Monday, February 08, 2010

The End of the Line

IMG_2833, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

So, as I've hinted, I'm retiring from blogger and migrating to my new and refurbished website:

I've been reluctant to leave blogger because I made a lot of friends through blogger. But I do hope to continue the same spirit and tone of Pugnacious Pinoy over at my new site. That said, it'll be hard to "quit you."

So do drop by my new site and write me a note. My web designer's migrated a lot of my links, etc., so I'm attempting to keep the flair of the place on my professional site. Ooh. Professional. I promise to remain as goofy on my "professional" site as I was here.

Okay. Really, I must be going. It's been real. It's been fun. I leave you with The Arcade Fire as my blog's sendoff song:


Thursday, February 04, 2010

New Marching Orders

So I received word from the Provost at my university that I am now, officially, an Associate Professor.

People have asked me how it feels to be promoted and tenured. Short answer--the same.

To be honest and perfectly blunt, I had always expected to reach the rank of Associate Professor, and I never saw the rank as some kind of validation or license. If anything, I've got more work to do, what with wider campus responsibilities (beyond just the department level) and the continuation of both my creative and scholarly work. I also think that such a rank affords one the opportunity to become a more dynamic and inventive teacher. So there's that.

The small boost in pay will be nice, but it won't compensate for the loss of income we suffered early in the year.

Overall, though, I can say that I'm relieved that I don't have to have annual evaluations in the manner that I had had. That's one less headache, for sure.


My time is so compressed, what with the coming baby, the advisory duties for my department, and for this forthcoming book. Sometimes it's just good to chill with the kid and watch Yo Gabba Gabba. Last night we sat on the carpet eating unsalted popcorn.


I really should be grading right now. My students wrote short responses to Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red. I'm 1/4th through 'em all. Egad.


Current Spin:

A little dream pop for your Thursday.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mid-Quarter Check

Head. Present. Fingers. All ten. Feet. Tired but functional. Ankle. Slightly swollen, but functional. Eyes. Tired.


The lovely and talented Monica Ong is busily working on my new website which will include blogging capabilities. I'd let you take a peek, but I think I should let the maestro do her work.


So far, in our long poem class, I'm sensing fatigue. Students are tired of working on the same project, which is part of the problem of mandatory obsession. So stuck are they in the realm of narrative that they don't understand a long poem is more than its narrative. A long poem is about resonance. Tone. The only way to understand these concepts--read more long poems.

We're on Carson's Autobiography of Red right now, and so far they seem to embrace the book. The problem with the book--the way the bulk of it models the novel. As a teacher of the class, I'm more invested in them understanding how the apendices and the interview contained in the book are even more tonally significant than the actual "novel" but I'm not sure that lesson is sinking in, and I'm not seeing the change or variation in their own work. Which, in the end, is okay. It's a foolhardy exercise to expect a long poem from 20-23 year-olds in a span of 10 weeks.

Ultimately, I'm more interested in the exercise. We're doing studies before we tackle the huge canvas.


So, I bought Mass Effect 2. Cinematic. Very cinematic. Do I have time to play the game? Hell no, but like I said in the previous post, I bought the first game, got hooked, and enjoyed myself for the months that I played. Sometimes, when the kid's asleep, I need a little "me time" outside of letters.


Superbowl Scenario: Peyton Manning and the Colts are up big on the New Orleans Saints. In the fourth quarter, up by almost 20 points, Manning decides to hand the Saints defense the ball on consecutive plays. This he does willingly, being Archie Manning's son and having lived much of his young life in New Orleans.

The Superbowl ends in a draw and all proceeds go to the rebuilding of the 9th Ward.


Current Spin:

Musical crush.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book Orders Are Due! OMG!

I can't believe it. Four weeks into the new quarter, and I have to turn in book orders for my classes next quarter. Holy cats.

Remember how I was going to teach that groovy ekphrastic writing class? ZZZZZZZZZT! Nope. Because someone's already teaching such a class this quarter and if I want people to graduate, I can't teach the same class.

So it looks like I'll be going back to the tried and true short prose/prose poem course. Ah well. Someday I'll teach an ekphrastic poetry class.


