Archive for the ‘Writings’ Category

local ground(s) Midwest Poetics anthology

November 19, 2014
local ground(s) Midwest Poetics, edited by Sarah Busse & Wendy Vardaman

local ground(s) Midwest Poetics, edited by Sarah Busse & Wendy Vardaman

Thanks to Sarah Busse & Wendy Vardaman for co-editing Local Ground(s)–Midwest Poetics: Selected Prose Verse Wisconsin 2009-2014 (Cowfeather Press) & including my zuihitsu on the Kundiman community as part of it! ‪#‎MidwestPoetics‬

Here are some snippets from the anthology which I posted during the digital launch party to celebrate the publication earlier tonight:

“… I have always been drawn to the spaces between languages, cultures, countries, emotional and mental states (like waking and sleeping, for example)–the interstitial spaces, and the hybrid or syncretic ones that result when the two merge. For me, this is to embrace the transformation, flux, and becoming that is life.” – Brenda Cardenas in “local ground(s) Midwest Poetics,” edited by Sarah Busse & Wendy Vardaman ‪#‎MidwestPoetics‬

“‘I am writing,’ I explain, ‘a poem.’ ‘ Would it help?’ Would it hurt? There are all kinds of arts unfolding spontaneously–not sloppily–here at the Capitol. In the signs by protesters, in the posters. In the display of signage on the walls and hanging from the balconies. In the drumming of the student groups that have loudly led days of chanting. In the costumes of, for instance, a man who dresses up as an Imperial Walker. In the chants. In the bagpipes played by the firefighters who joined the protesters early on, who themselves slept over a few days ago. In the musicians who came with their guitars and cellos and saxophones. In the musicians who come with only their voices when instruments are banned around Day 19. In the knitting and crafting circles that meet at specific times. In the chalkboard at Ian’s, amended daily with a new color for the names of more countries from which donations have come. In the pictures and videos that people create and share on web sites, blogs and Facebook pages. In the little campsites of those who have been here many days, with their home-made quilts and arrangements of stuff to create a place. In the Post-Its that will cover the Capitol doors when they close to Wisconsin’s citizens on Day 28 ….” – Wendy Vardaman, from “The Essay That I Begin Writing While Walking to the Wisconsin Capitol Trying to Discern the Right Question 2/24/11” #‎MidwestPoetics‬

“Some of the places I liked to visit in my imagination were from the stories that my mother told me. She was the first person to tell me that the name of her town, Cuicatlán, meant land of the song in the Mazatec indigenous language.” — Moisés Villavicencio Barras, from an interview conducted by Sarah Busse for local ground(s) ‪#‎MidwestPoetics‬

“One night a poet from Jakarta prefaced his reading of a poem called ‘Going Home’ by explaining that when he wrote it he had returned home after having been away for ten years. What he didn’t say was he had been in exile because of his political activism, his work for democracy in Indonesia. A haunting line in the poem has lived in my memory as image: a faded and tattered sign bearing his name and the message ‘come home whenever.’ The memory of the poem, the image, the circumstances of the reading, the backstory, etc.–all these now always color my own reading or writing of poems about home places.” – Kimberly Blaeser, interviewed by Wendy Vardaman for “local ground(s)” ‪#‎MidwestPoetics‬


Writing Trans Genres: Emergent Literatures and Criticism, May 22-May 24 (Winnipeg)

May 21, 2014

Excited to be heading to winnipeg for Writing Trans Genres: Emergent Literatures and Criticism, Thursday, May 22 through Saturday, May 24!


Lots of keynotes, plenary panels, readings & other workshops that I’m looking forward to – you can check for the full schedule. Also,


Thanks Trish Salah, Shelagh Pizey-Allen, Owen Campbell and Athena Thiessen for organizing!


