each line. Eileen reveals in the afterword the links between the poetry and autism, giving the reader further depth and a place to perhaps understand the inner vision of the autistic. My favorite from the set was :Wild with its line

: the all-consuming business of prehistoric histrionics

which spun its own little tale in my head both humorous and sad.

The second set called The Masvikiru Quatrains proved more challenging for me, but my appreciation for them grew after reading the Afterword. Words have a music all their own for me, and when I write, I hear the rise and fall of them in my inner ear. The Quatrains do similar, with the colon serving as a pause in some lines and a phrasing in others, allowing the mind to glide from one word to another. This is part of the intent, I understand from Eileen's commentary, so on second read, the patterns start to emerge for me. Lines like

maternity: comforting embroider

from The Eleventh Page and

checkerboard: inkwell forswore

from The Eighteenth Page

defy the ideas of definition and narrative, allowing for the poetry to "express what words have to say" as Carl Andre has written.

Kudos to Eileen and late congratulations on ten years of writing-passion goodness!

New Links

Added a few new links today.

I heard Joy Harjo read at the University of Idaho back in '96-'97. I remember how stunning her phrasing was and how her sax playing was as much poetry as her words. It was cool then, to come across her blog link on Leny's blog .

I also added Babaylan Files mostly to help me understand the babaylan path...if that's a correct use of the term...it resonates though, with much of what I know about indigenous NW spirituality and myth, so I'm hopeful that I can bridge the gap. It will be good to bring that space into myself too.

Finally, Oscar Bermeo appears because his most recent post written today reminds me of how language can be beautifully bent to give honor to that which science renders cold. Drumming the Dreamtime, drawing down the moon, slipping down the red path, singing faerie tunes.

Here There Everywhere

Catching up on blog posts this morning, searching for an entry point into writing.

Rochita provides it today with the word Kayumanggi.

I don't know what Kayumanggi means, but it resonantes...Google reveals the word's link to myths but Barbara Jane's poem
love poem i seems to point to connection, deep soul connection between family. There's affection there too, great love and pride, which is where I think all good myth begins, a rootedness in relationships that extend between and beyond flesh and blood ties, and into the very bones of the earth.

This all bubbles in my brain with the reading I've been doing lately...Leny Strobel's book Coming Full Circle: The Process of of decolonization among post-1965 Filipino Americans speaks of identifying and releasing master narratives to break free from the affects of colonization specific to the Filipino heritage. The book is a beautiful blend of academics and personal narrative, and I was surprised/proud/happy to see that some of same books/articles I had research over the years are mentioned in the book. Leny is much more rigorous about it, creating a book that I had only dreamed about at one time. I had suspected there was a lot to be learned from looking into the indigenous philosophy of the Philippines in order to unravel my often ambivalent feelings about my heritage.

I struggle, though, with a mental language barrier that curls back into difficult memories of growing up. Reading Tagalog and attempting to use Tagalog to represent my ideas feels much like trying to type with just my big toe - long, laborous, and I'm just not sure if I'm getting all the layers of meaning I mean and that the words themselves mean. This is alien territory for me...I'll even go far enough to say hostile territory for me. Reappropriation of the 'master's home' is key to the decolonization process, but in working through the early chapters of Leny's work, I was struck with the realization that I am struggling with not one master narrative (US) but /four/ master narratives, each juxtaposed and causing a tremendous amount of pressure in my thinking.

The first two narratives are pretty easy to identify: there's the US as colonizer/imperial power and the Philippines as colonized. Deconstruction of the narratives begins with the understanding that the US colonial experiment was steeped in a move by the US goverment to become a world power and preferably a leading world power. It took advantage of various historical and political events and waved a banner of Manifest Destiny to rationalize the oppression of numerous cultures starting with the Native American and the African American, moving to a series of immigrant populations, and finally including Hawaiian people, Cubans, Philippines and parts of the South Pacific deemed necessary for one final push into the Far East.

The process continues with an understanding of great courage of the Filipino people in their rebellion against Spain in the late 1800's and their survival through the betrayal of the US during liberation, WWII, and the corruption that has marked the Presidency for several decades of the late 20th century.

But these are just glosses of the overarching narratives that take particularities in the individual life - the psychological pressure on the Filipino who carries, in his/her language and habits, the residual survival tactics of history, is something I have seen in the writings of Native American and Black American writing. In other words, it makes for crazy the way oppression affects both the oppressed and the oppressor.

