Thursday, June 2, 2016

Literature: Novelist James E. Cherry Introduces Writer Cecilia Brainard

The following is the introduction by the poet and novelist James E.Cherry of the writer Cecilia Brainard at the Second Literary Symposium in Jackson, TN.

by James E. Cherry

            Cecilia Manguerra Brainard was born and grew up Cebu City, Philippines.  She is the award-winning author of nine books, including the internationally-acclaimed novel, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept.  She has edited four books and co-edited six others.  Her work has been translated into Finnish and Turkish and many of her stories and have been widely anthologized.  She co-founded Philippine American Women Writers and Artists, a collective of Filipino artists.  Mrs Brainard has received a California Arts Council Fellowship in Fiction, a Special Recognition Award for her work dealing with Asian American youths, as well as a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate. She teaches creative writing at the Writers Program at UCLA-Extension and is married to Lauren R. Brainard; they have three sons.
            Without a doubt, this is an impressive list of accomplishments.  But these awards and accolades are not who she is.  Cecilia Brainard is a cultural and literary warrior.  She is a fierce and fearless cultural and literary warrior.  She loves the Philippines and she loves the Filipino people that it produced.  She has deeply rooted herself in Filipino culture, has embraced its customs, mores, legends, myths, heroes and villains.  She celebrates its beauty and is not afraid to confront the ugly aspects of its nature as well.

            Like some writers of color, she could take the easy and lucrative way out by seeing the world through Eurocentric lenses.  Instead, Cecilia Brainard lowers her bucket of imagination into the well of creative expression and from it extracts stories that are steeped in Filipino history and heritage, stories that exceed the artificial boundaries of race, ethnicity and national origin.  At the heart of her writing is fear, love, hate, revenge, joy, loneliness and how we as human beings overcome or fall victim to such emotions.
            In this regard, she is no different from other writers who have used their own culture as a springboard to address universal themes.  Writers such as the Englishman William Shakespeare, Russian Fyodor Dostoevsky and the African American writer, Richard Wright. 

Jackson TN

James E Cherry is the author of three collections of poetry, a collection of short fiction and a novel.  His second novel, Edge of the Wind, will be published in September 2016 from Stephen F Austin University Press.  Cherry has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and resides in Tennessee.  Visit him on the web at:
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