February 25, 2021
Thank you to everyone who tuned into the Facebook livestream last night at the Life of JEM podcast where JEM and I, as I could only expect, shared meaningful conversation not just about my book, We Are No Longer Babaylan, and the subject of grief, but also our writing process and the meticulous decisions we make for strong writing. If you missed it, you can watch the interview on Facebook or YouTube.
Infinite gratitude to Juanita E. Mantz for inviting me to her show, and to Rag House Media for organizing. We probably could’ve gone on a marathon conversation. My heart is full knowing how amazing authors truly support each other in the literary community as we listen and learn and laugh with each other.
February 23, 2021
Another reminder with another pretty flyer. Please tune in on February 24, Wednesday, at 7 PM PST at the Life of JEM podcast on Facebook, where I will be interviewed by fellow writer and attorney, Juanita E. Mantz AKA JEM, regarding my essay collection, We Are No Longer Babaylan. Hope you tune in.
February 20, 2021
Please tune in on February 24, Wednesday, at 7 PM PST at the Life of JEM podcast on Facebook, where I will be interviewed by fellow writer and attorney, Juanita E. Mantz, AKA JEM AKA Her Royal Highness of the Inland Empire. We’ll talk writing and my book, We Are No Longer Babaylan. Rumor has it that there also might be a T-shirt giveaway. Hope you swing by and eavesdrop on what I can only guess will be an interesting chat. Thank you for reading and supporting and listening!
February 11, 2021
New review of We Are No Longer Babaylan is up on RHINO by Alina Stefanescu. My heart was racing as I read her review and I have to confess how teary-eyed I got. After all the careful editing one does to one’s book just to make it flow seamlessly, there comes a point where an author can become desensitized to one’s own writing, and a review such as Alina’s makes me reinhabit the bare bones of what the words were meant to convey in the first place. Thank you, Alina, for this beauty, for shaking me awake back into my own bones after all of the words have been written down.
I particularly enjoyed the relational aspect of her review where she reflects on her own Romanian death rituals which bear resemblance to Ilocano death rituals. I imagine some shaman traditions and rituals across the globe do share some commonality especially with regards to grief—something a sanitized white American colonized society oddly continues to treat as taboo and prefers that grieving should be done exclusively behind closed doors versus collectively. Additionally there is the pressure to “just move on,” i.e. in cruder terms a “just get over it” attitude, versus fully processing who and what has been lost that should be within the autonomy of those grieving at their own pace, no matter how long it takes.
So grateful for this thoughtful review.
January 9, 2021
We Are No Longer Babaylan lands at No. 7 on the SPD Nonfiction Bestsellers List from October to December 2020. I ordinarily would be joyous over such news but due to recent allegations of wage theft and labor violations courageously brought to light by Damaged Book Worker and confirmed by the organization itself, instead of rejoicing, I wanted to affirm my stance on standing with Damaged Book Worker and all SPD workers who have been mistreated and continue to be mistreated by SPD without sufficient accountability.
For those not yet acquainted with the current situation at Small Press Distribution, and for the latest information regarding the status of allegations of wage theft and labor violations that have taken place there, please read the following article from Publishers Weekly published January 6, 2021.
While I have been trying to keep apprised of the recent developments and resolutions between SPD and staff, it appears little has been done to actually rectify the situation, and which I as an author whose distributor is SPD, am disappointed. On my end, I prefer that my readers continue to purchase books straight from me OR request it at your local bookstore OR visit my preferred bookseller links. Currently, I’ve taken on the task of accepting payment and shipping my own books without the involvement of SPD. Please know that books coming straight from me come straight from my press’ printer and NOT my distributor (please see my CONTACT page for order details). I’ve chosen to do my own physical work of accepting book purchases and doing my own shipping that SPD would have ordinarily done for me though I have to be clear that I am not in a position of authority to pull copies that are already at SPD. I also speak independently as an author and do not speak on behalf of my press. While it is extra work on my end to accept payment and ship books personally to each reader, I prefer to do it this way. I understand this plan of action in light of the situation at SPD is not something every author can feasibly do due to more pressing responsibilities, time, and expense, but where I personally am able, I’ve taken it upon myself to do so.
