Sunday, July 9, 2017

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets

UPDATE: Though this anthology was released in 2014, the effects of Typhoon Yolanda are long-lasting. Most recently, profits from book sales were given to help the Panay Bukidnon communities with new weaving looms for a local school, as well as to send an elder from a local Typhoon Yolanda-impacted community to the PAMATI 2017.
--JUNE 4, 2017

Editor: Eileen R. Tabios
Meritage Press (San Francisco & St. Helena, 2014)

Retail Price: $20
Page No.: 220 pages
Publication Date: March 2014
To order directly from publisher, contact

Super Typhoon Haiyan—known as Yolanda in the Philippines—was the largest storm ever recorded on land, affecting over 14 million people who became homeless, widowed, orphaned or saw their beloveds die or themselves died in the onslaught of water and wind. Rebuilding efforts are estimated to require about three years with the Philippine government estimating that such efforts will cost about US$8.59 billion.

In response to Yolanda’s devastation, Filipino poets in the homeland and the diaspora rallied to create a fundraising anthology entitled VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets. Edited by poet and editor Eileen R. Tabios, the anthology of 133 poems is released by Meritage Press (San Francisco & St. Helena), and can be ordered online through the press’ Lulu account (see above link). All of the book’s profits will be donated to relief organizations and others helping the survivors of Yolanda.

Book sales and, thus, fundraising proceeds, need not occur simply through online purchases. Meritage Press will work with fundraising organizations or individuals wishing to raise funds for Yolanda’s survivors. Specifically, Meritage Press is willing to send books at cost to fundraisers who then can sell the books at their individual retail price of $20 each. The fundraisers then are free to donate the profits to organizations of their choice who are involved in aiding Yolanda’s survivors. For more information, contact Eileen R. Tabios at

While the anthology was created for fundraising, the result also showcases the wealth of talent in Filipino poetry. Although not created for this purpose, this book is a useful showcase of contemporary Filipino poetry. Most poems are written in English, but a few also present examples of some of the Philippines’ languages: Filipino, Cebuano or Bisaya, Waray, and  Hiligaynon (with excerpts from their English translations).

Additionally, while each individual poem may be powerful, the poems together create a sum-effect greater than its parts. What results is both novelistic in scope and urgent in communicating the news. For the news continue beyond the actual incident and aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. The news continue about how our actions degrade the environment and each other, making likely the return of Yolanda’s brethren…unless we amend our actions. The sum of these poem-stories also reflect a different reality from what’s mostly been presented in the media, attesting once again to the importance of Filipinos speaking up on their own behalf.

A Foreword is provided by poet-scholar Leny Mendoza Strobel, whose presence is appropriate due to her ground-breaking studies into the decolonized Filipino self and how pakikipag-kapwa/building-a-beloved-community is an indigenous part of Filipino identity. For the eagerness with which Filipino poets embraced this project manifests the indigenous Filipino trait of Kapwa.

 Here are some “Advance Words” from poet-scholar-critic-editor Susan M. Schultz:

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets:  
This is a book about a destructive typhoon named Yolanda, or Haiyan, which caused massive damage to the Philippines in November, 2013. This is a sprawling book of poems about family, loss, art, economy, greed, love, grief, theft, militarism, colonialism, typhoon tourism, deforestation, stray dogs, survivors, rubble, donations, propaganda, looting, journalists, dead children, helicopters, rain, disembowelment, black bags, conquerors, catastrophe, “the republic of the drowned” (Luisa A. Igloria). This is a book in English, Filipino, Cebuano, Waray, Hiligaynon, Bisaya. This is a book by poets who teach, poets who study, a poet who drives a tricycle for a living, poets who work for NGOs, poets who are school children. This is a book by 133 Filipino poets who live in the Philippines, the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, South Africa, elsewhere.  What is diaspora but the aftermath of storm? All profits from this book will be donated to relief organizations. “Aid is art,” writes Simeon Dumdum, Jr. Now art will aid survivors of the storm.                                                
—Susan M. Schultz, poet and editor of Tinfish

Meritage Press and the poets in VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA appreciate your support. 


For more info on Meritage Press books:

Saturday, July 8, 2017


Danielle Crawford, who had taught VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA in a disaster narratives class at UC Santa Cruz, is contributing a chapter on mainstream media's representation of the storm for an anthology edited by Robert Bell and Robert Ficociello, to come out from Lexington Books. Book's working title is ECO CULTURE: Disaster, Narrative, Discourse. The essay refers to the overall book and will quote lines from the poems of Joi Barrios-Leblanc, Melissa Sipin, Glynda Velasco , Simeon Dumdum Jr , Sean Labrador Y Manzano , Cristina Golondrina Rose, Rogene A. Gonzales and Natalie Pardo. Leny Strobel and my introductions also will be excerpted. I continue to marvel at how VTY came together so swiftly from both homeland and diaspora poets ... and this recent development also affirmed how I'd long thought -- though didn't plan for -- VTY becoming an alternative, and deeper, coverage of this record-breaking typhoon.

Saturday, June 3, 2017


We're delighted to share that Verses Typhoon Yolanda funds (from book sales) have been donated to sponsor a community elder from Palawan or Panay Bukidnon (both areas affected by the typhoon) to attend PAMATI 2017. S. Lily Mendoza's description of PAMATI 2015 shares information about the event, but basically (in the words of Leny Strobel),
The event was a gathering of 25 babaylan (medicine men and women) and indigenous healers, elders and youth and a roughly equal number of formally educated Filipinos and Filipino descendants in the diaspora.  The outcome of that first time encounter was a profound learning experience for all and opportunity to forge relationships between communities—relationships that could grow into a beneficent force for positive change in the world. 
PAMATI 2017 is coordinated locally by activist-musician-scholar Grace Nono (featured in above photo).  Our thanks again to the participating poets that made Verses Typhoon Yolanda possible, and those who continue to support the project through book purchases.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


Meritage Press is pleased to share that Verses Typhoon Yolanda was taught -- and may be taught again in the future -- in a climate justice module set up by Prof. Kale B. Fajardo, as part of University of Minnesota's Asian/Pacific/American studies course.

Our thanks to Prof. Kale B. Fajardo!

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Meritage Press is delighted to share that Verses Typhoon Yolanda has been picked up for U.C. Santa Cruz's course "Typhoons, Hurricanes and Tsunamis: Global Disaster Narrative" in their Cultural Studies Department.

Editor Eileen Tabios addressed the book's 133 poets by saying, "You wrote and donated poems to create not just a fundraiser but a needed alternative-to-mainstream-media coverage of Typhoon Haiyan that encompassed colonialism, environmental damage, political corruption, the limits of education and parenting, misogynism ... who knew a typhoon could cover so much? And now you're being studied. Well done!"

Here also is a note from the course's Prof. Danielle Crawford : "I wanted to thank you for sending me a desk copy of Verses Typhoon Yolanda... The collection is both beautiful and moving. It will definitely be a wonderful addition to my class, and will be useful for my research in general.” 

Sunday, May 8, 2016


It's great to know Verses Typhoon Yolanda made it to the collection of POETS HOUSE in New York City!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Congratulations to Arlene Biala who has been appointed the 2016-2017 Poet Laureate for Santa Clara County, CA. Go HERE for the official announcement which mentions her appearance in Verses Typhoon Yolanda!