Ya’ll, I could have *turned out* like a mixed race Natalie Portman in Black Swan. For real.
Many thanks to Jenn Marie Nunes and the folks at TENDE RLOIN magazine for selecting me as the featured gallery artist for the month of May.
On display in their sweet sixteen issue is a series from my Ka-rah-oh-gay Ballet Theater [VCD] project—lo-fi karaoke stills extracted from my adolescent ballerina days and other recurring dreams. There is also an interview and sound recording (a collaboration with my dripping kitchen faucet).
Awkwardly linger in the gallery a while, and look at things self-consciously, won’t you?
I’ll be presenting my critical essay on the Tom/Trans/Thai project at the Spotlight on Genderqueer conference at the University of Warwick, UK on Monday, April 29 via Skype. The film trailer will also be shown to open the event. Many thanks to Ruth Pearce and Lyndsey Moon for this opportunity.
In Koon Woon’s Water Chasing Water (Kaya Press 2013), a river appears in one poem and flows into the next, appearing there as rain, turning up in one place as an ocean and in yet another as a damp and soggy sadness. I was immediately reminded of lê thi diem thúy’s The Gangster We Are All Looking For, and there on thúy’s first page: “Ba and I were connected to the four uncles, not by blood but by water” (3).
Woon’s text gestures toward the meanings of water—as life-giving force, as connective tissue, as that which carries us. lê thi diem thúy explains that “In Vietnamese, the word forwater and the word for a nation, a country, and a homelandare one and the same: nu’ó’c.” In Thai, the word for river (แม่น้ำ) is made up of the word for mother (แม่) and the word for water (น้ำ). For the diasporic fish/ghost/dish-washer in Woon’s poems, water connects places to other places, traveling from person to person and washing up memories and other debris. [...]
READ MORE AT LANTERN REVIEW
WHAT: Queer Rebels presents SPIRIT: A Century of Queer Asian Activism. Innovative. Risky. Expansive.
MAY 10 – PERFORMANCE: at Mission Cultural Center (2868 Mission St, SF). 8pm. $12-$20
MAY 11 – PANEL: at Brava Dance Studio, 2nd Flr (2781 24th St, SF). 3pm. FREE
MAY 11 – FILMS: at Brava Theater (2781 24th St, SF). 7pm. $7-$10
DESCRIPTION: From the Asian avant-garde to 1960′s activists, Angel Island poets to Slam champions, the Queer Asian Diaspora comes alive through performance, films, and discussion.
FEATURING 23+ QUEER ASIAN ARTISTS AND CULTURAL ACTIVISTS!
Eli-Coppola award winning poet, Ryka Aoki
Slam poet pioneer, Regie Cabico
Radically classical Sarah Cargill
Performance artist, Genevieve Erin O’Brien
Lambda Literary Award winner and Asian Arts Freedom School co-founder, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Genderqueer love warrior, Tonilyn Sideco
Sassy, sexy spoken word from Peacock Rebellion founder, Manish Vaidya
Big Bad Chinese Mama creator and performance artist extraordinaire, Kristina Sheryl Wong!
Conscientious objector and Veteran Artists founder, Stephen Funk
QWOCMAP founder, Madeleine Lim
Film studies doctoral candidate, Munira Lokhandwala
Documentarian and Visibility Project founder, Mia Nakano
Scholar, mentor, and activist of 40+ years, Trinity Ordona
Post-humanist feminist scholar, Margaret Rhee
Dragonfruit oral history founder and Ethnic Studies Dean, Amy Sueyoshi
VONA literary fellow, Celeste Chan
Golden Golden filmmaker, Erica Cho
Experimental storyteller, Yvette Choy
Feminist fabulist filmmaker, Miki Foster
Poet liberationist, Vanessa Huang
Absurdist artist, Laura Hyunjhee Kim
Activist/filmmaker/femme fatale, So Yung Kim
Experimental artist, Jai Arun Ravine
Award-winning filmmaker/scholar/performance artist, Tina Takemoto
Shut Up White Boy and Kieu filmmaker, Vũ T. Thu Hà
ACCESSIBILITY: All venues are wheelchair accessible. Please refrain from wearing scents, so that everyone can attend.
About Queer Rebels: Formed in late 2008, Queer Rebels showcases queer artists of color, connects generations, and honors our histories with art for the future. www.queerrebels.com and www.facebook.com/QRProductions
Presented by Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center and Queer Cultural Center. Funding from Open Meadows Foundation, Red Envelope Giving Circle (made possible by Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), Gil Foundation, and Horizons Foundation), San Francisco Arts Commission, and individual donors. Thank you to everyone who has supported us, including the Visibility Project, Brava Theater, and all artists, funders, volunteers, and fab community members.
