<![CDATA[Samantha Tetangco - Blog]]>Mon, 12 Feb 2024 18:45:39 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[When Poetry Meets Podcasting]]>Fri, 31 Jul 2020 07:00:00 GMThttp://samanthatetangco.ink/blog/november-28th-2020Picture
​By now you've probably seen this meme which circulated in the social media spheres a couple of years ago.  It's an astute recognition: the podcast medium has become the new version of cool - a way for people to gather together their friends and - potentially - reach a sort of eclectic, niche-oriented version of fame.  And I admit, I always did want to be in a band, but I never had any musical aptitude.  But as a writer, maybe I could jump on that podcasting "band"-wagon?

One of the cool things about working in a university is you can use your classroom as an excuse to learn new things (who would have thought?).  I was able to bring in Andrew Burkum, a member of the Phoenix Creative Collective and producer of The Two-Minute Beer Review and Phoenix Talk Radio.  He offered us a crash course in how to write, record, and edit sound projects using Audacity, a free, open-source, audio recording tool available to all.  By the end, as he promised, I knew how to record in any location, how to filter out ambient noises, and make the quality of the recording sound, well, podcast worthy.

Yet, by the end of it all, as I was kicking around ideas for podcasting and playing with microphones, I started to wonder: would podcasting really be worth my while?  Don't get me wrong - it looks like a lot of fun, and I enjoy the production process, from the recording to the editing to the layering of sound and sound effects.  Plus, the potential to turn something like a podcast into a project that might some day generate money (even if a far-fetched possibility) added an additional bonus.  But I keep thinking about a speech Neil Gaiman gave to the University of the Arts in 2012.  It's become one of my founding tools of assessing whether or not the act of taking something on is a worthwhile endeavor.  Gaiman's advice: to consider what's at the top of your artistic mountain, and when opportunities arrive, to ask yourself whether these opportunities takes you closer to the peak or downwards, in the wrong direction.  And so podcasting, enticing as it is, felt like another obstacle I could place in the way of my creative work.

​(here's the Gaiman speech for those who haven't seen it!)

Around this same time, I was honored to have two poems accepted in Tri-Quarterly, a literary journal I've admired for years.  As with many journals that now offer online spaces to publish work, they also requested a recording of me reading my two accepted poems.  It was one of those moments of kismet, when I realized that the skills I learned for podcasting could be used to enhance what I was already doing.  Anyway, I thought I'd share those two sound recordings here.  I really love what they added to these poems, and I hope you enjoy listening to them. 

Here's the links to the Tri-Quarterly site:

Maybe you, too, are playing with sound?  If so, would love to hear what you've come up with - and who knows, maybe some day, we can turn these audio forms into .... a podcast.  ;) 

<![CDATA[On Acceptance & Rejection]]>Tue, 30 Jul 2019 18:59:32 GMThttp://samanthatetangco.ink/blog/on-acceptance-rejectionI am honored to have had a string of good news lately:
  • Yesterday, I heard back from Dovecote Magazine.  They'll be publishing my poem "Baptism for the Living" in their upcoming issue.
  • Last month, I received some beautiful proofs from Arc Poetry Magazine.  My poem "This is Not the Jesus Year" will be in their upcoming Summer issue.
  • Last week, I was offered an emerging writing creative writing position at a liberal arts college.  For the first time in my life, I turned something down.  I loved the school, but couldn't justify leaving something stable for something so uncertain.
  • Today, I finalized plans for my upcoming artist residency at the Massachusett's Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).  Not only is this my favorite museum in the country, but it is a tremendous gift to be going there in September for a week to refine my (nearly there) poetry collection.
This video of Julian Swartz's "Tonal Walkway" is a good example of why I love being the Mass MoCA.  ​The museum itself is in an old mill, and features of the original building remain.  The art is immersive and encompassing.  It presses boundaries into the five senses and cracks open my (often ekphrastic) poems.
But even as I write about all of this good, I find myself thinking about a post I read on Facebook recently, written by poet Benjamin Garcia, who is - in my opinion - one of the most talented poets currently producing and publishing work.  After years of coasting under the radar, Ben has recently started getting attention, publishing works, winning awards, being seen.  He posted the following on his FB page:
I was struck by a number of things that I related to.  My own "stuff just underneath" look like years and years of rejection after rejection:  A novel I spent ten years writing is still struggling to find a home.  It keeps getting responses like, "we really love this story but we don't think we can market it."  The short story that I love keeps getting grouped with the "almost" pile. 

And the same gaslighting Ben mentioned has started to really sting.  I had a colleague who told me that her husband's poetry collection wouldn't get picked up because "they are only publishing people of color right now."  This she says to me after congratulating me for my own publications.  Even though I know a string of non-people of color who've published books recently.  Even though a couple of those non-poets-of-color ended up on a recent "13 New Poetry Collections You Need to Read" list.  Even though what I want to say - what I should have said - is that maybe instead of thinking of it as "only" you can recognize that the playing field has simply broadened.  That I've been waiting a LIFETIME for this broadening to happen, and that it's a relief, and that we should all be grateful for the influx of historically unheard and under-represented voices.

