Gina Apostol’s “In all conscience, I thought I’d comment”

“There may be valid legal reasons behind Anvil’s action. But just because one can sue does not mean one should. This is an ethical issue of which art is the hinge. I do think the issue of power is a problem. Downplaying the inequality here, because after all in the legal arena all is fair game, also downplays the ethical questions of such a lawsuit against an artist and critic who is simply doing his work.”

“Obviously, I disagree that the rights or art of the artists in the anthology were eroded by Adam David’s work, which I confess I enjoyed before its final conceptualization, that is, its erasure (I have not yet read the anthology). As a critical gesture, the reuse of sentences is valid. As a conceptual gesture, the reuse of sentences is also valid. But above all, the use of others’ art to craft art is simply a time-honored, old-fashioned, in fact hoary matter of art. The history of art tells us too often art is a form of appropriation.”

“We are too jaded when we declare: let a lawsuit run its course. It’s too heavy a bludgeon. I am not so sure if all workers of art are also not somehow eroded, our horizons diminished when the grievance of the powerful outlaws art. I respect everyone involved in this upsetting affair. There are too many other sad things going on in the world, and this issue is very minor in the scheme of things. But I simply wish to state my support for Adam David in this matter, with all due respect to all the artists involved.”

Read the text in entirety here.


Demand Letter from Anvil Publishing and Fast Food Fiction Editors

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We, concerned writers and supporters of literature, voice our dismay over the legally-registered demand of Noelle Q. de Jesus, Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, and Anvil Publishing—editors and publisher of Fast Food Fiction Delivery—for Adam David to take down his online reappropriations of the contents of the anthology. David selected excerpts from various pieces in the collection, retyped them, and plugged them into a website coded to generate random combinations of these passages. David’s work, accessible through Mediafire and Blogspot, is consistent with the trajectory of his writing, which—from The El Bimbo Variations to Than Then Than—has questioned notions of originality and displayed an impertinent stance to literary tradition and an aggressive repurposing of source texts, often to humorous yet critical effect.

De Jesus, Katigbak-Lacuesta, and Anvil, through their lawyers, have accused David of four grounds of copyright infringement and have threatened him with a fine of PhP150,000 and imprisonment of one to three years for each count. Hence, David stands to be fined as much as PhP600,000 and be imprisoned for as long as 12 years. The grounds for infringement are: (1) reproduction right, (2) other communication to the public of the work, (3) publisher’s right, and (4) moral rights. In other words, the editors and publisher have accused David of: not securing permission from the copyright owners, disfiguring the original form of the anthology material, failing to acknowledge the anthology’s contributors, and giving the public access to the anthology outside the conditions set by the publisher.

We are distressed by these accusations because we feel that the demand:

1. implies an unwillingness to participate in the kind of discourse that is necessary to the development of literary practice, even if and specially when such engagements are informed by negative critique;

2. exhibits a disregard for literary practices that have persisted over the past 500 years, specially in the light of copyist tendencies and the aesthetics of collage as evident in Cervantes’s Don Quixote, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, to the Conceptualists of the late 20thcentury;

3. with its emphasis on how David’s violation of copyright allegedly “erod[es] the integrity of every short story in the book,” is based on an outdated notion of author as singular, original, and propertied, hence reducing the work solely into a commodity and diminishing the agency of the reader by turning her into a mere consumer;

4. rather than encouraging discussion, demonstrates instead censorship through intimidation and harassment; in effect, by taking the legal (read: costly) route, the conflict between various aesthetic and creative viewpoints deteriorates into a battle of financial resources.

To conclude, the demand of de Jesus, Katigbak-Lacuesta, and Anvil signifies an aversion to practices that seek to advance the many ways in which authors produce materials, readers engage with texts, and literature responds to its changing social, technological, and cultural contexts. We denounce this attitude of conservative literary gatekeeping, we resist the policing of the literary community, and we oppose the forces that coerce our writers into silence.

(500 WORDS)

Mark Anthony Cayanan

Vincenz Serrano

Conchitina Cruz

Raymond de Borja

Angela Stuart-Santiago

Katrina Stuart Santiago

Carlos Quijon, Jr.

April Sescon

Denise O’Hara

Baryon Posadas

Florianne Jimenez

Naya Valdellon

Allan Popa

Richard Gappi

Glen Sales

Indira Endaya

Petra Magno

Lilledeshan Bose

Jacob Walse-Dominguez

Franz Joel Libo-on

Glenn Diaz

John Bengan

Maryanne Moll

Zosimo Quibilan, Jr.

