Category: Current events

A thing that drives me literally bananas, in the modern sense of literally which actually means figuratively, because GAAAAH

Okay, this is a thing that drives me literally bananas, in the modern sense of literally that actually means figuratively, because GAAAAH.

Not a Self Help Book by Yi Shun Lai, here listed as one of Book Riot’s summer picks from small presses, is totally working the Bridget Jones’s Diary vibe. It is fun and fresh and it is fiction that would make for a fun movie starring hot Asian and Asian American actors who we don’t get to see on the screen enough (or ever) because GAAAH.

Read its description in the library catalog:

Asian & Asian American Studies. Marty Wu, compulsive reader of advice manuals, would love to come across as a poised young advertising professional. Instead she trips over her own feet and blurts out inappropriate comments…

NSHB is also listed with the academic-sounding first line in the Amazon record. What are the librarians or whoever thinking???? “Asian & Asian American Studies”? I did some checking and found that most libraries that purchased it are academic libraries. Only a couple public libraries. Not a Self-Help Book is so totally NOT an academic book.

Granted not every library can buy every book, but I have to wonder if that initial line with the word “studies” in it made potential PL collection selectors think, hey this sounds academic. In fact, the New York Public Library has a copy, which is available for use in library, in the General Research room. Um, huh?

This is a book to read on the beach, or on their phone during their commute, or curled up with a glass of wine, or somewhere that is 100% not an academic library. Bridget Jones’s Diary doesn’t have a description that starts “English and England Studies.”

These things matter. Readers looking for their next read scan the first line of a book’s description; running into academic language on that first line will have them drop it before they even get to the actual description of Marty Wu and her zany life. (Library patrons, many libraries will let you suggest a purchase.) Public libraries will skip this book precisely because it sounds like “an academic specialty niche book with narrow appeal.” Which–did I already say this?–NONONONOPE.

Anyway. Maybe I am alone on this. Maybe I’m wrong. But I am super-annoyed that a book with extremely wide potential appeal is described as if it’s an ethnographic study.

Because GAAAH.


We loved Matt de la Peña when he came to Whidbey as guest faculty in 2015. The news that he won the Newbery for Last Stop on Market Street came while we were at our January 2016 residency. Carmen burst into our Workshop class to tell us. It was kind of awesome, that sense of our little MFA program being connected to wider world.

Winning the Newbery When Diversity Matters by Pat Enciso.

After the night of Paris

Saturday November 14, 2015

They are walking, all the people on the road today, on the road to the sea, the Mediterranean sea, walking from a camp to the shore to a boat. Into the boat, a boat with too many people, onto the sea, cold, a little sick from the motion of waves, scared of what’s behind them in the places they fled, the dust and despair of their lost, annihilated homes; and scared of the waters ahead, so many dead and drowned on the way, and they grieve it all. They grieve news of their enemy, murderous and amok in the streets they long for, the living streets of Europe where they hope to find shelter, to find their humanity again, to sleep without fear. In this boat, on this sea they can’t sleep, they hold the ones they love, or hold themselves among strangers if they have no one left, no loved one to share the journey as day turns to night, but as long as the boat is moving there is hope, which is all they search for, only that.

They are walking, all the children on the road tonight, on the roads through Mexico, walking alone, some walking without shoes toward the northern border, toward a country they imagine feeds its children well—


Haley Isleib

I don’t even know what to call this post

Here’s an article in Poets & Writers on MFAs addressing diversity issues. And here’s a Tumblr Race & the MFA, which looks to have lots of resources.

Then there’s the recent WTF at an MFA program, which is illustrative. I don’t find the original text, but here’s one student’s response to a talk by an MFA faculty member: On Kindness, On Intention, and On Anger in Children’s Writers

And then there’s this: AWP is Us (original post has been replaced with an apology.)

I leave these here for you to ponder.

The ordinary

June 26, 2015:  This weekend, I’ll be in the wedding party for two of the most beautiful people ever. I will be reading Walt Whitman. I will also probably be leaking tears of joy for the entire time, not least because of the context in which this marriage will be honored by the State. The news from the Supreme Court is wonderful, and I witness that wonder in a personal arena: two hands being held, two lives unburdened by legal discrimination. Two people who share plates and cups, the contents of a fridge, a bed, pets, all the daily routines of togetherness. What strikes me most about this struggle is that it is the victory of the ordinary (the lives of actual individuals) over the abstract (the idea of what marriage “traditionally” should be). I will bring an extra hanky as we celebrate this weekend. (Originally posted on Facebook in response to the SCOTUS ruling on 6/26.)

So this is kind of why I write for young people

(After McKinney and hearing too many people say “Not everything is about race” as if somehow that would make it okay…)

Let’s say it’s not about race. If you take race completely out of the picture I think the evidence is clear–that particular officer brandishing a gun at nearly-naked teens is not fit for his duty; he has now resigned and that’s a good outcome.

Soooo even though I do think the event had something to do with racism, if I were wrong about that part my feeling would be essentially the same. If Dajerria Becton were some blonde white girl pushed to the ground in her bikini, I would still be horrified.

The job of the police officer is difficult, and not everyone is suited for the duty of protecting and serving. Sadly, this man in the video–he’s not behaving as one of those who match strength and compassion with calmness and integrity; for I have known such men and such women. Or if he ever was like them, he lost his way.

I can empathize with this person who is totally losing his shit in public, and wish privacy for his family and healing for whatever’s gone sideways in his heart.

But my sympathies are ultimately with the young, because even if they behave in unacceptable ways (which I don’t think these kids were, but even if I’m wrong) they are new in the world still. And because they shoulder the burden of our hopes–that the world will remain a living world, that our stories will still be told after we are gone–they deserve our kindness and not our fear. Our love and not our violence. Shelter and not rage.

They deserve better.