In Luisa A. Igloria’s newest poetry book The Saints of Streets, hungry ghosts, mullahs, would-be assassins, carnival queens, Hell Girl, Dante riding Geryon’s back, and a host of other figures guide us through the dioramas and exhibits of personal and collective memory: they’ll be our chauffeurs, psychopomps, tourist guides, our sweet and difficult familiars. These poems are love letters, phone calls disrupting our day to remind us of the strange and beautiful mysteries of living in the postcolonial moment.
“Luisa Igloria’s The Saints of Streets overlays the landscapes we see with many more vanished. Houses, town halls, and cathedrals are held up by spires of memory; the past erupts and spills over when the poet focuses on particulars, “…nose pressed to the doorway between worlds/ lit by the same fire that singes the wings of bees.” Igloria begins, as we often do, with a yearning: followed by question, meditation—but the power of her gaze sets these poems apart. Observation magnetizes worlds into radical juxtaposition, and in these poems, measured, intuitive music splendidly unleashes the bewildering in the everyday.” — Kristin Naca, author of Bird Eating Bird (Harper Perennial 2009, selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the mtvU National Poetry Series)
“”In poem after poem, Luisa Igloria deftly reminds us of the relevance of an art form at the shore of irrelevance, where the “water writes what it erases, then writes again.” The erased—hungry ghosts, Pigafetta, the Saints, Yamashita, and Filipino public figures long-forgotten—find their memories re-lived in Igloria’s poetic timeline. Here is a full display of Igloria’s extraordinary ability to become a vessel for muted and fading voices returned to the shores of our historic imagination with an “overflowing urgency of words.” — Bino A. Realuyo, author of The Gods We Worship Live Next Door (University of Utah Press, 2005 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry) and The Umbrella Country (Ballantine Books, 1999).
“That’s what I mean by the sacred; that’s how Igloria’s poems spiral into it. In “Domicile,” the next poem after “Repair,” she tells us: “This is the only way / to think of home sometimes—before the blueprint” (10), for this poem too peels away at surfaces to that history of things we cannot see, and of “what we might bear / out of the ordinary darkness and the mud.” On the next page comes the title poem, “The saints of streets,” which gives us a history of place through names. It exposes geo-graphy—the writing of land—with narrative legends…
There is a fullness to the poet’s vision in this collection because, in addition to horizontal relationships (which might otherwise have resulted in poems merely of anger) and the upward relationship of reverence (which might have resulted in merely devotional poems), there is also the downward relationship to a next generation…Woven through this book is a delicate care-taking. The good intentions may not meet their consummation in the poems: “Instead,” continues the above, “I’ve understood no more, no less than this wild / hunger . . .” However, the intention itself is a mode of seeing, which is precisely what Igloria’s poetry offers best.”