Tuesday, November 30, 2010

GOLDEN SUN

I am so grateful to Tony Frazer and Shearsman Books -- I worked with Tony over the weekend on moi forthcoming "Collected Novels," SILK EGG. Here is Tony's designed brand-spankin' new front cover!



An earlier draft of the cover had used a greenish background, logically picking up off some of the dark green within the cover image, a drawing by New York-based artist Maureen McQuillan. But I like this "sky blue" -- I had envisioned the "silk egg" in the drawing to be like the sun. The result is more unexpected, I think, and also more befitting of the stories' sensibility: a cool-ly Scandinavian clarity that I personally find cheerful. (As I've said elsewhere, color is a narrative...)

Anyway, thank you Tony and Shearsman! SILK EGG comes out in January and I hope you Peeps check it out! Perhaps you might be curious about what blurber Barry Schwabsky was talking about when he described himself, in reading through the books, as "becoming more perceptive, fantastical, mordant, impassioned, and artful"! Perhaps you won't mind if that silk egg's cobwebby strands end up entangling you in its ... affairs... Perhaps you'll think Moi finally melted into letters ... Perhaps x-y=x ...! Perhaps perhaps ....

Labels: ,

Monday, November 29, 2010

WABBIT EARS OVER TURKEY!

The mountain is thawing a little, allowing me to post photos. So let Moi not be remiss in not nota bene-ing Turkey Day. After all, I do have much for which I am thankful. Like, rabbit ears over turkey!





Beautiful bird, yah? Of course I did not cook it! (Thank you, Whole Foods!) After once cooking turkey once a week every week for nearly a year while Achilles was going through food allergies, I'll take up golf before I ever stick moi arm into a turkey's butthole ever again!

Okay. Go do some Cyber-Monday damage over HERE, why dontcha! And if you type in "CYBER305" to your order, you get 25% off! Woot.

Labels: , ,

WHERE'S THE BLACK FOR POETRY BOOKS ANYWAY...?

It's cold up on the mountain. And, unfortunately, moi internet freezes below 40 degrees which limits blogging et al. So things are slow and sluggish, e-wise. Putting Moi in a grumpy mood. So in such mood, to celebrate the season, here's a shopping list--hah! Or, my always too-paltry recently bought list of poetry books:

THE SINGERS & THE NOTES by Logan Ryan Smith, to celebrate the new & hottest poetry collective in town: BETTER HOMES THROUGH POEMS! That's right! Improve your home decor with a poetry book or two's!

LIVING UNDER PLASTIC by Evelyn Lau

VIEW WITH A GRAIN OF SAND: SELECTED POEMS by Wislawa Szymborska

THE DANCE MOST OF ALL by Jack Gilbert

SHARKS IN THE RIVERS by Ada Limon

NATIVE GUARD by Natasha Trethewey

SONATA MULATTICA by Rita Dove

RIPRAP AND COLD MOUNTAIN POEMS by Gary Snyder

STAGE PRESENCE: CONVERSATIONS WITH FILIPINO AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTISTS edited by Theodore S. Gonzalves

FLUX, CLOTH & FROTH, Vol. 1 (text) by John Bloomberg-Rissman

FLUX, CLOTH & FROTH, Vol. 2 (notes to poems) by John Bloomberg-Rissman

BOUGH BREAKS by Tamiko Beyer

Labels:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

GALATEA RESURRECTS INCHING ALONG...

I know I have to wait until Dec. 6 for two more reviews for Galatea Resurrects. This means, de facto, you peeps have until the same Dec. 6 to turn in your reviews ... Go on! A lot of review copies circulating out there...!

Labels:

Friday, November 26, 2010

QUE PASA, SINGAPORE!

Recently received a permissions request from The National Library Board (NLB) Singapore which is publishing “An Anthology of English Writing in Southeast Asia.” 'Twas for a poem by Lani Montreal published in PINOY POETICS. Of course I--as Meritage Press publisher--gave permission, and was heartened that PINOY POETICS gave a venue to Lani's poem ... which also reminds me yet again to remind you all: PINOY POETICS is not a "new book" -- but it is still the only publication of its type out there, and you all should definitely continue to assign it as a poetry / poetics text. And thanks-giving to you classroom teachers who've done so in the past and, hopefully, will continue to do so.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

GRASS ANYONE?

Of course I'm talking about the organic wheat grass that I make sure is available in the house for Artemis -- she loves it so, as per here:



Anyway, I needed a test post for trying to resolve computer issues. So, thought to post the kitty and ... my latest Recently Relished W(h)ine List! Yeah!

