For the latest news, please read and scroll below. For archived news in previous years, please visit the dropdown menu under the News tab.
July 18, 2021
So humbled and grateful for this stunning review by writer Dina Klarisse in Marías at Sampaguitas that can be found here.
July 13, 2021
Shannon Gibney, co-editor of the anthology, What God Is Honored Here?, just received word that Boston Review ran a layered and thoughtful analysis of three books that deal with Reproductive Justice, the personhood of women in the abortion debate, and racial politics—including What God Is Honored Here?
My piece, “Blighted,” which was reprinted in my essay collection, We Are No Longer Babaylan, and was originally published in the WGIHH anthology, has received a worthy and analytical mention.
As Gibney noted to us WGIHH contributors re this Boston Review article: “This is in many ways the most nuanced reading of the collection we’ve had so far, especially since it ties into some of the most provocative and disturbing political trends of our time, like the rise of abortion bans and policing women’s bodies in State legislatures nationwide. It is a long read, but well worth it.”
The article can be accessed here.
Some noteworthy excerpts:
One of this anthology’s great gifts is that it asks us to lay down our language as we might lay down arms. And then, in that quiet space, these writers arrive bearing something new. Rather than struggle with given terminology and its effects, they eschew words like embryo, fetus, and child, instead giving us their own inventions: “my [fallopian] tube . . . as a tiny glass pipette containing outer space”; not “a ‘sleeping’ angel”; and “someone I never knew, but whom I wanted desperately to be a part of my life.” They also challenge me, as an abortion access advocate, not to feel threatened by language that does name embryos and fetuses as babies or children. They remind me that the state’s scrutiny of how much or whether we desire our pregnancies is misplaced. Instead, we would do well to scrutinize how much and in what ways the world desires our children, which is to say how much and in what ways it desires us. Especially in a world that devalues Black, brown, and Native lives, it is vital for many of these writers to say, along with Gibney and Yang, “we are important and our children matter profoundly to us, in the space where they were and where they continue to be.”
Some of these writers grapple with guilt and self-blame. Are we not somehow responsible when we fail to become pregnant, to stay un-pregnant, or to remain pregnant—when the signals get crossed between our uteruses and our desires? Pregnant with a blighted ovum, Valmidiano thinks through this question of agency: “I blight it—My body blights it—It blighted—I—My body—It—Blight—What—Whom—By whom—Am I my body and is this not a part of me?” No lawmaker intent on parsing persons could make sense of these lines. Valmidiano’s reverie reminds us that whether we see an embryo as a clump of cells or as a future pianist, we are inescapably entangled and differentiated and everything in-between. Of the moments after a D&C, Maria Elena Mahler writes: “I was still in and out of the anesthesia. I could feel a deeper level of the duality of this world, this plane, other planes, and how their borders can shape-shift. One can easily get lost in the net of Neptune, unable to distinguish one water from the other, and forget where we are.”
July 4, 2021
So honored to say that I have three poems in the newest issue of Marías at Sampaguitas called “MAHAL: Who We Are, What It Cost Us, and How We Love.”
You can find my poems on page 49 to 52 of the literary journal, and if you are viewing in PDF format, it is on the RIGHT side of page 25 and continues to the LEFT side of page 27.
I highly encourage you to read this beautiful journal where each poet and writer explores and examines the multi-faceted experience of Filipino/a/xs in the Diaspora and Motherland.
Thank you to the readers and attendees who were present at the open mic on July 1st and witnessed and shared some Filipino/a/x greatness. Infinite gratitude to the Marías at Sampaguitas Editors: Keana, Maria, Dina, Kathy, Kelly, Hal, and Morgan. And infinite gratitude to their staff.
Please feel free to share the issue with your family and friends. It is available for download only on the Marías at Sampaguitas site.
Maraming salamat. Agyamanak unay. Salamat kaayo.
Please find above screenshots of the afterglow and big smiles from this gal here after reading my poem, “Grand,” in memory of my darling grandfolks, Lilang and Lilong, at the MAHAL open mic hosted by Marias at Sampaguitas on July 1st. The video of that recorded open mic can be found here.
My clip is specifically found at the 30 minute mark following the amazing AJ Joven whose last poem he reads is about his wife. You’ll have to listen to his beautiful love poem.
