Shellback

SHELLBACK
poems

JEANNE-MARIE OSTERMAN

ISBN 978-1-7344965-3-6
Library of Congress Control Number: 2020935102
Pages: 82
Price: $16.00
Distributors: Ingram (wholesale), Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, or purchase directly from the publisher, editor@palomapress.net

Thank you so much to everyone who already bought a copy of Shellback! Please consider posting a review here and here.


Paloma Press is pleased to announce the release of Jeanne-Marie Osterman’s second poetry collection, Shellback.

“A not-untroubled tribute and a difficult elegy, Shellback traces the attachment of a daughter to her father from her childhood days of trying “to be his boy” to the grown-up’s task to be his caregiver in his last years. Including horrific details from the father’s WWII Navy service in the Pacific, which the poet memorializes in blunt, terse lines, alongside the harrowing specifics of his decline, Osterman limns a portrait of a complex relationship. Marked by candor and clear-sightedness, these poems resist soothing resolutions and easy solace, which is why they are sure to ring true to readers.”
—Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Letters from Limbo

Shellback is an elegy for a man who taught his youngest daughter how to “stretch a buck, drive a truck, / anchor a screw, win at gin rummy.” Jeanne-Marie Osterman toggles between nightmarish scenes her father witnessed during World War II and the smaller but no less affecting traumas of his final months in a nursing home. Her language is spare and colloquial, with moments of irony and deadpan wit that illuminate every detail. The arduous work of losing and grieving is beautifully preserved in these poems, which in their vividness function like a series of photographs. Or a time capsule. Or amber—something tough, primordial, and nearly clear. Osterman conveys, impeccably and with unflappable grace, the hard-earned knowledge that “no one is only / their sins.”
—Mark Bibbins, 13th Balloon

The beautifully sequenced poems in Jeanne-Marie Osterman’s Shellback yield a searing portrait of the poet’s father as a Depression-era boy and a Navy World War II veteran, given to emotional coldness and barely repressed anger. Their poignancy resides in the poet’s filial devotion, her wish to understand him and care for him in his old age. As Osterman writes in “Forgive:” “I let memories I can’t erase / rest in peace, / knowing no one is only their sins.” With often haunting imagery and carefully clipped lines, she memorably portrays a man, his era, and a daughter’s unstinting love.
—Gardner McFall, On the Line

ostermanJeanne-Marie Osterman is the author of There’s a Hum (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have appeared in Borderlands, Cathexis Northwest, 45th Parallel Magazine, The Madison Review, and elsewhere. A finalist for the 2018 Joy Harjo Poetry Award and 2017 Levis Prize in Poetry, she is poetry editor for Cagibi, a journal of prose and poetry.


Osterman reads Tabios!

More information about Eileen R. Tabios’ short story collection, Pagpag, here. More information about Jeanne-Marie Osterman’s poetry collection, Shellback, here.

10th Annual New York City Poetry Festival

Jeanne-Marie Osterman’s Shellback & Christopher X. Shade’s Shield the Joyous will be available at the 10th Annual New York City Poetry Festival, July 24 & 25, at Colonel’s Row, Governors Island, New York, New York. Check back for more info.

A KIRKUS STAR FOR SHELLBACK!

Not only is Jeanne-Marie Osterman‘s Shellback chosen by Kirkus‘ Indie Editors to be featured in Kirkus Reviews (June 15 issue), it also gets a Kirkus Star (only 2% of books reviewed get a star)! Huge congratulations, Jeanne-Marie! The Kirkus Star One of the most coveted designations in the book industry, the Kirkus Star marks booksContinue reading “A KIRKUS STAR FOR SHELLBACK!”

SHELLBACK, a Kirkus top indie press book!

Courageous, insightful, and unsettling poems about war and family ties. KIRKUS Kirkus reviews SHELLBACK by Jeanne-Marie Osterman, one of this year’s top indie press books! Read the full review here.

Writers Live: Everett Poetry Night with Steve K. Bertrand & Jeanne-Marie Osterman

Join the Everett Public Library for a celebration of poetry on April 20 at 5pm Pacific. Everett Poetry Night will feature two poets whose work is inspired by their lives and experiences in Everett.  Steve K. Bertrand and Jeanne-Marie Osterman will talk about poetry and each will read a selection of their Everett-inspired poems. SteveContinue reading “Writers Live: Everett Poetry Night with Steve K. Bertrand & Jeanne-Marie Osterman”

Osterman’s Shellback: #450 in Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank!

