cover image Diaspora Sonnets

Diaspora Sonnets

Oliver de la Paz. Liveright, $26.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-324-09298-8

The thoughtful latest from de la Paz (The Boy in the Labyrinth) explores his family’s experience of the Filipino diaspora. Following the 1972 declaration of martial law by Ferdinand Marcos, de la Paz’s father decided to leave the Philippines with his family, crossing the Pacific Ocean to the U.S. The collection’s opening poem conveys de la Paz’s early disorientation as the family began its peripatetic journey: “The streets of Marikina crammed/ behind my eye somewhere,/ or lost in pockets stuffed with crumbs/ of airplane crackers.” Many of these sonnets recount the family’s movement from town to town, mostly in the American West, often laboring as agricultural workers, and never quite finding a feeling of community. The struggle to create a home in exile is vividly rendered in poems that trace the family’s journeys over the decades: “We wanted to construct a livable world/ but the pieces didn’t fit.” This haunting collection sheds new light on the migrant’s experience of loss and longing. (July)