The Diaspora Sonnets

Liveright: Norton. Jul. 2023. 112p. ISBN 9781324092988. $26.95. POETRY
This latest collection from de la Paz (after The Boy in the Labyrinth) evokes his family’s experiences following his father’s migration from the Philippines in the 1970s, when Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. With sensuous detail, these poems examine family perspectives and summon places, from the seaside and orchards of Oregon to the airport and laundromat that shaped his family’s life. Sonnets and occasional pantoums deftly explore the influence and uncertainties of immigration (“Father/ stamping out the past. It’s what he does best./ Calls it self-care. You call it what you will”). Ultimately, the book crafts a nuanced and personal portrait of the complex idea and experience of home amid migration: the tension between leaving and remaking, memory and presence, obligation and survival, expectation and thereafter (“If there’s a home for us, remember where we stand/ so we can return to it”).
VERDICT Exciting in its combination of traditional form and accessibility, this collection offers a compassionate and poignant reflection on family in diaspora. Highly recommended.
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