FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kalihi boy R. Zamora Linmark now lives and writes in the Philippines, where, he says, "Being a writer ... is to be well-respected, because it shows you're educated. Because it's a position of power and privilege, you end up being invited to embassy parties."
Former isle writer R. Zamora Linmark lends his talents to a Bamboo Ridge benefit
The richly imaginative writing of R. Zamora Linmark lends itself to public readings, and the internationally recognized writer is back in Hawaii to do just that, as part of a benefit for one of the oldest non-university small presses in the country, Bamboo Ridge.
For the love of Bamboo Ridge
A benefit reading and performance by R. Zamora Linmark
Place: Manoa Valley Theatre, 2833 E. Manoa Road
Time: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (with wine and pupus reception at 7)
Tickets: $20 donation
Also: Book signings by Linmark at 2 p.m. Saturday at Borders Waikele and 2 p.m. Sunday at Borders Ward
Linmark received the Editors' Choice Award for Poetry in the previous issue of Bamboo Ridge, which celebrated the Filipino Centennial in Hawaii. He first received attention for his 1995 novel "Rolling the R's," published by New York's independent Kaya Press and a book inspired by his childhood in Kalihi.
The novel has been described as a kaleidoscope of narrative forms and perspectives, vignettes in pidgin that take on ethnic and sexual-identity issues, along with a generous mix of '70s pop culture.
Already familiar with world travel as an exchange student, Linmark has won awards and fellowships that help him take the occasional jaunt abroad from his Manila homebase.
He is here as a Distinguished Visiting Writer in the English department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa for the spring semester.
Over a few pau hana beers Monday, Linmark and a small group of Bamboo Ridge editors and writers gathered to talk with Linmark about his accomplishments since leaving the islands many years ago.
"Bamboo Ridge is now 29 years old," said co-founder and editor Darrell Lum, "and one of our missions has always been to get our audience together with the writers. It's also a different experience when you hear a writer's work read aloud. Plus, folks can say to the writer, 'Hey, you somebody!'"
Linmark and his friend Tino Montero will perform selected poems, monologues and one-act plays from his writings.
"Missing: Sun. Last seen on a flagpole.
Beware of falling wishes.
Nothing comes between mood and moon.
Please do not disturb the dew.
Caution: Ants crossing.
Sunny Strides for President.
Banned: Wishy-washy stars.
Save a dream: Recycle paper boats.
Vote for the morning roosters who, unfortunately, are on strike."
-- R. Zamora Linmark
LINMARK admits that, despite his mainly solitary life as a self-supporting writer, he has a bit of the flair for the dramatic, the residual of his work in theater with Terence Knapp.
"Growing up in Kalihi was such a universal and fragmented experience," he said. "Hawaii itself is a place so rich with issues, irony and contradictions. But, now, Manila captures my imagination. It's a rich place in what the people do with the English language. While it seems very chaotic, there is a sense of order within it. And it's a different kind of cosmopolitan from Hawaii -- you've got your business people, embassy people and a mix of Chinese, Malay and Spanish, along with the Filipinos.
"Being a writer in the Philippines is to be well-respected, because it shows you're educated. Because it's a position of power and privilege, you end up being invited to embassy parties. And they're very open to Filipino-American writers. ... But, still, the writer's life is always in process. It's never stable."
Linmark's latest novel, "Leche," to be published by Carroll & Graf later this year, was inspired by his move from Honolulu to Manila and visits to his grandparents in a provincial town north of the country's capital.
His next book will probably be a photo collaboration involving his fellowship work in 2004-05 with the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, a six-month residency that involved interviewing Philippine contract workers, both legal and illegal, who worked and lived in cities from Tokyo to Nagasaki. A documentary is also in the works through the UH's Academy for Creative Media.
"Doing this benefit for Bamboo Ridge, it's payback time, in a good sense. Since I'm here for the semester, I finally have the time and opportunity to thank those who have supported my work all these years.
"We have to support our local journals. They prove to be the home for aspiring writers, because, who knows, there might be the next best-selling author in that group."