ERIC GAMALINDA: AN INTERVIEW ON NOVEMBER 14 1999:
-- Please tell us a little bit about yourself, bio-data if you will?
I was born in Manila and worked there as a journalist. A staff writer for NATIONAL MIDWEEK in the early 80s, then working for various magazines and newspapers, including the FREE PRESS and the news desk of the DAILY GLOBE. Finally worked as editor and broadcast director for the Philippine Center for Journalism, before immigrating in 1993. Edited a few Fil-Am publications and then became Publications Director of the Asian American Writers Workshop in New York City. Now teaching at the Asia/Pacific/American Studies Program at New York University. Some awards and grants: The New York Foundation for the Arts, the New York/New England Selection from Alice James Books, residencies at the Bellagio Center, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and in Spain, Italy, Great Britain, and Switzerland.
-- Who are your favorite authors? Did any one in particular influence you and your writing?
For poetry, the Spanish and French surrealists, Neruda, Walt Whitman, Rilke, Yehuda Amichai, Yves Bonnefoy, and still and always Shakespeare. For fiction, the Latin Americans and Eastern Europeans of the 20th century, Faulkner, "The Magic Mountain." I guess all my favorites somehow influenced me. They still do.
-- Care to comment briefly on the state of Philippine literature, the Philippine publishing industry and, of course, Filipino-American literature?
Things are looking very good for Philippine literature, in all its languages. More and more authors are getting published, and more and more younger writers are writing. Despite the constant need for cash, commercial publishes and university presses continue to put out good books. Fil-Am literature is also gaining ground. Many authors here are getting their works out, receiving major grants and awards. It will take some time for the industry to acknowledge Fil-Am literature, however, because the industry thinks in terms of market. Filipinos still are not a generally reading public. We have to convince them that there's a Fil-Am lit out there, and that it's all about them. Only by getting the Fil-Am community interested in these works will the industry accept our community's presence. Till then we remain invisible, readers and writers alike.
-- As we approach the year 2000, there is talk about the demise of the book. Do you have any ideas or predictions on print versus electronic formats?
As long as the technology makes reading by means other than books easy and accessible, I don't see why we can't have a new medium other than books. The important thing is to make literature available to as many people as possible. Italo Calvino said in the new millennium literature will have to compete with all other media, and this competition will change the entire character of literature. That sounds like an exciting prospect in itself. But until computers can be light enough to carry around and easy enough to read, I'm not giving up on my books.His authored and edited works are listed below:
THE EMPIRE OF MEMORY
LYRICS OF A DEAD LANGUAGE
"Century of Dreams" in MANOA
CONFESSIONS OF A VOLCANO
FLIPPIN: FILIPINOS ON AMERICA
MY SAD REPUBLIC
Eric Gamalinda was a visting Professor in the English Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa last year. We were very pleased to meet Mr. Gamalinda, hear him read on a number of occasions, and to have the opportunity to interview him.
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Last updated July 31, 2000 by Thomas Churma