Congratulations to Jeanne-Marie Osterman whose recently released poetry collection, Shellback, has gone from Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank (American Poetry Books) #6,569 to #450 as of February 19th! Osterman and her book are also mentioned in the January issue of the Granite Falls Historical Society Newsletter: A social media post by Fred Cruger further details Osterman’sContinue reading “Osterman’s Shellback: #450 in Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank!”

Forthcoming: Shellback

In honor of Veterans Day (November 11), Paloma Press is pleased to announce the forthcoming release of Jeanne-Marie Osterman’s second poetry collection, Shellback (due out February 1, 2021). “A not-untroubled tribute and a difficult elegy, Shellback traces the attachment of a daughter to her father from her childhood days of trying “to be his boy”Continue reading “Forthcoming: Shellback”

Marcelina

Paloma Press is pleased to announce the release of its 20th book, MARCELINA: A meditation on the murder of Cecilia “Celing” Navarro, by Dr. Jean Vengua.

ISBN: 978-1-7344965-0-5
Official Release Date: September 2020
Pages: 34
Price: $16
Available now on Amazon.

*Jean Vengua reads from Marcelina here.

ADVANCE WORDS

You must sit down to read Jean Vengua’s “Marcelina”—an epic poem for our times. Bringing to light the lived experience of a young Filipina American immigrant woman in the 1920s and 1930s Central California, she captures a powerful event that can no longer remain buried. Vengua’s passionate writing braids history, geography, gender, ethnicity and race to illumine why we must now dig up those discarded in the levees of our past. The silencing forces of history are undone by Jean Vengua’s writing. Through her, we can finally know about and feel Celine Navarro’s life.
Celine Parreñas Shimizu, director of THE CELINE ARCHIVE (2020)

It is an honor to revisit Jean Vengua’s long poem, “Marcelina,” two decades after it was first published in the anthology Babaylan. “Marcelina” is jarring in its quiet, meditative moments, contrasted against voices and acts of historical violence. Vengua asks us to join her, to unearth our buried history and herstory, look hard at the violences we have inflicted upon our own. Vengua resists the insularity, the suffocation of that history, pays back this violence with witness, with gentle words. She pays respect to the woman, Marcelina, by honoring the earth in which she was interred.
Barbara Jane Reyes, author of Invocation to Daughters and Letters to a Young Brown Girl

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jean Vengua is a Filipinx American poet and visual artist, author of Corporeal (Black Radish Books), Prau (Meritage Press), and The Aching Vicinities (Otoliths Press. Chapbook). With Mark Young, Vengua co-edited the First Hay(na)ku Anthology, and The Hay(na)ku Anthology Vol. II. As co-publisher of Tulitos Press with Elizabeth H. Pisares, she published/edited the Debut: The Making of a Filipino American Film by Gene Cajayon and John Manal Castro, and The Flipside, by Rod Pulido. Jean was born in San Francisco, raised in Santa Cruz, and lives in Monterey, CA. Her art and writing can be viewed at jeanvengua.com

ABOUT PALOMA PRESS
Established in 2016, Paloma Press is a San Francisco Bay Area-based independent literary press publishing poetry, prose, and limited edition books. Paloma Press believes in the power of the literary arts, how it can create empathy, bridge divides, change the world. We actively engage in “bayanihan”—a term which encompasses community strengthening and cooperation, and nourishing connections and shared identities. To this end, we have released fundraising chapbooks such as MARAWI, in support of relief efforts in the Southern Philippines; and AFTER IRMA AFTER HARVEY, in support of hurricane-displaced animals in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. As part of the San Francisco Litquake Festival, we proudly curated the wildly successful literary reading, “THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND,” and raised money for the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund. In 2018, the fundraising anthology, HUMANITY, was released in support of UNICEF’s Emergency Relief campaigns on the borders of the United States and in Syria. Paloma Press continues to donate a portion of its proceeds to non-profits committed to working for racial justice, animal rights, marginalized communities, and climate change.