Nanoy Rafael

Victor Dennis Tino Nierva

EJ Galang

Ergoe Tinio

Vladimeir B. Gonzales

Jay Salvosa

Marrian Pio Roda Ching

Harris Guevarra

Eliza Victoria

Mesandel Virtusio Arguelles

Ronald V. Verzo II

Beverly Wico Sy

Ellie Esquivias

Mayo Uno Martin

Edgar Calabia Samar

Andrew Albert J. Ty

Oliver Ortega

Honey de Peralta

Laurence Marvin Castillo

Donna Miranda

Marlon Hacla

Aldus Santos

Ramon Damasing

Alyza Taguilaso

Christoffer Mitch Cerda

Ken Ishikawa

Erwin Lareza

Bubuy Balangue

Jeremy De Chavez

Pepito Go-Oco

Ramon Guillermo

Apol Sta. Maria

Mark Benedict Lim

Jun Lisondra

Paul de Guzman

Sandra Nicole Roldan

Elmo Gonzaga

Mabi David

Paolo Jose Cruz

Joselito D. Delos Reyes

Martin Villanueva

Angelo V. Suarez

Gina Apostol

Timothy James Dimacali

Joseph Salazar

Mark Angeles

Jema Pamintuan

Erik E. Tuban

Julian Dela Cerna

Alvin Yapan

Althea Ricardo

Perfecto T. Martin

Carlo C. Flordeliza

Bernice Roldan

Joseph de Luna Saguid

Karla Quimsing

Kuya Doni Oliveros

Laurel Fantauzzo

Erika M. Carreon

Vicente Garcia Groyon

Kristian Cordero

Eduardo Dayao

Marguerite Alcazaren De Leon

Janise Claire Salvacion

April-Joy Eufracio

Ina Alleco Roldan Silverio

Daryll Delgado

Rodrigo dela Peña, Jr.

Om Narayan Velasco

Sonia Pascual

Vince Dioquino

Kristine Ong Muslim

Joey Clutario

Moreal Nagarit Camba

Ronald Benusa

Gesuina Marie Puangco

Bea Mariano

Zeny May Dy Recidoro

Daniel Lorenzo Pineda

Jewel Castro Aragon

Janine Dimaranan

Keith Bustamante

En Villasis

Shin Acabado

Sarah Raymundo

Chiles Samaniego

Gabriela Lee

Francis Paolo Quina

Faye Cura

Kristine Marie Reynaldo

Poklong Ananding

Lolito Go

Katrina Navarro

Lawrence Bernabe

Ned Parfan

Ana Micaela Chua

Rogelio Braga

Christian Tablazon

Carlos Piocos

Monica Macansantos

Carlos Antonio M. Cruz

Dana Lee Delgado

Katrina Macapagal

Jerry B. Gracio

Camille Banzon

Jose Perez Beduya

Jessica del Mundo

Ringo Bunoan

Jose Leonardo A. Sabilano

Jasmine Nikki C. Paredes

Romulo Baquiran, Jr.

Theresa Russel Padillo

Jefferson Chua

Carljoe Javier

Katrina Tankeh

Arby Medina

Joshua Paradeza

Trizha Ko

Patrick Bautista

Noel Pascual

Josel Nicolas

Giancarlo Abrahan

Ferdinand Pisigan Jarin

Ram Hernandez

Roy Vadil Aragon

Louise Vincent B. Amante

Chiles Samaniego

Zola Gonzalez Macarambon

Tilde Acuña

Chuckberry Pascual

GlennFord B. Tolentino

Mykel Andrada

Noel Villa

Jody Lorraine Felizadio

Carlo Antonio Cielo

Patricia May B. Jurilla

Owel Alvero

Shane Carreon

Janssen Cunanan

PLURAL: Online Prose Journal

Lystra Aranal

Neobie Gonzalez

Pedantic Pedestrians

Billy Candelaria

Cindy Cruz-Cabrera

Eric Cabrera

Anna Sanchez

Robby Kwan Laurel

Andang Juan


* The signatories of this statement are acting in their capacity as individuals, not as representatives or members of organizations and institutions.


