I’ve just received and read No’u Revilla’s Say Throne, the newest chapbook offering from the super awesome Tinfish Press. This chapbook is part of a series of "12 retro chapbooks — made inexpensively and in short runs,” being released by Tinfish Press. Revilla’s Say Throne clocks in at 16 pages, and consists of poems which editor Susan Schultz describes as “meld[ing] sex and sovereignty.”

Whereas mainstream feminists fight for the right to access birth control and safe abortions, populations of marginalized women must fight for the right to reproduce. Think of compulsory sterilization programs which have taken away this right from poor women, third world women, native women.

These poems assert the right to maintain control over what comes and goes in and out of their own bodies.

So then one lens through which I read these poems — to think about indigenous women and reproductive rights, sovereignty over the body, as analogous to sovereignty over land and islands.

In “How to Use a Condom,” Revilla reframes manufacturers' package instructions as violence:


This reads a lot differently when we think of women who do not have control over what/who enters them.

The very act of intercourse with prophylaxis is framed as politically loaded:

Reproduction is not the problem.
Reproduction is the problem,
Making children based on an image.
We gotta stop.

I have to ask myself, what image is this? And what has “gotta stop?"

In “Make Rice,” the act of washing and sifting uncooked rice grains in one’s hands elaborates upon the previous poem, “Catch,” a visual poem depicting either insemination or prevention:

but I never lose a piece of rice,
because that
could be my daughter.

How else to ensure that the people live on, but to keep having babies. So then, reproduction, and asserting the choice to reproduce, as political resistance.

Originally Published: April 12th, 2011

Barbara Jane Reyes was born in Manila, the Philippines, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. She earned a BA in ethnic studies from the University of California at Berkeley and an MFA from San Francisco State University. She is the author of the poetry collections Gravities of...