Jean Vengua in HALO-HALO

What is your most recent book? Marcelina: A meditation on the murder of Cecilia “Celing” Navarro. This is a slightly revised reprint, in chapbook form, of the long poem first published in 2000, in Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers, and co-edited by Nick Carbo and Eileen Tabios. Continue reading here.

Maileen Hamto reviews MARCELINA

From THE HALO-HALO REVIEW: Whispers of hauntings always bring back stories of near-forgotten suffering, trauma buried deep into a community’s collective memory. Jean Vengua’s chapbook, Marcelina: A Meditation on the Murder of Cecilia “Celing” Navarro,” is the vessel of remembering for a new generation of Filipino-Americans to revisit an agonizing chapter in our history. ContinueContinue reading “Maileen Hamto reviews MARCELINA”

Shield the Joyous


SHIELD THE JOYOUS
poems

CHRISTOPHER X. SHADE

ISBN 978-1-7323025-9-4
Library of Congress Control Number: 2020930703

Release Date: April 2, 2020
Pages: 80
Price: $16.00
Distributors: Bookshop, Amazon, B&N, Ingram (wholesale). Or purchase directly from the publisher, editor @ palomapress.net

PALOMA PRESS RELEASES SHIELD THE JOYOUS

San Mateo, 2 April 2020 — Paloma Press is pleased to announce the release of Shield the Joyous, a first poetry collection by Christopher X. Shade, author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Good Mother of Marseille.

Established in 2016, PALOMA PRESS is a San Francisco Bay Area-based independent literary press publishing poetry, prose, and limited edition books. Paloma believes in the power of the literary arts, how it can create empathy, bridge divides, change the world. To this end, Paloma has released fundraising books such as Marawi, After Irma After Harvey, and Humanity.

A portion of the proceeds from Shield the Joyous will go to a nonprofit residential treatment program at a women’s center in Pomona, California, called Prototypes. The program aids and supports women, and single moms with their children, in recovery from addiction. It is a lifeline to women who are struggling with addiction and other serious issues.

On Christmas Day in 2017, author Christopher X. Shade’s younger brother was found nonresponsive in rural Alabama, and died that night. With this book of poems, Shade’s journey to better understand addiction and the loss of loved ones draws from both the world of his imagination and, in poignant poetic memoir, from his Alabama roots. This follows his 2019 debut novel The Good Mother of Marseille, its search for belonging through turbulent Marseille streets to a better understanding of ourselves. Shield the Joyous is deeply touching in its vulnerability and often entertaining. Mary and Joseph give 5-year-old Jesus an enormous pair of eyeglasses. Rice Krispies speak of death and resurrection. In North Alabama bottomlands, tall grasses long to protect ducks from hunters. And while paramedics wait in their parked ambulance for the next call, they try on each other’s sunglasses. The book continues the thread of coming to understand ourselves by working to understand others. And a strong message of love and hope transcends what is happening in our families where the disease of addiction pulls us apart and kills our loved ones.

“Meditative as the monastery he temporarily yet frequently inhabited in the writing of this book, Christopher X. Shade’s Shield the Joyous contemplates not only the loss of a brother through addiction but the search for deeper understanding. These poems mourn. They engage in magical thinking, exuding wonderment toward death. They traverse the gulf of detachment to find solace and wisdom in the earth. Eventually the poet is ‘led … to the I, to that inner self to which [he’d] been working [his] way toward all along’.”
Joseph O. Legaspi, cofounder of Kundiman, and author of Threshold

Shield the Joyous is a work of great wonderment and love, amidst “the ghostly whirl” of the author’s own grief and loss. His baby brother has died of addiction and there is much to think about — so into the deep quiet of a monastery he goes, where the gloom and majesty of memory and trouble surge and mix alongside the Hudson River and the swirl is able to illuminate, settle, calm. “I was elsewhere \ when my brother died” — but the writer is fully present now, to honor his sibling with rich care and tender thinking and writing that will help anyone who has ever lost anyone, now and forever, amen.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, the Young People’s Poet Laureate, and author or editor of over 30 volumes, most recently The Tiny Journalist

