For fans of Diane Seuss and Victoria Chang, a coruscating collection that eloquently invokes the perseverance and myth of the Filipino diaspora in America.
“My father forfeits field and nation / and I dream nothing into these turning skies.” In 1972, after Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, Oliver de la Paz’s father, in a last fit of desperation to leave the Philippines, threw his papers at an immigration clerk, hoping to get them stamped. He was prepared to leave, having already quit his job and exchanged pesos for dollars; but he couldn’t anticipate the migratory lifestyle he and his family would soon adopt in America. Their search for a sense of “home” is evocatively explored by award-winning poet de la Paz in this formally inventive collection of sonnets. Poems flit with dulcet lyricism and nostalgia from coast to coast, across prairies and deserts, along the way musing on shadowy dreams of a faraway country. With a virtuoso’s deft touch, The Diaspora Sonnets break and rejoin poetic tradition, powerfully capturing the peculiar pangs of a diaspora “that has left and is forever leaving.”