Friday, February 11, 2011

Back to Tinfish Press! M.I.A. Reading, February 9, 2011

In recent weeks, this blog has been hijacked by its "owner" into a space for writing exclusively about dementia. I will now return it to its original purpose, as a record of Tinfish Press's recent activities.

This past Wednesday, the MIA reading at the Mercury Bar in Chinatown, curated by Jaimie Gusman, featured readers from the new Hawai`i Review (#73 ably edited by Donovan Colleps) and Tinfish issues. Before the reading, the Tinfish board met outside Govindaji's vegetarian restaurant, where the editor could eat nearly nothing due to her allergies, for a conversation on this past year's activities. More on that and some future plans later on in the post.

In many ways, this reading was typical of Hawai`i readings: the subjects-matter included land, colonialism, language suppression (and rediscovery), land, food, local landmarks, ethnic identity positions, land, food, cultural tensions. All those things, in other words, that seem mostly to lack at the huge readings at MLA and AWP. Many of the writers combined their dishes into what exotic Europeans call a potpourri:

Craig Santos Perez wrote about Guam by way of canned meat, devoting one poem to Vienna sausages and another to corned beef. But the "indigenous food practice poems," as he called them wryly, got at issues of colonialism (who brought the sausages anyway?), family (who cooked the corned beef anyway?), and language (who named the shit anyway?). Tiare Picard got at words themselves, and beneath the words their sounds, as she did brilliantly in Tinfish 18.5.

Jade Sunouchi's prose piece, set in Mexico, got at a tension familiar to Hawai`i residents between tourists and local vendors. She threw a pinch of gender and a dash of class into her lyrical prose. Amalia Bueno wrote about teen-pregnancy by using names of local establishments in Waipahu.

Jaimie Gusman read an elegy for her Aunt Rose from a marvelous series of poems called the Anyjar Series. She followed that with a romp through one woman's love life. Monica Lee read a very funny story on male/female non-communication (the man and the woman are thinking the same thoughts, but prove unwilling to share them with each other, until their relationship becomes one of boring sameness). Joe Tsujimoto went next with his own poem about food and the sexes delivered in the gravelly New York voice that never ceases to surprise this listener.

This was the last reading at the familiar Mercury Bar venue, which has done well by its readers, but has grown louder and less hospitable to them and their listeners. On to Fresh Cafe as of next month!

[This photo does not present an editorial comment on the reading, as it preceded the event; it's Radhika with Gaye Chan doing their Stinky & Smelly routine.]


And now for some future plans, an email I sent to Tinfish friends this morning:

OK, enough rest already [this refers to the sabbatical that the editor and her press are currently enjoying].

Tinfish Press is preparing to launch a new chapbook series. It will be very retro, simple, cheap, small print runs (100), sent for small donations (aka for free) to people on mailing lists yet to be established. We will try to do a bunch of them fairly quickly, perhaps one a month for a time. Eric Butler has kindly agreed to be the designer; he lives in Hawai`i, has worked in publishing and in making zines for quite some time. I trust he'll come up with compelling designs appropriate to the inexpensive format. You can find out a bit more about him here:

One of the benefits of this series is that the chaps can be very short in length. So poets and writers who do not have heaps of work already on their desks can have their poems circulated in this way. Writers with something to say who don't require great length can make a point quickly. I think back on something Ron Silliman said once, that when he publishes in a large journal, he never hears from readers. When he publishes with small mags of just a few pages, he gets a lot of responses.

As ever, our focus will be on experimental poetry from the Pacific region. Short manifestos or proses are also welcome. I'm asking you to consider sending work but--especially if Tinfish has published you recently--I ask that you recommend poets to us. Be our eyes and ears for good material. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions. We're open to work by students of whatever age (children, high schoolers, college students, and the rest of us life-long learners). The work can be political, personal, or any combination.

We're looking for 5-20 pages of work, preferably 8-15.

We have no idea how long this project will last. But that's half the fun of it. Let's get more work out there!

I'm sending this call to those of you considered long term "friends of Tinfish." But feel free to spread the circle.

aloha, Susan

PS Alain Cressan--many thanks for the inspiration! Je te remercie pour les beaux livres d'Ink!


Also look in the near future for the non-winners of our No Contest, not judged by our non-judge, Craig Santos Perez. The first volume in the No Contest series of two books will be by Jai Arun Ravine. The poetry in this book will cross more boundaries than I knew existed!

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