poet. writer. teacher

2020-2021 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

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artwork by Stephanie Castillo

“Her language is spare and surprisingly direct given the ghostly subject, a deliberate refusal to invite a subsurface reading. Sapigao provides stark contrast through renderings of her father’s staccato words: “Make sure not to leave behind what I write (what you write). Because what we write is what we need to keep in order for it stay (so it doesn’t fly away, to keep it from flying with the wind, to have it so that it doesn’t become flight or wind,) so it doesn’t go far away from us.” Sapigao’s closing pages reveal the danger of investigating family; she uncovers her father’s secret other family and realizes that she is the last in her family to know. Though solid ground can be difficult to find, Sapigao’s “imperfect translation” is worth the work of the journey.”

-Publisher's Weekly

 

Bio

Janice Lobo Sapigao (she/her) is a daughter of immigrants from the Philippines. She is the author of two books of poetry: microchips for millions (Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc., 2016), which is about immigrant women workers in Silicon Valley; and like a solid to a shadow (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2017 by way of Nightboat Books), which is about her father, family lineage, and learning Ilokano. She is also the author of two published chapbooks, "toxic city" (tinder tender press, 2015), and "you don’t know what you don’t know" (Mondo Bummer Chapbooks, 2016), along with other self-published chapbooks. She is the 2020-2021 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate.

 

She is a VONA/Voices Fellow and was awarded a Manuel G. Flores Prize, PAWA Scholarship to the Kundiman Poetry Retreat. She is a Poetry Editor at Angel City Review, and a co-founder of Sunday Jump, an open mic in Los Angeles's Historic Filipinotown. Her work has been published in various anthologies such as Talking Back and Looking Forward: An Educational Revolution in Poetry and Prose (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Empire of Funk: Hip Hop and Representation in Filipina/o America (Cognella Academic Publishing, 2014), and in literary magazines such as Apogee Journal, Entropy, The Offing, and Waxwing Literary Journal. She has read her work at various open mics, reading spaces, colleges, museums, barber shops, coffee shops, and community spaces around the country including venues in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, Washington D.C., Seattle, and her hometown of San Jose, CA. 

 

She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ethnic Studies with Honors and a minor in Urban Studies & Planning from the University of California, San Diego. She is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Skyline College in San Bruno, CA teaching in the Kababayan and CIPHER (Hip Hop) Learning Communities. 

 

Janice enjoys reading, exercising (running, yoga, and taking barre classes), watching reality television shows, and spending time with her family and friends. She values building community with other artists, recognizes the importance and beauty of struggle, and believes San Jose has one of the best underrated food scenes in the Bay Area. She is excited to step into the role of 2020-2021 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, where she will follow the trajectory of the Poets Laureate before her and develop a Youth Poet Laureate program–because our youth have a lot to say to us and the world.

 

Books

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like a solid to a shadow (Timeless, Infinite Light via Nightboat Books, 2017)

like a solid to a shadow is a documentary poetry collection about grieving, fatherlessness, and the limitations of language. Sapigao finds her deceased father’s love ‘letters’ to her mother: cassette tapes recorded in Illokano, a language of which she has imperfect knowledge. The book moves through Sapigao’s process of translating and transcribing the tapes; playing with, learning, and unlearning the Ilokano and English languages. This book then launches from the tapes to ask “what can we really know?” when it comes to family lineages and personal histories. Through family trees, photos, and mapping, Sapigao articulates, distorts, and heals her knowledge of the man who is is her deceased father.

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microchips for millions (Philippine American Writers and Artists, 2016)

microchips for millions is Janice Lobo Sapigao's first poetry book! It is a documentary and exploratory poetry collection about the exploitation of immigrant women in the Silicon Valley and those who built it all – those like the author’s mother. Through the use of binary code, the Filipino language, Ilokano; personal observation, and scholarship, microchips for millions draws out the social layers of the microchip, which are central to the global economy. The book interrogates Silicon Valley as an ideal place of innovation, technological advancement, and a highly populated concentration of computer-based startups. What is not popularly known is that the Silicon Valley is also home to flagrant and covert injustice where toxic chemicals and “clean” energy risk the lives of workers. Published by Philippine American Writers and Artists (PAWA), Inc., copies will be available after November 16, 2016.

Chapbooks

 
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you don't know what you don't know (Mondo Bummer Press, 2017)

With spare verse, strong prose, pink, yellow, orange, and blue genogram charts, and a box full of love letter cassette tapes, Sapigao's You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know investigates identity, family, language, and all the ways they're tied up together: "'Janice’ means ‘Jane’ means ‘John’ means I come from my father whose name is not his own."

toxic city (tinder tender press, 2015)

toxic city is part of a documentary and exploratory poetry collection, microchips for millions, about the exploitation of immigrant women in the Silicon Valley and those who built it all – those like the author’s mother. Through the use of binary code, the Filipino language, Ilokano; personal observation, and scholarship, microchips for millions draws out the social layers of the microchip, which are central to the global economy. The chapbook interrogates Silicon Valley as an ideal place of innovation, technological advancement, and a highly populated concentration of computer-based startups. What is not popularly known is that the Silicon Valley is also home to flagrant and covert injustice where toxic chemicals and “clean” energy risk the lives of workers.

