Anak. Tell me your body, memories. is a chapbook I compiled for the English 252 course “Poets of Color” at Mills College.
Some of my classmates asked for the PDF of the chapbook, so I decided to post it to my blog:
Here’s one of the poems in the chapbook:
resist in story
in your mind
in your framework
Below is my chapbook’s poetic statement:
The process of colonization starts in conquered bodies and minds, as “Edward Said has made known in what he calls ‘Orientalism,’ the Western construction of the East in the service of colonial, imperial aims” (Sumida 803). It begins with the West reconstructing and reconfiguring the existence of the East, the conquered.
As I became attracted to this process, I wanted to dissect it, deconstruct it, and emulate it, but in poetic response.
In this final project, I took apart passages and quotations from a body of research that reflects on the literature of Asian America influenced by Orientalism, and by rephrasing and erasing words from the texts, I discovered shifted meanings, embedded constructs of colonization and perpetuation, and reorganized what somatic Asian American poetics resist against.
This project has three parts: “First, conquer the body,” “My body, a war,” and “Tell me of resistance.” The first two parts use found and erasure poetry to re-shift or usurp the body of meanings that propagate the tools of colonization through poetics—it refocuses how we are colonized: through erasure by cultural assimilation or the feminization of the Asian body, male or female.
The last part portrays my own poetic responses to the somatic colonization of my body, told through story and narrative.
I use texts from Barbara Jane Reyes on Pinayism, Claudia Rankine’s poem on suicide, and a legal document of my grandmother’s marriage to formulate a narrative that speaks of resistance and the ownership of my family’s memories via the body. I had found the marriage document buried in my grandmother’s drawers after she died. It describes how the burning of the municipal building in Arigany, La Union, during World War II erased the proof of her marriage to my grandfather, Major Diego Sipin. This is why I used found and erasure poetry in the first two parts—the colonizer performs similar techniques in shaping the tides of history. They erase our stories. They rephrase them.
But, as the granddaughter of a freedom fighter against colonial powers in World War II, I carry my lineage within my tendons and bones. My body’s existence is resistance. My mind’s self-identity is resistance. Here is my poetry, used as evidence.