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Tula Poems

ISBN: 9781571314888 | 1571314881
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Pub. Date: 12/13/2016

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Tula: a ruined Toltec capital; a Russian city known for its accordions; Tagalog for “poem.”

Prismatic, startling, rich with meaning yet sparely composed, Chris Santiago’s debut collection of poems begins with one word and transforms it, in a dazzling sleight of hand, into a multivalent symbol for the immigrant experience. Tula: Santiago reveals to readers a distant land devastated by war. Tula: its music beckons in rhythms, time signatures, and lullabies. Tula: can the poem, he seems to ask, build an imaginative bridge back to a family lost to geography, history, and a forgotten language?

Inspired by the experiences of the “blood stranger”—the second-generation immigrant who does not fully acquire the language of his parents—Tula paints the portrait of a mythic homeland that is part ghostly underworld, part unknowable paradise. Language splinters. Impossible islands form an archipelago across its landscape. A mother sings lullabies and a father works the graveyard shift in St. Paul—while in the Philippines, two dissident uncles and a grandfather send messages and telegrams from the afterlife.
Deeply ambitious, a collection that examines the shortcomings and possibilities of both language and poetry themselves, Tula announces the arrival of a major new literary talent.

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