At the 30:49 mark, you’ll find EIC Keana Aguila Labra introducing me and then I dive into reading “Grand.” If you have time, please watch and listen to ALL of the poets and writers who performed. ALL very swoon-worthy and you will be madly in love with ALL of the readers at the end. I promise.
Below is a sample screenshot of the MAHAL readers and some of the attendees who shared in our sacred and creative space. I think there were about 40 attendees total so not everyone is pictured. Thank you to everyone who Zoomed in and sat with us and listened. So much gratitude to each of you.
July 1, 2021
One last reminder for the open mic this evening hosted by Marías at Sampaguitas for their new themed issue: “MAHAL: Who We Are, What It Cost Us, and How We Love.” Hope you tune in.
June 29, 2021
I will be reading a poem or two at Marías at Sampaguitas’ open mic for their new themed issue: “MAHAL: Who We Are, What It Cost Us, and How We Love.” I hope you are able to swing by and listen to the amazing line-up of literary artists who will be sharing their words of love, blessings, power, and wisdom. Information noted in the cards above.
We Are No Longer Babaylan is now live and available for purchase in the Kindle Store on Amazon. I know particularly for my international readers, getting your hands on a physical copy of my book has been a feat but my New Rivers Press editor has just informed me that an ebook is now available. I’m glad to be able to have this format provided, especially as I know international shipping costs have been egregious, so I’m hoping this ebook meets readers conveniently and affordably.
For those still interested in purchasing a signed physical copy whether domestically or internationally, I still have copies available for purchase. Just visit the Contact tab for details. I actually just shipped my first book to France recently. Merci Beaucoup to my Pinay-French reader. You know who you are. I appreciate you so much. Also, thank you to my readers across the United States (including the territories—Guam, I see you), as well as in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the Philippines who were so kind and patient in waiting weeks for your signed copy to arrive. And so far, no bounce-backs particularly with the international mail. Wheeeew! That Babaylan magic be traveling across international waters. (International shipping rates do vary by location so please submit an inquiry first to determine if shipping to your location is feasible; thank you for your patience.)
Thank you so much for everyone’s continued support.
June 18, 2021
Wanted to share these beautiful promo images Hairstreak Butterfly Review created for the contributing authors and artists in this recent Issue 4. None of us asked HBR to have these images created and yet EIC Natanya Pulley and her assistants created these images in promotional support of our work. Feeling blessed to be featured by this ever-supportive literary journal. Please check them out, follow them, read their featured work, and if you’re a writer, poet, or artist, I highly encourage you to submit your work to HBR too! My piece, “One Hundred and Eighty Eggs” featured alongside the artwork of Béa Hayward, my trans Ilocana sis of dual heritage, with both our bios included, can be found here.
My blurb for Juanita E. Mantz, Esq.’s memoir chapbook, “Portrait of a Deputy Public Defender (or, how I became a punk rock lawyer)” forthcoming from Bamboo Dart Press is up:
In gentle and compassionate prose, Juanita E. Mantz pulls back the curtain on the criminal justice system in a way the general public does not ordinarily see, and places us squarely into the shoes of her clients whose humanity is above anything else. Revealing her own personal history as a high school dropout and her enduring love for punk rock, Mantz reveals her strength to rise as an attorney who does not give up on her clients, especially in our society which has normalized the “criminal” as someone to be discarded and forgotten. Mantz reveals an egregiously broken system where economic structures can doom the most economically vulnerable to criminality. Mantz’s memoir as a Deputy Public Defender is a must-read for every American who cares about our justice system and the individuals who endure within it.
All amazing blurbs and purchase information can be found here, and more importantly, order Juanita E. Mantz’s book today!
June 14, 2021
This month’s digital Plume shares the story, “Down the Rabbit Hole” by me, their June featured writer. This story is framed by two moments in time: (1) when the protagonist visits the Philippines as a young girl and (2) later when the protagonist returns to the Philippines as a grown woman.
There are three writing prompts to get your pens going. The writing prompts include one for the prose writers, one for the poets, and a bonus prompt for your writing self. Please visit here for all three prompts.
