Monday, May 22, 2006

Thoughts on poeta en san francisco

I've always been interested in the question: What does decolonization look like in other Art forms? In Poetry, it looks like poeta en san francisco.

Barb draws a map of the heart of colonialism and the not-so-faint traces of it in the City: a city filled with the bodies of the conquered -- Native peoples, Filipinos, Mexicans and other Latinos, Asians, refugees, Vietnam vets, the homeless, abused, the disenfranchised. In the Mission, South of Market, in cathedrals, in sidestreets, in ethnic enclaves of the city.

Poeta is about war in the name of nailed gods masking their patriarchal orientalist gaze. Stare at this apocalypse now and Pray. To the Diwata - she whose power has been repressed, demonized, and split into virgin-whore. She still walks this City and becomes the Mother of the cursed.

Poeta zigzags in time between past and present: colonialism and neocolonialism in the heart of a dying empire. Yes, it is dying.

Orient your gaze upon the depths of the colonial enterprise -- how it projects its own self-hatred onto the bodies of the Other.

Disorient: the gaze is returned in an-Other tongue. Baybayin, Filipino, Spanish, an invented language. This is an attempt to end the poet's obsession with war; it feels like an exorcism. An invocation of angels -- not the angels you would think of -- but the angels of the City's Others -- its immigrants, derelicts, it's non-englishers -- they turn prayers into prophecies, into incantations and warnings about what doesn't last and what remains and what returns. Disrupting religious dualisms and canonicity. The holy is unholy. The unholy is holy.

Re-Orient: with uyayi/lullabies. The body as crossroads of desire: can we recognize each other as we cross paths in the City's dark alleys? Can you offer absolution and deliverance? Offer it to him - the Man, the Patriarch who makes war, the one who baptizes in the name of the nailed god - offer him an amulet. "Build a temple from the detritus" -- to heal this Land of poison. Use your native tongue, Center yourself in his drama. Disarm. Disturb. Disorient. Re-orient in a new direction.

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