The gulag arkipelago, by Sean Labrador y Manzano, $3 from Tinfish Press
The tenth installment of our Retro Chapbook Series offers up Sean Labrador y Manzano's three sestinas, “Death to All Drug Traffickers,” “Male Order,” and “Mycorrhizal.” Manzano's imagination roams from Longinus to Marcos, baseball to Martial Law, passports to Sin, pineapples to puddles. Substitute Manzano for Ashbery in the following sentence by Joseph Conte (from Unending Design: The Forms of Postmodern Poetry), and you've got the gist of his use and abuse of the sestina: “Ashbery's renovation of the sestina form is extensive and complete--he knocks layers of old thematic plaster off the brick walls of structure.” Manzano knocks off (as it were) layers of plaster to reveal a wobbling foundation of totalitarianism and diaspora. He writes that, “The roots of my 'Gulag Arkipelago' originate with how the Spanish used the Philippines as a penal colony. Similar to Australia.”
Sean Labrador y Manzano was born in Tripler Army Hospital aka The Pink Palace. Went to Likelike Elementary School, Aliamanu Middle School and Waipahu Middle School. Father was stationed at Pearl Harbor, then Barber's Point. In the 1920s, his Manong Pio, imported to the plantations of the Big Island—began the surge of Manzanos into Hawai`i. His work has appeared in Conversations at a Wartime Cafe (http://www.mcsweeneys.net/columns/conversations-at-a-wartime-cafe) and in many other venues.
from “Death to All Drug Traffickers”
sports not operated by drug traffickers, the Senator fancied Jim Rice leading
the American League in home runs, fancied Wade Boggs' batting average, fancied drafting
pitchers. In line Scouts are returning mamasans and tias seeking to fill billets in cloisters
and parlours. There are headhunters recruiting for phlebotomists or chambermaids,
pious and ornate. Sometimes among them are tourists, returning and new. In between
this silent line and the carousel revolving with boxes belonging to drug traffickers
and boxes not belonging to drug traffickers drift unclaimed, waiting
to be claimed is the customs agent. In between the carousel housed
by the terminal that exists and the waiting world negotiated by Sin,
is the customs agent.
Asked about his cover design (above), Eric Butler wrote the following: "It's a pretty literal reading, though an abstracted rendering: The Gulag Archipelago is, of course, a name stolen from the book about the Gulag labor camps in the USSR. So the figures on the cover are all people, the ones with the diagonal lines are officers, and the ones without are laborers. Everyone in a totalitarian system, of course, is oppressed and thus carry themselves with their heads bowed, refusing to stand out (oppression always relies on facelessness). And their uniform shape shows both their anonymity and similarity; the difference between 'us' and 'them' is always so invisible and arbitrary."
And here is our list of Retro Chapbooks. You can have them all for $36. Design by Eric Butler and printing by Obun, Honolulu. Simply go to our website, click "purchase" and go to near the end of the list on 2co.com. Or send checks to us at Tinfish Press, 47-728 Hui Kelu Street #9, Kane`ohe, HI 96744. Please include $1 handling for each item.
12: Tim Yu's 15 Chinese Silences (forthcoming)
11: Kim Hyesoon, translated by Don Mee Choi (forthcoming)
10: The Gulag Arkipelago, by Sean Labrador y Manzano
9: Thou Sand, by Michael Farrell
8: One Petal Row, by Jamie Gusman
7: Yours Truly & Other Poems, by Xi Chuan, trans. Lucas Klein
6: Ligature Strain, by Kim Koga
5: Yellow/Yellow, by Margaret Rhee
4: Mao's Pears, by Kenny Tanemura
3: The Primordial Density Perturbation, by Stephen Collis
2.: Tonto's Revenge, by Adam Aitken
1: Say Throne, by No`u Revilla
There's so much amazing poetry in the Pacific region. This series provides just a small slice, but it's highly nutritious and tasty.