A bunch of books came in the mail over the past two days--I got copies of the new Mississippi Review Poetry Series books as well as several chapbooks from Son Volt fan.

Fun times! And these are coming just before AWP, when I spend all my money on books and food!


Speaking of AWP, I'm staying at the Hyatt. I'm worried about this. Generally I try to avoid the conference hotel. It's too hard to hide at the conference hotel.


I posted on my twitter account about blog tours. I know Shaindel ran a pretty extensive one to promote A Brief History of Time.

I'm not sure this is the right thing for me to do, but it might be the necessary thing to do, once the new baby gets here.


Tax time.


Yeah, it's a video game trailer. But I played the first Mass Effect and I was hooked for months. Will I get this game? Probably. Will I get to play the game? Very little.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Being a Bad Blogger and Reasons Why

When I started this blog, I thought I'd be profound. I thought I'd share you some thoughts about poetry, life, other stuff.

That didn't last.

The truth of it is I get tired of thinking about poetry. In the ten to fifteen minutes I take to blog, I generally think about things outside of poetry because, frankly, I think about poetry every day for long stretches of time.


I bought lots of poetry books and my wife doesn't know.


Alas, I'm teaching summer school because I need $$. Sign up for my classes, will you?


I've been thinking about preparing for a mini-book tour. I don't think I did a good job of this when Furious Lullaby came out in 2007. Around that time, we found out that we were going to have a baby.

Well guess what . . . 2009 I'm in the same predicament. I wrote a book. It got published. We're going to have another baby.

I've decided to stop writing books because of the repercussions.


So there you have it . . . the real reason why I've been a bad blogger. I've got stuff on my mind that I wasn't exactly prepared to share with the world. So now I've told my secrets, what about yours?


Currently eating a very weird "taco salad" wrap prepared by campus food services.


I also just appealed a gigantic parking ticket. I know I was parked in the right zone. Perhaps I should take pictures . . . gather witnesses.


Current Spin: Rabbit Light Movies. It's not really a spin, but I've been watching all the videos.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reading Tonight and other stuff

Start: 7:00 pm

Featuring Washington State Poet Laureate Sam Green, Jim Bertolino, Michael Daley, Oliver de la Paz, Nancy Pagh, and Jeremy Voigt

These six Northwest Washington poets will read their “poems about place” at this event to raise awareness and support for the 2010 Skagit River Poetry Festival, which aims to “push poetry off the page and into the lives of rural audiences.”


Finished up the Berryman unit in my long poem class. The students seemed much more appreciative of his ordered mayhem. Good to see and hear.

They turned a corner after seeing him read on YouTube. To wit, I think students got the sense of his cadence by listening to him read and talk. Lots of "Ah ha" moments after I aired this in class.


Playoff Football. Early still, but so far it's a stinker.


Gathering more books for my Ekphrasis class in the Spring. I need more short fiction selections/short-shorts, etc. All suggestions welcome. I was supposed to turn in my book orders yesterday, but *shrug*.


Current Spin:

Jay Reatard. RIP

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reading Tomorrow, Jan. 14

Words Expressed - Filipino Poets & Writers Reading

Seattle, WA­ | The arts serve as a vital medium of capturing history, heritage, and universal truths. On Thursday, January 14, 2010, the United Filipino Club of Seattle University, the Filipino Community of Seattle ­ Kultura Arts, and the Seattle University English Department and Modern Languages/Women Studies Department will host "Words Expressed ­ Filipino Poets and Writers Reading."

The reading begins at 7 pm in Seattle University's Le Roux Room (Student Center 160), located on 12th and Cherry Street, and is free to the public.

The United Filipino Club strives to bring about awareness to our own Filipino community, but also to the wider community of Seattle. This reading strives to spur dialogue and connection to and about the presence of Filipino arts within the community.

The poets and writers include Oliver de la Paz, Donna Miscolta, Toni Bajado, and Rick Barot.

Oliver de la Paz teaches creative writing at Western Washington University and published two books of prose and verse, "Names Above Houses", the winner of the Crab Orchard Award Series from Southern Illinois University, and "Furious Lullaby."

