What is stories behind of this graphic poetry?
Gerhard Richter (1932 – current) is a German artist, and he studies new meanings and relationships between photographs and paintings. He paints a portrait with oil paintings as if he uses an Instagram smudge filter. He has various technics such as overpainted photographs (he paints oil over a snapshot photo). When I saw his art, I felt the similar esthetic of interpretations between traditional poetry and graphic poetry. And I wanted to adapt his technique into “I Eat Pig Ears in Cebu”.
“I Eat Pig Ears in Cebu” is a based on my experience in Cebu, the Philippines when I volunteer worked for an elementary school where some of Leprosy descendent attended. As if Richter used a squeegee to scrape the paint to create blurring particular parts of his work, I used peeler objects to scrape a social problem, which the young girl who grown up in the village still had a strong stereotype discrimination against Leprosy. Because of this discrimination, the village has been isolated from better education and quality of life.
These colorful strips represent “an imaginary rainbow” that the girl made with random plastic pieces/trash in the poem, and she may know that it may be very difficult to get out from her community. The childhood-memory-like, stick-figure drawing camouflages; perhaps, blurs this harsh reality.
These strips are majorly made of four papers, (Angela Narciso Torres’ book cover, her original idea of a cover art by her son, my handmade birthday card to Angela, and origami papers). I used these papers because Angela is originally from the Philippines and we often talk about Filipino history and culture. Her book, “Blood Orange”, is full of ordinary Filipino family life. I made a large piece of the stick-figure drawing and dedicated half of it to the graphic poem, and the other half to a birthday card for her. I had one of my best birthdays when I stayed in the village. The Filipino people were so kind to me, so I tied this memory to the graphic poem and the birthday card to Angela.
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My newest poetry chapbook was released! Please order your copy from Backbone Press.
Janine Joseph , Judge of the 2018 contest
Of the collection, Janine Joseph writes:“I do not know/ if I am even right to be a mother at a right time,” discloses the speaker in the opening poem of Mother Said, “I Want Your Pain.” Evocative and startling in their unflinching clarity of image, these poems are inheritors of the aftermath of nuclear fallout and chemical warfare. They are tuned to the movement of transgenerational traumas. Grandmothers who “hid in a ditch with three horses” while B-29s shot bullets overhead, leave relatives who later ask of our bequeathed earth, “Is the land poisoned or not poisoned?” Here is a striking collection with a deft voice, poised even as it turns on or transcends an observation or emotion: “Grandfather watches TV on the highest volume,/ the howling-wind.”
Faisal Mohyuddin, author of The Displaced Children of Displaced Children
"What remains, in the aftermath of the horrors humans wreak upon other humans? According to Naoko Fujimoto’s brave, ambitious poems: so many kinds of heartache and grief and so many questions that elude answers, and also the ghosts of dead grandparents and unborn children haunting quiet afternoons spent among fields of wildflowers or along lonely lake beaches. Yet these poems remind the reader—especially the one who reads with heart wide, wide open—that pain, when shared with others, can root us deeper in our collective humanity, can guide us all toward compassion, empathy, perhaps even healing. “It chokes us without a sign, or smell—,” the poet writes, “as if a radioactive current swallowed, / hurting slowly inside / to ripen our bodies.” I so deeply admire the mother who says, “I want your pain,” so deeply admire, too, this poet who has found the words to both capture this pain and to transcend it with such hopefulness and beauty."
Silvia Bonila, author of An Animal Startled by the Mechanisms of Life
"In Naoko Fujimoto’s “Mother Said, I Want Your Pain”, there are rooms without doors nor windows. Time becomes ecstatic and intimate. The reader walks into these rooms allured by the un-adorned but skillful language, the spectral beauty of the imagery and the haunting narrative of emptiness. Voluntary exile and loss are found in passages like the kitchen was dyed empty green like a milk glass. Fujimoto’s heightened sensitivity and connection to nature enhances the physical times in the speaker’s personal history, as in / because there is no answer/ beetles roll/ ants dismantle/ unwrapped pacifiers/ ghost teeth bite my nipples."
Silver Seasons of Heartache - Poetry Chapbook - Published by Glass Lyre Press
This original manuscript was the finalist of the 2016 Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Award by Tupelo Press.
Matthew Thorburn, author of Dear Almost
In Silver Seasons of Heartache, Naoko Fujimoto walks a tightrope of language, making her way word by word across the chasm where hope can fall prey to heartbreak, the maybes and might-bes of life transformed into what simply (and complicatedly) is. She is a poet of heart and humor, of insight and image. In carefully crafted yet conversational lines, Fujimoto describes the complications of our modern lives, where “enough is never enough,” but where you also might still be lucky enough to stop and savor the moment when your “breath is quiet— / waiting to catch the last lightning bug.”
Nancy Botkin, author of Parts That Were Once Whole
Silver Seasons of Heartache is full of compelling poems that engage the senses as they navigate physical and emotional spaces: the kitchen, the family, the homeland, and the edges of this mysterious and precarious life. In “A Big Bowl of Beef Stew” she writes, “Past midnight, from the deepest forest, / a deer walked on weathered leaves.” These are lovely poems, and Fujimoto’s talent is the deep image.