Now this is getting real. Silent Anatomies, is now available for pre-order on Amazon! A literary hybrid, this book is definitely for the adventurous in poetry, particularly those interested in its intersections with visual art, the medical humanities, and contemporary Asian-American writing. I think of it as my contribution to the Asian-American Avante-Garde, adding a voice to the Chinese diaspora who claim both the Philippines and the United States as home. This book would not be possible without the support and camaraderie of so many people, especially my Kundiman family.
I'm pleased to be giving an artist talk on Sunday, October 5, 10:30 am, at the Chinese Language School of Connecticut, Located at the Eastern Middle School in Greenwich, CT. Along with presenting artwork and poetry from my forthcoming book Silent Anatomies, there will also be a discussion about health resources in Connecticut for Asian Americans. It's thrilling for me as an artist because it's a way of taking art that is often limited to galleries or libraries and connecting directly with parents and families.
One of the goals of my work is to raise awareness about the way we silence ourselves and how those consequences play out in the APA community's health outcomes. Whether it's stigma about mental health issues or domestic abuse, or lack of services that provide translation or culturally aware health professionals, I hope these conversations help to generate a shift from silence to dialogue within the community.
Special thanks to the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission for their guidance and for providing useful materials on health resources.
The awards just keep coming. Just found out today the Yale School of Music website also won the W3 Silver Award in Design in two categories: Education and School/University. It's been amazing collaborating with Madison Mott and to be the visual designer for Yale School of Music.
For the past couple weeks, I've been in residency at the Vermont Studio Center to work on my forthcoming book. I have to say that this place really captures the essence of "sanctuary." Coming off of a very demanding working mom schedule, it was a gift to have the time to hit the reset button and get to the creative work that I've been meaning to devote more attention to.
What makes the stay special is being able to work along side artists and writers of so many genres, to share meals, struggles, and advice on how to thrive as a creative person. I relished the craft talks, artists sharing work, celebrating VSC's 30th anniversary, and of course going to the open studios.
It's very normal for creativity to have its ebb and flow in any given year. My strategy has been to use retreat times as a way to set the momentum that I can return to daily life with, and also lay out as many ideas as possible in mock ups or drafts and then work on each in smaller sessions during the following months. I call it the "hard thinking time" - as it does require a certain expansion of space to allow me to sink into ideas in a more thoughtful and complex way.
At first I wondered if I would feel any guilt for being away from parenting and other duties for this length of time. But it became clear day after day that it is so important to make efforts for self-care and to honor one's health and growth. I feel that I have so much more to give now that I've taken some time to recover from months of physical fatigue. The manuscript is much stronger and I've been able to write more boldly.
There are many forces that we as women have to battle to live out their potential. Guilt is one of the methods employed to dis-empower women, to shame them from speaking up and revealing their authentic selves. One might argue that guilt is a way to police human behavior, but I disagree - that's compassion's work. Guilt sits in when compassion has left the building. Thus, by exercising compassion on all levels, whether it's self care or being considerate of others, we don't have to play into the power structures that guilt preserves.
Realizations like this came from having dialogues with great artists. I've had the pleasure of meeting so many incredible people that I don't have enough room here to name. I'm always curious about their inspirations, why they make, and what is on their bookshelves. Here's a summer reading list I compiled:
Thomas Sayers Ellis, Terrance Hayes, Nick Flynn, Lucy Brock-Broido, Anne Waldman, Bernadette Mayer, Kevin Young, Audre Lorde, Jack Gilbert, Flannery O'Connor, Louise Erdrich.
I also plan to pick up the anthology "The New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry" from Tupelo Press, a book I've been reading at the VSC library.
Making great work is also not just the work of an individual. It is also the result of incredible generosity and effort on the part of so many people. Without a supportive partner and parents willing to help with holding up the daily structures, none of this would be possible. So I leave here with endless gratitude and with a sense of awe for the way all these things selflessly moved in order to give me this space.
The Connecticut Art Director's Club awarded the Yale School of Music website with the Silver Award in recognition of great design and usability. It was so fantastic to collaborate with Madison Mott and serve as lead designer for the project.
The legendary poet Joy Harjo (2014 Guggenheim Fellow) selected my manuscript "Silent Anatomies" as the winner of the Kore Press 2014 First Book Prize in Poetry! I'm still pinching myself and am reveling with joy, amazement, vindication, and deep appreciation. Of the collection she said:
"This is one of the most unique poetry collections. It's a kind of graphic poetry book, but that's not exactly it either. Poetry unfurls within, outside and through images. The images are stark representations that include bottles that have been excavated from a disappeared age, contemporary ultrasound images of a fetus, family photographs and charts. They establish stark bridges between ancestor and descendant time and presence. This collection is highly experimental and exciting."
I am an admirer of Harjo's multi-disciplinary creative practice, her social activism, and most of all her "crazy brave" heart, from which bold poetry flows. I feel so honored that she saw the heart of my work and frankly, my mind is so blown I hardly have words to describe this.
