Eunice Andrada, Flood Damages (Giramondo 2018)
There’s a lot of pain in these poems: the pain of migration and living in diaspora, of miscarriage and sickness, of domestic violence, racism and internalised racism, and – shockingly topical just now – of family separation at the hands of officaldom. There are also poems that celebrate the body and family relationships, especially of a young woman with her grandmother.
There’s a wonderful variety in the forms of the poems. There are ‘novenas’, which echo the cadences of the Catholicism of Andrada’s native Philippines. There are prose poems – such as the one that would be a straightforward account of an allergy test except that the doctor is Ferdinand Marcos. There’s ‘photo album’, made up of captions to photographs, some of which probably actually exist. There’s a narrative element: no dates, times and places, but a cast of characters that we come to recognise, and when in ‘alibi’ the speaker refers to ‘the muscle memory of dancing / to the gospel / of my father’s temper’ the reader knows what she is talking about. There are elusive epigrams, of which the best example is ‘forms’:
It is no sacrifice
when he collapses over his own altar
then asks for your body.
Eunice Andrada is also a Spoken Word practitioner – a poet of the stage as well as the page. She recently appeared at the fabulous Bankstown Poetry Slam. Here, for my readers who might hesitate to read an actual book of poetry, is a video of her performing her climate change poem ‘Pacific Salt’ at Sydney’s 2015 Youth Eco Summit, preceded by a short and charmingly awkward interview:
Flood Damages is the tenth book I’ve read for the 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. I am grateful to Giramondo for my copy.