Landing on the SPD Bestselling List is ordinarily an honor as it reflects how many readers have supported an author’s work, which I am infinitely grateful to all of my lovely readers, but I also recognize that the current situation at SPD is much bigger than me and I cannot remain silent while little remains done on behalf of SPD workers. I continue to stand with SPD workers and Damaged Book Worker and believe them. I believe we as authors can still celebrate our achievements but it should not be at the continued expense of book workers being abused and taken advantage of.
My hope is that SPD rights itself and moves forward in a just manner, treating their workers with dignity, respect, and fairness, while still providing support to hundreds of indie presses and authors. Toxic work culture doesn’t have to define them, but they do need to repair the toxic workplace culture they have created versus thinking that it’s okay to continue like this just because they have been beloved and idealized for so long. For such a long-held beloved organization in the literary community as SPD, I do hope the needs of the SPD staff are met promptly and judiciously.
December 28, 2020
We Are No Longer Babaylan lands on the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses’ (CLMP) year-end roundup of nonfiction books published in 2020 by small literary publishers! The complete list of CLMP’s Year-End Roundup in Nonfiction of 2020 can be found here.
December 10, 2020
November 18, 2020
I’m extremely touched by this review at The Aswang Project. I wasn’t expecting to get a review from them as I know the usual reading material they promote is generally historical texts, or examinations of such. The Aswang Project was created as an educational resource to share the rich and diverse cultures of the Philippines. Our culture is still very much steeped in oral tradition. If we do learn about our mythology, creatures, and folklore, it has usually been through the random stories our parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are willing to share. Unfortunately, this medium of information only takes place in the off chance they’re feeling particularly in the mood for storytelling.
The Aswang Project is one of the only places I know that provides an accessible and abundant directory of resources where our stories, usually passed down through word-of-mouth for millennia, now have a home in the written word, and even beyond that, social media so that it even invites curious non-Filipinx readers globally. Please follow and support them. They have a wealth of information to share about our ancestral beliefs, history, and folklore. And yes, of course, the Aswang too.
November 2, 2020
Yesterday was the official publication date of We Are No Longer Babaylan. Happy Book Birthday!
Book sales are fully shifting over to Small Press Distribution (SPD) versus the MSUM Ticket site, so if you visit the New Rivers Press shop site and order a book, you should be automatically directed to the SPD site to complete your order. SPD, my preferred bookseller over all others, will gladly keep up with the demand.
You can also order signed author copies from me if you’re not feeling shy. You can leave me a message on the Contact page for payment and shipping details. I am selling them through Venmo or PayPal at $24 which includes book and shipping. I am only taking US orders at this time. Please note that my supply of signed author copies is limited.
Thank you to everyone who has preordered and already received copies, and posted your beautiful pictures on your social media platforms. I have been deeply moved by your responses on how the book moved you in some way. Despite this pandemic, I’m honored to connect with readers even though it has to be virtual. Know I appreciate your kind words and am listening.
Last, thank you to Marías at Sampaguitas, particularly Noreen Ocampo, for this thoughtful review. There’s a fear of being misunderstood when putting work out there that is vulnerable, so I greatly appreciate the tenderness and care put into this response. The review can be accessed here.
October 2, 2020
What a beautiful way to welcome Filipino American History Month. Please find this thoughtful interview conducted by James Diaz, Editor-in-Chief of Anti-Heroin Chic, a literary journal that I had the honor of having two experimental prose pieces published back in 2017—“Diversion” and “The Lover That Never Was”—of which both will reappear in my debut essay collection, We Are No Longer Babaylan.
To be interviewed by James who holds a compassionate ear and who never fails to be attentive when reading through any submission that passes through his journal, I was touched by his questions that I know he assiduously took the time to think of in response to the collection. James asks some pretty thought-provoking questions. They weren’t easy, which made me all the more eager to respond as thoroughly as I know how. Also, please support Anti-Heroin Chic by reading and following this journal, especially this most recent issue. You will not be disappointed by the beautiful words and images that make their home there.
The interview can be accessed here.
