Poets Laureate Read: Arlene Biala

Arlene Biala, the current Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County will read at the San José Poetry Festival on Sunday, September 18, 2016 at History San José, CA. She will read some of her poems in our segment Poets Laureate Read at the Markham House porch from 1:00 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.

Arlene Biala, is the current Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County (2016-2017).  A Filipina poet and performance artist, and born in San Francisco, California, Arlene is the author of bone, continental drift, and her beckoning hands, published by Word Poetry, WordTech Editions in July, 2014. Her beckoning hands recently won a 2015 American Book Award. She received her MFA in Poetics & Writing from New College of CA, and was the recipient of an artist residency at Montalvo. Performances and workshops include POETS UNITE! with current United States Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera at Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC; Kuwentuhan curated by Barbara Janes Reyes with Poetry Center SF; University of Texas at El Paso, Writers’ Week at UC Riverside, DiVERSEcity in NYC, San Francisco Asian American Jazz Festival, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Manilatown Center at the I-Hotel, La Pena Cultural Center, APAture at Intersection for the Arts, Santa Clara University, and SOMArts Center in San Francisco.

Arlene

Arlene has also performed for and taught creative writing workshops with elementary and high school youth. She lives in Sunnyvale, CA with her husband Carl, (blue) Queensland Heeler Pepper, and their three children: Kai, (aries) 16; Josh (scorpio) 13; and Kiana (scorpio, again) 11.

how loudly have you met her in the wind?

today like all other days she will chant
bleed this hymn into the mist until she is sure to be cured.
she places the bamboo jaw harp at her lips, asks you to recall

how many people in the philippines will have to eat toxic yams
instead of starving?
how many here will watch the news and rush to pack to balikbayan box
with old clean bed sheets packets of top ramen clothes
nestle crunch bars last year’s shoes
letters to nanay so that she won’t feel alone
here is a picture of your great granddaughter. here is our wedding picture.

how many boxes, how many letters beating
of the drums gongs listening tonight to this music
how many tunes sung into full moon waves lapping against the shores
of her lake a door, small something tapping against her leg

if you could understand her, she would be singing hip-hop funk
and drinking san miguel beer from a dusty warm bottle,
smoking a cigar and spitting brown tobacco juice into the crowd
of laughing comadres who have come to remember who they are

if you could keep up with her, the beating of the kulintang
the colors of her voice a dance she is challenging the drummer
she is challenging the drummer to respond she is scooping
twirling frenzied wrist neck feet into a dance all hair bracelets
beating the screams out of the slow lapping of the lake.

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