Shield the Joyous is a powerful memoir of a man’s journey in coming to terms with his brother’s drug addiction and subsequent death. It is a deeply spiritual book, conceived in a monastery where the author goes on retreats to recover from loss and save himself. It is also a survival guide, lifting us all out of despair. In the sublime manner of W. H. Auden, Shade builds his work on the canonical hours, beautifully combining prose and poetry to express intense emotion.”
Grace Schulman, author most recently Without a Claim

Christopher X. Shade by Beowulf SheehanChristopher X. Shade is author of the novel The Good Mother of Marseille. His stories, poems, and book reviews have appeared widely. He is also co-founder and co-editor of Cagibi, a journal of poetry and prose at cagibilit.com. He teaches poetry and prose writing at The Writers Studio. Raised in the South, he now lives and works in New York City. (Photo by Beowulf Sheehan)

Shield the Joyous is available now through Ingram Book Group’s distribution partners: Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and wherever books are sold.


GLIMPSES

GLIMPSES
A Poetic Memoir
(Through the MDR Generator)
Leny Mendoza Strobel

ISBN 978-1-7323025-8-7
Release Date: August 1, 2019
Pages: 114
Price: $18.00
Distributors: Bookshop, Amazon, B&N, Ingram (wholesale). Or purchase directly from the publisher, editor@palomapress.net

Cover art by Leny Mendoza Strobel
Book cover design by Perla Ramos Paredes Daly, Omehra Sigahne
Interior Design by C. Sophia Ibardaloza

Paloma Press is delighted to announce the release of GLIMPSES: A Poetic Memoir (Through the MDR Generator) by Leny Mendoza Strobel, which began as a daily meditation practice of reading a poetic line from Eileen Tabios’ Murder, Death, Resurrection, and then allowing the heart’s response to flow without censorship. The meditations offer us a glimpse of Leny’s life-long reflections on love, history, decolonization, healing trauma, finding belonging and purpose, and building community. 20% of book sales from today (July 27, 2019) through December 31st will go to the Center for Babaylan Studies. Get your copy now!

ADVANCE WORDS

Leny Mendoza Strobel has created diary tracks in which the warm luminosity of her words emerges at the fertile intersection of the intimately personal and our historical and cultural stories. Her poetic sentences catalyze disturbances in our habits of perception and thought that open doors to healing in surprising ways and places. Hers is a voice urgently needed in our polarized times.
Jurgen W. Kremer, Ph.D., author of Ethnoautobiography: Stories and Practices for Unlearning Whiteness, Decolonization, Uncovering Ethnicities

In her innovative memoir, Glimpses: A Poetic Memoir (through the MDR Generator), Leny Strobel reveals connections that run deep in our collective memories in a collage of personal narratives. Through an intimate conversation between the author’s experiences with lines from poet Eileen Tabios’ Murder Death Resurrection (MDR), Strobel assembles a complex montage of a woman’s life, fully lived. This inventive form challenges conventional approaches to memoir writing as it is born of a collaborative act that is at once as courageous and vulnerable as it is inventive and beautiful.
M. Evelina Galang, author of Lolas’ House: Filipino Women Living with War

Leny Mendoza Strobel writes as she lives, with fierce, heartfelt inquiry and an ethic of generosity. In this precious collection, her wisdom is a spiraling dance, owing within, between, and beyond mundane and sacred, self and kapwa, prosaic and poetic. Leny continues to feed us all — ancestors, spirits, and kindred — at this altar of the word, powerful and vulnerable offerings.
M.Rako Fabionar, Regenerative Entrepreneur and Healer

For three months, before going to bed, Leny Mendoza Strobel made a date with Poetry. Glimpses: A Poetic Memoir, contains what emerged from her listening to “what’s to come in the sacredness of it all.” The root of the word memoir—a kind of record, a memory—is cleverly positioned with poetry lines which begin with, “I forgot…” and which also serve as the catalyst for characteristically deep contemplations [her “holy tunganga” (gaze)], and the emergence of stories between forgetting and remembering again. Many of the pieces muse about learning: “learning that we are energy and consciousness”; “learning to tune in more closely to the scientific fact… that we are made of stars and stardust”—the attunements of a scholar and her deeply beautiful sensitivities toward nature’s rhythms and message.
Lisa Suguitan Melnick, author of #30 Collantes Street