Thanks to Emerson Whitney for inviting me to publish the first section of my critical essay regarding the Tom / Trans / Thai project at Wild Gender!
I’m flying out to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to perform in the Delta Mouth Literary Festival this weekend, with superstars Cathy Park Hong, Hoa Nguyen and more!
3/14 THURSDAY 7pm at Haven Gallery & Listening Room
Cathy Park Hong
& Hoa Nguyen
3/15 FRIDAY 7pm at HopKins BlackBox Theater
Feng Sun Chen
Jai Arun Ravine
& Abe Smith
3/16 SATURDAY 6:30pm at Mud and Water
Jennifer A. Howard
& Kim Vodicka
Writers With Drinks 3/9/13 featuring Alexis Madrigal, Jai Arun Ravine, Oscar Bermeo, Phil Lapsley and Clarisse Thorn!
Writers With Drinks, San Francisco’s longest running spoken word variety show, goes further than it’s ever gone before!
When: Saturday, March 9, 2013, 7:30 to 9:30 PM, doors open at 6:30 PM
Who: Alexis Madrigal, Jai Arun Ravine, Oscar Bermeo, Phil Lapsley and Clarisse Thorn!
Where: The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd. St., San Francisco
How much: $5 to $10 sliding scale, all proceeds benefit the CSC
About the writers/readers:
Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor for The Atlantic where he launched
their new Techology Channel. He is the lead writer as well as host.
Alexis is co-creator of Longshot magazine, a publication created in 48
hours with the help of new internet tools and hundreds of people
submitting content thru the internet. The magazine was awarded the
2010 Knight-Batten Award for innovation. Alexis is author of Powering
the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology, and of the
website greentechhistory.com, the book’s ongoing project site. His
research is recovering amazing stories of green technological
experimentation from the past and he explains why these stories
matter: many of them were forks in the road on the way to our present
society and they demonstrate what is possible. Chosen as Required
Reading by Outside magazine. Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor for
The Atlantic where he launched their new Techology Channel. He is the
lead writer as well as host. Alexis is co-creator of Longshot
magazine, a publication created in 48 hours with the help of new
internet tools and hundreds of people submitting content thru the
internet. The magazine was awarded the 2010 Knight-Batten Award for
innovation. Formerly at Wired.com, Alexis followed science and
technology for Wired.com and was a major contributor to its blog Wired
Jai Arun Ravine is a text-based artist working in video, movement and
performance. Most recently they are the author of a book of
experimental poetics, แล้ว AND THEN ENTWINE (Tinfish Press, 2011); the
creator of a film project on Thai and Thai American
trans-masculinities, TOM/TRANS/THAI, which screened at the Bangkok Art
& Culture Centre (Bangkok, Thailand) and the Sabina Lee Gallery (Los
Angeles); and the creator of a multi-media performance on identity
tourism, THE PACKAGE TOUR, which was staged at Subterranean Arthouse
(Berkeley) and the African American Art & Culture Complex (San
Francisco). A recipient of fellowships from ComPeung, Djerassi and
Kundiman, Jai is a staff writer for Lantern Review.
Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is the author of
four poetry chapbooks, most recently, To the Break of Dawn. He has
taught creative writing workshops to inmates in Rikers Island
Penitentiary, at-risk youth in the Bronx, foster teens in San Jose,
and bilingual elementary students in Fruitvale. Oscar makes his home
in Oakland, with his wife, poeta Barbara Jane Reyes. For more
information, please visit: www.oscarbermeo.com.
Phil Lapsley is the author of Exploding The Phone: The Untold Story of
the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell. Lapsley has spent the
last several years documenting the history of phone phreaking through
hundreds of interviews, document searches, and Freedom of Information
act requests. He has been interviewed by National Public Radio and the
BBC and quoted in multiple newspapers, including the New York Times,
on the topic. He has also presented on phone phreaking history at the
10th Annual Vintage Computer Festival and at The Last HOPE conference.
Clarisse Thorn’s books include Confessions of a Pickup Artist, Long
Interviews with Hideous Men, Violation: Rape in Gaming, and The S&M
Feminist: Best of Clarisse Thorn. Thorn is also a regular blogger at
the website clarissethorn.com. She is also the co-creator of the
Sex+++ Positive Documentary film series in Chicago, that shows a
documentary at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum every second Tuesday
of the month.
