Jason Bayani, "Locus" (Omnidawn Publishing, 2019)

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"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”

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.

Jason Bayani is an MFA graduate from Saint Mary's College, a Kundiman fellow, and works as the artistic director for the Kearny Street Workshop, the oldest multi-disciplinary Asian Pacific American arts organization in the country. His publishing credits include World Literature Today, Muzzle Magazine, and Lantern Review, among others. Jason performs regularly around the country and debuted his solo theater show "Locus of Control" in 2016 with theatrical runs in San Francisco, New York, and Austin.

You can join New Books in Poetry in a discussion of this episode on Shuffle by joining here.

Andrea Blythe bides her time waiting for the apocalypse by writing speculative poetry and fiction. She is the author of Your Molten Heart / A Seed to Hatch (2018) a collection of erasure poems created from the pages of Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyers, and coauthor of Every Girl Becomes the Wolf (Finishing Line Press, 2018), a collaborative chapbook written with Laura Madeline Wiseman. She is a cohost of the New Books in Poetry podcast and is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association and the Horror Writers Association. Learn more at:www.andreablythe.com

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