Sunday, June 26, 2005

When war enrages an artist.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

It's fun to see what other poets are doing this summer - here and here!

I'm off to the Philippines tomorrow for almost a whole month to conduct research on babaylan traditions and participate in a Babaylan symposium at the Institute of Women's Studies at St. Scholastica College. Will finally have an opportunity to dialogue with scholars, theologians, artists, and cultural activists who consider the babaylan as archetype for the work that they do. Sister Mary John Mananzan, a pioneer in feminist liberation theology in the third world, presented a slide show of her life as a babaylan at the FAWN conference. I'm excited to be on the same panel with her at the symposium!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

On the current crisis in the Arroyo government, please check out Melba Maggay's new blogpost.

I made the chatelaine cry...

Just received a beautiful card in the mail from Eileen; she says that A Book of Her Own made her cry...and she later sent this email:

Dear Leny,
I sent you a Congrats card today -- but it simply can't encapsulate the fabulousness of your Her Book.

And Perla did such an AWESOME job in the book design!!!!!

The book is beautiful in all possible layers of book-ness!Then, tonight, thinking about your "Dream" after reading my Reproductions, your dream was really wise and prescient. It occured to me today that Reproductions was about stuff I needed to leave behind to, indeed, find my own voice. And that own voice of mine is ... I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED. But who'da thunk? You dreamt it and foresaw!


Here is the book page with the surreal ink drawing by Christina Quisumbing on the Dream that Eileen refers to:

The Gift of Dreams (p.43)

After reading Eileen Tabios' poems in Reproduction from an Empty Flagpole, I fell into a deep sleep and surreal dream.

A bare tree was dripping with blood and sinew. How could I have missed the violent impact? I cannot believe that you walked by with nonchalance on your face. I cannot believe that you walked into the church in the arms of a woman you charmed with your wily smile. You couldn't care less that the blood belonged to your child.

Ponder this: Blood is life. A bare tree is only temporarily dormant. Let him walk away. Give birth to your own child. (Click on book image for large detail).

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Finally, a window of time to take a peek at my fave bloggers and see what they're up to:

Sunny is in the Philippines (I'm headed that way, too, in a week) and who knows, maybe Sunny and I will find each other at the next People Power that's a-brewing right now over controversial wiretapping of Arroyo and an election commissioner about delivering the votes.

Tatang has moved to a law firm...and gets his acting chops at the staging of a Maguindanao wedding at the Asian Art Museum...while Michelle has tested as the goddess Isis!

Adding Annabelle Udo.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The latest issue of OUR OWN VOICE is now online. I almost forgot that I did turn in something for this issue. Can't wait to read Eileen's art essay as well.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

IMPEACH -- I finally heard this word last night while listening to Democracy Now's Amy Goodman interview Rep. John Conyers. There is a hearing today on the so-called Downing Street Memo as evidence that the administration manipulated intelligence to go to war in Iraq -- and therefore this is unconstitutional. See more here.

I've not had a chance to catch my breath since the FAWN conference in NY, then a short week in Florida where I walked down a suburban street with a sand hill crane, went on a river boat trip on the Wikee Wachee to take photos of storks, pelicans, blue herons and other water creatures.

But this about sums up Florida: On Trouble Creek Rd there is a senior community; right next to it is an assisted living facility right next to a hospital right next to a hospice right next to a crematorium right next to a cemetery.

So the incentive is great for retirees to end their days in Florida. Plus there's no state income tax. Plus you can deduct $25,000/year for buying a new home under the "homestead act."

We drove all over two counties and nothing but new "deed" communities in areas that used to be wildlife refuge for all kinds of migratory birds.

And this clinched it for me: There was only one bookstore called "Books a Million" - in this wide swathe of development and strip malls.

Food is cheap ($2.99 for a big breakfast!) but surely we do not live by (cheap) food alone.

But my sister lives there now and we swam everyday in her pool and, in the evening, sat in the jacuzzi under the stars. A little oasis of comfort and familial love...and in the distance -- the trumpet call of the sand hill cranes.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

It was so nice to find this letter in my mailbox after a short hiatus:

hi leny,
we don't know each other yet, but i felt compelled to write you this
email. i'm on page four of your book, coming full circle, and i am
blown away. to be honest, i was blown away reading the back cover,
then really, really blown away reading the first two paragraphs of your
introduction. your book found me, for which i am most grateful. thank
you for writing it. thank you for sharing your experience. thank you
for providing others a way to share theirs. i know that i am not
alone, and for some reason, without even really knowing you, i am
certain that you know how valuable that feeling is.

perhaps i should back up now and introduce myself. my name is k.
v., and i am a filipina-american. i was born in the
philippines, and my parents and i immigrated to the united states in
1974; i was less than a year old. my parents spoke tagalog (and other
dialects) with each other, with other relatives, with friends, and when
conducting business with other filipinos. they never taught me how to
speak my native languages. of course, i understand why they did it;
but it's always been a source of secret shame for me, and i've always
wanted to learn.

after ten years, i am happy to report i'm learning tagalog now, and i
meet my tutor once a week in the main branch of the san francisco
public library. three weeks ago, he was running late (filipino time!),
so i went up to the 3rd floor filipino library. there was a bulletin
board with your email talking about your latest book, a book of her
own. i copied down the title, your name, and your contact info in the
margin of my study notes and promptly forgot all about wanting to
google you and your book later.

my friend stan, was performing in a two man show last week in a theater
near mission street and 5th. after my husband and i parked our car to
go to the theater, we passed arkipelago books. then, i remembered you
and your book and made a mental note to go to that bookstore to get it.
after my tagalog lesson this week, i asked my tutor if he wanted to
go with me to costco (samples and $1.50 hot dogs) then to arkipelago
books. we did, and i asked marie about your book. they didn't have it
in stock, but she showed me this one. of course, i bought it. and, of
course, you also know that i started it.

i look forward to finishing this book, reading your other work, and
meeting you. after wandering aimlessly for most of my life, wondering
about my identity and my direction, i have only just recently found my
way, my authentic path. i am embracing my voice inside of me. i am
learning to trust her. i speak aloud about the places that confuse and
scare me and thrill me and confound me. i am allowing my consciousness
to expand and guide me and my actions. your work is becoming a part my
journey and my process. thank you and welcome!

ps do you get emails like this often?
pps i sincerely hope so!

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