We have a finished front and back cover. For those of you who haven’t preordered yet, preorders are still available directly from New Rivers Press whose home is at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Preorder links are also available here. Despite the four booksellers taking preorders as provided on my site, I do prefer readers support the press directly.
The first set of books should be available by mid-October, so for those who prefer to preorder through Small Press Distribution (SPD), it should be available for purchase then before official launch on November 1st.
I will also be selling, signing, and mailing books for any interested readers where information and payment arrangement to me through PayPal or Venmo will be posted in the next few weeks on my Instagram page where you can follow me @elsavalmidiano.
Thank you to everyone who has shown so much interest and support for this book. My gratitude feels immeasurable where words simply won’t suffice. Know my heart is overflowing.
September 5, 2020
TWO BIG NEWS UPDATES. PLEASE READ BELOW.
FIRST BIG NEWS: We Are No Longer Babaylan is NOW available for preorder on the Minnesota State University Moorhead site. Please order here.
When you visit the site, it states “Ticket Options” when preordering the book. This is the default text as it is the same system the university uses to sell theatre and sporting event tickets, but rest assured that WANLB has not hit the theatre stage. Another important note: registration as “General Public” is required so the press can send your receipt and notify you of any changes to the book release. I’ve gone ahead and tested the site myself and it’s fairly easy.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me on my Contact page. With regard to my Canadian readers, there shouldn’t be any problem preordering the book, but if you experience any difficulty ordering, I will let my Managing Editor know. Preorder is also available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, though I prefer staying away from Amazon particularly when it comes to books for various reasons. Minnesota State University Moorhead is home to New Rivers Press, so I prefer readers support the press directly.
SECOND BIG NEWS: On September 16, at 6:00-7:00 PM PDT, I will be reading at the Daly City Public Library Virtual Bookfest alongside authors Veronica Montes, Alan Chazaro, and Ricco Villanueva Siasoco, to celebrate the launch of Veronica’s beautiful chapbook, The Conquered Sits at the Bus Stop, Waiting. The event will be hosted by Aileen Cassinetto, Poet Laureate of San Mateo County.
I’ll be reading an excerpt from We Are No Longer Babaylan, possibly reading a stanza of an Ilocano prayer, which originally appeared in Virgil Apostol’s Way of the Ancient Healer. Yes, you’ll hear some Ilocano vocal stylings.
Daly City Library has created Zoom invitations as a precaution against Zoom bombing. This event will also be streamed on the Daly City Public Library Facebook page, but for those who wish to join via Zoom, the library is asking that they register via the LibCal events page here.
August 11, 2020
Honored to have my work included in Canthius, Issue 8, a Canadian literary journal celebrating poetry and prose by women, transgender men, nonbinary, Two-Spirit, and genderqueer/gender non-conforming writers. The work included is a flash CNF piece about the Manananggal. Yes, folks, you read that right: nonfiction. The Manananggal is real, and this flash essay proves it. I won’t say more as I don’t want to ruin it. You’ll just have to read it to find out. Issue 8 can be purchased here.
Sample image of a Manananggal above, courtesy of cartoonist Trinidad Escobar.
July 26, 2020
Cover reveal for my new book, We Are No Longer Babaylan, scheduled for release in November by New Rivers Press. For more information about the book, please click here.
With regards to the cover and the specific title, I felt it important that a Pinay artist provide the image on the front cover, especially since “Babaylan” (and a vanishing one at that) could only be authentically and properly conveyed by a Pinay artist. I made these concerns clear to my editor who was on my side from the very beginning, and I am forever grateful having that kind of support. I’ve heard horror stories, particularly from published writers of color whose vision for their book cover was forcibly surrendered, feeling at the mercy of their press because what an honor to be finally published, only for their design team to take absolute control without offering to receive input from them and then whitewashing their cover. I won’t get into how this racist microaggression leaves writers of color feeling disempowered, or how this practice continues to persist in the American publishing industry, but after learning some valuable lessons from these authors, I was told not to hesitate when fighting for my cover as the forced relinquishment of theirs still bothers them to this day. As a long-time avid follower of Isobel Francisco’s art, her piece, Engine, really hit home as the piece that would ultimately grace the cover.
