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Artist Statement

 
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ARTIST STATEMENT

 As a poet and writer, I believe in the hard work and purposeful placement of words. My art-making practice draws from the personal, the defiant, and the every day in current events and community-based action and movements. I believe that the labor of language and performing text play a powerful role in determining our outcomes and lived experiences. I am interested in creating literary work that moves people– especially girls and women of color– and allows opportunities to reflect while inspiring them to engage in critical issues in their neighborhoods and communities of struggle. 

     Most of my work in poetry is an act of intuitive research. By this, I mean that an artist’s self-determined process of creating, feeling, and knowing where she will need to seek her information, through emotion, intuition, and empathy; guides her. In my work, I often mix documents, memories, and scholarship to experiment with traditional forms of poetry. By playing with verse poetry and non-traditional forms, I hope to reveal to readers more about my process of writing as one of questioning and endless possibilities. In addition to writing, I have been influenced by and artistically grew up listening to spoken word artists, and as a result, I enjoy performing my work and attending readings. I have read in venues in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, New York City, and Washington, D.C., and I thoroughly enjoy hometown readings and showcases in San José. I hope to further place San José on the map as a place of creativity, everyday and working class people who deserve more visibility, and of artistic (as well as technological) innovation.

     My questions for the world and my identity in flux are at the center of my writing, as I write creative non-fiction essays and fiction based on my experiences as a Filipina American educator, born and raised in a working class family in San José. I recognize the difficulties of reading, writing, and speaking in English, as being a child of immigrants represents the tensions and the push-pull of language.   I have published work in all literary genres, and I aim to increase the visibility of my writing and others’ strong writing I read. I hope that my writing connects with middle school, high school, and college students–especially children of immigrants or students of color who experience intergenerational language barriers and whose families struggle financially–and who are seeking to learn more about their personal, familial, and cultural histories, as my writing also reflects this important journey. I want to show up for young women, girls, women of color, students, working-class people, and in solidarity with queer, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming folks. I understand reading and writing as a means of discovering self-identity, self-worth, and self-empowerment. Stories of struggle, change, and sacrifice interest me as points and constellations of connections. I also believe that helping students recognize and develop these powerful skills within them will make them better, committed readers and writers. 

    Community work and community organizing has been a large part of my writing process. In college, I was very involved in student activism, as this was one way to find and raise my voice to be heard. Though I was educated away from my community, I took Ethnic Studies and Urban Studies & Planning classes that helped me understand my homesickness for San José and the complicated but necessary work to organize in my community. Because of my work in activism and politics this way, I have a strong sense of who I am, what I believe in, how I write, how I am different, and I am aware of the importance of critical storytelling against being erased, silenced, or portrayed non-existent. Writing for communities of struggle, teaching at the community college level in the San Francisco Bay Area, and reading widely and often makes me an emerging artist seeking to empower her communities, and to leave a positive impact through creativity – which is the highest level of thinking. I hope to be able to collaborate with local non-profit organizations to put on readings, creative workshops for youth, and meeting community members where they are. Because writing is mostly a solitary act, I hope to make it more of a community practice.

      My first book microchips for millions (Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc., 2016)  is about women in the Silicon Valley who make microchips, like my mother; and my second book like a solid to a shadow (Timeless,Infinite Light, 2017) is about fatherlessness, bilingualism, and the importance of family lineages. After I received my Master’s of Fine Arts in Critical Studies/Writing from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), I came back to my community to live, teach, and make my community my extended family. I want to ensure that my writing lives longer in books, stretches into the hands of readers hungry to see themselves in text, and creates a strong understanding of differences between people. I believe that this is the work of poetry: to bridge, connect, bring together, and celebrate despite struggles.

     I hope that my writing changes, grows, and challenges audiences and readers. Writing, for me, is political and emotional and necessary.

 
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