winner of the
2014 May Swenson Poetry Prize, selected by Mark Doty
“However often I watch them appear in my feed reader, Luisa’s poems are still an astonishment, virtuosic by-products of an intense daily (or nightly) grappling with language and memory that confounds the usual association between dailiness and ordinariness. Indeed, they are so rich, they must be savored slowly—often, I suspect, at less than half the speed at which they were originally composed. What a pleasure, then, to sit down at this feast of a collection, pulled together for our delectation by a master chef. Kain tayo!”
—Dave Bonta, editor of Via Negativa and MovingPoems.com
“When Luisa Igloria cites Epictetus—’as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place’—she introduces the crowded and contradictory world her poems portray: a realm of transience, yes, where the vulnerable come to harm and everything disappears, but also a scene of tremendous, unpredictable bounty, the gloriously hued density this poet loves to detail. ‘I was raised / to believe not only the beautiful can live on / Parnassus,’ she tells us, and she makes it true, by including in the cyclonic swirl of her poems practically everything: a gorgeous, troubling over-brimming universe.”
—Mark Doty, judge for the 2014 Swenson Award
“Luisa A. Igloria establishes herself as a singular and revelatory voice in American poetry. . . . Her engrossing poems hide, behind their gorgeous scrims, a bristling wall of spears.”
—Sabina Murray, author of Tales of the New World; A Carnivore’s Inquiry and The Caprices (winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award)
“These are poems whose gaze is as public as it is personal, and whose desire is to bring us into conversation with others by reminding us of the instances in which our language, whether fragmented or fluid, makes us part of a larger river of voices, a chorus as old as humanity itself. Through Igloria’s poems we encounter the wisdom gleaned from looking backward and forward at once. Her ability to do so makes this collection, as well as her other work, an exercise in time travel well worth making.”
—Dorianne Laux, author of The Book of Men, The Book of Women, and Facts about the Moon
The May Swenson Poetry Award, an annual competition named for May Swenson, honors her as one of America’s most provocative and vital writers. During her long career, Swenson was loved and praised by writers from virtually every school of American poetry. She left a legacy of fifty years of writing when she died in 1989. She is buried in Logan, Utah, her hometown.
Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal; 2014
Read the title poem, “The Saints of Streets,” here.
Luisa Igloria’s The Saints of Streets overlays the landscapes we see with many more vanished. Houses, town halls, and cathedrals are held up by spires of memory; the past erupts and spills over when the poet focuses on particulars, “…nose pressed to the doorway between worlds/ lit by the same fire that singes the wings of bees.” Igloria begins, as we often do, with a yearning: followed by question, meditation—but the power of her gaze sets these poems apart. Observation magnetizes worlds into radical juxtaposition, and in these poems, measured, intuitive music splendidly unleashes the bewildering in the everyday.
~ Kristin Naca, author of Bird Eating Bird (Harper Perennial 2009, selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the mtvU National Poetry Series)
In poem after poem, Luisa Igloria deftly reminds us of the relevance of an art form at the shore of irrelevance, where the “water writes what it erases, then writes again.” The erased—hungry ghosts, Pigafetta, the Saints, Yamashita, and Filipino public figures long-forgotten—find their memories re-lived in Igloria’s poetic timeline. Here is a full display of Igloria’s extraordinary ability to become a vessel for muted and fading voices returned to the shores of our historic imagination with an “overflowing urgency of words.”
~ Bino A. Realuyo, author of The Gods We Worship Live Next Door (University of Utah Press, 2005 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry) and The Umbrella Country (Ballantine Books, 1999).
“…Luisa Igloria establishes herself as a singular and revelatory voice in American poetry. Here, she explores the dichotomy of Filipino: interwoven yet hermetically singular, acquisitive yet inventive, docile yet amok. Her engrossing poems hide, behind their gorgeous scrims, a bristling wall of spears.”
~ Sabina Murray, author of Tales of the New World: Stories (Grove Press, 2011; New York Times Editors’ Choice and O, The Oprah Magazine Book of the Week selection), A Carnivore’s Inquiry, and The Caprices (Grove Press, 2007)
In Luisa A. Igloria’s twelfth and newest book The Saints of Streets, hungry ghosts, mullahs, would-be assassins, carnival queens, Hell Girl, Dante riding Geryon’s back, and a host of other figures guide us through the dioramas and exhibits of personal and collective memory: they’ll be our chauffeurs, psychopomps, tourist guides, our sweet and difficult familiars. These poems are love letters, phone calls disrupting our day to remind us of the strange and beautiful mysteries of living in the postcolonial moment.
Book Cover Design: Jennifer Patricia A. Carino Book Cover
Photograph: “Reverence to the Moon” by Elmer Borlongan
Winner, 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize Series in PoetryUniversity of Notre Dame Press The poems in Juan Luna’s Revolver both address history and attempt to transcend it through their exploration of the complexity of diaspora. Attending to the legacy of colonial and postcolonial encounters, Luisa A. Igloria has crafted poems that create links of sympathetic human understanding, even as they revisit difficult histories and pose necessary questions about place, power, displacement, nostalgia, beauty, and human resilience in conditions of alienation and duress. Igloria traces journeys made by Filipinos in the global diaspora that began since the encounter with European and American colonial powers. Her poems allude to historical figures such as the Filipino painter Juan Luna, the novelist and national hero José Rizal, as well as the eleven hundred indigenous Filipinos brought to serve as live exhibits in the 1904 Missouri World’s Fair. The image of the revolver fired by Juan Luna reverberates throughout this collection, raising to high relief how separation and exile have shaped concepts of identity, nationality, and possibility. Suffused with gorgeous imagery and nuanced emotion, Igloria’s poetry achieves an intimacy fostered by gem-like phrases set within a politically-charged context speaking both to the personal and the collective. Luisa A. Igloria is a tenured professor and the Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University. The winner of numerous national and international creative writing awards, she is the author of nine other books.
OTHER BOOKS BY LUISA IGLORIA
[Click on the Book Covers for more information]
Luisa Igloria’s work also appears in the following anthologies:
[Click on the Book Covers for more information.]