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Barbara Jane Reyes (Oakland) collaborating with San Francisco State University Poetry Center (San Francisco) and The University Corporation, San Francisco State

Award: $40,000 Literary Arts grant awarded in 2014

To be presented: Late 2016

Kuwentohan (Talkstory) is a collective work in which eight poet-artists carry on a  sustained correspondence, leading to a new work of poetry by Barbara Jane Reyes. The poet’s and Poetry Center’s idea is to create a multi-staged work based on collective exchange. Participants are a select group of American but polyglot poets from disparate cultural and geographic backgrounds who will spend four days sharing stories, poetry and ideas and conversing among themselves and with others. They include: Javier O. Huerta, Aimee Suzara, Jennifer Foerster, Ronaldo V. Wilson, Lee Herrick, Craig Santos Perez, and Angela Narciso Torres.

The project will begin with a four-day retreat. At that time, the writers will be paired for four readings in small San Francisco cultural sites in areas historically home to immigrant families. Following this initial exchange and presentations, the writers will correspond through the mails, with their letters providing raw material for Reyes’s work. Over the course of two years, Barbara Jane Reyes will compose an original work of poetry and present it in performance near the end of 2016.

Born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Barbara Jane Reyes has been an active member of local Asian American, Filipino American, and independent literary communities,. She is the author of three books of poetry—most recently Diwata (Boa Editions, 2010)—and received  the 2012 Global Filipino Award in Poetry.

The Poetry Center, based at San Francisco State University, has for 60 years presented poets and writers in live performance. It presents more than 30 public events annually, video-documents nearly all programs, and manages archives housing decades of recordings that presently are being migrated online to the Poetry Center Digital Archive.