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.
A Bell Made of Stones | TinFish Press
From the editor:
Lehua Taitano’s unforgettable poetry joins a new wave of Chamorro and Pacific literature. In A Bell Made of Stones, she bravely navigates the currents of mixed-race indigenous identity, transoceanic migration, and queer sexuality through a series of experimental (and lyrical) typographic poems. With the typewriter as her canoe, Taitano chants homeward “for the flightless, to stretch roots, for the husk of things set adrift.”–Craig Santos Perez
Praise for A Bell Made of Stones:
The journey through A Bell Made of Stones shifts us from empathetic observers to experiential participants. We are forced to engage with the unsettling disconnection and stress of locating a coherent voice and a culturally legible identity/identities in the fragments of loss and daily misrecognitions created by distance, diaspora and resistance to performing so-called hetero-normativity. Evoked instead of told, the poetry evolves into an installation that is beyond words, bearing witness to the stigma of enunciating through disconnected discourses. There is a surprisingly elegant, dignified aesthetic to the collapsed, repressed text that bares the raw marks of scarcely audible attempts at making meaning. While we are invited to find the lament left on the page, left with the palpable sense of what is missing and/or mistranslated. What is left to savor are the sparse, poignant leftovers—stringing together separate stories of mother, sisters, lover and other. But more than anything, we are left with the sense that the fragments are more (and less) than (and may never add up to) the sum of their parts.
—Karlo Mila, author of Dream Fish Floating and A Well Written Body
A Bell Made of Stones is a synaesthestic kaleidoscope—where we listen to “sheen” and “husk” and “rope,” where the canoe can sing, and where what seems solid might “settle as through a sieve.” Taitano’s poems—her “stampings”—pile-up lyrical language into gorgeous collisions of type. Yet, as “visual evidence of the echo,” the poems also gesture to what is not there, such as “the surfacing and submergence of islands of sound” made by a typewriter. As poet-guide, Taitano shows her reader how the map of her every day contains assumptions and aspersions cast by others, reminding us that she is “with and without explanation.” These are poems where a hyphen can be both a “perforation” and a “stitch.” Be patient. Wait out assumptions. Ready oneself for revelation.
—Kaia Sand, author of Remember to Wave
Lehua Taitano’s A Bell Made of Stones formulates in its “tethered tautly” poems the truth of her birth and the necessity of her aesthetic address. Rich with protest, these poems map the “story of [your] blood.” These are “heroic feats” that endure with clairvoyant strength and keep asking if there is “anything truer than truth.” These poems keep replying, going beyond “the bareness of lament.” This is a fierce and brilliant collection of poems—chock-full of issued utterances, elliptical enjambments, cross-outs, and elision—all of which persevere in constructing an apt orchestration between the tongue’s experiment and typewriter’s keys.
—Prageeta Sharma, author of Infinite Landscapes, Bliss to Fill, The Opening Question, and Undergloom
Sonoma | Drop Leaf Press
A numbered, hand-sewn chapbook of poetry.
From URAYOÁN NOEL via the Poetry Foundation:
“This new chapbook continues Taitano’s diasporic mapping of landscapes and bodyscapes. Here, the bold typewriter text-bombs and strikethroughs of 2013’s A Bell Made of Stones give way to a languid love letter to Sonoma, California, its lake, its lack, and its simultaneous familiarity and foreignness. The speaker here is “adrift” in diaspora, but also attuned to the pleasures of displacement. From a diasporic Chamorro perspective, there’s of course 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, just as she does in her short story chapbook appalachiapacific (2010). As with other Chamorro and Pacific poetics, Taitano’s work evinces a strong eco-poetic dimension, especially with regard to the intersections between environmental and colonial violence, a crucial aspect of 1898 poetics that I don’t have room to carefully consider here. A great poet once wrote, “Pardon me 4 breathing, can we borrow some of your air?” Taitano’s Sonoma unpacks the question with the exquisite flow of its breath.”
From Greg Bem, via Yellow Rabbits Review:
“Sonoma as a book of dignity and definition. As the result of craft. As a result of the poet as present, to siphon, funnel, perceive, relay. Taitano as the investigator, but there needs to be another word: a form of investigation that exhibits respect, is careful, is intensely aware and is resolved to an acceptance of the emerging beauty…
The words in Sonoma feel energetic. They feel etched: temporal but placed with a fixed and impressive effort. Or they feel engraved: to be as permanent as witness, actualized or potential. A poetry that sits like a body of water on a body of land. A poetry that grips the land through immense weight, and there are countless angles, and there is constant possibility.”
appalachiapacific is a chapbook of short fiction and winner of the Merriam-Frontier Award.
Limited copies. Purchase via email: firstname.lastname@example.org