10/2/07

Filipino American Literature this evening at Saint Mary's College

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.

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3 comments:

dbuuck said...

yes, al robles! i love it in the I-Hotel doc when he mutters "Fucking Victorians"... I wonder to what degree Al's engagement with the local & the overtly political tends to get him read (by lazy & MFA-trained readers/poets) as an 'ethnic' or 'multi-culti' poet (vs "properly" avant-garde)... since most people in the a-g scene here don't seem to ever have heard of him!

barbara jane said...

hey (david?) yes you're right, i think a lot of local a-g folks have not heard of him, precisely because of his activist/manilatown affiliations. i don't know that being considered an 'ethnic' poet bothers him as much as his being considered an 'ethnic' poet bothers me. i always think of him as sf poet laureate material, you know?

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