poem index

book

Diwata

Year

2010

Type

Poetry Book
Diwata by Barbara Jane Reyes

In this series of mostly prose poems, Barbara Jane Reyes invokes creation stories from Genesis and from Tagalog tradition, creating a text that is a hybrid of Filipina and Western storytelling. Diwata is a multifaceted concept—the term means both "Muse" and a representation of a mythical being in nature that humans must respect in order to live in harmony. Myth and story, telling and re-telling, the claiming of an indigenous history and also a dislocation from that history form a thematic crux in this gorgeous text that, at times, includes bilingual fragments enmeshing Tagalog and English. From "Polyglot Incantation":

And what are these glyphs
Wikang matemátiká
Some human machinery
Símbóló, enkantada, o gayuma
Maker of souls and tongues
Anong pisi o balat ng ahas

This book review originally appeared in American Poets, fall 2010, issue 39.

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