I have to be additionally transparent as my press, New Rivers Press, faces closure in Spring 2022. New Rivers Press is one of the oldest literary presses in the United States and celebrates their 52nd birthday in 2020. As a press that’s been around for as long as they have, they have proven their continued commitment to celebrating a wide range of voices from indigenous writers, writers of color, to LGBTQ writers. Such writers include Natanya Ann Pulley, Artress Bethany White, Philip Bryant, David Haynes, Ed Bok Lee, Jessica Saiki, Sharon Suzuki-Martinez, Purvi Shah, Alvaro Cardona-Hine, Lupe Solis, James Cervantes, Gary Eldon Peter, Michelle Matthees, and Greg Hewett. The list goes on. Recently, Natanya Ann Pulley was on Small Press Distribution’s bestselling list for Fiction while Artress Bethany White was on their list for Nonfiction.
As a first-time author, the NRP staff never failed to put in tireless work and diligence, particularly Managing Editor Nayt Rundquist, who put ample care into my book. In the midst of a global pandemic, that kind of care speaks volumes. Though the future of the press remains uncertain, I hope NRP will bounce back and continue their long-standing tradition to publish and celebrate authors of diverse backgrounds, especially where presses like NRP remain valuable and necessary in lifting up marginalized voices.
Besides my forthcoming book, I hope each of you finds a way to help this press survive by purchasing their amazing titles. You can peruse their books for sale here.
If anyone has any interest in writing up a review for my book, I’d be very much elated. Feel free to send me an email or submit your information on my Contact page.
Thank you to my beautiful readers for your continued support. I greatly appreciate you.
May 7, 2020
Huge thanks to the editorial team at Trampset for giving my poem, “Gingerbread Woman,” a home. This poem isn’t really about cookies, but it’s got something close to gumdrop buttons. You can access the poem here.
February 3, 2020
Cherry Tree, Issue 6, has arrived! The issue will officially release on February 15, 2020. My CNF flash essay, “Giving Birth in a Time of War” will appear in this issue, and is dedicated to my fierce grandmother who literally gave birth in the midst of warfare. Please support this gorgeous journal. Thank you to the editorial team at Cherry Tree for all their diligence in getting this beautiful journal together. Issue 6 can be purchased here.
Maraming Salamat to the editorial team at Marías at Sampaguitas for this thoughtful interview. It covers many thought-provoking questions about the Filipinx-American identity, the writing community, and the writing hustle. You can access the full interview here.
September 24, 2019
Huge thanks to Anomaly for giving “Bad Pro-Choicer” a home in their Outside Roe feature folio. This is one of the most difficult but thought-provoking pieces I have ever written. Honestly, it’s a piece I don’t want anyone close to me to read, but it’s also a story that cannot continue to exist in silence. Inspired by Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist,” “Bad Pro-Choicer” explores what being pro-choice is while appearing to have beliefs that seem at odds with pro-choice ideology.
Genevieve Pfeiffer, Assistant Director of Anomaly and curator of the Outside Roe folio, states: “This folio is a protest against silence, against others controlling the narrative. It is about reproductive justice in all forms, for all bodies, across and through all human-made borders. These works include the faces, include the thoughts and daily activities that are so often disregarded.”
Please read all the fierce writing in Anomaly’s Issue No. 29 and in the Outside Roe folio focusing on reproductive justice. Last, I feel like I need to put a trigger warning here for those who need a safe space to read this. It’s heavy. Take your time. I hope it is received with an open mind and heart. Please read “Bad Pro-Choicer” here.
August 27, 2019
If you’re in the Chicago area October 5th, I’ll be reading an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, “From a Piece of Bamboo,” that was recently published in Outrider Press in affiliation with TallGrass Writers Guild’s anthology, LOON MAGIC and Other Night Sounds, the 24th title in this Black-and-White series. Join me and other writers and poets at the launch party at the Sulzer Regional Library. And if I don’t see you in Chicago, all are welcome to purchase the anthology here.
June 5, 2019
Slated for publication on October 15, 2019, observed as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, my piece, “Blighted,” will appear in What God Is Honored Here? Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color (University of Minnesota Press), edited by Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang.
