DIASPORA: VOLUME L
Paloma Press is pleased to release Diaspora: Volume L by Ivy Alvarez.
Ivy’s concept of reclaiming and engaging past and current Tagalog idioms, and re-defining them creatively using poetry, is invaluable given that Tagalog, pluricentric and weighted with postcolonial concerns, has been standardized and/or code-switched owing to purism, systematic drifts, and recent migrations. For example, “Lígaw-tingín” (courting look), a colloquial phrase most likely popularized before the Fourth Republic, has become an elevated literary idiom, laden with tradition, history, and culture. “Lumang tugtugin” (literally, old music), however, is redolent of a postcolonial past, an idiom favored around the time Bienvenido N. Santos left the Philippines as a pensionado. Ivy gilds it with a rhythm that rises with belly strength:
What are these seconds you bring and sing? Can’t even remember when last I sinned. This morning? I’m full of questions. Split my belly and you’ll find ‘em, stem to stern. Around the kernel, a corner of truth, sharp as tax. When humidity burns, it’s time to get out, time to subtract myself from danger’s path, steam-rollering like a curling iron set too hot on my neck, your neck, our all-too-tender necks.
Ivy approaches her lexicographic work inventively and with absolute command of her craft, “Every sense amplified to the level of prey, skittish, almost British, endangered, barely keeping the heart at bay from one’s throat.”
Diaspora: Volume L wanders beyond the bounds and parallels of what we imagine translation can do. Ivy Alvarez revels in new forms and fictions, disquiet and desire. And she affirms that our words and wants are far from static, that we are “some foreign matter // a movement / from one state / to another.” I am reminded of Fernando Pessoa’s musing that “nothing is, everything coexists” in reading these poems: how Alvarez illuminates that promise, writing with “the door / opening and closing,” inventing her own lyric vernacular, its meanings in-flux and brilliant.
—R.A. Villanueva, author of Reliquaria
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ivy Alvarez is a Fellow of MacDowell Colony (US), and Hawthornden (UK). Her work is widely published and anthologised, including two appearances in the Best Australian Poems series. With poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean, she is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and a recipient of grants from Creative New Zealand, Literature Wales, and the Australia Council for the Arts. She is also a mentor for the New Zealand Society of Authors’ Youth Mentorship Programme; an editor for the NZ Poetry Society’s magazine, a fine line; a guest co-editor for Verity La.’s Discoursing Diaspora; and a former international editor for the first Aotearoa New Zealand edition of Atlanta Review. Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, Ivy Alvarez lived in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, before moving to Auckland, New Zealand in 2014.