Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Guest Blogger: Award-winning Author, JON PINEDA Shares His Poem "MATAMIS"

 Our Guest Blogger is JON PINEDA, winner 
of the 2013 Milkweed National Fiction Prize for his novel Apology. I had the privilege of meeting Jon last October at a book festival in San Francisco. I was very impressed with this talent and charm. 

Thank you, Jon, for sharing your work.
Introduction by Jon Pineda

It’s been ten years since my debut collection Birthmark won the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry Open Competition, and even though I’ve gone on to publish another poetry collection, a memoir, and a novel, I look back on this poem “Matamis,” which opens Birthmark, and am grateful for a number of reasons.  The moment it seeks to capture is very much the thing that keeps me writing.  Rooted in the speaker is an uncertainty, a silence.  I find this silence often, especially when working on a new poem or a new story.  But, like all writers, I know I must push through in the language, to search for what is more than silence.  The final gesture of the father (my father, who is from the Philippines) continues to sustain me. 


One summer in Pensacola,

I held an orange this way,

flesh hiding beneath

the texture of the rind,

then slipped my thumbs

into its core & folded it

open, like a book.

When I held out the halves,

the juice seemed to trace

the veins in my arms

as it dripped down to my elbows

& darkened spots of sand. 

We were sitting on the beach then,

the sun, spheres of light within each piece. 

I remember thinking, in Tagalog,

the word matamis is sweet in English,

though I did not say it for fear

of mispronouncing the language. 

Instead, I finished the fruit & offered

nothing except my silence, & my father,

who pried apart another piece, breaking

the globe in two, offered me half. 

Meaning everything.



Jon Pineda is the author of the novel Apology, winner of the 2013 Milkweed National Fiction Prize.  His memoir Sleep in Me was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection.  His poetry collections include The Translator’s Diary, winner of the Green Rose Prize from New Issues, and Birthmark, selected by Ralph Burns as winner of the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry Open Competition.  He lives in Virginia with his family and teaches creative writing at the University of Mary Washington.

 Authors at the Filipino American Internationl Book Festival
Seated l-r: Dawn Mabalon, Jon Pineda, Angela Narciso Torres, Elenita Strobel, Luisa Igloria;
Standing l-r: Lysley Tenorio, Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez, Nick DeOcampo
 Read also
tags: Philippine, Philippine American, author, writer, literature, book, Jon Pineda, award winning, novelist, poet
All for now,


Anonymous said...

From Eleanore Fernandez: Salamat Cecilia Brainard to intro'ing us to Jon Pineda's writing through his poem MATAMIS. I am relating to the setting because I was born in Pensacola, often spent time with my family at the shore and sitting in the sunshine with my pamilyah...sharing meals and memories...

Elle Fern said...

Salamat Cecilia for posting, reading it brought a flood of memories, me in my ten-year-old body, flashy bright bathing suit, grains of sand all over my legs, sharing merienda of fish my father may have caught, sliced tomatoes, rice (my mom always bought a pot of rice) and fruit...like yesterday...again, salamat for jogging my memory bank...

Elle Fern said...

Salamat again Cecilia for sharing...the poem immediately brought me back to my ten-year-old self, in a bright bathing suit, my black hair damp, sand coating my legs and then after playing by shore...a meal eaten there...alwayas whatever "fish-dah" my dad caught, sliced tomatoes and a pot of rice (my momma always cooked rice) was a feast and always tasted so good after being in the water most of the day...