Listen to my interview with Elmer Omar Bascos Pizo, currently residing in Hawai‘i, an amazing poet with raw insight and stories. I had the chance to meet him out in San Francisco in October at the 5th Annual Filipino American International Book Festival where I learned of his work and found out that we also share some interesting parallels and intersections. Listen to him read and discuss his poems from his debut full-length poetry collection, "Leaving Our Shadows Behind Us" published by Bamboo Ridge Press in 2019.
Me & Elmer at the 5th Annual Filipino American International Book Festival in San Francisco, October 2019, organized by PAWA, Inc. & San Francisco Public Library.
You can order his book here at: Bamboo Ridge Press
Negros Oriental, Philippines
At the mouth of the sea
where the Ocoy River ends,
brown bodies of naked boys
pop in and out of the swirling
water, like fish gasping for air.
Foaming soapsuds stained
with dirt from clothing
women scrub on the river banks
dissolve in the green water,
like this half spoonful of sugar
I just dropped
into my cup of tea.
AFTER THE LOVE-MAKING
Be honest, you insist,
catching your breath.
I want you to describe
how I made love to you.
Do you really care? I ask.
All right then, I say,
swiping my wet lips
with my tongue.
You're a half-ripe tangerine,
a bit sour,
even after dipped in salt.
Elmer Omar Bascos Pizo is an emerging voice in local literature, who translates his feelings into his poetry, reinterpreting his life experiences and working diligently to maintain authenticity. His poems are uniquely provocative, often sad in depicting his journey from an abusive childhood in the Philippines, through the trials of an overseas Filipino worker enduring and witnessing injustice and torture in the Middle East, to the challenges of a hard-working immigrant in 21st-century Hawai‘i. This is an important collection that offers a glimpse into a life of laboring to survive. Sometimes self-deprecating and occasionally humorous, Pizo’s distinctive poetry affirms the redemption found in the small sparks of humanity.
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