writer, designer & editor

“I’m compelled, I’m speaking of myself as a black man, to doubt my history, to examine it; I’m compelled to try to create it. I’m trying to excavate my history from all the rubble that has been buried for so many hundreds of years. And that means I have to question everything.”
James Baldwin

msipincopy
by Sunari Weaver-Anderson


Melissa R. Sipin
 is a writer from Carson, CA. She won Submittable’s Eliza So Fellowship (2017), Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open (2013), the Washington Square Review’s Flash Fiction Prize (2014), and was a semi-finalist for the James Jones First Novel Prize (2017) and shortlisted for the 2017 Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award (2017). She co-edited Kuwento: Lost Things, an anthology on Philippine myths (Carayan Press 2014), and her work is in SalonBitch MediaBlack Warrior Review, Prairie Schooner, Guernica Magazine, Slice Literary MagazinePEN/Guernica Flash Series, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, Eleven Eleven Magazine, and Amazon’s literary journal Day One, among others. Cofounder of TAYO Literary Magazine, her fiction has won scholarships and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Poets & Writers Inc., Kundiman, VONA/Voices Conference, Squaw Valley’s Community of Writers, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and is represented by Sarah Levitt at Aevitas Creative Management. She is hard at work on a novel inspired by her grandmother’s capture in WWII Philippines.


 

melissasipin-768x576
In Dr. Cristina Lope Rosello’s book, Disconnect: The Filipina Comfort Women, she worked with 30 Comfort Women in psychiatric healing. In one activity, she had the lolas draw their “fantasy garden,” after a brief exercise in meditation. During a heavy research day, I did the same thing: I drew a huge banyan tree that connected to all the other trees, with my grandmother and me lying in the grass. I felt I drew a symbolic connection to all the women who suffered what they should not have suffered. It was a subconscious act of witnessing, of remembrance.

 


 

Panel 1

Brief Selection of Work

“When I first learned of my grandmother’s capture in World War II, it was at her funeral. One of her sisters, the many matriarchs of the Dulay clan and my grand aunt, stopped the processional and confessed details about my own grandmother’s life—my adoptive mother—I did not know. I felt it in my body. The shellshock. The inaudible confusion. I felt in it my bones, my genes, in memories that I do not own but somehow inherited. The term is epigenetics: what your ancestors suffered or survived years before somehow has a direct effect on you, outside of your genes.

They say if your grandmother survived a war, what she survived or suffered through leaves an indelible mark outside your genes, an epigenetic expression, and thus affects how certain cells are translated. Here is a fact: “Studies have shown that children born during the period of the Dutch famine from 1944-1945 have increased rates of coronary heart disease and obesity after maternal exposure to famine during early pregnancy compared to those not exposed to famine.” (What Is Epigenetics?)

The offspring of the Hongerwinter had their metabolic cells shifted because of what their parents went through, and even their offspring had those same indelible effects on their metabolic cells. Which is to say: trauma is inherited, even if one does not remember the famine.”

— “NOTES ON SURVIVING RESEARCHING A FAMILIAL/HISTORICAL NOVEL,”
in Eliza So Fellowship Submittable (2017)


 


Filipineza doesn’t mean “servant”:
Notes of witness from an immigrant daughter,”
in Salon


(more…)

Panel 2

About

“‘This First Breath’ by Melissa Sipin resonates most deeply with me. This story is, in effect, a story about stories; it is also a story about how we craft stories about survival, and how these new stories inevitably alter the trajectories of our lives. What I am trying to say is that this story says so much in just a few words; in the end, this is what all writers are trying to do.”

— Tope FolarinWashington Square Review’s Flash Fiction Prize

*

[ Read the winning story here. ]

(more…)

Panel 3

Artist’s Statement

“As immigrant artists for whom so much has been sacrificed, so many dreams have been deferred, we already doubt so much. Who do we think we are? We think we are people who risked not existing at all. People who might have had a mother and father killed, either by a government or nature, even before we were born. Some of us think we are accidents of literacy. I do.”

 Edwidge Danticat,
Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

*

I create, I write, because it is what I’ve always done. It is something that adds a distinct layer of nuance, complexity, observation, and love for life that no other action or behavior can imitate—it’s similar to one’s decision to fall in love, get married, or have children. Writing adds something to my life that nothing else can. It has saved my life. Like Alice Walker has said, “It is, in the end, the saving of lives that we writers are about.”


(more…)

Panel 4

Multimedia Art

This footage always damages me in a slow, pregnant way; it marks the infancy of my familia, it marks the moment when we were once together, before we broke apart. I decided to loop the video in hopes of producing a kind of fragmentary remembrance.

“To My Unknown Daughter,” Center for Art & Thought’s #TalkingBodies Exhibit.

*

watch video:

(more…)

Panel 5

Freelance Design & Editing

I have extensive graphic design experience in website design and print publications, and I served in editorial and production positions at a range of organizations, including Poets & Writers Inc., Arcadia Publishing, and VONA/Voices Conference, among others. In 2009, I cofounded TAYO Literary Magazine, a literary journal focused on issues of identity and social justice. I co-edited Kuwento: Lost Things (Carayan Press 2014), and I am currently a member of the Board at PAWA Inc. I provide freelance graphic design, editorial, and copyediting services. For inquiries, please send me a message via the Contact page.

[ Please note: I am currently looking for freelance work. Thank you for stopping by, and I hope to hear from you soon. ]

(more…)