I will be reading and speaking on Filipino American Literature at Saint Mary's College of California this evening. I will be at Stanford this coming Thursday, discussing my work within a San Francisco/regional context.
I am liking that I can plug my work into different contexts; I think this reassures me against pigeonholing, which is something that I have always feared would happen to me in the larger literary world.
There are obviously overlaps here, between Filipino American/APIA and then California regional/SF Bay Area literatures. Certainly, I am interested in making sure Filipino American/APIA poets and writers belong on a SF Bay Area literary map, which too often gets over-represented by the Beats (and really, when do we ever talk about contemporary — i.e not Jack London, or even Gertrude Stein — Oakland literature? But that's another issue altogether and I can't claim to claim Oakland so comfortably).
Last year or so, when a professor at Notre Dame de Namur University told me that he heard Ginsberg in my work, I realized it was because the areas of North Beach/City Lights/Chinatown and what most Americans do not know as Manilatown figure pretty importantly in my work, and that inevitably, someone was going to tell me I kind of sound influenced by the Beat Poets, just because of this proximity and our experiences in this specific part of San Francisco.
Sometimes I avoid reading the Beats, just because I don't want their resonance in my work.
Knowing that Al Robles' political and poetic world is the I-Hotel of Manilatown/Chinatown, I would like this kind of connection to be made in the literary world. In fact, I would like this connection to be made before the Beats/Ginsberg connection, for Al Robles is so much more of a presence — and in many ways, an institution — in my poetry than the Beats ever were or will be.