Luisa A. Igloria reviews MARCELINA

“[Marcelina] is a 31-page sequence weaving [Jean] Vengua’s own visits to Stockton and the Jersey Island delta, with rumors of the crime, ghost stories circulating in the community, and fragments of news reports from 1933 that also capture the economic and social tensions seething under the surface…

What strikes me most in this reading of Marcelina, however, is the careful way Vengua gathers inchoate bits of story like someone panning for clearer residue.” (Luisa A. Igloria)

Read the full review here.

The Halo-Halo Review is edited by Eileen R. Tabios. Check out Issue 11 here.

Elsa Valmidiano reviews Marcelina

From POETRY NORTHWEST:

Jean Vengua, a daughter of the Manong generation, was born in San Francisco, raised in Santa Cruz, and lives in Monterey. Marcelina, a long epic poem recently published as a chapbook, begins with a quote from Carlos Bulosan: “And perhaps it was this narrowing of your life into an island. . . .” For those unfamiliar with Bulosan, he is what a Filipino-American pupil might call the Godfather of Filipino-American Literature. Bulosan is honored for writing about the experiences of Filipinos working as laborers in the US during the 1930s and 40s, when Celine Navarro, a young Filipina immigrant—the subject of Vengua’s book—was murdered by her Filipino community. The reasons behind Navarro’s murder are never made clear in Marcelina, but in it Vengua takes the reader through an extended examination of that era’s Filipino community in the US, revealing the terrorism and violence inflicted on the community by white society. She reveals, as well, the misogyny within a Filipino community that resulted in Navarro’s death: members of her own community buried her alive as punishment or retribution for either being an adulteress or informer to the police. Eighty-nine years after her death, still none of us know the reason for it, a mystery which is further compounded by the lack of historical accountability for the terrorism inflicted on the Filipino community, as well as the acquittal of Navarro’s killers…

Continue reading here.

Maileen Hamto reviews MARCELINA

From THE HALO-HALO REVIEW:

Whispers of hauntings always bring back stories of near-forgotten suffering, trauma buried deep into a community’s collective memory. Jean Vengua’s chapbook, Marcelina: A Meditation on the Murder of Cecilia “Celing” Navarro,” is the vessel of remembering for a new generation of Filipino-Americans to revisit an agonizing chapter in our history. Continue reading here.

“Marcelina”: A Reading by Jean Vengua

Welcome to the launch of MARCELINA by Jean Vengua. This poetry chapbook is a meditation on the murder of Cecilia Navarro in 1930s Central California. The life of Navarro and her place in an earlier Filipino migrant community is explored in the documentary “The Celine Archive” which recently won the 2020 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Award. The film will premiere at CAAMFest (formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival) on October 14 through October 18, and Jean Vengua along with the film director Celine Shimizu and historian Catherine Ceniza Choy will be in conversation after every screening. With gratitude to Celine Shimizu for allowing us to use the film’s trailer for this event.

Marcelina

Paloma Press is pleased to announce the release of its 20th book, MARCELINA: A meditation on the murder of Cecilia “Celing” Navarro, by Dr. Jean Vengua.

ISBN: 978-1-7344965-0-5
Official Release Date: September 2020
Pages: 34
Price: $16
Available now on Amazon.

*Jean Vengua reads from Marcelina here.

ADVANCE WORDS

You must sit down to read Jean Vengua’s “Marcelina”—an epic poem for our times. Bringing to light the lived experience of a young Filipina American immigrant woman in the 1920s and 1930s Central California, she captures a powerful event that can no longer remain buried. Vengua’s passionate writing braids history, geography, gender, ethnicity and race to illumine why we must now dig up those discarded in the levees of our past. The silencing forces of history are undone by Jean Vengua’s writing. Through her, we can finally know about and feel Celine Navarro’s life.
Celine Parreñas Shimizu, director of THE CELINE ARCHIVE (2020)

It is an honor to revisit Jean Vengua’s long poem, “Marcelina,” two decades after it was first published in the anthology Babaylan. “Marcelina” is jarring in its quiet, meditative moments, contrasted against voices and acts of historical violence. Vengua asks us to join her, to unearth our buried history and herstory, look hard at the violences we have inflicted upon our own. Vengua resists the insularity, the suffocation of that history, pays back this violence with witness, with gentle words. She pays respect to the woman, Marcelina, by honoring the earth in which she was interred.
Barbara Jane Reyes, author of Invocation to Daughters and Letters to a Young Brown Girl

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jean Vengua is a Filipinx American poet and visual artist, author of Corporeal (Black Radish Books), Prau (Meritage Press), and The Aching Vicinities (Otoliths Press. Chapbook). With Mark Young, Vengua co-edited the First Hay(na)ku Anthology, and The Hay(na)ku Anthology Vol. II. As co-publisher of Tulitos Press with Elizabeth H. Pisares, she published/edited the Debut: The Making of a Filipino American Film by Gene Cajayon and John Manal Castro, and The Flipside, by Rod Pulido. Jean was born in San Francisco, raised in Santa Cruz, and lives in Monterey, CA. Her art and writing can be viewed at jeanvengua.com

ABOUT PALOMA PRESS
Established in 2016, Paloma Press is a San Francisco Bay Area-based independent literary press publishing poetry, prose, and limited edition books. Paloma Press believes in the power of the literary arts, how it can create empathy, bridge divides, change the world. We actively engage in “bayanihan”—a term which encompasses community strengthening and cooperation, and nourishing connections and shared identities. To this end, we have released fundraising chapbooks such as MARAWI, in support of relief efforts in the Southern Philippines; and AFTER IRMA AFTER HARVEY, in support of hurricane-displaced animals in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. As part of the San Francisco Litquake Festival, we proudly curated the wildly successful literary reading, “THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND,” and raised money for the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund. In 2018, the fundraising anthology, HUMANITY, was released in support of UNICEF’s Emergency Relief campaigns on the borders of the United States and in Syria. Paloma Press continues to donate a portion of its proceeds to non-profits committed to working for racial justice, animal rights, marginalized communities, and climate change.


Jean Vengua in HALO-HALO

What is your most recent book? Marcelina: A meditation on the murder of Cecilia “Celing” Navarro. This is a slightly revised reprint, in chapbook form, of the long poem first published in 2000, in Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers, and co-edited by Nick Carbo and Eileen Tabios. Continue reading here.

Maileen Hamto reviews MARCELINA

From THE HALO-HALO REVIEW: Whispers of hauntings always bring back stories of near-forgotten suffering, trauma buried deep into a community’s collective memory. Jean Vengua’s chapbook, Marcelina: A Meditation on the Murder of Cecilia “Celing” Navarro,” is the vessel of remembering for a new generation of Filipino-Americans to revisit an agonizing chapter in our history. ContinueContinue reading “Maileen Hamto reviews MARCELINA”