So I had this great and very thoughtful blog post that WordPress just murdered. Let me try to construct it anew.
(1) I wanted to say a few things about this past weekend, which started with the PAWA meeting on Saturday morning at SFPL. I am very much enjoying planning/organizing, primarily with Edwin Lozada and Oscar, compiling our wishlists of Filipino American writers/authors, at various stages in their writing careers and from different parts of the country, trying to time this with newly released and soon to be released books, and pairing them up for a series of literary events which we’ll be launching before the end of the year. Keep your eyes on our blog for official announcements.
(2) Litcrawl. I am glad to have attended the KSW reading at the Casanova Lounge, an event we would have attended anyway, in support of KSW. Still, the reason why I am happy about the KSW reading is because I am so glad to have heard Rachelle Cruz read. I’d never heard of her before. Her bio tells us she has just returned to the Bay Area after a few years of studying in New York. I am thinking now, I wonder if this is the same Rachelle Cruz whom Tara Betts mentioned in a comment to Rigoberto González’s post on the Poetry Foundation blog back in December 2007 about the All Girl Poetry Slam sponsored by Girlstory. Tara mentions in her comment other poets’ names — Elana Bell and Rachelle Cruz, recent Sarah Lawrence graduates.
Anyway, I believe Cruz’s work was the strongest of all the KSW poetic work at Litquake, for its very clean and rigorous uses of poetic form and line, concrete words and images, and specificity of objects and place. She told us she has an obsession with the aswang, the Philippine mythological creature who splits her body in two. She is female, typically beautiful. Her top half flies off into the night, and with her long tongue, she sucks the unborn babies out of mothers’ wombs. Fascinating, scary stuff, and for poets and artists, the figurative female cleaving in two is too rich to pass up. Cruz wonders what would happen to the aswang if she were to come to America. We’ve seen one vision in Matt Abaya’s Bampinay. And with Cruz, whose well structured litany is rife with very precise pronoun usage (they, we, you), the relationships drawn here are so interesting. You can have a listen here; Oscar took video, and while the venue is dark, the sound quality is quite good.
As well, Cruz handles modern urban myth in the form of the neighborhood fire hydrant, and her poetic speaker’s expectations as a new New York resident. I can’t emphasize enough her use of located, specific, and concrete, such that we see both the myth actualized, and that we see the poetic speaker as astute witness become a part of this scene/world. I noticed Cruz was reading from a chapbook. Afterward, I did buy one. It’s entitled Honey May Soon Run Out, and I see it is a book of odes, Neruda-esque, odes to things often taken for granted. Odes to times and events and phenomena we take for granted. This is a poet I really hope to see more from, and as well, this is a poet I hope to include in my future publishing projects and reading series planning. I hope I wasn’t too aggressive with flipping my business card in her direction, but I do think it’s important for me to connect with younger poets, particularly, Filipino American poets, Pinay poets, and to concretely do what I can to help forward their careers.