The other two narratives are more difficult to identify, but they come from reactions to the actions caused by the other two narratives. They could be seen as subordinate, but for my own experience, they carry enough weight to be called 'master' in the sense of their influence. These two other narratives that are both constructed and emergent in nature, create a space for deconstructing the slave/master narrative, the victim/victor binary caused by the above narratives. These are spaces for reclaiming the positive of the US culture and to identify the price paid for over-extending the life of the survival tactics used by my Filipino ancestors. I'm deep in my head now, as Barbara would say, so now would be the time for a story...or perhaps a poem:

Market Song

Isn’t it strange
to hear your father’s language fall
upon you, the siren of sing-song phrases
you in? You struggle not
to hear the secrets, the bargains
of other Tagalogs laughing behind
your back.
You shrink before the howling ghosts and
you are nine again, standing
at the doorway, trying not
yo listen, to hear that you are the target
of their sharpened tongues and shaking heads.
You yearn to speak easily
the language they would not
teach you, to hear the gossip
to be a part.

You shift your hips and try not
to scuff you feet as you step along
the carved brick floor of the Market.
And you try not to turn around,
to pick at the words among
the white daisies and day-lilies they wind
into bouquets. Was that about someone’s house?
Or a party? A wedding! And the bride is
black and sassy. How sad for his family.
And you swallow
bitter, as you straighen your back, round your eyes.
Your head begins to bob and you hope
you look like someone other
than you are.

I wrote this poem in an attempt describe how it felt to be excluded from being Filipino by the simple and rational decision my parents made to not teach me either of their dialects. It was their secret language, one they used to scold me or talk about me in front of others in a manner where I felt judged. It was the language of their arguments about whether to send support back home to my father's family and the language of gossip about who did what when and where in the Filipino Community of Seattle, a community that my parents had very little patience for and chose to avoid as much as possible. Tagalog then became the language of my oppressor and each time I try to use it, I dredge up all those viceral feelings of rejection not unlike those first few months when I realized I took for granted that whites would always be the majority in my social/entertainment world, and that was something that pointed to a greater prejudice than I had imagined.

It is one thing to wake up one day realizing that you are neither white nor male (and that you've been thinking yourself as such for most of your life, thereby self negating by race and gender), but another thing entirely, to realize that you know next to nothing about being a Pinay not because of ommission, but because of violent oppression and exclusion.

It's been a ten year process (so far) of identifying and deconstructing narratives, and one I often wonder if I should abandon. But once the pieces are broken, lost, then (mostly) found, what is a person to do? Walk away? I tried that - it just makes for depression and thoughts of death. So I'm learning how to make mosaics, to put it all back together in a way that is meaningful for me.

But every once in awhile, something new breaks free from those four master narratives, and like the woman in Whitney Otto's How to Make an American Quilt, I have to sweep up the pieces, take them into the kitchen (where all good things happen), and start plastering the walls to make new meanings.

Survive and thrive.


Bits and Pieces

I had lunch with Suzanne Paola (The Lives of the Saints, Body Toxic: An Environmental Memoir) this last week. She's a successful writer mom who teaches up at Western Washington University and who writes both poetry and memoir. I've been hoping to get to know her better since we both have children about the same age and she brings in spiritual motifs into her writing as I hope to do more and more.

We'd arranged to meet just the two of us, but her son came along too. It wasn't quite the lunch we were hoping for, but it did give me a chance to see how another writer mom handled her 8 year old. There is nothing quite so clarifying as seeing first hand that it's not easy to balance being a mom and being a writer, and that we all sort of muddle through, cringing at ourselves and desperately hoping we don't damage our children in the process of helping them survive till adulthood.

On the one hand I often see myself as not enough of a mother - I'm not one of those hands on, just this close to home schooling, gotta do every school event kind of mothers. I'm just as likely to buy cookies last minute for the birthday as to forget to pack all the necessary stuff for my child's trip to the beach while I'm at work. At the same time, though, I see mothers of my children's friends who are either so involved with their children's lives that the seemingly only live for their children or ones who are so checked out, it's little wonder their children are whining for attention every moment of the day. Somewhere in the middle is reality, I'm sure, for these moms, because I am at times both the over involved, gotta have the perfect fill in the blank before my child can participate in activity du jour. And at other times I'm so checked out and self involved that I find my child has become whiny and needy, distant and hurt, all at once.