WINTER HARVEST:
35 pounds of honey (OH YEAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! And I've tasted it and it is absolutely YUMMY, flavored as it is from the wildflowers on Galatea's mountain as well as the roses I plant for moiself and the deer)
5 Meyer lemons
14 persimmons


PUBLICATIONS
FOR GOOD BEHAVIOUR, poems by Lars Palm (a welcome kick in the head!)

MEMORY CARDS : WOLSAK SERIES, poems by Susan Schultz (she's not unknown but the more that I read Susan's poems, the more respect I feel she should get)

POSTCARDS TO BOX 464, poems by Amanda Laughtland with art by Jen May (charming!)

REQUIEM FOR THE ORCHARD, poems by Oliver de la Paz (stellar writing and moving)

BEHAVE: CALIFORNIA RANT 66, poems by Steve Tills (nice calibrations)

MR. MAGOO, poems by Steve Tills (love that rhyme of "McCrary" and "Cotati")

I-FORMATION BOOK 1, poems by Anne Gorrick (lovely gardens!)

THE SELECTED POETRY OF DONNE, Edited by Marius Bewley

GREENSWARD, poems by Cole Swensen

LIVE MAG, literary/arts journal edited by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright (fabulous!)

THE DAILY COYOTE: TALES OF LOVE, SURVIVAL, AND TRUST IN THE WILDS OF WYOMING, memoir by Shreve Stockton

COLLECTED KONA: BRIEF TAKES ON A BASENJI, doggy memoirs by Marcia Woodard

THROUGH A DOG'S EYES: UNDERSTANDING OUR DOGS BY UNDERSTANDING HOW THEY SEE THE WORLD, study by Jennifer Arnold

SMALL TOWN, BIG MIRACLE, memoir by Bishop W.C. Martin with John Fornof

MELANIE AND ME: A CHINESE DAUGHTER TRANSFORMS HER ADOPTIVE DAD, memoir by Terry L. Garlock

BOTH ENDS BURNING: MY STORY OF ADOPTING THREE CHILDREN FROM HAITI, memoir by Craig Juntunen

WORTH DYING FOR, novel by Lee Child

ECHO BURNING, novel by Lee Child

CRY MERCY, novel by Mariah Stewart

DEAD EVEN, novel by Mariah Stewart

DEAD END, novel by Mariah Stewart

SINGLE IN SUBURBIA, novel by Wendy Wax

SEAVIEW, novel by Sherryl Woods

JOINING, novel by Johanna Lindsey


WINES
1995 Togni cabernet
2000 Hare's Chase Barossa Valley
2004 Samuels Gorge Mclaren Vale
2004 Coho
2007 Aubert chardonnay

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NO E-WORLD ON MOUNTAIN

Unfortunately, the server is down on the mountain and (due to Thanksgiving) it's not likely to be fixed until next week. So, am not able to do much on the internet (I'm typing this at public library) even as I can do e-mails via moi handheld.

This does mean, though, that basically you all have another week to send me your reviews for next issue of Galatea Resurrects! So, whilst recovering from the turkey later this week, perhaps you might want to finish typing away!

Labels:

Friday, November 19, 2010

DEFYING CANCER

Well, yes. There's no way for me to post the photo below without revealing that Mom is back in the U.S., much earlier than her anticipated return from her visit to the Philippines. Kinda kills me a little to reveal: Mom is back because she got diagnosed with cancer, and we're now beginning what looks like will be her treatment: a series of radiation treatments culminating in surgery.

Anyway, since Mom's been back, she's basically stayed around the house, not even going to church, as she's not been comfortable traveling beyond her comfort zone. But, today, she made a special trip out for Michael whose school was celebrating a "Grandparents and Special Friends Day." Here's a photo of them there:



Mom wanted to be there for Michael. I don't think Michael ever knew his biological grandparents. But Mom wanted to show that Michael is like most of the kids in his school by having an "Abuelita." So there, Son. Don't ever let anyone tell you you didn't have a grandparent. You have one, as sure as you have a ... Mom and Dad.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

BORGESIAN MOI

Yah, I know -- I've gotten beyond moiself. "Eileen Tabios" is confirmed to be a "persona".

Isn't it synchronistic that my forthcoming SILK EGG (yes that book description in link is truncated) takes its cue from Borges' "La biblioteca de Babel"?

Fictions may require an author, but I'm the author that's fiction.

Do allow Moi to introduce you to my latest nickname: La Babel!

Labels: , ,

MORE TUTORING REQUIRED!

I just got an email from Michael's science tutor that contained the following sentence:
I enjoy working one on one with him as he is motivated to learn and so polite! He is making progress and building confidence with physics concepts.

Polite? Glad to hear it! Especially as, with his parents these recent weeks, he's mostly smart-alecky! Then, coincidentally, I got another email today from his math tutor that says:
He is very attentive and has a great work ethic during our time together. It is wonderful to see his progress, and his enthusiasm for learning is admirable.

