44 Resurrections is alive with detail and incident. It's brilliant and multi-faceted, a jewel--Tom Beckett
Just returned from a Spanish vacation. But apparently I was busy while attempting to vacate. Here are some catch-up news:
44 RESURRECTIONS, the first poetry collection from the MDR Poetry Generator, was released by E-ratio Editions. I hope you check it out -- I feel a lot of affection for this project (and I don't always have affection for my projects, even when I love them all). Here's an excerpt
I forgot the musk of evenings.
I forgot there are keys to everything, even handcuffs missing their rabbit fur linings.
I forgot the child soldiers.
I forgot other boys like Samuel and Elwin whose bones became transparent.
I forgot the mysterious Chinese girl who slipped syphilis to Van Gogh.
I forgot love stutters over a lifetime.
And I'm blessed to receive a review by Aileen Ibardaloza and Our Own Voice of 147 MILLION ORPHANS. The whole review is HERE, but here's an excerpt:
In an ideal world, no child is ever without parents. But we cannot deny the existence of 147 million orphans, the number so staggering they could be a nation unto themselves.
The world’s history is littered with well-documented cases of orphan trains and “apprentice bonds“; with dying rooms for medically “unviable” infants, and cribs serving as virtual prisons. In many orphanages, babies receive approximately 5 to 6 minutes of attention a day; this, despite evidence that “neglect is awful for the brain.” In post-Ceausescu Romania, for instance, scientists found orphans with “disturbingly low levels of brain activity.” Babies who grow up to be youngsters, however, continue to face mounting uncertainties. Today in China (as it was in major American cities in the late 1800s), children who “age out” (or those who reach their 14th birthday) are deemed no longer “adoptable.” They are turned out of the orphanage, and expected to fend for themselves.
While I was vacating, my essay on "Behind the Scenes of a Fundraising Anthology" as regards VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA was published by Our Own Voice. The whole essay is HERE but here's an excerpt:
Despair. To learn of a drowning mother counseling her child, “Let go” so the child can save herself? The child, I believe, let go. But I also know the child will never be able to let go of that moment…
Or, to learn of a newly-born girl dying days after the typhoon despite her mother and father trading shifts in manually blowing air into her lungs because there was no power ...
Subsequent damage estimates would be overwhelming—the numbers are unimaginable even as statistics alone surely elide the effects of the tragedy: 14 million affected, 4 million displaced, 1.1 million houses destroyed, over 3,200 schools damaged and so on.
In response, I, a prolific writer, chose not to write. As a poet, I had zero interest in writing about Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda. My response was akin to Angelo Lacuesta who wrote a poem, “Pastoral” about Yolanda resulting in a blank page—you can see this sample poem over at BIBLIOTHECA INVISIBILIS (an online archive of the invisible): http://libraryofinvisible.blogspot.com/2014/03/angelo-r-lacuesta.html
But not to write about Typhoon Yolanda is not the same as to remain silent about Typhoon Yolanda. I chose, instead, to edit a fundraising anthology—I asked Filipino poets who, unlike me, were moved to write on (or found older poems that applied to) the tragedy to “donate” poems for a book whose sales profits would go to the survivors of the typhoon. Thus, was born VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets (Meritage Press, San Francisco & St. Helena, 2014)...
The poet-contributors would come not just from the Philippines but from the diaspora: the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, South Africa. The contributors would come to include an entire class of students at Skyline College in California. The contributors would come to number 133 authors—by any standard, an unusually large number of writers participating in a single book.
We also received a review from HYPHEN Magazine of VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA. The whole review by Melissa R. Sipin is HERE but here's an excerpt:
I watched, like the rest of the Filipino diaspora, from afar. After the winds fell and black body bags began crowding the streets of Tacloban, I felt the rage, the anger, the loss. As my television screen replayed the destruction left in Yolanda’s wake, I could feel what those at ground zero felt: grief, hopelessness, and the need to continue on. But within these moments of tragedy, many writers and artists gathered online and encapsulated their shifting emotions in art. We grieved together on blogs, via email, and on Facebook. We searched for our loved ones through Facebook status updates and Google Person Finder. When Juan Felipe Herrera, the Poet Laureate of California, and poet Vince Gotera sent out a call for poems of uplift and healing on the Facebook group, “Hawak Kamay: Poems for the Philippines After Haiyan,” the group epitomized the power of the Filipino collective psyche: kapwa (togetherness), kagandahang-loob (shared humanity), and pakiramdam (shared inner perceptions). This great tragedy tied the community together—and in turn, our art shifted into a call-and-response against tragedy.
Two anthologies were born: Outpouring: Typhoon Yolanda Relief Anthology (Flipside Publishing, 2014), edited by Dean Francis Alfar, and Verses Typhoon Yolanda: A Storm of Filipino Poets (Meritage Press, 2014), edited by Eileen Tabios.
YEP. Now that I've shared all that, I think it's time for another vacation....