Here’s where I’ll be presenting during the conference:


Thursday, May 22:


4:30-6pm Fucking Gender, Fucking Form – Rm 2M70, Eckhardt-Grammate Hall @ University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Ave, w/Ames Hawkins, Ching-In Chen, Emerson Whitney, K. Bradford


As trans and genderqueer writers, we inhabit our bodies, our communities, and our art forms marked and motivated by the contours and contexts of our gender. Our individual blueprints and proclivities — fluxes in desire, ruptures of trauma, morphings of body, configurations of race & class — infuse and drive our textual inventiveness. What we do to the sentence, what we do to the forms of writing on the page — and how we test the borders of the page itself — are 3 of gender fucking. We fuck the very forms we work in, as a creative and intellectual practice, and as part of what we do as gender variant people inhabiting the world. As we do and re-do our gender, we do and re-do the poetics and forms we step into as writers, carving out cultural space.


This panel will be a lively and layered event. We will engage each other in a series of questions about the acts of troubling form and aesthetics as connected to gender, looking at risks, experiments and failures; we will explore the lineage of writers we have been influenced by, then looking at examples of writing as we discuss the possibilities of language, image systems, voice and form via an aesthetics of gender variance. A lively dialogue with the audience will follow.


Friday, May 23:


3-5:30pm Group Reading at the Millennium Library, 251 Donald St, Winnipeg w/Aiyanna Maracle, Amir Rabiyah, Casey Plett, Ching-In Chen, Imogen Binnie, Joy Ladin, Mirha-Soleil Ross, Nathanaël, Rachel Pollack, Trace Peterson


free and open to the public!



Saturday, May 24:

6:30pm-8pm Plenary Panel: Identity and Poetics Across Genres – Eckhardt-Grammate Hall @ University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Ave


free and open to the public, w/ASL interpretation


Panelists: Ching-In Chen, Max Wolf Valerio, Micha Cárdenas, Samuel Ace, Trace Peterson

Midwest Monster (Input 2)

February 19, 2014

You guys know about vampires?  You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror?  There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror.  And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror.  It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.

—Junot Diaz

(via Freesia McKee, found quoted on the blog Black Girl Dangerous)

Midwest Monster (Input 1)

February 18, 2014

“How unusual bodies are treated is a critical historical question. In the United States they have been marked as ‘other,’ as monstrous, sinister, threatening, inferior, and unfortunate.  Once it was respectable to call those with unusual physical forms monsters, later not.” – Elizabeth Reis, Bodies in Doubt: an American History of Intersex

midwestern creative monster invitation

February 17, 2014

dear midwestern creatives (aka monsterlies):

this is a creative invitation

ever since i moved to the midwest (milwaukee), i have felt a variation of monster-ly

i have been thinking about the idea of a monster poetics, a poetry which smuggles/celebrates/straddles the border of what is human, creature, cyborg, queer, immigrant, monster, beast, future against the idea of the (nostalgic, historic, pastoral) midwest

if a monster is a legendary animal

if a monster is both animal and human and various

if a monster is a strange creature of such power to make others quake

if a monster is a deviant (in shape, behavior or character)

if a monster stimulates and undermines huge terror

then what does it mean for me/we to monster ourselves and each other?

starting today for the next month, i will post inputs (found or gathered) here to be re-mixed, collaged, re-spun, re-textured, for the sake of provocation and response

this is an open invitation to engage by contributing inputs (words, images, texts, audios and others) to be remixed/collaged/re-spun/re-textured and to be responded to

you can send me creations already made and/or in response by replying in the comments section of the blog post

i will continually make and re-mix the materials, using and recycling these inputs and, of course, post credit to all who participate and contribute, sometimes for public performance and/or possible publication

if you participate, you should feel free to do the same (as long as all who want to are credited appropriately)

this work is created in homage to Bhanu Kapil (Incubation: a Space for Monsters) and Sharon Bridgforth (River See)

thanks for reading & considering!


APIA poetry blog up @ Best American Poetry blog: Milwaukee’s Pacific Heritage + Reading Across the Acronym

May 22, 2012

My contribution to this week’s APIA poetry blogs, Milwaukee’s Pacific Heritage, curated by Kenji C. Liu (Writer) up at the Best American Poetry blog!