Very attentive? Glad to hear it! Especially as, with his parents these recent weeks, he mostly turns a blank look at us and/or loosens a dufus-ish "Whaaa...?" when we say something.

I'm particularly proud of his math progress as I had to home-school him innit when he first arrived. Believe Moi, I am not the logical candidate for teaching anyone about math (she says with deep apologies breathed out to the universe for all the waiters and cab drivers she under-tipped in the past due to the inability to multiply whole numbers with percentages; that she over-tipped others for the same reason is undoubtedly not a consolation). Anyway, here's Michael's latest math test result--a solid B+ did all on his own!



Oh, last but not least, I then got an email from his English/Humanities tutor with the following:
He has a great attitude and seems to be enjoying the topic. Onward and upward!

Great attitude? Glad to hear it! Especially as, with his parents these recent weeks, he's been engaging in that ye olde Classic teen irritant known as ... rolling one's eyes.

We as parents are happy to spring for tutoring for Michael, and so far the results have been worthwhile. But the one class for which I'd love for Michael to get tutoring isn't available -- that'd be the class for how to engage one's parents in a way where said parents don't feel

AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGG!

Sigh. I suppose I should be pleased Michael doesn't treat his teachers the way he treats us. Anyway, here's the happy Michael with family friend and soccer-pal Yorum on left and hubby on right.



I am learning that to be a teen parent means not only at times getting the left-overs of your kid's attention but making the "Rabbit Ears" hand motion frequently in display of childish humor as we descend to his level. Already, the last few conversations the hubby and I had with each other, we both responded the same way to each other's shared gems of wisdom: with blank looks and a "Whaaaa...?"

*****

You never really know the full history of an older child you might adopt. You can learn things over time, but you may never know the full story. Over time, we are learning more bits & pieces about Michael's past. For example, for a high school application he had to write an essay about something that inspired him. What did he choose? He chose the story of Colombian-born American cardiovascular surgeon Harold Fernandez.

Michael had read the NYTimes article about Dr. Fernandez who had come to the U.S. illegally as an 13-year-old to join his family. Like Michael, he arrived without knowing English. Reading Michael's essay, I learned how Dr. Fernandez had to struggle long and hard to be able to attend Princeton and later Harvard Medical School. And I read how much Michael took his story to heart -- how, despite the difficulties, he never gave up on his studies or his goals.

And I also read how Michael apparently had always wanted to get an education. How, unlike many who were around him in his early past, he desperately wanted to learn. It's interesting that, for now, he doesn't actually have a career aspiration -- but he just wants to be schooled. Once, his ambition was to attend a four-year-college. When he learned that I and the hubby both have Masters' Degrees, he immediately said he wants one too. He doesn't have a job in mind -- he just seems to feel this deep hunger for education for education's sake.

That's fine and delightful for us. We certainly see no need for him to choose a career this early. But we do feel lucky that he has his priorities correct about education. For this blessing that he presents to us, we are more than willing (well, usually more than willing) to ignore his rolling eyes. It helps that I've learned to respond to his smart-aleckiness with a blank look and a "Whaaaa...?"

That's the secret to successful teen parenting: ye olde blank look! No tutoring required here! I master it more and more each day.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CAN'T BE RETICENT ABOUT "RETICENT"!

Wow. Sometimes, it takes someone else reading a poem you write to make you really appreciate your own poem! I confess that in my gazillion-poem inventory, "Reticent" really never came to the center of my own attention until lovely Cynthia posted an interview about it HERE, and what a bonus to see how others responded to the poem in the Comments section. Well, from such posting now comes the marvelously luminous words of Nic Sebastian reading the poem for WHALE SOUND over HERE.

And what a great idea: an audio-anthology of poets! HERE is a list of poets whose poems also might be heard.

My job as poet is only to begin poems. Thank you to Cynthia and Nic for allowing "Reticent" to mature into wholeness.

"Reticent" was first published in I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

GALATEA RESURRECTS

Okay, I won't bother officially extending the review deadline again. I will just say that it always takes me some time, following the official deadline, to format the issues of Galatea Resurrects. So, whilst I'm formatting this week, if you wish to keep plugging along on a review and send it to me by next Sunday, Nov. 21, it'll still be able for sure to make the next issue.

Why don't you go for it, if only because so far I've received 62 reviews. While that is a wonderful thing, the prior issue had 64 reviews. Well, come on then -- someones out there give me at least two more reviews this week so that we don't fall like the economy, yah? Poetry is priceless!