Overall, it's exciting to now be working towards releasing the book in 2015 and to share this work with a broader audience. I am so appreciative of Kore Press for opening their arms to this special project.
None of this could have happened without my Kundiman family, led by the fearless Sarah Gambito and Joseph Legaspi. Kundiman instilled in me the conviction to believe in and honor the stories we carry within us, that our homelands thrive wherever we use our voices. I also would not have grown as a poet without the generosity of Wendy S. Walters and Randall Horton, whose mentorship not only sustained me but taught me to go for broke.
This winter was difficult to weather for many reasons. But I can definitely say that winter never fails to turn into spring.
There was lots of excitement around the office this week when we learned that the Yale School of Music website was nominated for a Webby Award, the highest website honor, for the schools and universities category. I'm especially proud as the design lead on this project and also honored to work in such a great collaboration with our partners at Madison Mott, who helped us with strategy and development. Our video producer, Austin Kase, helped the site shine with his cinematic vision and has been racking up the honors this spring as well, including a Telly Award.
While the winner of the Webby will be selected by the Digital Academy of Arts and Sciences, there is also the People's Voice Webby, which is voted on by all audiences. That means YOU! So go ahead, take a look, and vote!
I feel privileged to be able to create the design and branding of CURA: A Literary Magazine of Art and Action, which is published by Fordham University's department of Creative Writing. It is a literary magazine that bring today's most innovative and talented creative voices to engaging discussions on social justice. While it's been two years since the initial branding, I gave the magazine's online format a facelift this year with some more visual impact.
The Fearsome BMI: Women Artists and the Body
March 24 – May 5, 2014
I'm please to be part of this exhibition at Rutgers University that features artists who deconstruct cultural norms of beauty. This exhibition is held in conjunction with the Institute for Women’s Leadership Consortium Initiative on Women and Health, and World Health Day Conference and Teach-in.
Opening Reception: April 6, 2014 at 4–6 pm
Artists: Nancy Fried, Ariane Lopez-Huici, Brenda Oelbaum, Monica Ong Reed, and Laura Splan.
Location: Dana Women Artist Series Galleries
Mabel Smith Douglass Library
8 Chapel Drive, New Brunswick, NJ
Sponsors: Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Institute for Women and Art, Institute for Women’s Leadership, Rutgers University Libraries.
Free and open to the public
Weekend tours by appointment
As you know, I've been designing for the Yale School of Music for the last six years and have led many new media initiatives there. This fall we launched the new website, which was a collaboration with Madison Mott, based in Westport. With their advice about user flows, personas, and content strategy, I designed new page types to encourage more interaction and more focused content for specific users. Their team then developed those pages and implemented the design in Wordpress. It was great to work w/ them and this is the article they posted about the collaboration.
From their blog:
"We started in June of 2011 with key stakeholder interviews: students, alumni, faculty, and various constituents. We then converted the findings into personas and use cases meant to drive relevant information architecture, flows and wireframes. We balanced the best practices of platform development with the nuances of musical and technological innovation, and a strategic approach to scalable architecture.
For this project, we passed the design baton to the incredibly talented in-house designer at YSM, Monica Ong Reed, whose skills as a creative are second only to her charm as a human being. The same can be said for the entire YSM Communications team, all virtuosos in their own right (Dana Astmann, Austin Kase, and their fearless leader Michael Yaffe, among others), proving that assembling the right team is key to garnering that standing ovation."
The Poetry Institute of New Haven has invited me to be the Feature Poet this month on Thursday, July 18. Doors open at 6:30 at the Institute Library with an open mic starting at 7 pm. I'll be doing a cross-disciplinary reading with the visuals projected as I read. Come check it out!
My contribution to the Literary Hybrid Book Arts SalonI'm fresh back from the Kenyon Review Writer's Workshop on Literary Hybrid and Book Arts in Gambier, OH. Although it had the fun of summer camp and relaxed atmosphere, I found it to be one of the most productive weeks I have had in a long time. Three new written works mocked up with visuals and six handmade books done within one week of time. As a new mom, this is just what I needed!
This was one of the first workshops of its kind led by literary hybrid Gretchen Henderson and book artist Ellen Sheffield. It was rooted in the writing workshop but modeled after a visual artist's retreat with studio time and techniques. Literary history and theory about artists working on intersection of image+text were covered: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha to Claudia Rankine to Jen Bervin, William Blake to Fluxus artists to Jonathan Safran Foer to Anne Carson. All my heroes in the same seminar - it was very informative to see that although we still think of this as "new" it's really a practice that has existed in the margins for quite a long time.
Above: Tree of Codes by Johnathan Safran Foer. Check out my Image+Text board on Pinterest!I've added many of the artists we discussed onto my Image+Text board on Pinterest so that you can check out the literary experiments.