Details About the Book:
What God Is Honored Here? is the first book of its kind—and urgently necessary. This is a literary collection of voices of Indigenous women and women of color who have undergone miscarriage and infant loss, experiences that disproportionately affect women who have often been cast toward the margins in the United States of America.
From the story of dashed cultural expectations in an interracial marriage to poems that speak of loss across generations, from harrowing accounts of misdiagnoses, ectopic pregnancies, and late-term stillbirths to the poignant chronicles of miscarriages and mysterious infant deaths, What God Is Honored Here? brings women together to speak to one another about the traumas and tragedies of womanhood. In its heartbreaking beauty, this book offers an integral perspective on how culture and religion, spirit and body, unite in the reproductive lives of women of color and Indigenous women as they bear witness to loss, search for what is not there, and claim for themselves and others their fundamental humanity. Powerfully and with brutal honesty, they write about what it means to reclaim life in the face of death.
Editors Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang acknowledge “who we had been could not have prepared us for who we would become in the wake of these words,” yet the writings collected here offer insight, comfort, and, finally, hope for all those who, like the women gathered here, have found grief a lonely place.
Contributors: Jennifer Baker, Michelle Borok, Lucille Clifton, Sidney Clifton, Taiyon J. Coleman, Arfah Daud, Rona Fernandez, Sarah Agaton Howes, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Soniah Kamal, Diana Le-Cabrera, Janet Lee-Ortiz, Maria Elena Mahler, Chue Moua, Jami Nakamura Lin, Jen Palmares Meadows, Dania Rajendra, Marcie Rendon, Seema Reza, 신선영 Sun Yung Shin, Kari Smalkoski, Catherine R. Squires, Elsa Valmidiano.
Interest in ordering it presale can be found here.
More big news: my lyrical prose and essay collection, We Are No Longer Babaylan, is slated for publication in Fall 2020/Spring 2021. A recipient of the Editors’ Choice selection from the 2018 Many Voices Project competition in Prose sponsored by New Rivers Press at Minnesota State University Moorhead, this will be my debut essay collection.
The selected winner for the Many Voices Project competition in Prose was People Want to Live by Farah Ali, and fellow Editors’ Choice selection was You May Have the Suitcase Now by Beaudelaine Pierre, both also slated for publication in Fall 2020/Spring 2021.
I am extraordinarily grateful for the diversity of our voices being recognized and represented here. As a woman of color, our stories are oftentimes not seen in the mainstream so I’m honored to share the floor with Farah Ali and Beaudelaine Pierre. I hope you read our stories as I imagine these stories aren’t easy to tell and at times can take so much out of us. We’re making a dent.
More information about the Many Voices Project Winners can be found here.
January 2, 2019
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
My creative nonfiction piece, “Tbilisi,” makes its appearance in Cosmonauts Avenue in its Special Anniversary issue. Happy 4th Anniversary, Cosmonauts Avenue! Honored to be part of the Cosmonauts family and be part of the celebration!
“Blighted” has not only been nominated for a Best of the Net, but it has gone on to be nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Mud Season Review. Thank you, Mud Season Review, for my first Pushcart nomination. Always a pleasure to read Mud Season and all of the great work the journal features. Feels like a win in itself to be counted and seen, especially being nominated for a story covering the often silenced and sensitive subject of miscarriage by a woman of color. The timing couldn’t have been more relevant with Michelle Obama giving her own personal attention on the matter in her new memoir, Becoming. Yes to all of this.
Last, “Under the Ivy,” an excerpt from my novel From a Piece of Bamboo, makes its appearance in The Precipice Collective’s debut anthology, Precipice: Writing On The Edge (McNaughton & Gunn). So honored to be part of this labor of love. With its unique anthology structure weaving meditation and writing exercise, the prompt of the anthology’s submission call had asked:
“How do we explore the edge in order to learn, to listen (sound in shift, an echo distilled)? How do we experience feedback—resonance and residue—as writers, researchers, beings? In what ways are we mediums, conduits, and transmitters for our environment? Can our writing be the medium, or is it always the translation? When we linger on the edge how does our presence shift the gradient? Do we pass the words or do the words pass through? How can the writer learn the membrane by embodying the edge? If words are energetic architectures inhabitable in the reading of a text, then can they be used to translate the language of a landscape? As bodies return to land, to carbon, how does breath-memory haunt? In exorcising place do we suspend space-time?”