Labels:

Friday, November 12, 2010

CONGRATULATIONS TO RONALDO WILSON, ARTHUR SZE & KAZIM ALI

for the Asian American Writers Workshop Poetry Prizes! Here's what we judges had to say:

Winner for the Asian American Literary Award in Poetry
Poems of the Black Object
, Ronaldo V. Wilson (Futurepoem Books)

Judge: Sesshu Foster
If our origins emerge from the mix (mestizaje) of the history and politics of desire that arrive before we do, then impel us into being, in Poems of the Black Object Ronaldo V. Wilson takes hold of that root in language, compelling it to yield this prismatic expression in its most vivid contemporary living idiom. The lines gleam along a sharp edge and snap. Poems of the Black Object feels hard and fresh as if physically cracked open—like raw seafood at the ocean’s edge.

A Zen koan asks: What was your original face before you were born? (Or in another version: What was your original face before your parents were born?) In Ronaldo Wilson’s deft, muscular poems, one’s own original face emerges from the risk-fraught present moment in all its specificity (urban circumstances, the multiplicity of encounters) as if from underwater. Lifted through a radical grace of articulate prowess, desire arises even when brutalized or amputated, or cauterized by openness (“Who will taste the salt in my mouth? Feel the endless rip of the sun, its yellow light forced against the petrified pine.”) Refracted back through his own earlier intense (and intensely imagined) memory and sensation, the book ends with meditations on the suffering of others—a compassionate outward blossoming of the figure of “the black body.” This is a tremendous achievement.

Finalists for the Asian American Literary Award in Poetry
The Gingko Light, Arthur Sze (Copper Canyon Press)

Judge: John Yau
In The Gingko Light, Arthur Sze’s ninth collection of poetry, he continues to bring together a wild and unlikely array of facts, observations, and memories, suggesting how tenuous is the interconnectedness of everything to everything else. He makes the reader aware of the intricacies of the radiant world, where the survival of a gingko tree—which was “Once thought extinct” and now grows in New York City—populates “the chasm between what I envision and what I do.” It is that gap that Sze is always conscious of—the abyss between knowledge and desire, recognition and dream. Arthur Sze inhabits that place where feelings, thoughts and facts are in constant collision. He examines its unfolding slowly and patiently, always with a dispassionate eye, an awareness that mortality embraces us all. The result is a poetry full of love and generosity.

Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities, Kazim Ali (Wesleyan University Press)
Judge: Eileen Tabios
It's difficult to write autobiography as poetry and rely on sentences. One risks not having done enough to evaporate language from prose to poetry. Some poets rely on lyricism for this path, and certainly, Kazim Ali's Bright Felon is lyrical. But the challenge (and occasional beauty) of poetry is how it can be more than words, such that its architecture alone can facilitate poetry's blossoming. Herein lies the genius of Bright Felon: how Ali creates a coming-of-age story using traveled cities as infrastructure. The result is a luminously larger sum than all the genre-parts utilized: autobiography and travelogue, as well as meditations on literature, politics, art, cultures and religion. Bright Felon makes a stranger-reader care about the life of this poet, even as the memory of what was read becomes not just the narratives upon which the work relies but also the haunting tones that surface as the reader is moved to linger between words. In those spaces that words can only evoke, poetic resonance remains pure with music and light. Bright Felon presents a brilliantly unforgettable "accretion of sentences and waking up."

Labels: ,

SOME BROUHAHA WITH YOUR BREW?

My love for poetry has been translated, in some quarters, as that Galatea Resurrects is a softie when it comes to criticizing poetry. Don't know how that happened. After all, lookit HERE. And if you scroll down to comments, oh moi gawd, what a brouhaha!

I may be a softie, but my poetry projects? They're not soft ... or hard. Like poems, they just are.

Now, get on over to the list of GR's review copies and send me some loving reviews! A love for poetry, that is, if not for a particular book!

Labels:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

AN OLD (BUT ETERNAL) ROMANCE

It's an ETERNAL ROMANCE, moi love for art. There was a period I dabbled in my version of art criticism, of which a selection became a ROMANTIC BOOK. But I wrote more art engagements than what appeared in this book, and it always interests/amuses me to see what happens to them.

Like, a review I once wrote on Johannes Girardoni's works is live online again! In the company of real art critics (though I don't always like what these critics say), like The NYTimes' Grace Glueck or those writing for Art in America, Sculpture Magazine or NYArt Magazine.

Anyway, I read my art criticism, I mean engagements, now and can't fathom the space from where I wrote them. Which means I'd approached the form as a poetic form -- and that's just fine with me! Poetry is inherently multi-genre!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

THE WORD, CONDITION-PRECEDENT TO WORLD

As Michael fills out high school applications, one question he recently faced was: "Describe a recent moment in school when you learned something about yourself (some call it an Ah-Ha moment)."