About Writers With Drinks:
Writers With Drinks won “Best Literary Night” from the SF Bay Guardian
readers’ poll six years in a row and was named “Best Literary
Drinking” by the SF Weekly. And it was namechecked in Armistead
Maupin’s latest Tales of the City novel. The spoken word “variety
show” mixes genres to raise money for local worthy causes. The
award-winning show includes poetry, stand-up comedy, science fiction,
fantasy, romance, mystery, literary fiction, erotica, memoir, zines
and blogs in a freewheeling format.
I was tagged by Sueyeun Juliette Lee in The Next Big Thing!
The Next Big Thing! as you may know is a multi-branching dna strand of poets twisting and tagging each other in the cybersphere about their digital and actual words as books or chaps, perhaps bound projects. It was spawned by Carol Mirakove.
The Next Big Thing questions
What is the working title of the book?
The Romance of Siam: A Pocket Guide
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I had already been working with the concepts of “access” and “mastery” in terms of Thai culture, and was investigating the ways white people seem to have the most access to other cultures and languages and be ideally perched to master them, in ways that diasporic and indigenous peoples do not. I was thinking about the ways I am a tourist to myself, as well as the ways I pass as a white American tourist, and how my relationship to Thailand is colonized by the industry of tourism and white male desire. I was disidentifying with and re-figuring objects that signify Thai-ness: white rice, white elephants. In America you can’t walk two feet without running into a Thai restaurant, or white obsession with Thai food, or Thai food packaged to provide cheap, healthy and convenient happiness. And more: The relationship between eroticization, exoticization, R&R, war, colonization and tourism. The ridiculous amount of white men who end up in Thailand, who never leave and die there. Thailand’s silk tycoon, white American Jim Thompson, and his bizarre disappearance—he walked into the jungle one afternoon and was never found.
What genre does your book fall under?
Subverted travel guide.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Actual actors and characters from bad (and banned) American films, books and musicals about Thailand already play and fight for parts in this book. Yul Brynner in The King And I. Irene Dunne, Deborah Kerr, Jodie Foster as Anna. Leonardo DiCaprio as a white American tourist in The Beach. Claire Danes as a white American tourist in Brokedown Palace. Tilda Swinton in The Beach. Nicolas Cage in Bangkok Dangerous. Christopher Lee in The Man With The Golden Gun. Sagat from Street Fighter. It is my intention to draw out the blurring of fact and fiction, and the reinvention of self through a kind of acting, that is so often the lure of Thailand’s landscape.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
The Romance of Siam: A Pocket Guide interrogates the desire white people have to lose and reinvent themselves in Thailand by tracking how that desire acts and plays out in the western imaginary, the tourism industry, and in popular western media.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Approximately 1.5 years from the middle of 2011 through the end of 2012.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Paige Battcher: Why Thailand? I literally looked through the, the catalog once, and, um, as soon as I, I saw, the, the word Thailand, I, I knew. It’s sort of a, strange feeling, um, to explain. But I, I went out that night and bought a, uh, culture shock book, um, on Thailand, read it in about three hours and decided that, you know, everything about the culture of the people, the history of the place is something that I, I needed to explore on my own. (My Fulbright Life podcast)
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I wrote a bunch of obsessive sestinas.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m looking for a publisher. It will be sold in the “Armchair Travel” section of bookstores and next to Lonely Planet and Fodor’s guides. I want white men to accidentally pick it up and carry it long distances in their expensive backpacks, only to learn years later that the subject of the book is them, that no one cares, and that it’s too late.
My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:
“At The Lantern Review, Jai Arun Ravine, who previously reviewed [Kim Gek Lin] Short’s The Bugging Watch and Other Exhibits, proves once again that any review written by Ravine (author of แล้ว and then entwine (Tinfish Press)) is a text worth reading, independent of its subject…” // Thanks to Tarpaulin Sky Press for kindly profiling my review of Short’s CHINA COWBOY, winner of a Blurbie Award for “Slimmest Monster” from the California Journal of Poetics.
LIVE AT LANTERN REVIEW // Gross and gorgeous about sums up the Kansas City karaoke nightclub and TECHNICOLOR cinema that is Kim Gek Lin Short’s China Cowboy—all “gorge,” gore and zero pretty. Short’s work is often grossly disturbing and excruciatingly seductive, catching the reader in a tense push and pull with and against the text. Sticky and stuck among the fucking and fucked-up, Short binds us within tales of fierce femme survival as her main character, the feisty and fisty La La, avenges the repeated death of Hollywood’s “dragon lady” with her boots, her mic, and her “country superstar humility.” // READ ON AT LANTERN REVIEW
I am thrilled to announce that TOM / TRANS / THAI will be screened in the 2013 Center for Asian American Media Film Festival (CAAMFest) in San Francisco on March 17 and 20 as part of the Queer Convergence shorts program curated by Munira Lokhandwala and Vu T. Thu Ha.