This is all to say that even with acceptance, there is doubt - doubt put on me from others and doubt put on me by myself.  Doubt from past rejections which almost made me quit writing altogether, and worries that good news bits will dry up, that the writing will stop.  BUT, all that said: today, I woke early and spent the earliest parts of the day working on a new book.  And right now, I feel tremendous gratitude that my work is slowly but surely finding homes.  

So thank you to Dovecoat, Arc, and the Mass MoCA Studios.  And please artist gods, keep the good news coming.
<![CDATA[Happy National Honor your LGBTQ ElderS Day!]]>Thu, 16 May 2019 20:30:35 GMThttp://samanthatetangco.ink/blog/happy-national-honor-your-lgbtq-elders-dayPicture

​Today is National Honor your LGBTQ Elders Day, and this year, I am thinking of Leslie Feinberg and Stone Butch Blues which taught me more about the history of violence against LGBTQ people than anything else. I read that book on the BART train when I used to commute to the East Bay in San Francisco. I remember sobbing while sitting in the morning rush hour crowd and reading so long I almost missed my stop; it was so beautiful and heartbreaking and important.

When a friend came out, she mentioned something about Butch women and the L Word, and I said dude you need to know our history--Shane is not a Butch woman!--and I gave her Stone Butch Blues to read so she could understand what "Butch" really meant and why gay bars mattered so much. Upon finding the book in her bedroom, my friend’s mother tore it apart in a rage. I said, that feels fitting given what the book is about. Today both that friend and I are married and grateful to people like Leslie Feinberg for doing the hard work (and enduring the trauma of violence) so we could benefit.

Grateful to Feinberg and other queer writers for forging us a path and leading the way. May I one day write something as meaningful and important in your honor. May I one day be as brave.

Note:  Stone Butch Blues is now out of print, but there are still plenty of used copies available to purchase.  Feinberg also released it online before she passed, and you can read it here: http://www.lesliefeinberg.net/

<![CDATA[Two New Poems up at Peat Smoke]]>Sat, 13 Apr 2019 22:17:55 GMThttp://samanthatetangco.ink/blog/two-new-poems-up-at-peat-smokePicture
Much gratitude to Peatsmoke, a new literary Journal, for publishing two of my favorite poems. This is the first time I've had work solicited, and I'm honored to be included in their inaugural issue.

Also, as a side note, when I asked the editors about their name, they told me it stemmed from a mutual love of peaty Scotch. I love peaty Scotch. And I love the look of this new online journal.

<![CDATA[Happy New Year Indeed!]]>Wed, 09 Jan 2019 02:01:47 GMThttp://samanthatetangco.ink/blog/happy-new-year-indeedPicture2018 couldn't have been that bad! I did get to wander about LONDON!
Well, now that it is over, I can say it: 2018 was rough!  The end of 2017 had given me such a kick in the pants that I promised myself that 2018 would be one of the best years of my life.  And it was.  Well, sorta.

Without going into too much detail, I think it's important to mention that these social media things can be deceiving - I had a lot of good things come my way, including several publications, a new job, a three week trip up the east coast followed by another adventure in the UK- but in my personal life, it was a struggle.  Without going into too much detail, I'll just say that there were a lot of things happening that made it hard to feel good about myself and my dailiness.  But if I've learned anything, it is that I am--and always will be--a fan of digging in to the hard work, and I'll take that valuable lesson with me into 2019.

Already, this year is already shaping up to be better.  I have a new publication out with CONTRARY.  This poem, "I Never Talk About the Blood," was probably the hardest poem I've ever written.  Revising it (and I revise everything PROFUSELY) was immensely triggering, but I feel incredibly proud of how it turned out, which is a really weird thing to say about a poem I wrote about a school stabbing.

AND, additionally, I JUST HEARD FROM ZONE 3.  They'll be publishing my poem "Asiatic Bittersweet" in their next issue.  I write this ALL IN CAPS because I friggin love ZONE 3.  I've been a long time fan, and I'm so so excited to be a part of what they do.

2019, please, friend, keep the publications coming!  And to Contrary and Zone 3: A huge heartfelt THANK YOU for publishing my work.
<![CDATA[Thank you decomp!]]>Sat, 10 Nov 2018 08:00:00 GMThttp://samanthatetangco.ink/blog/thank-you-decompThank you to Christopher Citro, poetry editor of decomP for publishing two of my poems, "Penacook Ave" and "@ 290 E21st Street," in their latest issue. 

​You can read these poems here:
<![CDATA[An Interview with Plume!]]>Thu, 04 Oct 2018 22:29:02 GMThttp://samanthatetangco.ink/blog/an-interview-with-plumePicture
I am super excited to be featured in the upcoming November issue of PLUME, a cool new entrepreneurial venture by Melanie Unruh & Jennifer Simpson.   