After we explained the concept of said "Ah-Ha moment," he replied by discussing how he confirmed his prior hope to keep up with the kids at his current school: "We were studying adverbs, verbs, nouns and pronouns and I realized I could do the problems, like the other kids in class!"

Good for the kiddo! We had not kept from him the results of his school's prior testing on his academic skills -- how he was rated about a year behind his classmates, by this particular school's standards. Such realization only made Michael more determined to work hard, which is why in the parent's recommendation section of the same high school application, we had shared how we so admire Michael's consistent refusal to back away from challenges.

And isn't it apt that Michael focused on language instead of other areas of improvement like math? Children need to be heard, a psychologist told me during our adoption journey, which means, yes, Children need to speak! It's a tragedy how "orphan" often comes to be defined as "the one who is unheard until s/he no longer bothers to speak." In his early days with us, Michael was quite a chatterer -- he could go for hours non-stop! With hindsight, perhaps it's because for the first time he had the full attention of listeners in us as his new parents.

Anyway, here's the latest official school photo -- already framed so forgive the glass glare -- of Senor Determination; we are so proud of you!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

GALATEA EXTENDS DEADLINE

Submission deadline for reviews for Galatea Resurrects has been further extended to Nov. 14, 2010. Send me your engagements -- it's going to be a great issue with various interesting elements (a favorite being when a reviewer also went after the improbable blurbs on one book's back cover. It's always amusing critiquing those blurbeees....!)

Nor is it ever too early to start thinking of reviews for the subsequent issue. Got lots of great review copies and they keep coming! Go to link for more info!

Labels:

Monday, November 08, 2010

HUH: A POETIX

....always interesting how money comes up when one chats with a visual artist. Could be the most "emerging" artist but since it's possible to make a living -- nay, become a gazillionaire -- through visual arts, the possibility comes up. Whereas it never or rarely comes up in conversations (my conversations anyway) with other poets, this: How much do I get paid? Not really ranting--mayhap it's self-respect for a visual artist to raise the notion of money since the form allows for it, and one should have the fortitude to believe one's talents will warrant gazillions. (Sure the field is never level but that's a different story, not to mention known story so one already should stop whining about it and instead adjust.) Anyhoo, poor poetry--pure (so to speak) because it must remain so.

... elsewhere, I'm discussing with another poet the editing of a poem. It's one of those elliptical poems, so to speak. So our comments back-and-forth quickly become elliptical, based on narrative surface. And yet we continue as if we know what the other is saying. Purity--so intelligible. One needs the stains for definitiveness. Yet and nonetheless, purity communicates. Just like poetry.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, November 07, 2010

R.I.P., OPHELIA ALCANTARA DIMALANTA

A moment for recently-departed poet Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta.

Here is an excerpt from her poem “One Final Burning”:
“its life cinders on
until this ultimate imploding,
one deafening blast to climax rite
as loved ones writhe, ashen
in their own consumed shells,
or perhaps, relived at last
over this burning’s end.
the skull tautens, breaks,
bursts forth into nothing, nil,
its ghost given up... pure annihilation!
the cold remains of its spirit
ash-kohl in its final irrevocable
bleak dissembling, now, here in
this one kind of final burning.”

Labels:

Thursday, November 04, 2010

MONDO MARCOS

Well, THIS sounds interesting.

I'm even innit. So, can someone send me a Contributor's Copy? If only so, uh, I can remember what poem I apparently wrote for it ...

Labels:

ON THE GREATEST (NEAR-INVISIBLE) HUMANITARIAN TRAGEDY OF OUR TIME



The last couple of weeks have been big for Michael. We have been exploring his high school options and, yesterday, we all went through a visit, tour and interview at the school that we hope he'll attend for high school. This morning, as I drove him to the carpool pick-up, we had a chance to discuss our recent experiences ... and one of the topics was how he might use high school as a chance to discover something he'd be passionate about, that he'd actually want to do and decide to do in his life.

It's not something to be taken lightly. For most of Michael's life so far, he'd been told by others what to do -- from orphanage/social workers whose motivations can be more oriented to managing his existence vs. providing (long-term) guidance to us as his parents helping him transition to a new family, new country, new language and so on. Since he's stabilized in the transition into his new life, he has the chance now, I told Michael, to try to figure out what he would like (nay: love!) to do with his life -- and it is a luxury that most people in the world never have as they need to focus mostly on survival. Oh Yeah, I could see Michael's brain-gears shifting as I spoke, as he knows exactly what I'm talkin' about on that survival stuff!

The director of the school had asked what I was looking for in a high school for my son. I said, Three Things. First, the ability to understand his background and thus contextualize some of the standardized tests that the school references in assessing students. Second, an environment where Michael can blossom and hopefully discover a passion as most of his life to date had been focused on survival. Third, the ability to make him qualify for a college whose campus comes out of Harry Potter, or other similarly great-quality colleges.

