Tula (Paperback)


By Chris Santiago, A. Van Jordan (Editor)

Milkweed Editions, 9781571314888, 96pp.

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

List Price: 16.00*
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Tula a ruined Toltec capital; a Russian city known for its accordions; Tagalog for "poem."

Prismatic, startling, rich with meaning yet sparely composed, Chris Santiago's debut collection of poems begins with one word and transforms it, in a dazzling sleight of hand, into a multivalent symbol for the immigrant experience. Tula Santiago reveals to readers a distant land devastated by war. Tula its music beckons in rhythms, time signatures, and lullabies. Tula can the poem, he seems to ask, build an imaginative bridge back to a family lost to geography, history, and a forgotten language?

Inspired by the experiences of the "blood stranger"--the second-generation immigrant who does not fully acquire the language of his parents--Tula paints the portrait of a mythic homeland that is part ghostly underworld, part unknowable paradise. Language splinters. Impossible islands form an archipelago across its landscape. A mother sings lullabies and a father works the graveyard shift in St. Paul--while in the Philippines, two dissident uncles and a grandfather send messages and telegrams from the afterlife.

Deeply ambitious, a collection that examines the shortcomings and possibilities of both language and poetry themselves, Tula announces the arrival of a major new literary talent.

About the Author

Chris Santiago's poems, fiction, and criticism have appeared in FIELD, Copper Nickel, Pleiades, and the Asian American Literary Review. He holds degrees in creative writing and music from Oberlin College and received his PhD in English from the University of Southern California. The recipient of fellowships from Kundiman and the Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies, Santiago is also a percussionist and amateur jazz pianist. He teaches literature, sound culture, and creative writing at the University of St. Thomas. He lives in Minnesota. A. Van Jordan, who was the judge for the 2016 Lindquist & Vennum Prize, is the author of four poetry collections: Rise, which won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award; M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, which was listed as one the Best Books of 2005 by the London Times; Quantum Lyrics; and The Cineaste. Jordan has been awarded a Whiting Writers Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He is also the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and a United States Artists Fellowship. He is the Henry Rutgers Presidential Professor at Rutgers University-Newark. He lives in Newark, NJ.