Small Press: Maiana Minahal, 'Legend Sondayo'

July 7, 2009

One such author writing outside of mainstream market expectations is the poet
and interdisciplinary artist Maiana Minahal, former director of UC
Berkeley's Poetry for the People. Her second book, Legend Sondayo,
has just been released by Berkeley-based Civil Defense Poetry. I just
picked up Minahal's pocket-sized book, which I've been carrying around
in my purse, and reading in snatches. This is a good way to read a book
of poems, savoring them one at a time, appreciating each poem's form,
density, and space. She writes prose poem and free verse as adeptly as
haiku and hay(na)ku sequence. Here is an excerpt from "stolen/kali":

1 2 3
my coils claw knife blade singe
her wind boils fist and stab
she strangle jagged edge razor diamond
strike burn deep fear livid scream
glitter heart rot slaughter bind blue

As you may see, Minahal's poems are concrete
and active with a woman kicking ass (kali is a Filipino martial art).
Read this excerpt aloud and you can hear its musical staccato. The
woman's movement is both dance and combat.  

I enjoy Minahal's
poetry because, apart from being precisely crafted and lively, it's
subversive. It literally subverts an old Filipino folktale of the woman
Sondayo, who battles the wind goddess, because the wind goddess stole
her husband. In Minahal's retelling, she creates an urban and
contemporary Sondayo: "Times have changed, so now I can tell you what I
couldn't back then: I fought that wind goddess for my wife, not my
husband. In those days, we didn't have all your genderqueer and
polyamory or trans tweeners, flaming and flaunting. (More power to

Writing outside of mainstream expectations is also writing against their expectations. It's a thriving and necessary bottom-up approach which is familiar to those of us who work with community arts organizations. That said, do pick up your copy of Legend Sondayo and show your support for the independent publishers bringing us these necessary voices.




hey Barbara. your comment about the apparent absence of profitability becoming an oddly enabling thing rings a bell with me; how else to explain Hyphen's continued existence (knock on wood) while more commercial and far more mainstream publications close their doors? (well, i guess there is one other way to explain it: that the hard-scrabble survival that most everyone is coming into some acquaintance with now, is the hard-scrabble we've always known.) we know to look to the cracks in the sidewalks, not the front-yard flower gardens, for the things that find ways to grow.
You can also buy a copy of the book directly through legendsondayo [at]!