Also, if you missed it, please check out Craig Santos Perez’s blog yesterday on “Reading Across the Acronym:” ‘To me, “collaboration against Empire within the arts” is exactly what we need to build an APIA literary coalition to confront the continuous ravages of empire that are destroying our homelands and peoples and futures.’

I look forward to the rest of the week!

Kundiman @ MA Poetry Festival, Couplets Multi-Blog Poetry Tour & Riverside Chinatown poems in New Sound

April 21, 2012

Dear friendlies,




This weekend, I’ll be back home in Massachusetts to attend the Massachusetts Poetry Festival with the Kundiman poets for:


Ritual & the Supernatural: the Aura of Poetry-Writing

Sat, April 21, 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Peabody Essex Museum, Bartlett Gallery


Featuring Tamiko Beyer, Ching-In Chen, Joseph O. Legaspi, Bushra Rehman, R.A. Villanueva


Walter Benjamin explains that “the earliest arts works originated in the service of a ritual—first the magical, then the religious kind. It is significant that the existence of the work of art with reference to its aura is never entirely separated from its ritual function.” A group of Kundiman poets will explore the “aura” of artworks by examining how they engage ritual and extend into the realms of mysticism and religion. With its witch trial and supernatural history, the town of Salem serves as a compelling source from which to investigate the relationship between art and ritual and, in particular, how rituals like art-making and poem-writing activate magic and the spirit. We will delve into the art collections at the Peabody Essex Museum, and consider how various works embody aspects of the mystical, mythical, and ceremonial. In particular, Asian American poets have historically mined the supernatural to ex plore otherness and invisibility. In our dynamic and creative reading of the museum’s artworks, we aim to create a dialogue between two divergent cultures of ghosts, marrying an Asian American voice to voices of Salem. Our exploration will thus culminate in the writing and presentation of ekphrasis, a poetic form that responds to and interacts with other art forms. Ekphrasis is often rooted in wonder, and we hope to interrogate wonder as it can be expressed in faith, culture, and superstition, and as it illuminates the parallels between art-making and human rituals.



This month, in honor of National Poetry Month, I’m participating in Couplets, a multi-author poetry blog tour organized by Joanne Merriam and Upper Rubber Boot Books. Earlier this week, fellow poet Mary Alexandra Agner hosted me for a guest blog on poetry of the queer, which you can read here:


There are lots of other great posts from a wide range of poets including old friends Neil Aitken, Bryan Thao Worra and Jericho Brown. Find the full schedule here:




Received the new issue of The New Sound, a Journal of Interdisciplinary Art & Literature, in the mail! Thanks to Randall Horton for including my Riverside Chinatown poems – “Chinese Workers at USDA Lab, 1904” and “Parable of the Shiny City” – in the issue. for more information about the journal


Will see you again in a few days to host poet Celia Lisset Alvarez for Couplets!

New poems in Revolutionesque! + Black Warrior Review, also Glitter Tongue coming up!

February 12, 2012

Dear poem-lovers,

New homes for some long-marinating poems of mine:

  1. “To Make Black Paper Sing” — a long series inspired by Mark Bradford’s work — is up in Revolutionesque, the 3rd issue of Esque, co-edited by Amy King & Ana Bozicevic! Happy to be amongst 108 other poets including friends & admired poets like Nikki Wallschlaeger, Cynthia Arrieu-King, Kimberly Alidio, Evie Shockley, Emily Kendal Frey & Cara Benson.
  2. Just received my contributor’s copy of the Black Warrior Review Spring/Summer 2012 issue! Thanks to poetry editor & fellow Grinder AB Gorham for including “Gestations: Pathology, Or Prankster of Memory” & “Island Where These Things Happen”
  3. Lastly, excited about Glitter Tongue, a collection of queer love poems that grew out of a collaborative writing effort among queer-poet-friends (Margaret Rhee, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Tamiko Beyer, Oliver Bendorf, Meg Day) & then expanded to community! It’s our anti-Hallmark version of queer love & will be revealed on V-day! 

Love love!


