Like those fishermen down there casting flies that tap the sun-glassed water. / Their lines float out flimsy as spider silk, they sail, what a wayward way back.Comfort, Cape Henlopen
I was born in Columbus, Ohio to a German American mother and Filipino immigrant father. I grew up in Lakeland, Florida, the third eldest in a family of twelve children. I am working on a multi-voiced memoir about growing up with and getting separated from my many siblings at an early age. It is also about (untaught) history and generational trauma; and my father’s tragic secrecies.
I studied English Lit at Florida State University and the University of California, Irvine. I earned an MLS from Indiana University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Delaware.
During my twenties I lived in Morocco and Portugal and taught at The American School of Tangier and the American Language Institute in Lisbon. My daughters, Savannah and Bahiya, were born in Tangier and Lisbon. When they were four and one year old, we returned to the United States. My sons Adrian and Julian were born in Kentucky and in Delaware.
I’ve taught literature and college composition, worked as an elementary school and high school librarian, and a technology trainer for public school teachers. In 2008, I earned a doctorate in Education, writing a study on teaching high school students to write, using myths about Internet plagiarism as my lens. I presented the findings at ISTE‘s annual conference.
From 2008 to 2015, I served as Delaware’s poet laureate. As an advocate for arts-in-education, I visited classrooms across the state, as well as libraries and community centers. So people could share their stories, I coordinated readings and conferences. The Delaware Writers Retreat begun by Fleda Brown in 2002 was also a favorite project of mine. The retreat brings Delaware writers together, and they in turn are inspired to volunteer hundreds of hours to community projects, writing groups and schools. During my tenure as poet laureate, I advocated to fund and protect the retreat and I’m so glad to see Delaware’s writing retreat continue, and Delaware’s writing community grow.
Other hats: assistant editor for YesYes Books, an independent publisher of the best (!) new poetry; board member-at-large for the Delaware Literary Connection; and editor at The Delaware Poetry Review.
And I have two chapbooks: Your Heart and How It Works (Spire Press, 2009), winner of the 2010 Global Filipino Literary Award; and Forage, (Wings Press, 2011), winner of the Whitebird Chapbook Prize. Poems appear at The Rumpus, DIAGRAM, Kweli Journal, RHINO, Smartish Pace, Salt Hill, Vallum, Verse Daily and elsewhere. I’ve contributed to anthologies such as Best New Poets, The Crafty Poet, More Challenges for the Delusional, and the Book of Curses, a hybrid work from Asian American Literary Review–magic spells to call out Empire for social justice in the era of 45.
In an interview at Connotation Press I talk about inspiration for my work. One source is the environment, my local woods and watershed, which inspired the poem for this project: Imagine Our Parks with Poems.
Recent honors include a 2017 VONA Residency in Prose, a 2016 Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a 2014 Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Foundation Fellowship in fiction and the 2015 Westmoreland Poetry Award. “Limón Homage” was a finalist for RHINO POETRY‘s 2016 Founder’s Prize. My poems “Your Heart and How it Works” and “The Great Tree” were nominated for the Pushcart Prize by the editors of DIAGRAM and Wings Press.