CP Goes to the Philippines: Featured author R. Zamora Linmark

zamora linmark

R. ZAMORA LINMARK was born in Manila. He is the author of the poetry collections Prime Time Apparitions (Hanging Loose Press, 2005) and The Evolution of a Sigh (Hanging Loose Press, 2008) and the novels Rolling the R’s (Kaya Press, 1995) and Leche (Coffee House Press, 2011). His next poetry collection, Pop Verite, is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press. He also recently completed a third novel titled These Books Belong to Ken Z. He has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Creative Writing at the Universities of Miami and Hawaii.

Linmark has been a regular contributor to Contrappasso. Some of his poems were reprinted in our special issue Writers at the Movies (2015). Here Linmark  introduces and reads his poem A Letter to Claire Danes from a Fan in Manila:

Two other poems appeared in Writers at the Movies:

After Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind

Twelve Short Takes on Montgomery Clift


Linmark’s short story ‘Dear Jesus’ appeared in Contrappasso #6 (2014). It begins:

Dear Jesus:

My worst nightmare is about to come true. Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor approved the same-sex marriage legislation bill. 20 to 4. And now it’s up to the House of Representatives to kill the bill. But what if they, too, flew over the cuckoo’s nest? That’s why I’m flying there tomorrow. I’m going to withdraw whatever money I have left in my checking account, take the first flight to Honolulu and give these loonies a piece of my mind. That’s right. Hold on, Jesus, I’m now on the line with a Hawaiian Airlines ticketing agent from, of all places, Philippines. Dear Lord, Honolulu is only half hour away by plane from here and I have to call someone in the Philippines to book it…. Just got off the phone. They’re charging me four arms and six thousand legs as if I’m Imelda Marcos. What a rip off. And they don’t offer Senior Citizen discount. So much for Aloha Spirit… Calm down, Marie, calm down… Screw it. I’m willing to overlook the astronomical cost of this ticket due to the gravity of the matter. Otherwise, I’d tell them too to go choke on my monthly SS! I’d rather go hungry for the next couple days than allow this bill to be passed. I don’t care if I have to testify three, four, five thousand times. I won’t stop until these so-called progressive legislators wake up and realize that they’re doing more harm than good. This is not in the best interest of the peoples of Hawaii. I know it. The majority knows it. Come tomorrow, they will know who Marie Machado is and what she stands for.

Marie Machado, Hana, Maui.


 Dear Jesus:

I have two mommies. Am I greedy?

Alexander Rosales, 3rd grade, Kapalama Elementary.


Dear Jesus:

Did I wake up in the wrong state? Is today Halloween, October 31, 2013? It is, right? All this talk of gay marriage makes me want to puke. That’s what I want to do right now. Puke the bowl of kim chi chigae I ate last night all over the grounds of State Capitol. This Senate Bill 1 makes me sick to the bone. I should call in sick. But I can’t afford to miss a day’s worth of work. I already got written up twice for being late. But this is more important than ushering losers to their seats or telling them to get their toe jams off the seats or picking up their trash or shining the flashlight on their faces to shut their snoring up. If that fat cow Shawna fires me, so be it. I’ll miss the free movies and fifty percent off of popcorn and hot dogs. Fuck it. This is not the only job in the world. There are a thousand more out there I can get fired from. My sick call is legit. It’s an act of sacrifice, me as the lamb willing to sacrifice his bread and butter just for you, Jesus, because I love and believe in you. All I ask is that you help me write the most convincing testimony, because I’d hate to make a fool of myself in public, especially since Olelo cable TV is live-streaming the entire hearing.

Charles Kwon, McCully.



Writers at the Movies: ‘A Letter to Claire Danes from a Fan in Manila’ by R. Zamora Linmark

Photo CC Ree Dexter @ Flickr

Manila. Photo CC Ree Dexter @ Flickr

A Letter to Claire Danes from a Fan in Manila

“The place just fucking smelled of cockroaches. There’s no sewage system in Manila,and people have nothing there. People with, like, no arms, no legs, no eyes, no teeth. We shot in a real psychiatric hospital…”
—Claire Danes to Premiere magazine

Dear Claire—
It is ghastly indeed: this city
crowded with cockroaches and people
who walk without legs, drive long
chrome-plated coffins without arms,
and stare imperiously at you
without eyes. Not to mention
squatters sleeping on stilts,
island panhandlers, again without arms
and legs, highway beggars,
again without eyes and hair,
and sidewalk dwellers whose walls
are painted with huge signs
reminding people not to dump trash,
piss, shit. By the way,
how was San Francisco? Are you now
back in the East, Boston or Manhattan,
that is? I am forever still in Manila,
writing you with much concern
because the City Mayor has called
an emergency meeting to ban
the showing of all your movies,
including Les Misérables. The papers
and glossy fashion magazines are
christening you “Unknown,” “Uncouth,”
“Uncultured,” “Unconscious.” Word
has it that Brooke Shields is here, too,
gambling at Heritage Casino on Roxas
with fishermen and politicians.
Is it true? Is she with André?
Are they still together? But
what you said about this city
of roaches and missing extremities
are bold impressions I cannot hold
against you, for first time travelers
from First World countries all undergo
cultural seizures here; tics
of the mind responsible for setting
off a series of generalizations
and assumptions about bugs,
blindness, and amputation. Not
excluded from this list are Filipinos
in America, like cousin Jennifer
from Daly City, Tito Bert in Wichita,
and Tita Joan in Pasadena. Claire,
I would like to invite you back
to Manila. Make another movie.
A romance, and not one filmed in a psycho
ward. Do it with Matt—Damon or
McConaughey or Broderick, but
preferably Dillon. Or Why not
Matt Mendoza, Manila’s own
achy-breaky heartthrob? And bring
with you, once more, your dollars,
your talent and, this time,
crutches and roach spray.


Hear the poet introduce and read this poem for the launch of Contrappasso: Writers at the Movies (April 10, 2015).



zamora linmark

R. ZAMORA LINMARK‘s latest poetry collection, Pop Verite, is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press. He has just completed his third novel titled These Books Belong to Ken Z. He is the Distinguished Visiting Associate Professor in Creative Writing at University of Miami and is currently working on a sequel to his first novel Rolling The R’s which, in 2016, will be twenty years old.