Recent (and not so recent) Events

I know a great many of you have been waiting to hear about the Words Expressed event at Pagdiriwang this year. Unfortunately, my pictures didn't come out very well and I wasn't able to record any of the event since it will be broadcast on the radio soon. I do have this picture, though, of the wonderful emerging writers that also read:

The youngest reader, Jennalyn, is a poet currently in middle school and the eldest were Pauline and Myra who are undergraduates from Seattle University. The group was rounded out by Roxie who is a sophomore, but unfortunately Ciana was too ill to attend. In her place was her sister Shigeko (who's name I didn't write down but helpfully provided by Marianne). So much good energy and willingness to take risks in their work and I was very glad to hear them read.

Maria and Bob arranged an incredible line-up and a terrific venue marred only by having to compete with the larger Pagdiriwang Festival a floor above us. There were about 50 in the audience at any given time, but for me, the real joy was sitting and listening to the stories and poems the other writer's shared.

Nancy Calos-Nakano led us off with an excerpt from a monologue about her mother. A natural storyteller, she has the gift of memoir able to put humor into the most poignant moments. Angela Dy followed with her high-powered spoken word pieces that ran chills up my spine and made me hungry to see/experience more of her work. Then came Donna Miscolta's fiction piece which read like memoir, smooth and creamy as it revealed the story behind the loss of three fingers by a pensionado/featherweight boxer. Mimi Noledo read her poetry among her paintings giving visuals to words and words to her visuals. I went next reading two poems and an excerpt from Yellow is for Luck, a piece in the forthcoming Growing Up Filipino II anthology.

Then came Tess Uriza Holthe reading from her novel When Elephants Dance showing her skill in making history personal and evocative. Marianne Villanueva challenged us all with her reading of the Mayor of Roses, ever so gently apologizing for the violence depicted in the story, but never shirking from the realism of her work. The event wrapped with Toni Bajado's haunting poetry which resonated with all of us.

In one afternoon a community of women writers was formed, one we were all hopeful would continue, but even more so, we all left inspired to continue our own work while encouraging each other to keep working on our art.

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Last year, I had a chance to attend part of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society conference when it was held in Tacoma, WA. I met folk who gave me more information on what my grandfather likely experienced as a member of the 26th Cavalry. One of the people I met was a documentarian and he sent me this:

I'm not sure if it's his work, but I recognize some of the re-enactors that also came to the conference. I've been contacted by a couple of descendants of other Philippine Scouts, both looking for information I might have. I wish I had more, but it will be nice to revisit that research. I think it would make a good topic for a novel, maybe even a YA novel, but I think I need to do more research to pull it off.

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Christina announced last spring that her new single Mango Man has been released and coincides with her poem of the same name published in the Fairfield Review.

Just as if the sky turned the colors
of burnt orange and the world smelled
of incense and my grandmother's coconut oil

Louisa has also released poetry recently including What We Ate After Passing the Cape of Eleven Thousand Virgins in qarrsiluni and "An empowered damsel" in poemeleon's Persona Poem issue.

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Finally, ZenHabits recently published a guest post by chessmaster Josh Waitzkin who offers the following as a cure for the multitasking virus (which I seem to have an acute case):

1) Do what you love;
2) Do it in a way you love and connect to;
3) Give people a Choice and they become engaged;
4) Release a fear of failure;
5) Build positive routines;
6) Do one thing at a time;
7) Take breaks.

These are the principles I'll be applying as I continue to learn how to approach and succeed in grad school this time around.


Two Dozen Days

...before I leave for Vermont College.

I'm having anxiety attacks. I can't put two words together that lead very far. I worry about the money to pay for school. I worry about my family and my job. I worry that my words won't be strong enough to carry the dream. But somehow, this quote helps me feel a bit better:

...words aren't cheap. They are very precious. They are like water, which gives life and growth and refreshment, but because it has always been abundant, we treat it cheaply. We waste it and pollute it and doctor it. Then, when we take a drink from a city faucet, we wrinkle our nose and say: "This is terrible water." And we blame the water because we have misused it. [Katherine Paterson]

Words might be a renewable resource, but like all renewable resources, it has to be treated with respect and reverence.

I've been working to clean my resevoir, and sometimes I've mistaken the gunk for life-giving, and the life-giving for gunk. But mostly, I've seen my words as cheap because of this abundance, and that is a terrible mistake.

Another quote, an aphorism really, one found in a book I just finished reading (Elijah of Buxton - excellent middle grade reader):

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Respecting my own words. That's what it's all about today.