"Our nation has found herself confronted by a great problem dealing with a people who neither know nor understand the underlying principles of our civilization, yet who, for our mutual happiness and liberty, must be brought into accord with us ... through the common schools." ~ Adeline Knapp, one of 530 American teachers who arrived in the Philippines in 1901 aboard the USS Thomas; quoted in Jonathan Zimmerman's Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century A name is a bright line you can follow. The tiniest flying creature leads out of a wood, winking. You have no recollection of how you got there, but you trust it completely. Commit its outline to memory; understand that certain precious things have to be hidden for centuries in order for their shine not to blind unopened eyes. Under the trees, in a make- shift schoolroom, a teacher writes letters on a slate; but what is a bat that isn't a body with wings opening like a fan? What is a ceiling that isn't a sky ornamented with unchanging directions? Wind bells a different diction, passing beneath the honeysuckle. Smoke from a wood fire carries the grammar of our prayers from this world to the afterlife. There, even if our names have been changed, the ancestors will know how to call us.
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.