So I see a lot of potential in getting to know Suzanne better, with our somewhat parallel lives. She's offered to read my memoir work too which is wonderful, and I'm hopeful I will be able to make this book finally.


Oh, and speaking of children, I came to the realization of why I don't have more pictures of my kids. I mean, sure I'm just plain forgetful sometimes and I'm happy when I remember to just get to where we're supposed to be relatively intact and dressed appropriately, but usually, about 2 miles down the road, already a bit late to get where we're going, it hits me...or worse, it hits me once we arrive at the end of the year performance, or the birthday party, or the day out to the beach... I don't have a camera with me.

So then later when we're telling stories of doing such and so with so and so to the grandparents, inevitably the question is "So did you take pictures?" and then it creeps in, that guilt of us living so far away from everyone and that we don't have much to show for future generations, or even our children's older selves, about this particular time in our lives. "No," we say. "We forgot our camera." To which my father usually clucks his tongue and my mother in law sighs, and I imagine my children digging through old CDs asking "Where is the picture of me as a sea crab from the last day of Second Grade, hrm?"

Then it hits me, it's my husband's fault. Or mine, depending on the level of guilt.

See, the /men/ in my family carry the cameras, post themselves at awkward places in any given spot, shooting stills with one hand and video with the other. They have all the latest gadgets which they troop out and compare on a regular basis, weighing the relative merits of old fashioned 35 mm vs a 4 meg digital. My uncle was the pentultimate camera man who would create the most intricate methods to by himself create perfect lighting and precisely timed photography. My father's basement is filled with 8mm film strips, racks of slides, and album after album of photographs recording each and every trip and family event. Going home I can find my eight birthday party, my confirmation, my graduation all in neat pages. It's a classic sort of Asian thing, and I remember many a time where I wished my dad would put down the camera and join in the fun.

So yeah, I'm Asian, but I don't click pix left and right. But I'm not a guy either, so I'm sorta off the hook that way. My mother and my aunts rarely take pictures, instead being in the thick of the moment, gossiping, herding children, serving food, and such. But then again, my husband isn't your typical dad either - he likes being with our kids, in the midst of all that fun and adventure.

So I guess we'll have to make pictures the old fashioned way, with story and memory.



Use your imagination not to scare yourself to death but to inspire yourself to life.

- Adele Brookman


New Chapbook On Deck

Estimados amigos,

On behalf of Web del Sol, I am proud to present its summer 2005 Chapbook issue:


The U.S.- Mexican border is at the heart of political debates over national security and terrorism. A million people cross the border every day. The New York Times reported recently that in the "other-than-Mexican category," Brazilians, who are not required visas in Mexico, are now "streaming through the border" and ending up in New York City, illegally. However, Mexico continues to be the biggest source of immigrants in the U.S., legal and illegal alike. Spanish Harlem in New York City has a new face: Mexicans and Central American Latinos.

The border--la frontera--fascinates me. I have been to Mexico several times. The Philippines was a colony of Nueva España for 333 years, capital: Mexico City. Nueva España, which then included Arizona, California, Colorado and Texas, was officially frontiered in 1848, fifty years short of the Spanish-American war that saw the American colonization of the Philippines. While Filipinos dealt with the Hollywoodization of the islands, Mexicans in the southern states faced their own struggle with a new identity, one which characterizes the myriad of cultures that make up the borders today. As they say, many of these Tejanos never crossed the border; the border crossed them.

However, border crossing is an everyday scenario. Every person who crosses carries with him more than a bundle of stories. A few will find their way in literature, most of them will be buried along memories of Tortilla Walls, Polleros, INS detention, and the sprawling Rio Grande/Rio Bravo. Too many of these border migrants find themselves doing menial labor in the U.S., lives on the edge of survival, where livelihood is urgent and storytelling is luxurious. Somewhere down the generations, the curious ones will dig them up. And the storytelling will finally take root.

In THE BORDER TRIPTYCH, I focus on three artists, two of whom regularly crossed the border as children, and another, crossed as an adult to a new life. They bore witness to experiences that most of us only read about in the media. They are brave people with gifts. They are sharing these gifts with us through this issue of Web del Sol. I am tremendously blessed and proud to present them to you, in THE BORDER TRIPTYCH:

(please click-best viewed in full screen)

Eduardo C. Corral
Rigoberto González
Noé Hernández

Web del Sol Chapbook home: ( or cut and paste: http://webdelsol.com/f-writ-tab.htm )

Web Del Sol, founded in 1994, is one of the largest literary portals in the cyberworld, with a readership of 80,000 and 250,000 visits a day. Web Del Sol is a collaboration on the part of scores of dedicated, volunteer editors, writers, poets, artists, and staff whose job it is to acquire and frame the finest contemporary literary art and culture available in America, and abroad, and to array it in such a manner that it speaks for itself.

