New from BOA Editions, Ltd.
Poems by Barbara Jane Reyes
In her book Diwata, Reyes uses such Filipino oral tradition devices as meter, repetition and refrain, call and response, incantatory verses which verge on song, and the pantoum (which has Southeast Asian origins). She frames her poems between the Book of Genesis creation story, and the Tagalog creation myth, placing her work somewhere culturally in between both traditions. Also setting the tone for her stories is the death and large shadow cast by her grandfather, a World War II veteran and Bataan Death March survivor, who has passed onto her the responsibility of remembering. Reyes’ voice is grounded in her community’s traditions and histories, despite war and geographical dislocation.
“Reyes has accomplished a masterpiece by conjuring and weaving the dialectics and elements of Malakas and Magandá – a Filipina poetics of the strong and beautiful. This alone merits praise. In majestic prose and deep story, in rhythmic caesura and hunter woman voices, in genius image brushwork and long and short line archipelago, we learn lessons for the 21st Century: that colonial invasion, the horror of cultural dismemberment, is not exhaustive: Asia, the Philippines, Manila spirit, all of us – can rebuild and continue in América, in many ways become whole again, by the alma and ceremonias, the tellings kept for centuries and beautifully recast in this book. I was mesmerized by the true Diwata that lives in these pages. Diwata – she instructs us, lures us, takes us deep into her jeweled river, then breathes into us our Creation Story – one we thought we could no longer remember, write, speak, or call our own.” —Juan Felipe Herrera
“Barbara Jane Reyes’ Diwata is a book that would have raised the hairs on the nape of Emily Dickinson’s head upon recognition of its poetic backbone. She injects Filipino words like calamansi, kastoy, and pananaghoy into the sinew of American poetry with panache and fearless abandon. Hers is an incomparable talent from which we cannot avert our gaze.” —Nick Carbó
September 2010 • 88 pages $16.00 paper • 978-1-934414-37-8
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Cover image by Christian Cabuay. Cover design by Sandy Knight.