The film has also been submitted to Frameline 37: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, which takes place June 20-23, 2013; Under New Management, a video rental store project in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and may be curated in a forthcoming shorts program in Berlin, Germany.
I have also revised my companion critical essay, “Tom/Gay, Trans/Queer: Mixed Translations Across Thai and Thai American Trans-masculinities,” which has been submitted for possible publication in the Transgender Studies Quarterly 1.2: Decolonizing the Transgender Imaginary.
JIN HARITAWORN: THE BIOPOLITICS OF MIXING
I also wanted to announce the publication of a new book by the brilliant Jin Haritaworn, The Biopolitics of Mixing: Thai Multiracialities and Haunted Ascendancies (Ashgate Press, 2012). See video footage of Jin’s presentation on the book at the Multicultural Centre in Sweden, which took place last November 2012 (English with Swedish subtitles). Jin interviewed people of mixed Thai heritage in Germany and Britain as part of this book project. In reference to one of these interviewees, Jin states:
The other culture, having been excised from Luzia’s genealogy, is nevertheless stuck back on to her phenotype/genotype body. In the process it becomes a quasi-genetic property of a surface, a feature on a face that triggers a melancholic quest for something that you have destroyed. – Jin Haritaworn
If you are interested in acquiring the book for your university library, leave a comment and I can forward your information to Jin.
BO LUENGSURASWAT: AN UNRULY ARCHIVE
Please check out Bo Luengsuraswat’s essay “An Unruly Archive of Healing: Struggling Against the Traumas of Community Violence, Immigration Enforcement, and Queer/Trans of Color Cultural Amnesia.” Bo writes, “Central to this archive is my lived experience and positionality as a trans immigrant of color at the precarious intersection of the U.S. immigration system, the non-profit industrial complex, and queer/trans of color community activism.” This essay looks at his personal experiences with trans/queer spaces and organizations in and outside of Los Angeles and attempts healing in the hope for (and lack of) community accountability.
BANGKOK POST: A TRICKY TRANSITION
On October 8, 2012, the Bangkok Post online featured an English-language article on the lives of two Thai transgender men in Thailand (full article re-posted via Thai Transgender Alliance). I was absolutely shocked, as the article is the first of its kind that I have seen to profile the lives of Thai trans men. Surprisingly, it manages to use all the politically correct language concerning “transgender” experience in an American context, while curiously making no mention of hyper-visible tom identity as possible language for trans-masculinity in Thailand. These examples show that FTM identity and tom identity indeed circulate within different worlds, networks and languages, and brings into question the mechanisms of translation.
SHE: tHEiR LOVE STORY (dir. Sranya Noithai, 2012)
Despite the somewhat corny title, this new film on contemporary tom/dy/les couples is surprisingly well made, in both its writing and cinematography. View the trailer here. Two other movies to come out recently are Yes or No and its sequel, Yes or No 2, both of which are circulating online with English subtitles.
WHAT: Live readings from the anthology poets, food, drinks, art-making, and more!
WHEN: February 23rd, 2013. Doors at 530. Show at 6.
WHERE: SoleSpace, 1714 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, 94612
TICKETS: Tickets 5$ at the door
Anthology $15 (+shipping) at the event
Ticket + Anthology (Pre-sale Package for $18) at http://namjai.brownpapertickets.com/
Join to our chip-in campaign at http://rewritebayarea.chipin.com/
EVENT PAGE: http://tiny.cc/g9rurw
I am excited to announce that an excerpt of my book, แล้ว and then entwine, has been selected for publication in the anthology NAMJAI: A Tribute to Bay Area Asian Pacific Islander Poets, edited by the ReWrite, the Bay Area collective of Asian/Pacific Islander poets and writers that emerged out of the 2009 APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit.
The goal of NAMJAI is to pay homage and celebrate Bay Area Asian/Pacific Islander (BAAPI) poets and spoken word artists, and to share the stories that both reflect our community and take part in re-imagining it. These are our stories, our truths, and our spirits to reclaim, renew, and embody. A true labor of love, this anthology has been well over a year in the making, and has already touched so many, including the thirty-five poets whose words and voices are included in the anthology, and the growing collective that makes up The ReWrite, whose countless volunteer hours have gone into making this dream a reality.
If you care about poetry, writing, building community and Asian/Pacific Islander voices, please consider supporting the anthology today.