Donna Miscolta, a local Seattle writer, is an Artist Trust Fellow, the 2008 recipient of the Bread Loaf/Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholarship in Fiction, a resident at Hedgebrook, and the 2009 curator for the Jack Straw Writers Program.

Toni Bajado is a Seattle University alumni featured at Washington Poets Association¹s Burning Word Festival and received a Freehold Theatre Diversity Scholarship Program in Acting.

Rick Barot teaches at Pacific Lutheran University and the low-residency MFA program in writing at Warren Wilson College. He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, and published two poetry books, "The Darker Fall" and "Want" by Sarabande in 2008.

"Words Expressed ­ Filipino Poets and Writers Reading" aims to establish a voice for Filipino-Americans. It will showcase role models and examples of success and excellence for the community and will help to legitimize the place of Filipinos in American society.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Full Cover with Blurbs

full cover, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

So, I've posted the front cover, but I wanted to show you what an awesome job Amy Freels, the designer at Akron did with the cover. I had no idea Andie deRoux's image would wrap around the whole book, and when I opened the image I was quite happy.


Blurbs are funny things. I'm not comfortable asking people who I don't know, so I basically asked my friends to blurb the book.

Thanks Aimee and Jon.


Our dog, Jake, who turns 14 this year, is suffering the effects of what looks to be hip dysplasia. On top of that, he's got cataracts and is hard of hearing. Poor guy.

The good thing about his hip dysplasia is that we don't have to walk him in the winter rain, so I guess there are hidden bonuses.


Taught my first week of classes. I'm trying to add more audio/visual stuff to my presentations but I'm finding that just the setup is taking up more time than I want. I'm also trying to minimize the amount of photocopying my students are doing for workshop. We'll see how it goes. If it doesn't work, I'll revert back to my old photocopying ways.

We talked about T.S. Eliot in my long poem class, just because it's a good starting point in discussions about the long poem--the movement away from an exterior/physical hero/heroine to a hero/heroine? whose conflict is mostly internal. From Eliot, Berryman.

The real challenge is the workshop--how to produce valid/active feedback for individualized long projects. My feeling--I'll need to provide rubrics and other models, for the initial stages. Not thrilled about this, but we'll see.


And already I've got my book order forms for next quarter. Again I'm teaching ENG 453, which I always teach as a prosody/forms class. I'm teaching ENG 460 again, only this time I don't think I'll teach it as a prose poem class. I think I might teach it as an ekphrastic writing course, depending on who else is teaching ENG 460. Got any ekphrastic texts you can suggest? They can be essay, poetry or fiction, since ENG 460 is a multigenre course.


I'm at a strange emotional point. A point between books. The impetus to be creative is at a low point, though I also feel I have the urgency to be creative. This is a normal state, I'm certain, but it's still disconcerting.


Current Spin:

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Submit or Rue: A Face to Meet the Faces (redux)

Stacey Lynn Brown and Oliver de la Paz (hey, that's me!) are pleased to announce a call for submissions for A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry.

We are seeking poems that work within the literary tradition of persona poetry: poems written as dramatic monologues, whose speakers employ masks, or whose character and voice are different from the poet's own.

Please submit up to 5 unpublished poems. We will also consider poems whose rights have reverted back to the author.

All submissions will be accepted electronically. Please send an email to the editors at with the poet's name and "Submission for Persona Anthology" as the subject line, with the poems as an attachment.

The submission deadline has been extended to February 15th. We look forward to reading your work!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Beginnings

Winter quarter has begun and I feel like I need just one more week of vacation. So many deadlines and so much class prep in the short amount of time between coming back from Atlanta and the new quarter--I'm dizzy.


I've hired someone to redesign my website. While there's nothing wrong with my old one, I feel the need for change. This new design will also have blogging capabilities, so poor blogger will probably go by the wayside.

I'm quite nostalgic about this particular blog, since I've had the blog for almost six years, and I've met lots of poets through these pages. *sniff*


I'm teaching my long poem class again, only this time as an undergraduate seminar. I'm a little apprehensive about managing this class. We'll see how it goes.


