GLIMPSES: A POETIC MEMOIR by LENY MENDOZA STROBEL
MAILEEN DUMELOD HAMTO Engages
GLIMPSES: A POETIC MEMOIR by Leny Mendoza Strobel
(Paloma Press, San Mateo, 2019)
Hello po, Ka Leny:
It’s a beautiful thing, reading Glimpses, reading your words and thoughts, freed finally from the confines of academic writing. Over the last few years, you’ve expressed anticipation of retirement: walking away from the demands of an academic life. In your social media posts, it’s apparent that you find absolute joy in embodying kapwa: exchanging ideas with your Filipino American students, inviting them to dig deeper into their wonderings about and wanderings into decoloniality.
Your scholarship and writing have always been deeply cathartic. Through poetry revealed in Glimpses, we learn of your personal tragedies, loves lost, longing for the homeland, and attempts at finding peace by staying in place. Yours is the kind of prose that lingers long after the page has turned: your voice is painfully real, haunting. It’s with this voice that you’ve liberated the language of decolonization and re-indigenization among many truth-seekers. You dreamt of and breathed life into the Center for Babaylan Studies (CfBS), inspiring an ever-growing community of people from the global Filipino diaspora to dream and imagine a movement of decolonizing kababayans, eager to keep alive our ancestral languages, songs, stories and ways of being and belonging to each other, fates interlinked with our kapwa-tao.
You created CfBS as a community of inquiry, and because of this, we are all your humble students. Through your reflections and actions, you provoke us all to take our decolonizing practices outside the realm of the personal. In the age of social media, this means elevating praxis to a level of honesty and authenticity in an effort to transcend the performative, the prideful, to “balance grief with gratitude.” While you’ve handed over leadership of CfBS to the next generation of culture-bearers, your legacy and vision lives on, tightly woven into the complex fabric of our collective journey toward decoloniality and re-indigenization.
The questions you pose in Glimpses, Ka Leny, are not only provocative, they’re instructional. Living as settler-colonialists in these stolen indigenous lands, you challenge us to deconstruct our realities and identities as racialized, colonized beings seeking to find meaning in the imposing and inescapable dominion of white supremacy.
“What are the useful fictions that do not rest on Whiteness and all its aberrant forms?”
“What does it mean to claim an indigenous mind?”
“How do you know what you know?”
“What does it mean to dwell in a place?”
In your poetic memoir, you share your discoveries and inquiries as a poet-scholar, challenging your readers to constantly ask questions and to become comfortable with uncertainty. I only have gratitude for your patience and generosity.
Maileen Dumelod Hamto
Originally from Sampaloc and Tondo, Maynila, Maileen Dumelod Hamto works as an equity and inclusion leader in the ancestral lands of the Ute, Arapahoe and Cheyenne. She is pursuing doctoral studies in Leadership for Educational Equity at the University of Colorado Denver, focusing her inquiry on advancing social change through praxis that centers critical race theory, critical whiteness studies, decoloniality, and emancipatory movements. With her soulmate and soul dogs, she enjoys exploring Colorado’s alpine lakes, aspen forests, wildflower meadows and ghost towns. Share her adventures via @colorsofinfluence (IG).