Want to share what you wrote? Join Plume in the Plume Slack, included with all Flowering Yucca tiers (only $2/month). Also, check out my interview with Plume here. You don’t need a Buzzsprout account to listen to a podcast interview. Just hit the “Listen Now” link.
Happy writing and listening!
June 12, 2021
Excited to announce my CNF Flash piece, “One Hundred and Eighty Eggs” in the newest issue of Hairstreak Butterfly Review featuring art work by my trans Ilocana sis of dual heritage, Bea Hayward.
This is not just an ode to eggs, but commentary on the historical and ongoing medical experimentation on human bodies in the name of social progress.
Infinite gratitude to EIC Natanya Ann Pulley (who also happens to be my New Rivers Press sister, author of the award-winning With Teeth) and Olivia Belluck for taking great care of our work and beautifully featuring us in this most recent issue.
HBR kindly offered to feature an art piece of my choosing which I felt would best represent my CNF flash piece. I could think of none other than Bea whose celestial imagining of what I see as a woman and her eggs as the perfect art pairing. Huge gratitude to Olivia Belluck for featuring Bea and me together—our Ilocana sisterhood.
Please check out all the stunning work in Issue 4.
I recently blurbed for Juanita E. Mantz, Esq.’s memoir chapbook, Portrait of a Deputy Public Defender or, how I became a punk rock lawyer forthcoming from Bamboo Dart Press in August 2021. I know Juanita E. Mantz, AKA JEM, first and foremost in a literary capacity than I do a legal one, though we have the law in common too.
I hope you check out her memoir when it drops in August. JEM pulls back the curtain on the criminal justice system in gentle and compassionate prose—in a way that the average American isn’t used to seeing. JEM is a Latina attorney and writer of dual heritage whose story is relatable for anyone who’s had to come of age during a difficult adolescence and still rise above a difficult past. In JEM’s case, she has become a fierce and stalwart advocate for the most vulnerable in our society. JEM is truly one of those rare attorneys whose writing is a form of literary activism. JEM accomplishes the marriage of Literature and Law beautifully.
June 8, 2021
This meaningful podcast interview with the hosts of Plume: A Writer’s Companion, Melanie Unruh and Samantha Tetangco, where I am the June featured writer is finally live. You can find the direct link here.
You can also scroll down the Plume homepage and you will find the Play button for the podcast titled, “Naming the Aswang, a Conversation with Elsa Valmidiano.” There are bonus segments of the interview available on Patreon so I hope you follow Plume: A Writer’s Companion and join their Patreon today. Enjoy and Agyamanak Unay!
June 1, 2021
Honored to announce that I will be Plume’s June featured writer.
Plume centers around a bi-monthly podcast, in which hosts Melanie Unruh and Samantha Tetangco talk with a featured writer, as well as a panel of writers on topics relevant to women and non-binary writers.
Huge shout out to Melanie and Samantha for reaching out and an awesome time hanging out. One of those moments where you start chatting and it immediately feels like chatting with long-time girlfriends. Loved every second. We could’ve talked for hours really.
You can sign up for Plume’s Patreon at the $5 Prickly Pear level and up and you’ll get a digital copy of my letter of encouragement & creative work, along with Plume’s digital back catalog of fabulous and inspiring writers! Thank you for supporting.
May 20, 2021
Grateful that We Are No Longer Babaylan has been named one of CLMP’s recommended books on their Reading List for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month 2021. I spy New Rivers Press sibling, Purvi Shah’s Terrain Tracks, who also shows up on this list with me. Yay, New Rivers Press!
A gentle reminder: for those who want to purchase and support my book, I kindly ask you reach out to me directly for a signed author copy OR order it from any local bookstore wherever indie books are sold. There is no distributor involved if you directly contact me for a copy. I continue to support Damaged Book Worker and all book workers who suffered and continue to suffer at Small Press Distribution (SPD) under a toxic and hostile work culture, and more significantly, were victims of wage theft violations, which SPD still has failed to be fully transparent of their accountability process after December 2020 when Damaged Book Worker’s testimony was first brought to light in a compelling Medium article, and since a Publishers Weekly article in January 2021 that brought the issue to the attention of the larger literary community.
