102 pages, 6.5" x 8.5"
Publication Date: 11 Nov 2017
like a solid to a shadow is a documentary poetry collection about grieving, fatherlessness, and the limitations of language. Sapigao finds her deceased father’s love ‘letters’ to her mother: cassette tapes recorded in Illokano, a language of which she has imperfect knowledge. The book moves through Sapigao’s process of translating and transcribing the tapes; playing with, learning, and unlearning the Ilokano and English languages. This book then launches from the tapes to ask “What can we really know?” when it comes to family lineages and personal histories. Through family trees, photos, and mapping, Sapigao articulates, distorts, and heals her knowledge of the man who is is her deceased father.
Praise for like a solid to a shadow
Janice Lobo Sapigao’s second book, like a solid to a shadow, is a superbly conceptualized post-memoir about the space between solid and shadow, father and daughter, love and migration, San Jose and Pangasinan, English and Ilokano, grief and memory. Written as transcripts, translations, notes, maps, love letters, and elegies, these poems are arrestingly intimate, generous, sincere, self-reflexive, and mad smart. Sapigao offers us yet again a sharply rendered and bold critical Pinay curiosity—hella personal, hella political, hella musical—through her experimental, experiential, ever- evolving, skillfully crafted, mixtape-magical, yet always in-progress, feminist documentary poetics.
Jason Magabo Perez
like a solid to a shadow is a primer for how to seek in absence and grief the language one needs to get through. “What if there are no records?” the poet asks, wondering if the document is what verifies a lived life. What she discovers, and reveals to us, is that poetry is the record and process, the thing that can handle all the holes and remnants, allowing us to feel and think the fullness of that absence, and to discover there the shadows of what “was is” left unsaid. These poems show us the space both before and “after indigo finishes/its shift.”
Janice Lobo Sapigao’s like a solid to a shadow is a collection about turning the traces of a story into the story itself. Here is a book that uncovers the dual nature of language: Even as it fails to bring the dead solidly back to life, every utterance resurrects that vitality. Through the usage of the rules of grammar throughout, the book highlights the ways that translation, at its essence, is unruly. The book’s many-layered structures of explication— ranging from maps, to FB messages, to family tree diagrams, to textbook excerpts—are components a recovery project, both bringing the speaker’s father back to the speaker, but also, in promoting the speaker’s psychic and emotional healing.
Cathy Linh Che
"Sapigao (Microchips for Millions) dedicates her second collection to an intriguing project of translation as a means of reckoning with identity and trauma. Her father, who died when she was six, had recorded spoken love letters in the Filipino language Ilokano to her mother and grandparents. Sapigao begins by detailing her process of translating these recordings. But the ensuing work dances away from cohesion, incorporating handwritten notes on learning Ilokano, family trees, Facebook messages, and more. Her language is spare and surprisingly direct given the ghostly subject, a deliberate refusal to invite a subsurface reading. Sapigao provides stark contrast through renderings of her father’s staccato words: “Make sure not to leave behind what I write (what you write). Because what we write is what we need to keep in order for it stay (so it doesn’t fly away, to keep it from flying with the wind, to have it so that it doesn’t become flight or wind,) so it doesn’t go far away from us.” Sapigao’s closing pages reveal the danger of investigating family; she uncovers her father’s secret other family and realizes that she is the last in her family to know. Though solid ground can be difficult to find, Sapigao’s “imperfect translation” is worth the work of the journey."—Publishers Weekly
Janice Lobo Sapigao is a writer, poet, and educator. She is a VONA/Voices Fellow and was awarded a Manuel G. Flores Prize, PAWA Scholarship to the Kundiman Poetry Retreat. She is the Associate Editor of TAYO Literary Magazine, and a co-founder of Sunday Jump, an open mic in Los Angeles’s Historic Filipinotown. Her work has also been published in numerous publications including KQED Arts, The Offing, Jacket2, AngryAsianMan.com, and Action, Yes!as well anthologies such as Empire of Funk: Hip Hop and Representation in Filipina/o America (Cognella Academic Publishing, 2014) and Namjai: An Intergenerational Tribute Anthology of Bay Area Asian Pacific Islander Poets(The ReWrite, 2013). She earned her M.F.A. in Writing from CalArts, and she has a B.A. in Ethnic Studies with Honors from UC San Diego. Janice loves playing with stuffed animals, runs races occasionally, and frequents local, small mom + pop coffee shops.
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