One of my beloved Peeps emailed me jokingly that, based on my blog posts, I seem to be spoiling Michael rotten. Au contraire. I only usually blog about the aspects of parenting that are amusing, cheerful, etc. I don't blog about the difficult or fraught experiences that occur as a result of (1) having Michael live, as recommended by adoption experts, within clearly-delineated structures as they begin post-adoption lifestyles; (2) having to work extremely hard to overcome the delayed start to his formal schooling and then not just overcome those delays but make him competitive in the 21st century; and (3) last but not least, coping with how the skills that Michael mastered pre-adoption in order to survive are the same behaviors that make it hard to parent him (e.g., he had to learn to become independent and take care of himself -- which makes it more difficult for him to accept someone else's guidance, even if that someone else is his new Mom and Dad).

Throw puberty in the mix and, as an adoption therapist put it to me recently, multiply by three the usual turmoil associated with exploring identity.

The advantage of adopting an older child, though, is the ability to create a "New Normal" for him. For us, Michael's New Normal involves manners and respectful attitudes towards others; always finishing his school work before he can do any play; and not watching a lot of T.V. (after the first year where we did allow much T.V. for language-acquisition purposes) or playing electronic games because we'd rather not give him opportunities to go inward instead of engaging with his environment (e.g., No to PSP/game boys but Yes to model rocketry, sports and bee-keeping). Sure, he gets exposure to electronic games through other classmates' toys or at the public library, but it's not ingrained in his daily lifestyle.

Nor is the challenge of teaching him to be respectful to others and his environment a small thing. Respect? When his background has been informed by betrayal, loss and abuse?

Well, Michael has been with us for just a year-and-a-half and the result involves, so far, successfully transitioning from Spanish-only fourth grade to English-based Honor-Roll 7th grade in less than a year, and now being within "peer range" in tough subjects like math and Humanities (science is still a tad problematic, partly due to scientific jargon when he's still in language-acquisiton mode) such that he's at least a legitimate candidate for certain competitive schools. He is also polite and compassionate. And except to his parents, he is always respectful to others (let me just say that his irreverence with us is actually a deep sign of attachment--a good thing!).

Believe me, this result was not easy and I wasn't always at my Gracious Best as a Mom. Our parenting -- or family-creation -- experience can be characterized as managing-then-transcending chaos.

I want Michael to be happy but I always remember what a friend-parent said in summing up her parenting duty: "It's not my job to make him happy; it's my job to help him learn to live independently." Of course there are many ways of parenting, but this is an attitude I've found relevant to Michael -- hardly a spoiling-him-rotten approach. For the hubby and me, our desire for Michael's future is that that he be in a situation where he loves what he's doing but is also positioned competitively and not as much at risk to external forces (e.g. the economy) -- an approach that explains our focus on education, education and education. Life offers no guarantees -- that is true, but as a parent I don't find that useful. What I do find useful is what human history proves: the difference between those who become at risk to abuse or others' powerplays and those who are more in control of their lives is often ... education.

As a result of learning yesterday about his desired school's curriculum, Michael plans now, among other things, to study Mandarin. His current favorite class is actually Humanities because it is using China's history as a base for integrating culture, history, politics et al. The other evening, Michael worked long and hard into the night translating ideograms into English for his homework -- not a single complaint as he was really fascinated and intrigued by Chinese writings. Now, he wants to learn Mandarin -- brilliant, right? After all, China's already showing itself as a major global force in the 21st century.

With hindsight, I find it breath-taking that my son has decided, all on his own, that he wants to learn a Chinese language when, just a year-and-a-half ago at age 13, he was struggling with a topic like subtraction.

It's also breathtaking because Michael's experience shows yet again the largeness of a child's potential. That when a child's potential is not limited, that child can go much farther than even anticipated. Unfortunately, this also shows just how huge is the tragedy when children are neglected or abused. The existence of about 147 million orphans worldwide continues to remain the greatest humanitarian tragedy of our time -- something that has existed for a while but doesn't necessarily get the attention of one-off devastations caused by typhoons, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

I believe the pervasiveness of orphans' existence requires, among other things, certain shifts to how we view adoption and parenting. Adoption, by itself, is not the ideal solution (addressing the problems that cause children to be orphaned is the ideal solution since many orphans exist not only because their parents died but because their parents cannot afford to keep them). But I want to push adoption today because 147 million children is too many falling through the cracks as social and governmental policies around the world are insufficient.