Here’s how you can support the project:
What is HEATH? // Read my review of Tan Lin’s HEATH COURSE PAK at Lantern Review. // Like following Heath Ledger’s death over the internet—through the rapid replication of speculative information, quotations, paraphrased material, tags and images as they unravel, reproduce and become felt by a social network—Lin’s assemblage of HEATH is a kind of muscle memory for feelings that are erased, re-written, read, scanned and searched repeatedly within a complex system of users, readers, commentators, followers, friends and authors. // Read more at Lantern Review —>
Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut’s Magnetic Refrain will be published by Kaya Press in 2013. Read my review at LANTERN REVIEW —> // In Magnetic Refrain, transnational Korean American adoptee Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut speaks through folktales and fox-demons, inflatable dolls and war brides, defectors seeking asylum and mothers separated from their children by adoption and military partition, to explore the magnetism of twinning, the conjunction of self and other, and the continued return to the loss of never knowing. // READ MORE AT LANTERN REVIEW —>
Many thanks to Anna Martine Whitehead and Ernesto Sopprani for inviting me to participate in THEOFFCENTER’s Blog Salon #3: On Collectivity and Collapse, featuring queer of color perspectives on failure and falling together. Essays by Jefferson Pinder, Mona G. Hawd, Praba Pilar, Xandra Ibarra, Amara Tabor-Smith, Nina Haft, Taisha Paggett and Eboni Senai Hawkins go live this week. Add your voice to the conversation!
My short film FAN CHRISTY (COVER) [KARAOKE MV] travels to Quezon City, Philippines as part of the “Chains of Love/Ties that Blind: The Shadows of Empire” video program curated by Việt Lê, which also features work by superstars Anida Yoeu Ali and Masahiro Sugano (Studio Revolt), Tina Takemoto and Hong-an Truong. Screenings, Q&A and artist talk will take place at the UP Film Institute and Green Papaya Art Projects on November 27-30.
I am very honored to be participating in the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network‘s 4th Annual Holiday Literary Night on Friday, December 28 at The Infinity (338 Spear) in San Francisco, hosted by Andrew Lam. I’ll be reading with stars Lan Duong, Barbara Jane Reyes and Margaret Rhee. The event is a fundraiser for DVAN’s forthcoming anthology on Southeast Asian women’s literature and art. Tickets are $20; email email@example.com.
I met up with Barbara Jane Reyes at Shooting Star Cafe in Oakland Chinatown to chat about her new chapbook For The City That Nearly Broke Me. The project started with a writing prompt: write about a city that saved you, then write about a city that broke you. As Barbara began to think about what it would mean “to be broken by a city,” she decided to approach it by writing about places that “were the most emotionally complicated for me.” The chapbook hovers over and between Manila (“my birthplace but not necessarily my home”) and Oakland, where she has been living for the past decade but is not sure she can claim as her own. —> READ MORE AT LANTERN REVIEW!
* * *
“Enjoy the silence!” is Timothy Yu’s inscription to me in my copy of 15 Chinese Silences. And I do, as someone rather obsessed with (and who is a product of) cultural silences and silencing. But what I enjoy about this project even more is its parody, and the ways it makes absurd the poetic ethos of Billy Collins by outing his racism and his incurable Asian fetish. —> READ MORE AT LANTERN REVIEW!
Queer Rebels (SF Bay) presents Exploding Lineage! Queer of color histories in experimental film for the 25th MIX NYC festival. Featuring 17 filmmakers and 14 films. Nearly all NYC premieres. One night only.
Art is our resilience. Experimentation is our queerly colored history. From the explosion of energy during the Harlem Renaissance, to the poetry carved in the walls of Angel Island, to revolutionary self-love, these short films juxtapose the legacies that we inherit alongside the spaces we carve out for ourselves today.
When: Wednesday, November 14th 2012. 7pm. Tickets: $13
Where: 339 Butler Street, Brooklyn NY 11217
Dr. K. Ryan Ziegler, Indira Allegra, K.B. Boyce, Celeste Chan, Brontez Purnell, Gary Gregerson, Jerry Lee, Crystal Mason, So Yung Kim, Jai Arun Ravine, Jorrit Poelen, M.A. Brooks, La Chica Boom, Rob Fatal, Julia Wallace, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and Oriana Bolden.
About Queer Rebels:
Founded in 2008 by artists K.B. Boyce and Celeste Chan,Queer Rebels Productions (QRP) fills a void by showcasing queer artists of color, connecting generations, and honoring our histories with art for the future. Queer Rebels is a fiscally sponsored project of the Queer Cultural Center. For more info: www.queerrebels.com
About MIX NYC:
Since 1987, MIX NYC has presented the latest in queer experimental film and previously unseen works from legendary lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other queer- identified figures in avant-garde cinema. www.mixnyc.org