Marlon Unas Esguerra

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2011 interview with poet Marlon Unas Esguerra by Gis George


Bio: Marlon Unas Esguerra is a second generation Filipino American, born and raised in Chicago. Marlon currently resides in Woodside, Queens, and is a Special Ed teacher at Queens Vocational & Technical High School.

In 1998, he co-founded the panAsian spoken word ensemble, I Was Born with Two Tongues/, which has since performed in over 300 colleges and venues across the country. The Tongues' pioneering performance work and critically-acclaimed debut CD, "Broken Speak" (AsianImprov Records), sparked a new generation of APIA voices. He is also the co-founder of the Asian American Artists Collective-Chicago, YAWP! Young Asians with Power!, Undocumented Sons, and the National APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit.

Marlon is the author of four chapbooks: Goodnight Nobody, Thirty-one Dollars Per Hour, When the Blood Leaves You, and, When the Filipinos Arrive in Wicker Park. He is currently completing his first manuscript of poetry entitled, homestay. His work has been published in Monsoon, Screaming Monkeys, Pinoy Poetics, Columbia Poetry Review, MiPo Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, South Loop Review, and Indiana Review.

Marlon is a three-time Chicago poetry slam champion and has performed on Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO. His digital media work has shown nationally and internationally, with most recent exhibitions in Perth, Tokyo, and Ho Chi Minh City.

Marlon's most recent awards include a Michener Teaching Fellowship, the Wallace Douglas Award for Excellence in Teaching, a Columbia Award for Scholarship, and two Eileen Lannan Poetry Prizes from the Academy of American Poets. He is a proud Kundiman, VONA, and NYC Teaching Fellow. In 2002, Chicago Public Radio compared Marlon's work to Carl Sandburg's, naming him a, "Next Voice of 21st Century Chicago."

An avid runner, Marlon is currently fundraising for Team for Kids while on his quest to run 100 marathons, completing at least one in each state and one on every continent.

Bio from the 2009 Jackson Heights Poetry Festival