In terms of my own process, it was the perfect time to hunker down and finish writing the stories that have been sitting in my head for the last few months. I continue to explore narratives that are hidden in the body and have pushed to take them to different sensory spaces, times, and incorporate multiple languages.
What was useful about the writing exercises was the process of working against a constraint or sets of rules that are imposed on oneself. We came with 25 first lines and although I already had ideas of what I would write with them, we were asked to pass them around the classroom and then to write from someone else's first line - which was unexpected but great. Sometimes we were read our poems backward word by word in order to discover new diction. We did erasures of our own lines, broke the poems, put them back together, and also considered the white space on the page as another element of language that challenged our notions of linearity in a work.
"Incarnadine" by Mary SzybistEach night, we also attended readings and heard brand spanking new writing from faculty, fellows, and peer writers in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. It was quite remarkable to see the risks people were taking. In particular, I was stunned by the poetry of Mary Szybist whose spare and simple lines split my heart like a newly sharpened knife in such an elegant and mysterious way. The week culminated with a Book Arts Salon in our studio where we enjoyed the "living library" of books that our class created during the week.
Best of all, I left the workshop with new colleagues and friends. It was definitely a place full of generosity, experimentation, intellectual rigor without the pretention, warmth, and fun. Here are two takeways that I left Kenyon with from our faculty:
1) "Don't think, just do." - Ellen Sheffield
2) "Play is the highest form of research." by Einstein as shared by Gretchen Henderson.
I would recommend this workshop to anyone whose practice straddles the literary and visual arts traditions who are looking for space and time to crystallize their ideas with a balanced consideration of form and content.
Excerpt from "Catching a Wave"
So pleased to share a new piece "Catching a Wave" in Loaded Bicycle, Issue 2.1, released today! This work is created from several ultrasound images, many of which are mine and also of people close to me. It is dedicated to the millions of "missing girls." Please note that the version released in this edition was reformated to fit their web format. The spreads are split and stacked. They were originally designed as an installation where 2 images are side by side on horizontal light boxes - so essentially a triptych of paired images. I think going from object to page has its challenges, but the piece holds up quite nicely online.
I'm delighted to announce that I'll be reading at the Brooklyn Museum on March 23 as part of a panel, "The Fearsome BMI: Women Artists and Representations of the Body," hosted by Judith Brodsky of the Rutger's Institute for Women and Art. This will be one of a two-part series of discussions for Women's History Month:
This panel at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center, Brooklyn Museum, will include speakers who will address contemporary mainstream ideals of beauty and health and their impact on women and diversity as seen through the eyes of contemporary women artists and scholars.
I'm telling you, Harlem is where it's at! It was exhilarating to be reading alongside novelists Stacey D'Erasmo and Michael Thomas at the Shrine for the First Person Plural Reading Series. Here is their recap:
Monica Ong combined projected images and poems to stunning effect. Her first image was a childhood photograph of her mother gathered with her mother and six siblings. The accompanying poem revealed that her mother was one of the three “boys,” dressed and staged so that the family would not lose face from a surfeit of girls. Her next images and poems brought us into human physiology, giving voice to the silent mechanisms of the body– to the body’s frightening failures and the way we fail our bodies through cultural mores and silence. She closed with a moving poem written for the FPP reading in response to the Sandy Hook shootings.
Not only did poets from my Kundiman family come to support, but I was also reuinited with my writing professor from RISD, Wendy Walters, who now teaches at the New School. My best friend from college, Kathy, and her mom also made the long trek to catch the reading as well. The crowd at the Shrine was incredibly warm and welcoming, especially on a cold January evening, and the FPP hosts were just lovely. Thank you Stacy, Amy, and of course, Wendy!
For those of you in the New York City area, I'll be presenting my art and poetry at the First Person Plural Redding Series on January 28! This is a Harlem-based reading series founded by Wendy Walters, Amy Benson, and Stacy Parker Le Melle showcasing work created from the collective "we".
Check out my First Person Plural Interview, discussing process, translation, and more.
The evening also features novelists Stacey D'Erasmo and Michael Thomas, with opening and closing sets by DJ Lady DM starting at 6:45 pm. Meet us at Shrine, 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Junior Boulevard, New York, NY
So pleased to share that my poem "Bo Suerte" was just nominated by Tidal Basin Review for the 2012 Pushcart Poetry Prize. What is the Pushcart? "The Pushcart Prize - Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America. Hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in the pages of our annual collections."
I feel honored to be among the fellow artist/writer nominees. Much appreciation also goes to Tidal Basin Review for their support of inter-disciplinary art and literature.
I'm so pleased to be part of the "20 Jurors" exhibition at WomanMade to celebrate its 20th anniversary. "Remedies" and "Untranslated Cervix" will be presented at this show in Chicago for the first time.
Exhibition: July 13 - August 28, 2012
Art Opening: July 13, 6 pm
685 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60642