Pamela K. Santos is a Pinayorker writer and artist creating multilingual narratives on diasporic identity and hyphenated selves. Pamela co-founded Portland’s first Winter Poetry Festival and currently curates the Sari Not Sari installation series. A 2019 recipient of an Oregon Literary Fellowship, her poetry appears in Tayo Magazine, Anomaly, Newtown Literary, Stoked Words, and the Unchaste Anthology.
Philippine-born and Queens-raised, Pamela Kristine Santos is a writer and artist creating multilingual narratives on diasporic identity and hyphenated selves.
A 2019 recipient of an Oregon Literary Fellowship, her poetry appears in Tayo Magazine, Anomaly, Newtown Literary, Stoked Words, and the Unchaste Readers Anthology. She has co-founded Portland’s first Winter Poetry Festival, the Bitter Melon art and writing collective of femme/nonbinary artists of color, and Pacific Underground radio/podcast. Pamela is a member of Theatre Diaspora, Oregon’s only Asian/Pacific Islander American theater company, and Parenthetical Moons, a poetry collective born out of the IPRC certificate program with her classmates.
Pamela earned her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts from The New School. Before that, Pamela attended New York University with a Metropolitan Studies major and minor in Asian/Pacific American Studies. Her nickname as the Asian Heritage Month board co-chair was “Yellow Pages” because she knew everyone or how to get to everyone. She couldn’t book Lea Salonga and Margaret Cho but she did bring Mountain Brothers to play Irving Plaza.
Pamela continues to work toward infinite imaginings of the self and kapwa through her multidisciplinary art and as curator of Sari Not Sari, an ongoing series of Filipinx diaspora artists in conversation with each other.
I write multilingual narratives on diasporic identity and hyphenated selves (being Filipinx, raised in Queens, green-card-carrying immigrant, queer single mom). I hold poetry sacred; as a site for infinite imaginings of the self and the communal body, poetry offers a language of lineage and kapwa (shared identity) that Filipinx in the Diaspora can share with one another. At times alienating, or empowering, grasp of “the language” offers opportunity for conflict as well as solidarity for each other, and universally relatable by children of all kinds of diaspora, colonization, and forced migration.
My goals as an artist is to constantly push at “Filipinx In/Visibility” through the creation of new lexicon that does not take English as the default or preferred language. My artistic process involves excavating collective knowledge of histories and representation, taking research and existing canon into new forms so that I can create a new body of work that engages with the current events and art dialogues happening right now, considering that canon is malleable and shifting and most of all, ALIVE.
I seek to create more origin stories in poetry and prose where maximalism reigns, in which the speaker’s intersectional voice is too large to be contained by only English or only Tagalog, or even one pop culture world. Queering space on the page – footnotes, short and long lineation, breaths of white space – is my radical act to make rigid rules of what used to be considered dominant canon bend to marginalized voices. I am not interested in simply recreating scenes of individual violences or collective trauma passed on through generations and migration. I seek to interrogate external and internal loci of control when considering violence in a poem. I believe consumption of trauma enacted on Brown bodies requires suffusion of empathy and subversion of the readers’ gaze; anything less is pornographic. Lastly, I write with an urgency to fill spaces with tenderness whenever possible.
Bookings, inquiries, project proposals — whatever you got.