You're not really from here. By which she means I can't trace my blood- line to rows of bodies laying brick or tending animals, passing like dark threads through tufted fields of cotton in fields owned by her great- grandfather; neither can I trace my ancestry back to the likes of her people sitting on their porches, surveying their kingdom—thousands of acres; cabinets stacked with porcelain; heavy furniture carved with scrolls and pineapple flourishes. She's proud her people were enlightened and had the grace to let their slaves go to church on Sundays, besides allowing them learn to read and write. But had my people come to work in these parts at that time, likely we wouldn't have been good for anything but hauling lumber or cutting tobacco in the blistering heat; our grandmothers and aunts, only for polishing the floors and washing the laundry. When I stand in front of my classroom each term, are these the only things my students see? In 1611, in the country of my birth, the first universty opened its doors nearly a hundred years before that famous one in Connecticut. I remind myself that In 1887, the bilingual poems of a woman from a dusty Ilocos town went on exhibit in Madrid. I never mistake lightening for lightning.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.