And when I stepped in front of the world map
on the wall, it transformed into a mirror: the Pacific Ocean,
like my body, was split in two and flayed to the margins. I
found Australia, then the Philippines, then Japan. I pointed
to an empty space between them and said: “I’m from this
—Craig Santos Perez
“Off-Island CHamorus” by poet and scholar Craig Santos Perez is a cartography of longing and movement. It reminds me of what it means to be an archipelago—to be born of an island, both anchored and buoyant, belonging to the ocean, and thus, ever dependent on currents and reflected sound. Ang nag-uugnay ng pinaghiwalay na yugto, ng dagat, sinta at sinag, in my mother(‘s) tongue, which is also the most accurate language of my lived experiences. As Perez chronicles the stories and retraces the steps of a mighty diaspora, he also shines a light forward, toward poetic decolonization where home is, ultimately, “an archipelago of belonging.”
In this issue, our featured poets—Heather Bourbeau, Ina Cariño, Chiwan Choi, Jireh Deng, Migs Bravo Dutt, Cole Eubanks, Vince Gotera, Clara Hsu, Heath Hyun Houghton, Hilary King, Veronica Kornberg, Elijah Pringle III, Tony Robles, James J. Siegel, Eileen R. Tabios, Nico Teixeira, Rob Williams and Flo Oy Wong—reflect on motion, memory and shared identities. I am deeply grateful to our present and past contributors—makers and light bringers—whose work, I’ve always believed, holds the power to change worlds.
Lastly, I wish to highlight excerpts from “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful” released last month, which aims “to conserve ‘at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.’ This challenge is the first-ever national goal for the stewardship of nature in America…” #30×30, in other words, gives us a fighting chance to curb climate change at the local level. This, too, is poetic decolonization. And if there is one thing that poets can teach us, it is that poetry’s pauses and shifts can move us all to action.
June 8, 2021
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