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book

Diwata

Year

2010

Type

Poetry Book
Diwata by Barbara Jane Reyes
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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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