The official launch party with open site for purchases will follow shortly. And for educators out there, resources for teaching/workshopping with the text and a place for readers to contribute—to continue the conversation—will be on the Precipice-Collective website at: http://www.precipice-collective.org/writing-at-the-edge/.
Stay tuned for updates in the coming months!
September 27, 2018
September has been a social, eventful, and pretty cool month. My memoir piece about my miscarriage, “Blighted” has been nominated for Best of the Net by Mud Season Review. “Blighted” is also set to appear in an anthology about miscarriage and infant loss for and by women of color, What God Is Honored Here, forthcoming from University of Minnesota Press in Fall 2019. As a note, “Blighted” was rejected 9 times before it found its home with Mud Season Review, and just a little tip: when your valuable story needs to be told, a rejection will not stop it from being ultimately shared with the world.
Another memoir piece, “Tbilisi” has been shortlisted for the Cosmonauts Prize in Nonfiction currently being judged by Ocean Vuong. No final results have been posted yet but it’s an honor being recognized. I think of Jenny Zhang who was my Summer Literary Seminars instructor in Tbilisi this past summer (which explains the choice for the aforementioned title) and who provided the valuable prompt from which this piece was born during a khinkali lunch with my husband where I furiously wrote “Tbilisi” in 30 minutes and submitted it that same evening. Brilliance can take decades, three dozen rejections, or just a lunch poem to happen. Always trust a lunch break.
Last, I’ve been having these epic girl dates with some epic multimedia Pinay artists lately who have provided valuable insight on, well, pretty much everything. Shout out to Jean Véngua in Monterey, Lyn Pacificar in East Hollywood, and Fides Enriquez in Napa. Besides the long road trips to their abode/art studios, they have been well worth the trek to be showered with love, enlightenment, hours-long damn good conversation, and a little bit of magic. I joke about hanging out for 8 hours after the first hour has passed, until the 8th hour suddenly creeps up and arrives all too soon. Even after 8 hours, we’re still just getting started. While one may be wondering what value is there in sharing this gone-gallivanting news, it’s definitely worth sharing, especially when writing tends to lean toward hermitage at times. Another little tip: Don’t forget to hang out with your sisters.
August 27, 2018
“Every Possible Scenario” was recently named a Runner-Up in the 2018 #GUNS AND PEOPLE Essay Contest sponsored by Memoir Magazine. In creating this contest, Memoir Magazine Founder and Editor-in-Chief Mary McBeth shares these words:
Stories power movements. We hope these stories will inspire readers to act on behalf of all those who have fallen to the gun. That they will contribute to the evolution of a new sober more loving nation and strike the crucial balance between protecting the rights of citizens to own firearms where appropriate, while also protecting the rights of children, depressed individuals, and all citizens to be free from random violence.
“Every Possible Scenario” is now up. Please read here.
October 9, 2017
What is it about her artist smile
who uses her hand to paint
sashes of dark blue
celestial bodies when
the world is going to shit
– from “Oakland Muralist”
You can read the rest of the poem at Yes, Poetry.
“Guava Picking” was inspired by walks spent with my folks during weekend visits back in my LA neighborhood in the quaint city of Carson.
Images: Oakland Peace Center Mural (photos courtesy of Yunnie Tsao Snyder, 2016)
“Oakland Muralist” was inspired by the amazing visionary work of Trinidad Escobar and Yunnie Tsao Snyder, who together form a two witch-warrior-woman team of muralists in Oakland called 3 Realms Collective. In and around the time they were working on the Oakland Peace Center Mural, Black Lives Matter protests were taking place all over Berkeley and Oakland as well as the rest of the country, and then the tragic event of the Ghost Ship fire in Fruitvale had rocked Oakland shortly thereafter. The spiritual/physical/emotional energy it took for Trinidad and Yunnie to finish the Oakland Peace Center Mural in the midst of the events surrounding them had been beyond measure, and so “Oakland Muralist” is dedicated to them. You can learn more about their work at 3 Realms Collective here.
Please enjoy and share. xoxo