It occurred to me several times in the last few months to get in touch with K–when I moved back home in May it crossed my mind that maybe I should let him know I was back; on my way to a friend’s lecture in Makati in July I thought of inviting him to join me; one early morning when I was in La Salle, where he taught, to do a workshop, I remembered, and promptly forgot, to message him and ask if he was in the area; as I prepared the new edition of my first book, launched in mid-November, I finally looked up the essay he had written about it and again, for a second there, I wondered how he was and made a note to text him soon. K was one of those rare creatures not on Facebook, and that had somehow made him infinitely harder to get a hold of. In the last couple of years I was in touch with him sporadically by email and text, and occasionally, while I was living in the US, through his friends whom he sent my way. In Albany one of the first people I met for coffee was a friend of his from graduate school in Iowa. At a party in his house a month or so later, he showed me K’s winter coat, which K had asked him to transport to Albany and give to me (we decided that he should keep the coat because, well, K and I were clearly not the same size). In NYC, after listening to Cole Swensen lecture, I went up to her to have my book signed and mentioned that my friends back home in the Philippines loved her work. “Oh, do you know K?” she asked (he was her student). “Yes!” I said, most probably too enthusiastically (I get either really reticent or really wired when starstruck), but then Swensen seemed pretty thrilled too, telling me how lovely he was, that I should say hi to him for her, that she owes the title to one of her poems in her latest book to him, that she thanked him for it in the book.

I became friends with K because of friends we had in common, people who read and write poetry. Like some of these friends, K’s appetite for poetry was insatiable, his devotion to it the literary equivalent of religious. He committed his mind and life to it. He was intense. His poetry (here and here) is difficult to read; he is unafraid to be difficult. His critical work (herehere, and here) demonstrates how exacting and incisive he is as a reader. The one year we happened to teach in the same department, I was exposed (at times subjected) on a regular basis to his love for abstractions, for big ideas, for critical jargon. But I also got to know his silliness, his penchant for making weird faces, his general chumminess. He was privy to my secret guilty pleasure of watching Grey’s Anatomy and took it upon himself to supply me with a newly downloaded episode each week. He gave me a headband with devil horns equipped with a switch that could make the horns light up, which he suggested I wear to class after enduring another one of my rants about students not taking my deadlines seriously. We took a beginner’s French course together that summer, and it was funny to watch him confidently mangle his way through daily recitation despite obviously not having done the reading for class. I don’t know how many times he drove me home that year even though where I lived wasn’t exactly on his way.

Among my stash from K is Joseph Albers’s Interaction of Color (a book I’d been wanting to have after a weirdly emotional encounter with Albers’s squares in a museum), a Booksale find he bestowed on me before he left for Iowa, and a copy of Lydia Davis’s Samuel Johnson is Indignant, which he had the author inscribe for me when she visited his campus. (I would later study with Davis and enjoy the privilege of her comments scribbled on my drafts, which makes K’s gift prescient in the loveliest possible way.) He put a lot of music on my itunes, some of which I haven’t even properly listened to, but there are two albums I’ve listened to intently and have loved since, St. Vincent’s Marry Me and Challengers by the New Pornographers. I adore those albums so much they are two of the maybe seven or eight vinyls I own. Only now do I remember it was K who loaded those albums on my itunes, figuring I would like them.

I haven’t said hello to K in ages, and that is something to regret. I’m also no good at goodbyes, so no goodbyes. In the meantime I’ll listen to St. Vincent stuff her suitcase full of blues. See you around, K.


There Is No Emergency

I have a new poem in the latest Kritika Kultura. You can download it here. It is, for now, the central poem of the book I’m working on, There Is No Emergency, which I hope to finish before the year ends.

Periodic Table, 2

I periodically tell myself that a clear-cut work space would transform me into the productive person I would like to be, which I think is my roundabout way of justifying my perpetually subpar performance in the arena of productivity: I never have enough room, therefore, I can never assign a corner devoted solely to work, therefore, I can never be focused enough to achieve my full productivity potential. Yes, that is what I tell myself in the face of clocking in x number of hours re-watching Parks and Rec or marathon-ing Masters of Sex or getting sucked into the vortex that is 1Q84 (pahinga lang naman sandali from all the theory!) or, in the case of the last two weeks, getting well (kasi mahirap nga naman mag-concentrate kapag ubo ka nang ubo).

These days my designated work table is also the dining table. Because we have more books than shelves to put them in, the dining table also doubles (triples?) as a shelf, and because the dining table is also in between the “kitchen” (a.k.a. a corner with a counter, sink, and cabinets) and the stove (which has to be by the window so isn’t located in the “kitchen”), the dining table inevitably also functions as the space for cooking preparations–an activity I have, for most of my life, avoided, but am now beginning to try out (I’ve so far cooked simple pasta dishes and monggo, all given the highest ratings by A., who is clearly not a picky eater). Oh, and we also eat our meals at the dining table, and the cat fairly regularly parks its butt on it too, just because. Somewhere amid all that action is a dissertation waiting to happen (I hope).


Window Treatment, 7

Have view, will write.

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Photos by A.