Specifically, I am pushing adoption as something that might be considered by people who -- unlike the usual candidates for becoming adoptive parents -- had never had that much interest in being parents. This is my category, by the way. Up until literally the time that the hubby and I began exploring adoption, we had never discussed becoming parents. We weren't that interested. But we thought, Well, maybe we can do this, we have room in la casa, etc. And, sure, we were willing to try our best to be as good parents as we can be. But this is significant: we had no prior interest in parenting. We just didn't want to not be able to help out someone when we could; as we said to a neighbor who asked why we were looking at adoption, "It's the right thing to do."

Is our motivation good enough for being entrusted with a child's future? Perhaps not ideally so. Ideally, the adopting parent is someone who ... actually wanted to become a parent! But 147 million orphans -- that is indisputably TOO MUCH! The hubby and I often joke about ourselves as parents: We will never be the "best parents" out there, but we're better than nothing. Really, that's our threshold for ourselves as parents. But we so far seem to be doing as good a job as, or not mucking up more than, many of those who did become parents because they wanted to be parents. So, I'm all for encouraging those who had never felt strong desires to be parents (but who've got some common sense and are generally caring individuals) to ... consider becoming parents. There unfortunately is no substitute for what all children should have: a good family.

By the way, one of the controversies in adoption is the notion that adoptive parents go into it because they want to help "save" a child. This isn't what I'm talking about -- my suggestion that even people who'd had no prior interest in parenting consider adoption is not the same thing as entering into a relationship to save someone. It's just that I and my husband are living proof that this point of view as well can help generate new parents for the too-many who need Moms and Dads. So if you're reading this and have never considered parenting before but have perhaps the capacity in you, think about it.

Last but not least, the brilliantly-complicated nature of parenting is very similar to (my) poetry: One gets out of the experience what one puts into it. As with my experience in poetry, I have received a lot of blessings from the parenting experience that I never expected because I'd been willing to make a sincere effort to do a good job. Savior-hood is not at all in the equation. I have become a better person -- I have benefited! -- because I became a parent. If I did anyone a favor in this experience, it was moiself.

147 million orphans. Michael sometimes gets into phases of repeating various English words or phrases. 147 million orphans. To quote Michael's latest phrase-fetish, "What a shame."

147 million orphans. What a shame. I rarely write poems about Michael. When I write poems from my adoption experience, what surfaces are mostly the children "left behind." If writing poems is minimalistically creating a metaphor for what's urgent in one's experience, these neglected children are what rises to the surface of my lines. And they should: 147 million orphans. What a bloody shame.

So for you out there for whom this message might resonate: if even I can be a Mom, you can be a parent, too. Please consider it. 147 million orphans -- what a shame. Some of the children are waiting HERE.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A SLICE OF LIFE ON GALATEA

I was at my desk and the hubby was standing nearby. We were discussing something when my eyes saw the four boxes of toothpaste I'd stacked on the nearby bookshelf. "Oh," I sez, "Got us some toothpaste. I keep forgetting to bring it to the bathroom."

The hubby looked at the four boxes and said, "Really? I thought that was a small art installation."

Heh. Did Warhol ever do Colgate?

Labels:

RELISHED AND RELISHING!



...And others on my latest Recently Relished W(h)ine List are:

SPRING/SUMMER/FALL HARVEST:
(Final Tally; let's see if I have a Winter Crop this year!)
1 stalk of "miner's weed"
110 stalks of green onion
99 strawberries
2 artichokes
2 cherries
19 zucchini
4 stalks of scallions
37 summer squash
14 cucumbers
888 tomatoes
67 figs
39 bell peppers
117 leaves of basil (Michael "harvests" them leaf by leaf)
15 cucumbers
3 squash blossoms
260 chives
33 jalapenos
19 bunches of house grapes
10 stalks of thyme
3 squash blossoms
2 peaches (a bit unripe; our first of the season!)


PUBLICATIONS
THE PRESENT DAY, poems by Ernesto Priego (wonderful and wondrous -- and not just coz I wrote its Afterword)

MIDNIGHT MARSUPIUM, haibun poems by Michael Leong (Nicely done. And No. 5 can also be a "haybun"!)

VIEW WITH A GRAIN OF SAND: SELECTED POEMS by Wislawa Szymborska (fabulous)

THE FAR MOSQUE, poems by Kazim Ali

OPENING DAY, poems by William Corbett

X (ANGEL CITY), poems by Joseph Lease

SILVER ROOF TANTRUM, poems by Naomi Buck Palagi

VIRTUOSO LITERATURE FOR TWO AND FOUR HANDS: NEW POEMS by Diane Wakoski

HOME IS HOW I LOVE YOU, poems by Aimee Suzara (in manuscript)

VANITAS 5, literary/arts journal edited by Vincent Katz

TINFISH 20, literary/arts journal edited by Susan Schultz

ST. PETERSBURG REVIEW, literary journal edited by Elizabeth Hodges (got this copy from one of its associate editors and my cousin (Go Cousin!), Resa Alboher)

ALONE ACROSS THE ARCTIC: ONE WOMAN'S EPIC JOURNEY BY DOG TEAM, memoir by Pam Flowers with Ann Dixon

STUFF: COMPULSIVE HOARDING AND THE MEANING OF THINGS, study by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee

FIND ME, memoir by Rosie O'Donnell (an odd book about O'Donnell's obsessive engagement with a fan suffering from multiple personality disorder. showed up, though, how some poets' projects addressing identity issues seem so pale, so bloodless...)

