Monday, October 29, 2007

Anthology Deadline Extended

Worth checking out. The deadline has been extended to next week, so if you can, I strongly encourage you to send in a few pieces.

Southeast Asia has been a region long divided not only by geographical and cultural boundaries but by the question of identity and belonging. One anthology will attempt to present the shades of contemporary Southeast Asian experiences of cultural/sexual identity, globalization, immigrant/expatriate experience, third culture phenomena, and new technologies, among others.

The call for submissions is open to Southeast Asian writers and translators under 40 years old.

The anthology will focus on works dealing with contemporary themes, or employing new forms in poetry; prose (fiction, travelogues, essays, blogs, text, etc); drama (one-act plays, short screen/teleplays); graphic arts and comics (under 30 pages long); and everything in between—literary experiments as well as genre works (horror, sci-fi, fantasy, etc, or combinations thereof).

Works must be limited to 8,000 words and must be in English (translations must be accompanied by the original text).

Previously published works are also welcome.

Please send submissions to, as attachments in MS Word document format.

Deadline for manuscripts is November 8, 2007. Please include a short bionote and contact information. Contributors will get multiple copies of the book.

The anthology editors are Jerome Kugan (Malaysia) and Mervin Espina (Philippines)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

[Influences] A Man Said To The Universe

A man said to the universe: "Sir I exist!"

"However," replied the universe,"
The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."

-Stephen Crane.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Remembering Violet Kazue de Cristoforo (1917-2007)

Angry Asian Man posted a note on the passing of Violet Kazue de Cristoforo who was famous for writing and collecting haiku poems that capture life in Japanese internment camps during World War II.

It's one of those days that makes me appreciate how much we lose with every poet's death, but how much we gained with their lives. And I continue to encourage everyone to write, to express, to create and to celebrate these moments and to remember these stories.

News of the week

If you haven't picked up your copy yet, the 2008 Saint Paul Almanac is out from Arcata Press (ISBN 0-9772651-2-9, $11.95) and if you look carefully you'll spot my work in it, including my poem, Riding The 16right up at the front on page 10 to start off the year, and Modern Life.

The almanac is a great datebook featuring stories, poems, short essays and photographs from Minnesota writers across the state. Some personal standouts for me include May Lee, Peter Yang, Trinh Ngo, Alexs Pate and David Mura. But you should check it out for yourself and see.


And it's a little ahead of time, but on October 25th, the first online issue of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal will debut at featuring my poem Zelkova Tree as well as the work of other great Asian and Asian American writers from around the world.

The list of writers in the debut issue includes Russell Leong, Arlene Ang and many other exceptional poets and artists that this is really one I'll be watching in the months ahead.

Based in Hong Kong, it's a very promising journal, and I look forward to adding them among my other publication credits in Singapore, Australia, London, Germany and the United States. Thanks, everyone!


And as a final side note: I'm teaching the craft of writing poetry this Friday at the annual Asian Media Access Asian Media Camp in the Twin Cities for Asian American youth interested in film, video and media technology.

I'm looking forward to meeting with those of you who will be my students this weekend!

And for all of the rest of you who made it this far to the end of my post, thank you, and if you have any performances and projects coming up this week, I hope they go well for you too!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Day Off The Dead

Reminds me a bit of one of my old favorite games, Grim Fandango.
Thought it would be fun to share with you this month. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Remembering John Worra (1935-2006)

It's been a year now since the passing of my father, John "Jack" Worra in the city of Tipton, Michigan on October 10, 2006.
A pilot by trade, he was born in South Haven, Michigan. In 1953 he enlisted in the US Army, and by 1961 was working for Zantop Airlines.

From 1971 to 1973 he was flying in Southeast Asia for Royal Air Lao before going back to work again for Zantop Airlines again once he was back in the United States.

In 1988 he began flying for UPS and retired from UPS in 1997. Beyond this, what is public is public, what is private is private for any number of reasons.

Thanks to all of you who were there for me and my family during this time- it means a great deal and we have not forgotten.

Within the family there are poems I've written on the matter, but really, this year I feel compelled to turn instead towards my fellow poet, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and his poem 'People':

No people are uninteresting.
Their fate is like the chronicle of planets.

Nothing in them is not particular,
and planet is dissimilar from planet.

And if a man lived in obscurity
making his friends in that obscurity
obscurity is not uninteresting.

To each his world is private,
and in that world one excellent minute.

And in that world one tragic minute.
These are private.

In any man who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight.
It goes with him.

There are left books and bridges
and painted canvas and machinery.
Whose fate is to survive.

