By Maiana Minahal (Civil Defense Poetry)
Despite the general decline of printed matter in the midst of this digital age and economic downturn, independent presses present opportunities — especially for Asian American authors — to produce nonmarket-driven books. Poet and interdisciplinary artist (and Hyphen book reviewer) Maiana Minahal’s Legend of Sondayo, published by Civil Defense Poetry of Berkeley, CA, contains poems that are concrete. They are animated by a woman kicking ass. Read them aloud, hear their musical staccato and evoke their dance and combat moves. Minahal’s lively, precisely crafted poetry subverts an old Filipino folktale of the woman, Sondayo, battling the wind goddess who has stolen Sondayo’s husband. Minahal presents a contemporary retelling: “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.” Writing outside of the mainstream, as Minahal does, means writing against expectations, taking the bottom-up approach that’s well known by those of us who work with community arts organizations. So pick up your copy of Legend Sondayo and show support for the independent publishers who bring us these necessary voices.