Writings

 
POETRY
"Therapist's Recommendation," read at Janice's Poet Laureate appointment ceremony on Feb. 10th, 2020 @ Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Meeting, San José, CA.
"the union," published in microchips for millions (PAWA, Inc.), 2016

"America is in the Heart Disease" & "[all talk indistinctly],No Tender Fences: An Anthology of Immigrant & First-Generation American Poetry

"Bed Bug Bites"" & "Second Generation, Marsh Hawk Review

"Pangasinan for Doking," Apogee Journal

"There Will Be No Funeral," "Straight Hair," "Nagnísit," "Uncles," & "Ode to Rose Quartz," Drunk in a Midnight Choir

"A Map of the Philippines," Waxwing Literary Journal

"Contrastify" & "Apostrophize," Underblong

“Felipe," Talking Back & Looking Forward: An Educational Revolution in Poetry and Prose, Rowman & Littlefield

“My Hip Hop Creation Story," Empire of Funk: Hip Hop and Representation in Filipina/o America, Cognella Academic Publishing

"Stuffed Animal Duwende," Kuwento: Lost Things, An Anthology of New Philippine Myths, Carayan Press

"An Invocation After Haiyan in News Reports," Verses Typhoon Yolanda, Meritage Press

"Alecia," AngryAsianMan.com

ESSAYS​

"Hip Hop Shows Mastery of English (But English is Not the Master of Hip Hop)," Timeless, Infinite Light

"Let Me See You See Me Back," Timeless, Infinite Light

 

"Sound is Not The Only Way to Experience Music," Timeless, Infinite Light

 

"Nayyirah Waheed, Who Are You? We Love You," The Operating System

 

"Me and the Little Girl Inside Me," Positively Filipino

"And I Want a Sixth, or a Toss-Up," The FanZine

​“Meetings,” Nexus: Complicating Community and Centering the Self,  Cognella Academic Publishing

REVIEWS

"Apertures, Wishes, and Questions: A Review and Commendation for all of the Loves and People in Jason Magabo Perez's This is for the mostless," Hyphen

"Gabi, A Girl on Our Time: A Review of Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero," Silicon Valley De-Bug

 

"The Hate U Give Doesn’t Give Up on the Storytellers: A Review, Silicon Valley De-Bug

"Navigating the Ineffable: A Review of Prageeta Sharma's Undergloom,Jacket2

"Poetics of Critical Cartography: A Review of Sebastian Agudelo's Each Chartered Street," Jacket2 

"A Panic That Can Still Come Upon Me by Peter Gizzi," The Volta Blog

RESIDENCIES & WORKSHOPS

Vermont Studio Center, Fall 2020

Kundiman Retreat, Poetry, Summer 2016 and Summer 2018

Voices of Our Nation (VONA) Writers of Color Conference, Summer 2018 and Summer 2011

Philippine American Writers and Artists Workshops, Summer 2010

BLURBS​

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Split by Denise Benavides

What’s a poem to god? What’s a god to a mom? What’s a parent to a non-believer? Benavides summons these questions with a sharpened rosary dipped in blood ink, half relic and half stake that meets the eyes with each poem that drives it into the heart of the matter: a riot girl is weaponized cavalry in herself. In a testament of poems wrestling the multitudes and facets of religion, daughterhood, sex, and ________ through candid language, Benavides’s collection is an amalgamation of intense empathy and sorrow – not as a cause for alarm  – but as intent to move and reclaim Self. These poems reveal to the lovers and past selves the balancing of one’s inner light and darkness. The poems ask exhuming question-statements and answer back regarding our honest-to-goodness ungodliness.

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Susurros A Mi Padre by Erick Sáenz

"Let this book show you an interrogation and migration of story, where story is made of secrets: from Monterrey to Los Angeles to San José and back; through wanting to know one's father, and ultimately, oneself. In this candid, real-time narrative, Erick Sáenz sits with the discomfort and mystery of words in Spanish and English that [pass time], where time is a summation of moments, questions, memories; and where passing is actively standing watch at a life that’s yours. Call it disenfranchised grief—or listen when he asks, 'What is it like growing up landlocked?'—or when he affects, 'Este es mi elogia, papi' with the crushing beauty of a confession. Sáenz writes fatherlessness, restlessness, and distance and othering as double consciousness. This story is a slow, heartfelt corrido unveiling the poetics of loss.

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We Remain Traditional by Sylvia Chan

“Sometimes, what I hear, I believe.” Sylvia Chan’s We Remain Traditional is a score of sound upon breakwater. Commanding and sifting through language the way a musician harnesses emotion and craft into playing an instrument and bellowing, Chan produces documentation of music in the travels and revels of everyday life: “my history gets lost in a war” turntables with “I wonder which pop icon will outspeak the other.” Music as the migration of sound is multiplied present tense: “what’s cleft is an introspective singer knowing how feet feel,” and “my mother’s Singer, a final sales item from Sears.” Chan chooses, names—in lyrics broken and pieced by time, practice, Adam, and Chinese/American histories—how music is a patterned force of many moments stacked, moving forward, and pulling back."