Yael Villafranca’s 7107 collaborative poetry project

January 3, 2012
A collaborative poetry writing opportunity.  I’m going — hope to see you there with your words! 🙂
7107: A Collaborative Poetry Project

Welcome to 7107, a collaborative poetry project beginning January 2, 2012.
This project is inspired by Ching-In Chen’s Collaborative Manifesto Remix last summer, in which participants wrote poetry from shared generative prompts. I found the experience of writing in collaboration incredibly inspiring, and as the days went on, full of surprise and amazement at the works that were developing. As someone who has gained so much from the generosity of various communities, I’d like to take my turn, in this small way, by opening a space for collaboration and creative work to happen.
Every day from January 2-18, I’ll post a generative prompt or question. If you’d like to participate, please post your response and a prompt or question for the following day in the comments.
In Ching-In’s words:

You can answer in whichever way you are moved to — off-the-cuff, improvisationally, in deep meditation, whichever feels right to you. I’ll ask you within your writing response to braid the words of either another participant or writer/artist (other than yourself) in your writing in some way, to honor the collaborative intent of the project, and to credit that other writer/artist by name at the end of your writing (unless that person would rather remain anonymous).

My hope is for each person to bring a spark.

My hope is for each person to open a door or window for another.
Please feel free to invite anyone else who may be interested and direct them to this page. If you have limited internet access, or if the comment system is down, you can send your work and prompt to arkipelagirl [at], and I’ll post for you when the comments are fixed. Questions and concerns can also be sent via email or the Ask Box.
I look forward to what we can build together.

8.25.11 how to offer gratitude. Collaborative generating to infinity and beyond!

August 25, 2011
dear lovely ones,

gratitude for your energies, your sharings, your
generosities, your uglies, your little and expansive bitters,
your writing through the nights, your browns, your
beauties, your afternoon slumbers, your bruises, your
breakfast mornings, your laughs, your solitudes and of
course, of course, your words. For those of you who
showed up every day, for those who were able to make it
for one day, and for those of us who occupy that sliding
space in-between, thank you. I'm leaving millay colony
this morning with you tucked in my backpocket. 

For this last post, I want to say, I hope this is not the last
time we write and create in the path together and I hope
to see your collaborations out in the world & in the street!

As Bushra says, “and wouldn’t you feel lucky in all this magic?”
 Thank you. <3!
today, onlookers meant to write this poem
waking up to trumpet vine world.

You can be proper body, even people who question
the nation. I am sick, I don't want
their eyes heard, only trains platinum
in their grammar. We every trickster peel
upstream night that do not know shame. 

Leave me humid

born without the proper

name loved to night.

Promptings for your writings:I feel sad and dehumanized when viewed in terms of my
utility instead of who I truly am.” - Soyeon Cho


Improv Everywhere: 



  …. And you,

who cannot keep still, who can never

look back, where will you go next?

How will I find you?

Can you feel the world pull

apart, the seams loosen?

What, tell me, will keep it whole,

if not you? if not me?

Send a postcard, picture, tell me

how you’ve been.

 - Blas Falconer (who was born on this day), from “Dear Friend”


“The J. Paul Getty Museum’s iconic statue of Aphrodite
was quietly escorted back to Sicily by Italian police, ending
a decades-long dispute over an object whose craftsmanship,
importance, and controversial origins have been likened to
the Parthenon marbles in the British Museum.” ~ LA Times,
March 23 2011
(via Carol Gomez)

Two more prompts (I’m sad this is ending. Thank you again,

Ching-In and all who have participated!):

*Frida’s Corset:


Wasteland Documentary Trailer

(via Rachelle Cruz)


1) what are the sounds of respect / beauty / sharing?
2) is all writing collaborative writing…

(via Hari Malagayo Alluri)


and my prompt!
especially the last part which I’ve been living and loving. .

(via Bushra Rehman)


come morning walls melt – Clarissa Rojas

the drum: 

(via Clarissa Rojas)


In honor of our sacred space here, my prompt today has to

do with spaces of art that face challenges and find ways to

survive. This is a trailer from the documentary,

“Unfinished Spaces,” on the National Schools of Art in Cuba.

(via Evangeline Ganaden)