Please also visit my earlier projects, the chapbooks of Sarah Gambito and Jon Pineda.


Sin Fronteras,

bino a. realuyo
Web Del Sol Chapbook Editor and Designer


The House on Atlantic Street

Jean Vengua recently mentioned a recent article about the Eminent Domain Ruling made by the US Supreme Court, showing once again that big business will trump small business, no matter how viable, in our current culture.

For me, though, besides resonanting with my small business ownership past, I remember the house on Atlantic Street in Seattle. It was a huge old craftsman house boasting four bedrooms upstairs, a living room, dining room, kitchen and foyer on the main floor, and a deep cavernous basement, complete with dank corners and old appliances. It was the grand dame of her block with the first functioning intercom calling system I had ever seen (a series of bells in each room connected to a main box near the kitchen). Even as large as it was, it was barely enough room for my grandparents and their six daughters, recent immigrants to the US. I remember the pink walls and the pink carpet carved with intricate patterns. I remember the broad porch and the steep concrete steps that cascaded from the porch to the street. I remember how the windows sweat when all of us came for dinner and Lola cooked festival foods, while 'the sisters' chattered in Ilocano and Pangasinan in the kitchen. I also remember the glow of the reversible lane lights in the small room I slept in sometimes when my parents danced the night away. The house sat parallel to I-90 and in the late 80's, the state finally put the money together to expand the freeway.

I don't know if they received a fair price for the house. I just know the house isn't there and that I have a novel in my head based on that house, its rooms, its secrets, its memories. At least my brain is one space where the US Supreme Court cannot rule contrary to my wishes...at least I hope not, though with the retirement of Judge O'Connor, I gotta wonder just a bit.



*sigh* Okee I did better in June than in May on the writing goal, but did fall short in the end. Lots of reasons/excuses, of course...illness...stress...family visits, but mostly I'm pretty proud to have done so much writing in one month. I put together, with the help of my writing mentors and buddies, three new poems for submission. The most recent poem is proving difficult, mostly because of subject matter, but I do give it about a 50/50 chance of emerging this month.

I learned a lot from this last month of writing:

1) A half hour a day isn't feasible. I need more looseness, a better sense of timelessness.
2) Setting aside a four hour block on the weekend is best.
3) There is a tipping point for a piece, when it actually /feels/ viable. Once that moment is reached, I can write on the piece and not feel time. If that moment hasn't been reached, it's crazymaking to make myself look at the material over and over.
4) Prayer is key for me to feel successful. If I don't connect with God about my writing, I really feel isolated.
5) Sharing my work with people I trust is also key for me to feel successful. There is /nothing/ like a really good critique to make me feel competant and to keep a piece afloat.
6) Writing is one of three essentials in my life. One other is sleep. If I don't have all three in a week, then I can't do/enjoy much of anything. They are all apparently tied.
7) Writing my 'one inch frame' of life is my voice.
8) Once a piece is out in the world, I can't predict where it will go, who it will affect, and how long a life it will have. That's both cool and scary. But mostly really, really cool when a piece goes on and on without me touching it.

So, this month, I'd like to wrap this last poem (for awhile) and get on my a** to actually finish a chapter of this book.

I didn't clean out a card collection for the poor turnout in May, but the gals have got me looking through my cards, so I'll be doing that for sure this weekend. The hard part about /that/ is they're enthusiasm is getting me jazzed about my collection. So now I have to also figure out if I'm collecting cards again...and what series I've missed (I think I need some ROTK...and maybe some SWII and SWIII)...and how much it will cost to get all the wax boxes to catch up...(the collecting bug is hard to shake...it's part shopping, part treasure hunting...and derned expensive!)

Oh and Hubby is going to the Mecca of Books (Powells in Portland) in a few weeks. I need to compile my list of 'must haves even if I can't seem to finish the ones I already have' list. *rubs hands together*

*blinks* Oh look, another opportunity to overspend. Books and cards. My two loves. My two vices.