Though Brent Cunningham has stepped down as Executive Director and has been replaced by an Interim Executive Director, please be aware that he, in fact, remains on staff as an Operations Consultant, in which he still holds influence at SPD despite demands from the writing community—presses and authors alike—for his complete departure from SPD.
Please note that I do not speak on behalf of my press but independently as an author who continues to stand with Damaged Book Worker and all book workers affected.
Related article for cross-reference
April 26, 2021
Grateful for this review of We Are No Longer Babaylan by acclaimed Filipina-American poet, novelist, and essayist Eileen Tabios.
“When Elsa ends the book with an opening to a future she is determined to be different from how she has lived—how the past has influenced her/the protagonist—to live in ways she regrets, the reader not only believes her. The reader roots for her.” Please read the complete review here, which also includes a review of Ulirat: Best Contemporary Stories in Translation From The Philippines and Quotes of Life, which Eileen chose to review simultaneously as the three works “form a light of optimism as regards to Filipino-Pilipinx literature.”
I co-facilitated my first virtual healing writing circle yesterday with my dear friend and poetic colleague, Dr. Adrienne Oliver, and met new friends as well as reunited with old friends—all brilliant and phenomenal women writers whom I’m so honored to have shared space with. It was Adrienne’s first All My Sisters event, providing a safe intimate space for all BIPOC women to meditate and share words of poetry and prose in response to the horrendous violence faced by AAPI women and women of color worldwide, as well as the continued targeting of life faced by Black women, in light of the recent murder of Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black teen girl whose life was taken too soon by police. Ordinarily Adrienne hosts a virtual healing writing circle for Black Women, with thought-provoking prompts and opportunities to share work. Please follow Dr. Adrienne Oliver on her Instagram page @dr.adriennedanyelle for more information.
March 25, 2021
Considering the recent events of anti-Asian hate that continue to plague this country, it’s important to know that these events are not anything new. I highly encourage everyone to read Vengua’s Marcelina where Vengua’s poetry takes the reader through an extended examination of the 1930s’ Filipino community in the US, revealing the terrorism and violence inflicted on the community by white society, while Vengua also examines the murder of Celine Navarro, a young Filipina immigrant of the same era who is the subject of the book and was murdered by her own Filipino community.
Infinite gratitude to Reviews Editor Kary Wayson and Art Editor Gabi Graceffo for their diligence and including this review in Poetry Northwest. Always grateful to work with badass women editors, especially during Women’s History Month.
I had the honor of blurbing fellow poet, dear colleague, and friend, James Diaz’s second poetry collection, All Things Beautiful Are Bent, from Alien Buddha Press, recently released just this past week:
How do two souls love one another amidst brokenness where the giving of the whole self is already fractured? So lies at the heart of James Diaz’s All Things Beautiful Are Bent where two lovers attempt to save the self by loving the other—grasping what used to be, what still can be, and maybe in this reaching for wholeness, wholeness was there all along inside the tiny broken pieces. For those who have ever loved with injured wings, or whose wings themselves were injured, Diaz reveals to us the longing to be loved unconditionally, where the bent do not need to be reshaped nor are they irreparable. Rather, it’s in the bending that lays bare what we surrender in order to love, be loved, and most importantly, be understood.
I hope you check out James Diaz’s lovely collection and continue to support indie presses.
March 21, 2021
Grateful for this review of We Are No Longer Babaylan at Rain Taxi Review of Books by fellow lyric essayist, Jen Soriano. You can purchase the issue here where the review appears.
In the midst of this good news, 50% of the proceeds from signed author copies of WANLB that I am selling now until March 24, Wednesday, will go to Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, the first and only nonprofit legal advocacy nonprofit dedicated to protecting the civil and human rights of Asian Americans in Georgia and the Southeast. Donations will directly support the Atlanta victims and their families. Please visit my CONTACT page to order a book.
I’ve gone ahead and made my own separate donation to Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta but will gladly continue making donations through my readers’ support until Wednesday. Thank you so much to those who have bought a book this past week, particularly to my international readers who have been keeping themselves apprised of their Asian American brothers and sisters across the oceans. THANK YOU SO MUCH!
March 7, 2021
We Are No Longer Babaylan is a finalist for the Big Other Book Award for Nonfiction. Honored to have my name and title shared alongside other amazing authors.
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.