by Joseph O. Legaspi
Legaspi, like William Carlos Williams, can find poetry anywhere. And like his mentor Pablo Neruda he seems able to locate the mysterious and the magical in the most common and overlooked objects. His little poem “The Socks” is the most amazing poem on that subject I have encountered since Neruda’s great ode on the same subject, and while paying tribute to his Chilean master, Legaspi takes the poem in an entirely different direction . . . It is difficult to overestimate the daring and resourcefulness required to complete successfully this astonishingly original book. I believe this collection of poetry, so rich in the dailiness of the world and what wisdom we can draw from it, is ample evidence that Joseph O. Legaspi has arrived at a place none of his ancestors in life or in poetry have ever journeyed, and we his readers are the richer for it. —Philip Levine
Poems forged from a devotion and keenness about the sometimes violent transformations from boyhood to manhood. It takes a good measure of courage to pass so slowly through anguish, but it takes an equal, if not greater amount of courage to move wholly and convincingly through joy. In Imago, such courage is clear, and Joseph O. Legaspi has the abundant poetic skill to describe it. —Patrick Rosal
The poems in Imago are surreal, strangely erotic and absolutely necessary . . . The narratives tackle the familiar themes of racial and sexual identity with vivid imagery and wild juxtapositions. In short, these immigrant narratives sizzle! The book opens to this amazing first sentence: As soon as we became men, my brother and I wore skirts. The family tales are over the top. The father is an unforgettable character; he is larger than life and is always eating--munching on mackerel or "slurping eggyolk." A compelling first book and a fun read! —Marilyn Chin
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JOSEPH O. LEGASPI spent his childhood in the Philippines and immigrated with his family to Los Angeles when he was twelve. He holds degrees from Loyola Marymount University and the Creative Writing Program at New York University. He lives in New York City and works at Columbia University. A recipient of a 2001 poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, he is a co-founder of Kundiman (www.kundiman.org), a non-profit organization serving Asian American poets.
This pair once belonged to my father,
golden on the thinning
heels and toes, decades old—
they have disappeared into the dryer-netherworld
only to return repeatedly, wiser than before—
their elastics still grasp my lower calves.
When I slip into them,
I see my father in his footwear, like Mercury,
a copper-eyed young man, like myself,
brewing with stormy promise,
prepared to soar over the dusty world.
Dear socks, don’t lead me astray.
Propel me from this dissatisfied life
to places where my father has never been.