Yesterday, I found myself reciting this poem out loud in front of my bathroom mirror:
My upcoming trip home is helping me revisit some of the cultural issues I’d focused on in my first manuscript. My contributor’s note for this poem read:
Being a Filipino immigrant, I wrote “an ounce” to highlight my insecurities with both my native language and American English, how I inadvertently neglected the former during my adolescent years in the U.S. so that when I returned home at the age of 19, even a simple word, paa, was erroneous. I wanted to see my guilt on paper for still fearing an exposed cover (in America), an identifiable accent—mainly the f/p and v/b sounds.
Reciting this yesterday, randomly, felt powerful. I’ve read this poem numerous times–at readings, to myself–and I appreciate the sound from my lungs every time. This was written fairly early on in my MFA program, and I can definitely feel the influence of my performance poetry days. I miss my genuine, simple sentimentality.
My current manuscript feels more cerebral, but it’s far from non-sentimental. I’m still calibrating my voice, in these languages, in these poems.