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Souvenir, Poems by Aimee Suzara

In this compelling debut book by Aimee Suzara, a Filipino-American woman encounters narratives of her history-from the "living exhibits" of Filipinos in the 1904 World's Fair to the migration of her family across seas and continents to the Wild West. The poems consider what souvenirs are kept as histories are buried, found, and reinvented.

Writing in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Carribean Fragoza says of Souvenir: “Her songs gather together clashing voices that reveal colonization to be an exchange that is never unidirectional or uniform...The danger of narratives is that they can be perpetrated and inflicted again and again, for centuries. Their true damage is immeasurable, echoing over time. Poets like Aimee Suzara not only have the courage to handle these weapons of history, but they have the skill to disarm them. They have the ability to take apart the museum itself and reassemble it in unexpected ways.”

Sample Poems by Aimee Suzara

"While the 1804 World's Fair displayed Filipino bodies for an American audience, Aimee Suzara's poetry flips the script to question the ethics of the imperial gaze. Juxtaposing the exposition with her own migrations, she paints an intimate portrait of her family amid all-American landscapes, foods, music, dreams and disappointments. By engaging with a variety of archival material and a range of poetic modes (lyric, narrative, documentary, collage), Suzara keeps our attention on the voices, objects, and memories that we hold onto to survive. In the end, the poet asks herself, her ancestors, and us: 'What do you brace, so as not to break?"-Craig Santos Perez, from unincorporated territory

"We need this book. This naming. This documentation. This honoring. When Suzara writes, 'Listen, we/gentle butanding/turned the sea into milk,' a prophetic speaker warns us of the dangers of cultural and environmental loss. Through multiple voices, Suzara tells it like it is."-Sharon Bridgforth, the bull-jean stories

"Aimee Suzara is a deep chronicler of our hopes, dreams, pains, and future. Borderless yet profoundly situated, she is the motherjoyscream we must wake up to. We need these poems more than ever."-Luis J. Rodriguez, My Nature is Hunger

"In this powerful meditation on history and the legacies of race, family, and identity, Suzara's poetry is precise, cogent, and formally inventive. Souvenir adds a necessary and needed portrait in our American mosaic."-David Mura, Turning Japanese

Poet and playwright Aimee Suzara's published work includes her chapbook the space between, nominated for the California Book Award, and poems and articles in in Lantern Review, Kartika Review, 580 Split, Tea Party Magazine, Filipinas Magazine, and the anthology Walang Hiya (Without Shame): literature taking risks towards liberatory practice. She is a Hedgebrook and Atlantic Center for the Arts alumni and her theater work has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, East Bay Community Foundation and others. A graduate of the Mills College M.F.A. program, she currently teaches Creative Writing and Social Action at California State University at Monterey Bay as well as several San Francisco Bay Area colleges. Suzara has performed her poems nationally and is passionate about teaching creative writing with a social action lens to young people and adults. Her mission is to create, and help others create, poetic and theatrical work that evokes dialogue and social change. www.aimeesuzara.net

ISBN: 9781625490636, 96 pages, $18.00

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