Friday, October 20, 2017

Update Filipino American International Book Festival by Noelle Q. De Jesus

The following is by Guest Blogger, Noelle De Jesus, who writes about the recent Filipino American International Book Festival held in San Francisco (Oct. 7-8, 2017):

Update Filipino American International Book Festival

By Noelle Q. De Jesus

I imagine that a writer may feel any number of feelings when given the opportunity to take their work to a book festival, but I can’t imagine there wouldn’t be at least a small measure of elation, of satisfaction and indeed, of gratitude. That was certainly my own thought and sentiment brInging Blood Collected Stories to the 4th Filipino American International Book Festival in San Francisco this year. If I’m honest, I was at the extreme positive side of the spectrum. And of course, it was just great fun to be in San Francisco in October, to meet some of the 27 Filipino and Filipino American authors participants and have the pleasure of connecting with the new librarian of the Filipino American Center, Abraham Ignacio, and reconnecting with Edwin Lozada of PAWA and some of its other members, including founding members like Penelope Flores. By organizing and running this steadily growing event, they and all the members of the Filipino American organizing committee are doing the community and Filipino/Filipino American writers at large a wonderful service.

While it was impossible to be in two places at once or to attend all the panels I wished, I was glad to have a free day in which I could be attendee and not author participant, and attend a few sessions. The opening gala Friday night was true to its Filipino character, in that it had an impromptu musical number by the Sansu Ramsey, daughter of musical performer and 70s Pinoy showbiz institution, Elizabeth Ramsey, and author of her mother’s biography. I was happy to attend a panel on Filipina voices in publishing, and learned, among others, about Evelina Galang’s new book, Lola’s House, the accounts  of 16 comfort women. It inspiring to learn from Elda Rotor of Penguin Classics regarding the challenges of publishing diversity, and the experiences and challenges of those publishing in small presses, as well as their various projects. 

For my part, it was exhilerating to present my first collection, Blood, and to share the stage with Filipino poets, fictionists and non-fiction writers like Mila de Guzman and Raissa Robles, and there is nothing quite so satisfying as talking craft with other writers I’ve admired —Mia Alvar, Merlinda Bobis among others,  on the panel on Narrative Fiction. 

But perhaps the best part of the entire festival was just meeting readers, and other writers and savoring the extraordinary fellowship and cameraderie that is apparent within minutes,  because we all speak the same language. We all recognize that perhaps now more than ever, we must seize every chance to celebrate and revitalize the book reading, writing and publishing community, strengthening the connections and making possible the likelihood of more books in the future.

Noelle Q. de Jesus is a Filipina American writer based in Singapore. A Palanca Award Winner, her work has been published in Puerto del Sol and Mud Season Review, among others. She edited the flash fiction anthology series, Fast Food Fiction; and her BLOOD Collected Stories won the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Award for the short story. She represented the country twice at the Asian Women Writers Festival in Singapore, and took part in the Brockport Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport. She has an MFA in Fiction from Bowling Green State University, a BA from Ateneo de Manila University, and was a Writing Fellow at the 28th National Writers Workshop at UP. 


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