Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts
Every Granddaughter is Gunita is a poetry collection of family memories distilled from the perspective of a young, Filipina granddaughter. Written in several narrative, lyric voices, the collection harks the granddaughter, like all grandchildren, as a vessel of hope for generations of familial struggle. Struggle during the Japanese occupation of their province during World War II, struggle during abusive machismo marriages of midcentury Philippines, and struggle as first-generation immigrants in midwestern America. The granddaughter is the family’s mouthpiece as she divulges these stories and begins to discover her own life. Entangled and enamored with her family’s history, she asks each aging generation in her family to tell her where she comes from, who she is. But as her family, and especially their matriarch, Lola Norma, ages closer to a century old, the granddaughter begins to wonder who she will become as each member of her family will eventually die. Morbid, macabre maybe, but that fear, that love, courses through each of us. Who are we when our loved ones pass? A vessel or a granddaughter in another life, perhaps. The granddaughter, through research, interviews, and simply listening to her elders when they find themselves blown into the past at the crown of a buko tree during the occupation or at a narra table before the affair, weaves together vignettes from her family to not only create a family timeline but to find herself. She finds herself weaving through buko groves, Japanese soldiers, provinces after provinces, wet markets, suburbs, and her grandmother’s home with them. In all of these places, time periods, and people, she unearths herself as an ouroboros—a girl swallowing herself whole. In essence, the only answer she ever really needed.
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