Cover art: "Dalmation" by Pamela Klaffke
Oliver de la Paz’s Requiem for the Orchard is a love letter to memory and its ability to both sustain and shatter us beyond the “dust of ourselves,/ cold, decisive, and purely from the earth.” de la Paz renders in beautiful and exacting language the tenderness and ferocity of boyhood, alongside the enduring vulnerability of parenthood. Out of such intimate recollection a generous wisdom blossoms.
—Jon Pineda, author of The Translator’s Diary
In Requiem for the Orchard, the chrome bumpers of a truck meet salt cake and coral, and we are introduced to eloquent poems of witness and celebration that deftly bridge the speaker's childhood to his own first forays into fatherhood. It is impossible to return to the safe territory of the person you were before you read these achingly beautiful poems filled with terror and gracenotes. I know of only one poet who can pull this off so elegantly and with such verve: Oliver de la Paz.
Persona has a wide-ranging and far-reaching role in the literary tradition. Early in its history, poetry operated as an oral chronicle of important cultural and historical events, a way of both "knowing" and "remembering," of handing down stories to future generations. The storyteller's point of view was of witness or scribe and poems were very rarely written in the first-person narrative.
Utilizing personae as both poetic alter ego and as a foil to their own narrative perspectives, modern poets retold the story. T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," from which this anthology takes its title, is an excellent example of persona as alter ego, allowing the poet to voice the unspeakable and think the unthinkable without direct ownership, consequence, or reproach. In this way, the idea of "hiding behind a mask" can be utterly revealing and liberating.
Edited by Stacey Lynn Brown and Oliver de la Paz, the poems in this anthology represent the intersection of tradition and possibility. The poets range in age and accolade and draw their inspiration from sources that are as disparate as the ways in which information is disseminated in our multimedia world. From ancient mythology to popular culture, from fairy tales to tabloids, the voices in these poems address a wide range of issues that are historical, contemporarary, and ultimately timeless.
Furious Lullaby is both a celebration of and a eulogy to the body in the twenty-first century. The collection, which examines the larger concepts of salvation and temptation in a world of blossoming strife, includes a series of aubades – dramatic poems culminating with the separation of lovers at dawn. The lovers suffer a metaphysical crisis, seeking to know what is good, what is evil, and how to truly know the difference. Knowing, however, requires that they invite the truly terrible into their world. The Devil, a seductive trickster, haunts the landscape as a voice who dares each inquisitor to learn about mortality, morality, the beautiful, and the terrible through direct experience. Furious Lullaby offers a departure from the lighter prose poetry of de la Paz’s Names above Houses and preserves the author’s concern with the nature of human grace.
"The poems in Furious Lullaby contain as much mischief as they do music, surprising the reader with a chorus of unexpected voices--a scapula, the dead, the Devil--and weaving those moments into a series of heartbreaking aubades that sing to the gorgeous melancholy of memory and loss."
—Rigoberto Gonzàles, author of Other Fugitives and Other Strangers
"These poems have a quiet eroticism, a voice that makes you want to lean in closer. Oliver de la Paz's seductive lyricism draws us in; we find the beauty of the body, and its desires mark us as creatures of loneliness and mystery. The poems are meant not merely to explore this paradox, but to comfort, to sing in the dark, to do what poems do--find sublimity and timelessness. This is fierce and memorable work."
—Beckian Fritz Goldberg, author of The Book of Accident
“Oliver de la Paz has created a unique work: a novella in the form of a sequence of prose poems; a lucidly inventive allegory of migration, exile, and belonging. With grace and elegance, he evokes the magical, myth-making culture of his Philippines and brings it to a very real California in the person of Fidelito, a boy who wants to fly, and his parents, Domingo and Maria Elena. Oliver de la Paz has the strength and wisdom to step lightly with the heaviest burdens. He is stunningly good. Names above Houses celebrates the trials and indestructibility of a family and is a durable refreshment, an essential document of life at the cultural crossroads.”
—Rodney Jones, author of Elegy for the Southern Drawl
“Oliver de la Paz creates the legend of Fidelito—a boy whose yearning to fly becomes a metaphor for immigration, sexual awakening, religious passion, and the imagination of a poet-in-the-making. As Fidelito's family trades Filipino omens of baby teeth and rats for those of the ‘moonlike glow’ of American television romances and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, de la Paz's deft storytelling—part magic realism, part Aesop fable—seamlessly pulls us from one adventure to the next. Through Fidelito, de la Paz weaves the odysseys of Jesus and Icarus into a lush and wonderful wanderlust.”
—Denise Duhamel, author of The Star-Spangled Banner
“Names above Houses points to a new direction in Asian American poetry in which the creative genius of Oliver de la Paz hangs in the sky as luminous neon verse. He takes the urbane colors of John Berryman and mixes them with the sensuous hues of Arthur Sze. This is a book enriched with unexpected shifts of language, vertical and horizontal perspectives, and a full spectrum of emotion and insight.”
—Nick Carbó, author of Secret Asian Man