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There’s no better way to kick off the new year with a poetry reading here. City Lights’ first event of 2016 featured guest appearances by two poets, Barbara Jane Reyes and Kathleen Weaver, sharing selections from To Love as Aswang: Songs, Fragments, Found Objects and Too Much Happens: Poetry.
about Barbara Jane Reyes’ To Love as Aswang:
The Philippine aswang is a mythic, monstrous creature which has, since colonial times, been associated with female transgression, scapegoating, and social shaming, known in Tagalog as hiya. In the 21st century, and in diaspora, she manages to endure. Barbara Jane Reyes’s To Love as Aswang, the poet and a circle of Filipino American women grapple with what it means to live as a Filipina, or Pinay, in a world that has silenced, dehumanized, and broken the Pinay body. These are poems of Pinay tragedy and perseverance, of reappropriating monstrosity and hiya, sung in polyphony and hissed with forked tongues.
about Kathleen Weaver’s Too Much Happens:
After years of translating and presenting other writers, Kathleen Weaver has now produced a collection of her own poems, Too Much Happens, a collection that mingles personal and major social concerns in an attempt to give voice to a sense of increasing fear for a cherished world in crisis. Catastrophic wars, child soldiers, dried lake beds, the relentless onslaught of bad news. “What shall we do with what we know?” Too Much Happens poses a question for which no answer is clear in a world skirting a perilous edge.
About the poets:
Barbara Jane Reyes was born in Manila, the Philippines, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. To Love as Aswang is her fourth full-length collection of poetry. She is the author of the poetry collections Gravities of Center (2003), Poeta en San Francisco (2005), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Diwata (2010). Her work explores a variety of cultural, historical, and geographical perspectives. In Poeta en San Francisco Reyes employs English, Spanish, and Tagalog to create a devastating portrait of her hometown. Craig Perez noted in a Rain Taxi review that “throughout Poeta, we witness the intersecting trajectories of body, self, culture and city.” In a review for Bluefifth, Nicole Cartwright Denison commented that by “drawing heavily upon inspiration from Filipino creation myths, along with multiple biblical and classical allusions … Poeta en San Francisco transforms her hometown into the broader world teeming with struggle, with life wasted and wanted, with hope leaking from the edges.” With her husband, the poet Oscar Bermeo, Reyes co-edits Doveglion Press, which publishes political literature. She has taught creative writing at Mills College and Philippine studies at the University of San Francisco.
Kathleen Weaver studied at the University of Edinburgh and as a Ford Fellow in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. As a graduate student she was part of a women’s group devoted to translating women poets, work that led to her co-edit The Other Voice: Twentieth Century Women Poets in Translation and Penguin Book of Women Poets. She has translated poetry and book length works from Spanish. Her biographical study of Magda Portal, Peruvian Rebel: The World of Magda Portal, was nominated for a Northern California Book Award. She lives in Berkeley.