Saturday, April 27, 2024



Photo by Gabriela A. Igloria

What are your reading habits and/or tendencies (e.g. favorite type of reads)?

-       These days, my reads are mostly poetry and nonfiction—new as well as “older” works. I have a pile of novels I would like to get through at some point—these were either recommended to me or gifted to me. I tend to read more than one book at a time. I have stacks of books in many corners of our house (besides on bookshelves).


What are you currently reading?

-       This spring semester, I’m teaching a graduate seminar that I created and am piloting—I’ve called it “Writing the Body Fantastic: Exploring Metaphors of Human Corporeality.” I’ve been very excited to group readings that I’ve read and loved for a while now, with other newer (or at least new to me) finds, in ways that I think work well together and (hopefully) incite new connections. For example, we read Leslie Adrienne Miller’s The Resurrection Trade alongside chapters from Frank Gonzalez Crussi’s The Body Fantastic, Shigehisa Kuriyama’s The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine, origin stories, and accounts of anatomical exploration in classical times. We read Virginia Woolf and Susan Sontag’s essays on illness alongside Katie Farris’s Standing in the Forest of Being Alive and Eula Biss’s On Immunity; The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida’s memoir of his autism; torrin a. greathouse’s Wound from the Mouth of a wound; and excerpts from Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary.

For my own pleasure, I’m reading Raymond Antrobus’s The Perseverance; and I’ve just started Richard Powers’ Bewilderment. Off and on I also read a few craft books on bookbinding.

If you’re a published book author, choose a book(s) and think about how you hope readers would read it?

-       I have a new book of poems coming out in August 2024 from Black Lawrence Press — Caulbearer (winner of their 2023 Immigrant Writing Series). 

When a newborn emerges with a caul (part or all of the thin amniotic sac) over its head or body, the midwife or doctor works quickly to release it so as not to endanger the child’s breathing. Technically, it is the lining of the womb which housed the child before it comes into the world. In many cultures, a caul is considered talismanic; and a child born with it, possessing luck or protection. As metaphor, it could signify the veiled interval of transition from one state to another.


It’s said that history is what is over, what is finished or done. But history is also what is written by those who have the power to circulate narratives. For immigrants, nostalgia seems to be only the fantasy of return— Or is it a fluid space in which those who have left any place of origin can continue to actively deploy both memory and reminiscence on their own terms?

In these poems, I want readers to query the idea that nostalgia is only the idealization or romanticization of the past, and therefore somehow a detriment to processes of adjustment or assimilation. The space nostalgia opens does not only contain evidence of our difference or otherness. It also offers opportunities for discovering pleasure in the re-imagining and the telling of our own stories, for as long and for as many times as we need.


Please share some favorite books.

By no means complete, and in no particular order:

Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

Eula Biss, On Immunity

Briana Loehwinsohn, Ephemera: A Memoir

Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being; and The Book of Form and Emptiness

Estrella D. Alfon, Magnificence and Other Stories

Maxine Hong Kingston, Woman Warrior

Italo Calvino, The Road to San GiovanniSix Memos for the Next Millennium

Yiyun Li, Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your LifeThe Vagrants

Chen Chen, When I Grow Up I Want to be A List of Further Possibilities

Ananda Lima, Tropicalia

Paisley Rekdal, NightingaleWest: A Translation
Resil Mojares, Origins and Rise of the Filipino Novel

Aimee Nezhukumatathil, World of Wonders; and At the Drive-in Volcano

Sadiqa de Meijer, alfabet/alphabet

Maggie Nelson, Bluets

Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

Padmapani L. Perez, Rehana Rossouw, Alexandra Walter, and 

Renato Redentor Constantino, eds., Harvest Moon: Poems and 

Stories from the Edge of the Climate Crisis

            Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic; and Dancing in Odessa

            Louise Glück, The Wild Iris

            Ross Gay, Inciting Joy: Essays

Rachel Zucker, The Poetics of Wrongness

Emily St. John Mandel, Station ElevenThe Sea of Tranquility

Matthew Salesses, Craft in the Real World
            Sally Wen Mao, Oculus; and The Kingdom of Surfaces
            Frank Gonzalez Crussi, The Body Fantastic

Michel de Montaigne, Essays

James Wright and Leslie Marmon Silko, The Delicacy and Strength of Lace: Letters
            Diana Khoi Nguyen, Ghost Of

Cathy Park Hong, Minor Feelings

Roland Barthes, The Empire of Signs; and A Lover’s Discourse

Heinrich Zimmer, The King and the Corpse: Tales of the Soul’s Conquest of Evil


Ask yourself a reading-related question you concoct and answer it.

What is to be gained by writing all over a physical book that you’re reading? 

-       Writing on books is not a desecration of books. I love to write on my books. This is why I love physical books more than electronic versions of texts (like on Kindle). I underline words, phrases, lines, passages that shimmer with insight or that are beautifully and potently worded. I write on the margins, in response to things that I encounter on the page. They might be questions, they might be exclamation points, they might be smiley faces... Partly I think that’s because writing is a conversation one is always having or trying to have with another—the writer is talking to someone, even if at first only in their head; and the reader, by virtue of opening the book, is invited into that conversation. It’s a conversation that’s been going on for a very long time, because every writer draws from multiple sources in turn, and their own reading and being in the world (we might call it “intertextuality” now). That’s such a wonderful gift that literature gives to us.   



Photo by Gabriela A. Igloria

Luisa A. Igloria is the author of Caulbearer (Immigrant Writing Series Prize, Black Lawrence Press, 2024), Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Co-Winner, 2019 Crab Orchard Open Poetry Prize), The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis (2018), 12 other books, and 4 chapbooks. She is lead editor, along with co-editors Aileen Cassinetto and Jeremy S. Hoffman, of Dear Human at the Edge of Time: Poems on Climate Change in the U.S. (Paloma Press, 2023), offered as a companion to the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5). Originally from Baguio City, she makes her home in Norfolk VA where she is the Louis I. Jaffe and University Professor of English and Creative Writing at Old Dominion University’s MFA Creative Writing Program. She also leads workshops for and is a member of the board of The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk. Luisa is the 20th Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-22), Emerita. During her term, the Academy of American Poets awarded her a 2021 Poet Laureate Fellowship.


No comments:

Post a Comment