Monday, October 20, 2014

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets

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:


The Sitting Room - A Community Library based in Santa Rosa (near Sonoma State University) will present a book launch for Eileen R. Tabios' three 2014 books:

147 MILLION ORPHANS (MMXI-MML) (gradient books, Finland)
SUN STIGMATA (Sculpture Poems) (Marsh Hawk Press, New York)

The event is free to the public and will take place at 2 pm, Saturday, November 1, 2014.  Please click on The Sitting Room link for directions and other information.  The Sitting Room is at  2025 Curtis Drive, Penngrove, CA.

Other poets from VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA, also will be present at the launch.  All book sales proceeds during this event -- not just from VTY but also Eileen Tabios' two other books -- will be donated for Haiyan relief.  To date, attending VTY poets will include Joi Barrios, Michelle Bautista, Leny Strobel and Marianne Villanueva!

Readings, discussions, Q&As -- you are invited to attend and participate!

For questions: email

Sunday, October 19, 2014


A Chicago launch for VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA was part of a typhoon memorial event--"Typhoon Haiyan, One Year Later: Remembrance and Reconstruction"--on  October 19, 2014 at the Assembly Hall (auditorium), International House, University of Chicago, 1414 E. 59th St., Chicago, IL 60637.

The event began with a reception and included an art display, readings from the book, a musical performance, a dance, and a panel discussing reconstruction efforts. The panel consisted of UNICEF, a Tacloban medical mission, and a university professor.

The event is sponsored by the Filipino American National Historical Society--Midwest Chapter, the Chicago Arts Coalition, and U Chicago departments (Center for International Studies, Program for the Global Environment, and International House).

Information about the event is available on its Facebook page at

During the event, this video was played; VTY is noted at about 2:40:

Thanks to VTY contributor Almira Gilles for coordinating!

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Eileen Tabios and VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA participated in a 100 Thousand Poets for Change Event in Napa, CA -- funds were raised for both a program to help kids exposed to domestic violence and survivors of Haiyan.  Here are pics of organizer Glynda Velasco, who's also a poet in the anthology; fellow featured poet Janet Stickmon who presented her poetry reading as music to both a painter Angeli Lata and dancer Emee LaRose; the organizers; and various Open Mic poets in attendance:


Eileen Tabios and VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA will be participating in a "100 Thousand Poets for Change" event in Napa California.  Here's the flyer where she will be a featured poet in the referenced 6-8 pm Open Mic Fundraiser.

From the event's Press Release:


Time: 6:00-8:00PM 

Doors open and open mic sign ups open: 5:30PM
Open mic sign ups close at 7PM or when list is filled.

Location: Slack Collective Art Studios and Gallery
964 Pearl Street, Suite B. Napa, CA (Entrance in back of the building.)

Hosted by Jonathan Pyner (of Mewted Poetry Jam: Workshop and Open Mic)


Eileen Tabios’ 28th poetry collection, SUN STIGMATA, is forthcoming this Fall from the New York publisher Marsh Hawk Press.  She recently released the poetry book 147 MILLION ORPHANS and edited a 133-poet fundraising anthology for Haiyan/Yolanda typhoon survivors. Translated into seven languages, she received the Philippines’ National Book Award for Poetry. She is an avid bibliophile. When she is not publishing, critiquing, promoting, and writing books, she enjoys the scenery of  her St. Helena home along with her family which includes her husband, son, and four legged companion Achilles, as shown here in photo.

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets will be sold at this open mic event. Half of the book sales proceeds go to Yolanda and half to KEDS Program for this special 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Napa fundraiser event. KEDS (Kids Exposed to Domestic Violence Services) is a program of the nonprofit NEWS (Napa Emergency Women's Services). 

For more information about 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Napa or please contact co-organizer:
Glynda Velasco 
phone: (707) 501-3670 or 

More information at Facebook Event Page.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA was presented during Poets House's Annual Poetry Showcase.  And it is now in its collection -- a list of all books archived from the showcase this year is available HERE!

(Photo from Poets House, New York City)

Friday, August 8, 2014


VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA was just launched in Tacloban!  We are grateful to writer-activisit Almira Gilles for coordinating the event at the University of the Philippines at Tacloban.  Almira writes, “I was fortunate to have met Jasmin Ado, and she'll attest that the launch was emotional and powerful. Tacloban and other disaster-hit areas are still in much need of help, and this book is a tribute to their resilience and our unity.”

Here are some photos!

Almira with another VTY poet, Jasmin Ado

From Almira: "First visit to UP Tacloban, the morning of the event. The fabulous U.P. Prof. Joycie Dorado-Alegre, organizer of the event, second from right."

Feel free to go to Almira Astudillo Gilles' Facebook for more photos, including scenes from the aftermath of Yolanda, such as this:

Meritage Press would like to thank everyone involved in presenting the book.  We also are glad that anthology sales helped aid a donation of anthology copies to the Tacloban community.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


UPDATE:  The documentary, "STORMED" is now available for your perusal on Vimeo.  Go to this link:

At about 21:41, Joi Barrios-Leblanc's poem, "SUMPA NG KAWAYAN" (with English translation) is read over the compelling images.


Francesco Conte is an Italian journalist and film maker.  He's making a documentary entitled "Stormed" on the Haiyan and Sendong storms.  And we're pleased to report that Joi Barrios-Leblanc's poem in VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA, "Sumpa Ng Kawayan" will be part of his documentary!  More information will be reported as we hear.  Meanwhile, here are some links to Mr. Conte: