another long day at work, but fun … we talked about pronouns and wrote descriptive paragraphs about animals (sounds like my mfa workshops! the only difference being that in an mfa workshop we would complain about each other’s pronouns and act like animals).

it’s been a month since i turned in my MS for the MFA … and have tried not to think about it and just move forward on a few other projects and some reading. a book i mentioned before, On the Postcolony by Achille Mbembe, was recommended to me by my thesis advisor. in reading this book, i have begun to think about the project again, formulating the next steps of its development (which will involve a volume two of the collection). because i realize that only a handful of people have read my MS, i thought i would post an excerpt from the evaluation that my advisor wrote, just to give everyone a sense of what I’m up to and the Mbembe connection (i know i should just tell you all about my collection, but i have such a difficult time speaking articulately about my own work)…

anyways, HERE IT IS Italized, the bold sections are excerpt from my poems (let me know what you think!):

It’s always reassuring to see how a work so inspired by the avant-garde of American poetry and poetics—from McKay and Stein and Olson to Cha—can remain so innovatively uncompromising in its lyricism, and brave in its use of narrative. Indeed, your major project brings together a wide range of methods and qualities that are too often sadly segregated.

I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to look at the piece by Achille Mbembe I gave you. His work, On the Postcolony, aims to reconfigure and re-script the many fables, grammars, violations and falsifications that harden around a place-name—“Africa”—whose “real” location has receded beyond an inaccessible horizon of representation on the stage of world history. He does this, in his own words, “through short-cuts, repetitions, inventions, a manner and rhythm of narration at once open, hermetic and melodious, made up of sonorities—in the tradition of Senghor’s ‘shadow song’ [chant d’ombre]—a song that can only be captured and truly understood by the entirety of the sense, and not by hearing alone.” And he continues, “I was searching for a mode of writing that would lead the reader to listen to that shadow song with her or his own senses.”

I find myself returning to Mbembe’s theoretical work again now not only because it was a point of departure for me when I began thinking seriously about your project, but because I’m astonished by the correspondence between his statement of purpose and the work you’ve just completed. I think the relation I’m noting is at once serendipitous and overdetermined: serendipitous in the sense of being an unexpected convergence of intentions in the space between two radically different projects; and, overdetermined in the sense of registering a common set of historical pressures and needs today, both in theory and poetics. In the face of our diminished freedom, and by way of a heightened attention to the baleful legacies of our colonized history, your work is a powerful testament to our ability to re-imagine the past in the interests of a future other than the one prescribed for us by empire today.

you approach the reef where you were born without knowing / if this is a fulcrum of wind [espinasu (spine)] or if you have already crossed

What’s more, your close work with Chamoru allows you to show how a dispossessed language—a reservoir of nouns attached to a place—can be relearned in and through the writing itself. Thus, the poems become new cartographies, scenes of a new knowledge in the process of making itself. Similarly, Renee’s story becomes an allegory of Guam’s history and language, of plumeria flowers and ashes converging with the fragments of a scattered past that is here with us, now.

“sieved / of breath” to recover — brief / sounds


2 thoughts on “re-scripting

  1. Sounds like a book one should read. And I do mean should. It is bad enough that America is teeming with people who do not know the history of the planet let alone the history of a nation on the brink of disaster, and I mean the US.

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