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Michelle Peñaloza is the author of two chapbooks, and has had her poetry and essays featured in several publications. She received a 2015 Art Projects grant supporting her work on a collection of in-progress poetry. This Friday, she’ll read from her manuscript alongside other Filipino-American writiers at a location that deepens and enriches our understanding of her work:
Arroz caldo for lunch. Blaring speakers and a dance floor full of women and men moving in the delightful unison of complex and funky line dances. Their smiling faces remind me of my lola, my parents, my titos and titas. Here, there is a room for bingo, a room for praying the rosary, a room for checkers, a room for pinoy teleserye.
This is the magic of the International Drop-In Center (IDIC), a community-based senior center in the heart of Beacon Hill that primarily serves Filipino and Filipino-American elders. The IDIC is a warm gathering place for senior citizens, retirees, widows, first-generation immigrants, and war veterans. The sense of community here is palpable upon entering. When I first visited, I went back in time to the many parties I attended as a child—laughter, food, song, dance, chatter all happening simultaneously in every room.
So, what does the IDIC have to do with my project? With what I care about as an artist? With my poetry?
My full-length manuscript-in-progress, Former Possessions of the Spanish Empire, is steeped in storytelling, in processing and interrogating the legacies of colonialism, and in honoring, questioning, and remembering family. While the elders at the IDIC are not my blood family, the warmth with which they welcomed me felt like family. I wanted this event to highlight the rich legacies of the Filipino-American community in Seattle and bring attention and homage to the elders of our community. I’m proud to be doing this event with other Seattle-based, Filipino-American writers; we will host story-telling workshops groups, perform our own work, and join in celebration for an open mic and karaoke with our elders. Yes! Karaoke! I hope you’ll join us. It’s going to be a delightful time.
Celebrating Filipino-American Elders: Reading and Karaoke
October 7, 1:30—4:00pm
International Drop-In Center
Seattle-based, Filipino-American poets and writers Maria Batayola, Robert Flor, Donna Miscolta, Michelle Peñaloza, Jen Soriano, and Maritess Zurbano will lead Filipino American elders, at the International Drop-In Center in Beacon Hill, in a story-telling workshop, which culminate in writers, elders, and visitors participating in an open mic reading, sharing their stories and participating in a karaoke-singing session. Free to attend.
This event is made possible through support from 4Culture, Poets & Writers, the International Drop-In Center (IDIC), the Filipino American National Historical Society – Greater Seattle Chapter, and Kundiman.