In many ways Rachelle Cruz, here, contests, demolishes and remixes the bizarre, early 20th Century colonial and classic ethnographic summations of the Philippines, of its peoples and culture, those "without history" - with her incredible, leaping, elegant, multi-form, cinematic, "forest" of word-magic. The food, the body, the islands, the crossings, the colonial montage, the "Renaissance" in reverse, Imelda Marcos and her gallery of humanless shoes, the mother, the daughter, money order "transactions," and early school days of cultural slippage--as Renato Rosaldo, one of the few anthropologists to dismantle the colonial dis- guring of the Ilongot of Luzon, Northern Philippines, Cruz creates a hurricane masterpiece of anti-ethnographies of scenes, moments and artifacts, of cultural realignments. Who is the monster now? An award winner non-stop, a deeply serious, studied set of investigations, yet, playful, a Tumbler of blurred faces, light, time, space, paint, medicine, plants and plates at the hands of a spiritcaller- writer, word-levitator of the 21st Century. One of a kind. --Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States
Per the Latin root 'monstrare', the monster's charge is 'to show' us what we can't see on our own. Rachelle Cruz clearly knows this. And with God's Will for Monsters, the poet conjures dreamspace, incantation, oral history, myth, remittance slip, aswang bulletin, greenbacks, Christ spells, and personal memory. The result is a new-century revelation of so much glorious giggling grotesque culled from our hidden narratives. It makes sense to me that a Pinay poet should offer us such a book, both cerebral and sensual, that documents the astonishing proximity of our horror and hallelujah. --Patrick Rosal, Author of Brooklyn Antidiluvian
More than ever, our world needs the aswang, the werebeast, and the wisdom of the women and bold voices calling out from Rachelle Cruz's marvelous debut collection. Cruz's vision holds many worlds: from the mythical landscapes of the "death dusk" to the streets of Hayward, California, we travel through time and across countries, guided by a host of voices. Cruz's "we" wakes gasping, praying, and playing--it's the we of childhood and the we of powerful collective suffering, summoned for action. "We weren't going to marry God like the other little girls...We were going to nag at Him from a boiling stovetop, demanding that he eat, eat, eat." God's Will For Monsters shows us how a poet pays tribute to longed-for landscapes, histories of struggle, and mother-love: with dazzling, fire-filled language, new forms, broken forms, and fearlessness: "Sometimes we are lighter than rain," says the speaker in "Neglect." "Crueler than memory."--Brynn Saito, Author of Power Made Us Swoon
About the Author
Rachelle Cruz earned her M.F.A. in creative writing and the performing arts from University of California, Riverside, and her B.A. in liberal arts/liberal studies from Sarah Lawrence College. She is a lecturer at University of California, Riverside, and an adjunct faculty member at Orange Coast College, where she teaches courses in comics, poetry, English, and creative writing. Her latest book, God's Will for Monsters, won the 2016 Hillary Gravendyk Regional Poetry Prize and an American Book Award in 2018.
Barbara Jane Reyes was born in Manila, Philippines, and was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of five previous collections of poetry: Gravities of Center (Arkipelago Books, 2003), Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2006), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, Diwata (BOA, 2010), which received the Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry, To Love as Aswang (PAWA, Inc. Publications, 2015), Invocation to Daughters (City Lights, 2017), and Letters to a Young Brown Girl (BOA, 2020). She is an adjunct professor at University of San Francisco's Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program. She lives with her husband, poet Oscar Bermeo, in Oakland, CA. For more information about Barbara Jane Reyes, visit barbarajanereyes.com.