sea * living * prayer * gratitude * light

What the Sea Earns 3

What the Sea Earns for a Living
Quaci Press 2014
published by Nicole Borello

Poetry Film based on the chapbook by Karen An-hwei Lee

“With a stunning and singular voice that gorgeously traverses the unique music of three languages—Spanish, English, and Nahuatl, What the Sea Earns for a Living is a buoyant book full of solitude and desire. These trembling and meticulous poems ask what secrets are tucked inside the shadows of orchards, and unveil what is carried on the Santa Ana winds. While it deftly walks the thin wire between the stark desert landscape and the vastness of the ocean, this book is ultimately ruled by a lush and vital voice that loves what is lost.”
~ Advance praise by Ada Limón, author of Sharks in the Rivers and Bright Dead Things

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“The sea is not less beautiful in our eyes
because we know sometimes ships are wrecked by it.”
~ Simone Weil, Waiting for God

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Praise: Thanks to Nicole Borello for her intrepid editorial vision, Lorena Borello at the University of San Francisco, and Anna Borello for x-rayed flowers in her beautiful cover design.  Muchisimas gracias to these inspiring women and especially to Ada Limón for sisterhood.

anglophone literatures * asian diaspora

diaspora-resize

My book was selected for publication by the Cambria World Sinophone Series. Professor Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania) is Series Editor.

I express my gratitude to the editorial board:

•Ann Huss (Chinese University of Hong Kong)
•Xiaofei Kang (George Washington University)
•Jianmei Liu (University of Maryland)
•Haun Saussy (University of Chicago)
•Tansen Sen (Baruch College)
•Shu-mei Shih (UCLA)
•Jing Tsu (Yale University)
•David Der-wei Wang (Harvard University)

The Sinophone world refers to Sinitic-language cultures and communities born of colonial and postcolonial histories on the margins of geopolitical nation-states all across the world.

soy * maestra

A reason why I love the neighborhood…

Overheard at the hairdresser’s this weekend, one Nepalese esthetician said to her younger sister, a Nepalese cosmetologist (no, I don’t know the difference between an esthetician and a cosmetologist: I only know their titles from reading the licenses on the wall.  I do know the difference between a cosmetologist and a cosmologist, will give myself credit for that) —

“The doctor said I can’t have any sugar.”

“What can you eat, then?” (Clicking noises for sympathy.)

“No rice… no potatoes… no corn, especially not corn, the doctor said, and no tortillas… no fruit… no oranges, no strawberries, no pineapples… if I have an apple, only half… no juice… no cookies… no sodas… no cupcakes…. no pancakes… nothing.”

My kind & patient hairdresser, a self-described “African woman in a Mexican mujer/cuerpo” b/c her great-grandmother was an African woman from Africa who lived in Mexico and married a Mexican, echoed, “¡Eh!  What can you eat?”

“Spicy peanuts.  I can eat spicy peanuts.” 

Cacahuates picante!  Ah, the little graces in our lives.  I actually think a Nepalese diet would be a vast improvement (smoked fish, black soybeans, pumpkin vine tips, lentils) over traditional American fare, but I also understand love for cakes.

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Prayer: For the women in my neighborhood who see me at the market or hairdresser & ask if I’m Filipina, or Vietnamese, or Thai, or Japanese, and I wish my response were all of the above y la Mexicana. 

When the women ask me what I do for a living, I say, soy maestra. 

I am a teacher.

barbara * ras

Elena says Barbara Ras is conducting a workshop at the Ruskin Club in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 7.  More information here!

   

“There were feathers and the light that passed through feathers.
There were birds that made the feathers and the sun that made the light.
The feathers of the birds made the air soft, softer
than the quiet in a cocoon waiting for wings…”

from “A Book Said Dream and I Do”
by Barbara Ras