As soon as I started reading Leny’s journal entries, triggered as she puts it by Eileen Tabios’ poems, I immediately felt I was in for an intimate journey with an old friend who has been a fount of wisdom through her own research, revelations and reflections. Her book, Coming Full Circle, opened my eyes that welled with tears when I realized for the first time why Filipinos believed they were doomed to fail, and how this insidious belief defined our outlook, making us feel small and inferior. Leny’s latest book, Glimpses: A Poetic Memoir, reminds me yet again of the power of “indigenous consciousness,” of recovering our memories, and of remembering and rewriting our stories. In this context, I am able to view past incidents and images in my life with a deeper understanding of my own history and what that means moving forward. Leny’s honest and open evocations of her own truths as she crafts “a new way of being in the world,” profoundly speak to me as I sort through my own encounters and entanglements, particularly as they relate to our shared passion of building community.
Jon Melegrito, Civil Rights Advocate and Editor-in-Chief of Manila Mail (Washington, D.C.)

GLIMPSES provides an insightful, poetic journey into Leny Mendoza Strobel’s memories, musings, reveries, impressions, perceptions, and inventions as encouraged by Eileen Tabios’s MDR poetry generator. Journal entry for 4.3.18 struck a chord: “I forgot when memory became a colander with generous holes / And perhaps we need those big-holed colanders as sieves for unwanted memories of a broken past / But wait / Why call the past ‘broken’? /…Sure the past reeks of colonial ventures that trampled islands and archipelagos / But we are still here / We have not been made to disappear /…Everything can be reframed / Stories can be edited /…I’ve been pondering this for a while now / I think of Tongva elder, L Frank, saying: They’ve taken nothing from us. We are still stardust / Remember your strength / Remember your Source / How do we tell this to each other?” Maraming salamat for sharing your heart with us. Yes, we are still stardust.
Abraham Ignacio, Librarian, Filipino American Center, San Francisco Public Library

Liberating. Poetic. So beautiful that each page choked me with different emotions—love, pain, happiness, anger, hatred. She reminds me that wherever we are, our ‘womanity’ and the strength that we have inherited from our ancestors cannot be taken away from us. Through her poetic memoir, Dr. Strobel speaks to us through her beautifully and painfully woven experiences. And we can talk back. She has the answers. Dr. Strobel’s journey mirrors the diaspora of a Filipino woman in search of the self and finding the self that has become stronger in a foreign land despite the struggles and questions. I read her words with my heart.
Eunice Barbara C. Novio, educator, journalist, and recipient of the 2017 Plaridel Award, Philippine American Press Club

Taking another poet’s lines as her starting points, Leny creates mediations and meditations within which she tells her story and invites her readers to come in and dwell a while to contemplate what she has created: a retreat, a cocoon, a place in which to see oneself and to be seen, from which to spin forward and inspire other poetic awakenings.
Myriam J. A. Chancy, Guggenheim Fellow, author of The Loneliness of Angels, and HBA Chair in the Humanities, Scripps College

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leny Mendoza Strobel is Professor Emeritus of American Multicultural Studies at Sonoma State University. She is also one of the Founding Directors of the Center for Babaylan Studies. Her books, journal articles, online media presence reflect her decades-long study and reflections on the process of decolonization and healing of colonial trauma through the lens of indigenous perspectives. She is a grandmother to Noah and she tends a garden and chickens with Cal in Northern California. More information is available at https://www.lenystrobel.com/.


Racial Justice Allies features Leny Mendoza Strobel’s GLIMPSES

In Glimpses: A Poetic Memoir (Through the MDR Generator), Filipino-American author, academic and local community leader Leny Mendoza Strobel takes an arguably more personal approach to this work than in her previous writing. However, as the reader soon learns, the distinctions between the personal and the political, between poetics and polemics, and between the individualContinue reading “Racial Justice Allies features Leny Mendoza Strobel’s GLIMPSES”

Maileen Hamto reviews GLIMPSES by Leny Strobel

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… continue reading. (Read Margo Stebbing’s love note to Leny Strobel here. For HALO-HALO’s table of contents, please click here.)

