New Books in Poetry: Locus by Jason Bayani

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which I get to speak with Jason Bayani about his new book Locus (Omnidawn Publishing 2019).

“Poetry gave me back a way to find my culture, my history,” says Jason Bayani while discussion his new book Locus (Omnidawn Publishing 2019), which blends memoir and poetry into a stunning exploration of fragmented identities and the Pilipinx-American experience. Drawing inspiration from hip-hop and delving into the knotted complexity of family history and relationships, Bayani is able to recover a migrant identity and experience that is often silenced and shape a confident declaration of selfhood in American culture.

“In my grandfather’s last days
He wandered the rice fields alone.
What was left of his mind bringing him back
to what he spent his entire life building.

We are the land — lupa ay buhay, land is living.

When my father talks of his poverty, he presents
a bowl of rice and says, ‘Your Inang
would put one piece of fish on the table,
and we would press our fingers
against it for flavor.’ Mimicking his hand
scooping rice out of the bowl.”

— fragment from “The Low Lands”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice — and you can join New Books in Poetry in a discussion of this episode on Shuffle by signing up here.

Bayani’s recommended poets and artists from the podcast: Microchips for Millions by Janice Sapigao, This is for the Mostless by Jason Magabo Perez, Souvenir by Aimee Suzara, Circa 91 by Ruby Ibarra, Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay, Insurrecto by Gina Apostol, and Anak Ko by Jay Som.


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