Inside Me an Island is a collection of the sediment of displacement, re-placement, and imagined arrival. With one eye focused (inwardly) on an island homeland, the other roving the natural world for what resembles home, Taitano investigates the push and pull of queer migratory belonging. For the indigenous islander living in diaspora, constructing identity in neocolonial America requires conjuring wholeness from fragments. Transoceanic and transcontinental, subterranean and aerial, these poems sift the waters, from shore to reservoir.
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“From a diasporic Chamoru perspective, there’s an irreconcilable difference between island and mainland, and between the expanses of California and the accidents of the psychic archipelago, but Taitano’s poetics works by queering that distance, by finding the homology in difference, by embracing the synaesthetic intimacies of landscape…As with other Chamoru and Pacific poetics, Taitano’s work evinces a strong eco-poetic dimension, especially with regard to the intersections between environmental and colonial violence…”- Urayoàn Noel
“With this work, Lehua M. Taitano’s voice strikes the prayer bowl. Within is an invocation to gather in the spaces beyond false boundary lines ‘because the news tells us who we are not’ and ‘because our voices are choked in the fumes of B-1 bombers.’ This profound collection is a fierce love letter without beginning or end, a spiraling medicine that moves as water does. A necessary read.”- Arlene Biala
“Anyone who has read Lehua M. Taitano’s debut, A Bell Made of Stones, is devastated by its introductory poem, an immediate evisceration of the mantra as confession: ‘inside me an island / shaped hole.’ This is what diaspora feels like. This is what diaspora sounds like…And with this second book Taitano provides catharsis “to preside over teeth, bones / a wherewithal”, an assuaging of recurring trauma, with a title extracted from and inlaid within, ritualized over changing landscapes. Perhaps that is how dread and loss are sublime here—to bury Home deep within the unconscious, an island submerged by lyrical tide…because the wrecks and ghosts of the continent are whispering and demand their own poems.” -Sean Labrador y Manzano
“For Lehua M. Taitano, skin is the sharp blur of shoreline, ‘lapping aches’ of erasure, and becoming. She excavates tunnels through hills, and with ‘griefscrawl’ names wounds and rivers, punctures and worms. Set adrift, ‘half this, half that,’ Taitano writes for us an estuary unmoored. In silt and surf, in swoons and swells… she speaks a glossary of the places she contains, ‘a swimming skeleton of everything I could ever say at all.’”- Jai Arun Ravine