How were your holidays? Mine were difficult. A part of me is glad to be back into a routine. But, as I said earlier, I could still use a week off.


Current Spin:

Friday, January 01, 2010

Ringing in the New Year, Avatar, and a Few Resolutions

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!

I did little last night to celebrate. Meredith and I spent a quiet evening at home, playing cars with L, and maintaining the blessed routine that matters so much to L. This new year will bring about a lot of changes to this household and to our lives. More about that much later. For now, I wish all of you have a healthy and prosperous New Year and New Decade.


Asian American Lit Professor mode on.

Concerning Avatar. I posted on my Twitter update that I both loved and hated the film. This holds very true today, after a night's sleep.

Here's the deal--it should win every single technological film-making Oscar that the Academy provides. It is that breathtaking to behold. I watched the film in 3D and what's marvelous about the 3D for this film is that it felt seamless. There were no gimmicky close-ups or artifacts thrust into the screen. What the 3D allowed for was the world of Pandora to be a real place.

Equally remarkable is the rendering technology to create the Na'vi. The creatures look real.

Now, here are my nits, and there will be a few ***spoilers***.

The key problem I had with the film is the decision to revisit the trope of the Noble Savage. Here we are, again revisiting the ground tread by recent films such as Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, and even the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi. Terms like "going native" and "blue monkeys" were thrown about so casually in the film. Now granted, they were uttered by the "villains" represented by the iconic corporate goon and the military strong-man, but these characters didn't provide me an outlet to excuse these moments in the script.

Further, my issues lie within the character of Jake Sully a disabled marine who is the main protagonist of the film, and Sigourney Weaver's Dr. Grace Augustine who plays both ethnographer and missionary. Firstly, these characters are white characters who have mobility, and it's this concept of mobility that problematizes so much of the film for me. Jake and Dr. Grace can navigate fairly seamlessly (and I contend the navigation is seamless because the Na'vi can't travel in the other direction) between worlds. Jake and Dr. Grace also inhabit these bodies. They literally slide into these bodies as simply as sliding into a tube. The fluidity is unsettling for me. We as the audience first see them floating in the technological womb like fetuses. As stated early in the film, the bodies of the Na'vi, which are unmistakably other, are said to be "empty cups." This statement is a furthering of so much of that Romantic concept of the Noble Savage. I about jumped out of my seat when I heard it. Yes, they are children and we can teach them. We can mold them.

There's more, though. The film has a Pocahantas narrative. Neytiri, the Pocahantas figure played by Zoe Saldana is Jake Sully's cultural teacher and eventual lover. John Smith anyone?

Finally, I'm sort of weirded out by the casting. The main "Alien" characters, i.e. the actors who played the Na'vi, are all actors of color. I already mentioned Zoe Saldana as Neytiri, but there's also Neytiri's mother, Moat, played by CCH Pounder. Wes Studi plays Eytukan, the head warrior and eventual chief (Wes was also in Dances with Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans). The main chief of the Na'vi people at the beginning of the film, Tsu'tey, is played by Laz Alonso. So, on the one hand, I'm thinking "Awesome! Some actors of color in a major blockbuster film!" But on the other hand, I'm totally weirded out about the lumping of ethnic caricatures in the rendering of the CGI Na'vi these actors inhabit. The actors of color are made to look alien . . . cat-like. They have tails and fangs.

The film opens with Jake Sully's eyes as he wakes from cryogenic sleep, and the film ends, once again with Jake Sully's eyes, only this time he is inhabiting his "Alien" body. Throughout the movie, the phrase "I see you" is spoken between characters. But in the end, do we really see? Does the veil of technological wizardry occlude our vision?

Asian American Lit Professor mode off.

**EDIT: I'm linking Ruth's thoughts about the film here.**



1) Lose weight. I have gained a lot of weight serving as the official garbage disposal of my child's meals.

2) Finish a fourth book. I'm almost there. I just need to get off my ass.

3) Spend less time on the internet. Total addict. I confess.


Current Spin:

Phantogram. "Mouthful of Diamonds"