Naomi Querubin-Abesamis? Inner Victory, A Collection of Filipina American Poetry
In her self-published book of poems Inner Victory – A Collection of Filipina American Poetry, Naomi Querubin-Abesamis takes the reader on a cathartic journey. Her poems are strong-woman stories facing the challenges of second-generation assimilation, familial unity, the heartbreak of unrequited love and the bonds of motherhood. The book is peppered with photographs that are representative of the author’s life— she and her sisters as children, her wedding day and her own daughter among the many. These images characterize an oeuvre that is so personal, one feels like an outsider trying to understand references during a family discussion.
Querubin-Abesamis’ most satisfying poems are those where she exposes the reader to her Filipino-American culture. Her wedding day poem “The Wedding Dance” brings us the delight of Singkit a Philippine Muslim dance from the southern island of Mindanao:
Over the silky-flowing handkerchiefs
glimmering with red, purple and green,
Through the bridge of silver-shining swords
She finds her prince
at the final beat of Singkit.
She also addresses turning points in her life. In a poem called “In Between” she speaks of motherhood:
Quite suddenly it becomes a new day,
and I am standing in the bright colored romper room
holding my daughter’s petite and delicate hand.
Inner Victory has a number of poems that focus on her life as a mother, as the sister of a “special” child and most importantly, as a Filipina American. These are the stories that intrigue and interest. On the subjects of romance and heartache, Querubin-Abesamis writes with candor and petulance flexing muscles with her words. She often questions the motives of past lovers while examining romantic failures.
There is directness in her verse that defies poetic convention. The work is mostly prosy exposition; images are stark and hard to grasp. Poetry this personal often forgets to let the readers in on the secret and loses their attention.
Her inner victory, it would seem, comes from a reconciling of the forces of feelings she has encountered in her lifetime. The book ends with a poem called “Full Circle”, a fitting conclusion it might seem; but the most poignant lines come earlier in “Transitions”:
Don’t shy away
because you were shipwrecked for one year,
in a torrid sea of madness.
You were molded into a beautiful creature
once the storm ceased.
Inner Victory, A Collection of Filipina American Poetryt, Querubin-Abesamis, a Pnaidva Book. www.pnaidva.com. ISBN-10: 0-9778591-8-5, ISBN-13: 978-0-9778591-8-4. $14.95