As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Clarissa Mendiola – Poetry

The Color of White Space


I have fawned over

the whiteness of

verse, the hard language

of quiet


freedoms in pages

upon pages still foreign


My speech a staccato, broken

by criminal dialect


so much depends upon


the          white          space


Yet this my singular tongue:

neo     colonial     discord


collapsed music then you


give permission for symmetry and melody

our native orality ours no

matter the length of sea or space

or degree of ethnic (im)purity


everything found in the lineage of our ancestors

extended across the page a great migration

in gestures of fluidity


do you know the gift

of these permissions,

your coloring of the white space


Island Chaining



cmendiolaAs a Chamoru woman raised on the mainland, home is straddling the International Date Line, where it is today and tomorrow simultaneously. Clarissa’s work attempts to describe that place, however disorienting. She explores cultural identity and ethnic purity via memory, myth, oral and written history. Clarissa has an MFA in Writing from California College of Arts and was a 2011 Hedgebrook Writer in Residence. She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and son.

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