Plume, which calls itself "a writer's companion," provides encouragement and support to women writers .  If you are a montly subscriber, you get a purple envelope in the mail at the start of every month.  Inside is a letter of encouragement from a featured woman writer along with little treats, writing prompts, old photographs, and other bits of encouragement to keep you inspired. Oh yes, and they also give you a piece of that writer's work.  In the November issue, that bit of encouragement will come from me, and you'll get a copy of my short story, "Parrish Hall," (originally published in Foglifter.)

As a lead up to this issue, Plume recently published an interview with me on their site.  I feel floored by their support and their efforts to build a more supportive community for women writers.  

Thank you, Plume, for making me feel like a writer again!  And if anyone out there is looking to treat yourself OR to treat a friend, you might check them out!

<![CDATA[September 25th, 2018]]>Wed, 26 Sep 2018 03:37:08 GMThttp://samanthatetangco.ink/blog/two-poems-published-in-decomp<![CDATA[Thank you foglifter!]]>Tue, 19 Dec 2017 07:16:19 GMThttp://samanthatetangco.ink/blog/thank-you-foglifterPicturePhoto by Anthony Dunn, published in the SF Gate (http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/As-Central-Valley-fog-disappears-fruit-nut-5496710.php)
I live in California's Central Valley.  Growing up, it was common to have the Tule fog drift over the playground so that half the schoolyard would disappear in the ghostly haze.  It was always so tempting to run towards it, to hope as you stepped into the fields that you could understand something about the inside of that dewy cloud.  But the thickness of the fog would always be one step out of reach.

And I am thinking of that fog because it is winter.  But also because this morning I got an email from a San Francisco-based literary magazine titled Foglifter.  I had been getting so many rejections lately  My favorite of these is a short story called "Parrish Hall," which I wrote after a shooter scare at a University where I used to work.  When I checked my phone this morning, it showed new email: 

"Dear Samantha.  Thank you for sending..." it read in that truncated way emails read when they are displayed on your phone.

At this point,  I thought I knew what the email would say for I have grown intimate with the way "although we" statements are often couched between a rejection letter's "reading is subjective" rationale, and I finsihed the email aloud in my head.  "Dear Samantha.  Thank you for sending us "Parrish Hall.  We love it and want to publish it!"

And then, much to my surprise, I opened the email.  And that is exactly, word for word, what they said!

Thank you, thank you, Foglifter!  It has been a long time and I am so happy this story will finally have a home.

<![CDATA[California is on fire, and I cannot sleep]]>Wed, 11 Oct 2017 09:13:21 GMThttp://samanthatetangco.ink/blog/california-is-on-fire-and-i-cannot-sleep
It's two o'clock in the morning, and I cannot sleep.  For the last hour and a half, I have been laying in bed staring at footage of the Northern California fires.  A man is riding a bicycle through Santa Rosa, California.  The city is in flames.

Ten days ago, a man began shooting into a Las Vegas crowd.  He brought 23 guns into a Las Vegas suite.  In 10 minutes, he killed 58 people.  In the suite, a photograph shows two arm chairs pushed together, their horseshoe shapes turning the furniture into a tub.  The tub is filled with automatic weapons.  Nobody understands why.  They wish he were crazy so there would be something other than the man or the guns to blame.

Ten days before that a hurricane leveled Puerto Rico, and we learned what it meant for land to fall.  The country remembered 3.4 million citizens we'd ignored for decades.  Fifty-four percent of Americans did not know they were fellow citizens.  Forty-six percent might have known but never thought about it.  Now that we know, we ignore them still.  We try not to think about what it means when the news announcer mentions the red cross before Sunday night football.

I am thinking of the ash that piles inside of a fireplace.  How soot can dissolve between your thumb and forefinger.  How wood can turn a ghostly white.  I am thinking about the time I drove through that Oklahoma neighborhood post-tornado.  And how people left angry signs spray painted to their garage doors telling tresspassers to keep out.  And how Kelly C--  posted a picture of a sign in her neighborhood.  "Keep Out!" it reads.  "Tourists are not welcome here."  And how someone else posts a picture of their cat.  And another of a llama - "for those having a bad day!"  In another, a man laughs at a story about a teenage girl getting her bra snapped in middle school, and when others try to come to her aid, he laughs and laughs in the way one laughs when they are trying to make the world small.

And about how small I feel thinking about a neighborhood that looks like the soot in my fireplace.  And how much I want to look away.  And how much the heart can contain.  And how much I wish we would stop arguing about football players and Twitter feeds.  About how much easier it was to teach a classroom of students about what it meant to read the world when we couldn't see the horseshoe shaped chairs or the semiautomatic weapons or the confederate flags.  When a conversation about implicit bias didn't involve kids getting gunned down in the streets and sports team owners making it mandatory to stand for the pledge of allegiance.  When information made us think.  When education was a good thing.  

Santa Rosa is on fire.  Napa Valley is on fire.  Puerto Rico has no power.  58 people are dead.  The newspapers worry over World War III.  Everyone is searching for understanding.  They want to know what it is all about.  There are no more reasons why.  If this is not the end of the world, then I don't know what is. 

Tomorrow, the sun will rise again.  But only if we're lucky.