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ELSEWHEN

ELSEWHEN
Robert Cowan

ISBN: 978-1-7323025-6-3
Release Date: June 15, 2019
Pages: 94
Price: $16.00
Distributors: Bookshop, Amazon, B&N, Ingram, Paloma Press

Paloma Press is pleased to announce the release of Elsewhen: pieces by Robert Cowan, an illustrated hybrid collection that blurs the boundaries between poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Replacement for Words

Boredom used to be disallowed;
it was for the unimaginative,
for the existentially challenged
for the febrile.
Now I am saturated
with eating, dressing, periodicals,

masturbation, design, weather, peoples
obsessions with ethnic anxieties,
American nostalgia for old versions of Europe,

with purple, and containers.
Let us not have a dog,
not know our history,

nor recognize any influences,
be compelled to disemploy words,
move toward the all-water: inhumanity

—past Germanics, beyond Inuits—
like that creature
with that word: distance.

We could replace even him
with spaces,
stillness,

movement.
We can fill
even the idea

of replacement
itself
with ice.

ADVANCE WORDS:

“At the heart of Rob Cowan’s hybrid new book Elsewhen is the void, which functions—in the deadpan tongue-in-cheek tone that animates this collection—as a kind of simultaneous self portrait and ars poetica. Cowan’s meditations arise out of an almost jovial irony and despair as the speaker in these poems leaps between raunch and high abstraction, sampling logos, allegory, politics, wordplay, philosophy, and history. These poems destabilize convention as they carry us down unexpected detours, from the Belt Parkway to a collection of bardos and other liminal states.” —Catherine Barnett

“Robert Cowan’s collection Elsewhen is a delight of culture, sharpness and emotions. A patchwork of scenes, places and peoples, a transparency of history and histories, Elsewhen is a refreshing and necessary read, bathed in the warm light of a long-awaited humanistic sunrise.” —Sébastien Doubinsky

“If the poetry of wit were ever to make a comeback in our age of winsome elegy and compulsory subversion, Robert Cowan would be its maestro. Not here the sex and flowers sopping up the poetic page or the “something kinda bad happened to me once” that earned James Tate’s contempt. Cowan steps up in his second collection with poems that are fresh and wide-ranging, ever-attentive to the world around him and executed in a quick-stepping idiom he owns. Here you will find poems that vibrate with spot-on observation and natural sophistication that pay readers the compliment of recognizing their own acuity and amplifying their imaginations.” —David Rigsbee

About the Author

ROBERT COWAN is a professor and dean at the City University of New York, and a volunteer instructor at Rikers Island Correctional Facility. He is the author of two hybrid-genre collections—Elsewhen (Paloma Press, 2019) and Close Apart (Paloma Press, 2018), and two monographs—Teaching Double Negatives (Peter Lang, 2018) and The Indo-German Identification (Camden House, 2010). His poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and scholarship have appeared in various journals and anthologies.

About the Illustrator

ADA COWAN is a Brooklyn-based artist and photographer whose work has appeared in National Public Radio’s The Salt, Sierra, The Washington Post, and books by Paloma Press and Peter Lang. Currently a student at the NYC iSchool, Ada has studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Frick Collection, the Museum of Modern Art, Pratt Institute, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work has been selected for Arts Connection exhibits three times and profiled in Time Out New York Kids.


ELSEWHEN Book Launch

Please come to the launch for Robert Cowan’s second poetry collection, Elsewhen, illustrated by Ada Cowan, and published by Paloma Press at Spoonbill Bushwick, 218 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY!

DIASPORA: VOLUME L

DIASPORA: VOLUME L
Ivy Alvarez

ISBN: 978-1-7323025-5-6
Release Date: April 2019
Pages: 62
Price: $16.00
Distributors: Bookshop, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram (wholesale), Paloma Press, & others

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 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.”

ADVANCE WORDS

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-photo-by-Veronika-Mironova-600x904Ivy 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.


Harana Poetry reviews Ivy Alvarez’s Diaspora: Volume L

Ivy Alvarez’s fifth collection, Diaspora: Volume L, is made up of beautiful vignettes with Filipino sayings at their cores, which portray charged moments in romantic relationships and everyday interactions with the world. Each title is an idiom, and acts as the linguistic scaffold around which a poem is deftly built… continue reading.