But what has gone is also not nothing:
by the rule of the game something has gone.
Not people die but worlds die in them.

We Pesky Minority Poets.

An interesting discussion on the flap at the Poetry Society of America can be found at Rigoberto Gonzalez post "Those Pesky Minority Poets." Great post, and a special thanks to Oscar Bermeo for bringing this one to my attention. :)

[Influences] The Shadow

'Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!'

And with those iconic words and a sinister laugh, I was introduced to the world of Lamont Cranston, the Shadow, who was a pulp fiction precursor to Batman: Wealthy playboy by day, crime fighting vigilante by night.

The big difference being that unlike Batman or Doc Savage, the Shadow had no qualms about killing people with his two-fisted pair of .45s.

This was all well before John Woo made Chow Yun Fat an iconic action star in Hong Kong in films like A Better Tomorrow and its sequels:

"The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay..." was a signature line the Shadow used in both the pulp fiction stories as well as the radio dramas that featured the voice talents of many great actors including Orson Welles of Citizen Kane and The Third Man fame:

The Shadow clearly had an influence on much of what we would consider contemporary superhero narrative structure today: A mysterious past and dual identity.

Even a network of elite agents hidden in 'ordinary' jobs around the world from Moe Shrevnitz the cab driver to Margo Lane his beautiful socialite 'friend and companion,' and Dr. Roy Tam, his Asian American physician.

The Shadow had a rogues gallery of one-time and recurring villains ranging from Benedict Stark 'The Prince of Darkness' and Shiwan Khan, 'Master of the Orient.'

Make no mistake:
Writers all the way up to the present steep the Shadow's story with Asian elements from adventures in Chinatown to the roots of the Shadow's powers (in one interpretation, he is a paladin of Shamballah, the sacred, secret kingdom hidden in Asia like Shangri La) and they've had varying levels of sensitivity to multicultural issues and how well characters like Dr. Tam and Shiwan Khan are fleshed out.

But, much as the work of H.P. Lovecraft, Shakespeare and many others can be appreciated with an understanding of the times they were writing in and their personal characters, so too, I think there is much to be enjoyed in the tales of the Shadow.

I'm in a particular minority on this, but the work of Andy Helfer during the DC comics run of the early 1990s remains a personal favorite of mine for its dark humor and for introducing me to the work of master artists Bill Sienkiwicz and Kyle Baker (the author of my favorite Why I Hate Saturn.)

Helfer's run, while since declared heretical by most ardent fans of the classic Shadow, was still one that left a memorable impression on me when the comic book shelves were flooded with X-men and Spiderman stories.

Personally, I think they still hold up quite well as enjoyable reads.

When DC relaunched the series a few years later, we found a more restrained take that was also enjoyable, but never hit the over-the-top looniness of Helfer's take, which was distinctive for its radical departure from Howard Chaykin's four-issue mini-series, itself quite a transgressive interpretation.

Chaykin brought the Shadow to the late 20th century, no longer packing blazing .45s but a pair of mini-Uzis in a heady cocktail of sex, death, violence and miniature nukes.

Back then, Howard Chaykin brought an amazing sexy and urban sensibility to comics that was innovative and helped push the medium forward to what we have today.

You can of course check out the wikipedia entries and other resources on the net for the full run-down on the Shadow, so I'm not going to go into all of his powers and history.

But I will say:

In many ways, the Shadow was a welcome relief from goody goody two shoes characters, arguably even a predecessor of the Punisher, in that he was a 'no fooling around' dark anti-hero more interested in 'justice' than law.

The 1994 movie was terrible, except for giving Tim Curry something to do. :) But the trailer was REALLY promising:


But as an overall influence on my writing?

I easily have to acknowledge the Shadow as a formative part of my youth that showed me, among other things, how one blends world history, pop culture and dark humor together. And you can spot that within On The Other Side Of The Eye if you look.

Or a few photos of me currently circulating around the internet, apparently. But that's neither here nor there.


I've been gone for a bit- some big changes recently, but it's time to get back into the swing of things and catch up.

So, it's October 10th, and today in history?

In 1967, the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits the placing of weapons of mass destruction on the moon or elsewhere in space, entered into force. 40 years. so far so good. As far as we officially 'know.'

And apparently, Pac Man was introduced in Japan in 1979. Today, there are free online versions of it everywhere.

So, I imagine you could celebrate the day by either playing a round of Pac Man, or at least choose not to put a weapon of mass destruction on the moon. :) Both are pretty easy to do, I think.


The writer Oscar Wilde had an interesting little quote:
"At every single moment of one's life one is what one is going to be no less than what one has been."

Something to ponder.