WIFE IN THE NORTH, memoir by Judith O'Reilly

THE FAMILY NOBODY WANTED, memoir by Helen Doss

BABY IN A BOX, memoir by LeRoy and Jane Ramsey

DISRUPTING GRACE: A STORY OF RELINQUISHMENT AND HEALING, memoir by Kristen Richburg

CHOOSING TO SEE: A JOURNEY OF STRUGGLE AND HOPE, memoir by Mary Beth Chapman with Ellen Vaugn

THE BOY FROM BABY HOUSE 10: FROM THE NIGHTMARE OF A RUSSIAN ORPHANAGE TO A NEW LIFE IN AMERICA, memoir by Alan Philps and John Lahutsky

ADOPTION: THE BIRTH OF A REAL MOM, memoir by Karen Ivano

LOVE IN THE DRIEST SEASON: A FAMILY MEMOIR by Neely Tucker (wonderful read!)

AMERICAN ASSASSIN, novel by Vince Flynn

WITHOUT FAIL, novel by Lee Child

STRONG JUSTICE, novel by Jon Land

GENOA BAY, novel by Bette Nordberg


WINES
2008 Clos Pegase chardonnay (awful. but I supped it, hence it gets on list)
2007 Ch. St. Jean pinot noir (ditto)
Schramsberg pink sparkling wine
2009 Dutch Henry sauvignon blanc
Tra Vigne chardonnay
2002 Hutton Vale Grenache Mataro
2007 Biondi M.I.
2001 Finca Dofi (sublime)

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

AVANT MOI OUTA HERE!

Going through tween/teen-hood with my son reminds me occasionally why I want to be avant garde. Last night, the reason is to get away from the insidious weapon of the bourgeoisie: cheerleaders. Here they are for the team that played Michael's school:



One of the carpool Moms wondered to me whether our boys would play as well in the game; they might be distracted by the 'ettes above.

Well, let me put it this way: last night, Michael's team lost by ... ONE POINT.

'Twas a tension-riddled game indeed. And as I sourly proclaimed to my side of the bleachers, It's really obnoxious to be forced to watch cheerleaders when our side aren't blessed by similar hair-ettes. Michael obviously agreed as, at one point, I had to stand up and glare at him, Stand Down! when I could see that he was thinking of sticking out a foot to trip a couple of 'ettes raucously running down the side of the court.

Really, people. Why raise your kids to cheer for someone else? Shouldn't we raise them to be the one achieving something? Don't give me your Alan Alda spiel about cheering another being an admirable achievement. I'm not in the mood. My ears are still ringing from those adolescent inarticulate cheers; my eyes are still hurting from watching tweens do a would-be dirty dance involving pathetic circular hip action by non-existent hips; and last but not least, Michael's team -- containing several key players jousting with hormones -- lost by ONE POINT!

I should be paying attention to the Giants...

Labels: ,

Monday, November 01, 2010

HALLOWEEN EFFECT

Here is Michael (on right) in his trick-or-treating costume of a zombie punk skateboarder, along with pal Will dressed in military camouflage and dog "Scout" in the blurry foreground:


What does this have to do with my poetry? Well, the two lads popped up in a work-in-progress of 30-day journal-type writings that I'm doing for Dan Waber's chap/booklet publishing empire. Here's an excerpt(though still in draft form as the language needs to be pushed more):
Yesterday was Halloween -- a day for mini-ninjas, angels, tiara-ed beauty queens, witches, headless traffic, punk skateboarders, soldiers in camouflage, lovers in white suits, No. 1 Dads of the Year, and a daughter who laughed her way through the day in the most care-free way as if worlds never end!

Yesterday, I am writing today, was totally without significance. Just much colorful ado over nothing.

Yesterday was unmitigated Joy.

Labels: ,

RESURRECTING GALATEA RESURRECTS!

Today is officially the deadline for Galatea Resurrects' next issue, BUT I'll still take reviews through to the end of this week!

I've also set the deadline for the subsequent issue to be March 15, 2011. Please do go HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION, including the list of available review copies -- and there are plenty of good stuff there!

Labels: