Author: Ina Cariño
Publisher: Alice James Books (2023)
At times located in the Philippines, at others in the United States, the speaker of these poems is curious about how home can be an alchemy from one to the other. Feast explores the intricacies of intergenerational nourishment beyond trauma, as well as the bonds and community formed when those in diaspora feed each other, both literally and metaphorically.
The language in these poems is full of musicality—another way in which abundance manifests in the book. Feast feeds its readers by employing lush sonics and imagery unafraid of being Filipino and of being Asian American.
Feast offers abundance and nourishment through language, and reaches toward a place an immigrant might call home. The poems in this collection—many of which revolve around food and its cultural significance—examine the brown body's relationship with nourishment. Poems delve into what it means to be brown in a white world, and how that encourages (or restricts) growth.
"‘To be other is to read badly- / drawn maps,’ writes Ina Cariño, ‘to hum / with a revolutionary's love song.’ I love the vividness of these poems, the language of the senses that's so alive on each page of Feast. But these poems aren't just beautiful, sensual lyrics. There is more at stake here. Cariño is a kind of poet who claims family and identity with style that's akin to spell-making. ‘I dream in a tongue not my own’ the poet says—and we see it instantly: Here, even a simple act of cooking rice can become a ceremony, a rhapsody of liberation. All of this is done not with literary pretension but with vulnerability and honesty. If Ina Cariño says ‘names are spells,’ it is because this poet aims to write actual spells, and not just with the pen, but with breath: ‘I am the last spell, the only song left. deliberate utterance of bone’. Here, we are in presence of something special, I think. Bravo.”
“This book is not just a sensory feast, it’s a whole literary event—each poem full of candor and heart. It arrives dressed and dripping for a stunning, most spectacular debut!”