Barbara Jane Reyes is a US poet born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of Gravities of Center (Arkipelago Books, 2003) and Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2005), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. My third book, entitled Diwata, is forthcoming from BOA Editions, Ltd. in 2010.
Barbara writes both in Tagalog and English. Here is what she has to say about writing in other than English language:
"Now as for languages other than English, I can only say that so many of us exist between languages. Let’s not perpetuate the erroneous assumption that monolingual English speakers should be privileged over the rest of us. Let me add to this the fact that “proper” English is only one sliver of the Englishes we speak and hear every day. Think about what folks speak in East Oakland, or the Fruitvale, or in the Mission District, or in Chinatown, or on Powell Street, or in any major American city, cosmopolitan spaces, inner cities, suburban and rural communities. People are not speaking in proper academic English but in really interesting figurative language.
One positive result of my English Tagalog Spanish mash-ups is that subtracted bilinguals like me relate to it; take away the negative connotation that this is “broken” language, and it reaffirms our wholeness. We were never broken to begin with, and it’s unfortunate we were ever led to believe this in the first place."
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