Luisa A. Igloria
Born in Makati and raised in Baguio City, Filipina American poet Luisa A. Igloria earned a BA at the University of the Philippines Baguio, an MA at Ateneo de Manila University, and a PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago, for which she received a Fulbright grant. Her early work was published under the name Maria Luisa Aguilar-Cariño. She is the author of more than a dozen collections of poetry, including The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis (2018), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (2014), selected by Mark Doty for a May Swenson Poetry Award; The Saints of Streets (2013), winner of a Gintong Aklat Award; Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009), winner of the 2009 Sandeen Prize from the University of Notre Dame; Trill & Mordent (2005); and In the Garden of the Three Islands (1994). She is also the author of the chapbooks Haori (2017),Check & Balance (2017), and Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (2015). Since 2010, Igloria has written a new poem every day, a practice she shares on the literary blog Via Negativa.
In her poems, Igloria often weaves family history with themes relating to postcolonialism and power. In a review of The Saints of Streets, Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta described Igloria’s work: “composed largely of narrative poems, Igloria’s poems are modern meditations, swan songs to the past, and semi-historical treatises where Pigafetta and Yamashita perform more fleshed-out roles in local lore. But what is perhaps Igloria’s strongest narrative gift is her transparent portrayal of everyday experience.” In an interview with Iris A. Law for Lantern Review, Igloria stated, “I believe that art does not arise out of a void, and that it is effective when it makes heartfelt human connections, and even more so when it enables a sense of agency (the belief that there is something we can do in the world so that change might be effected). There is power in its ability to engage memory and intellect, compress and distill emotion, idea, and experience—and it is this power which poets and writers seek to harness when speaking to others through their art. Why does one have to sing, when there is suffering? Why is beauty necessary, when there is so much poverty or violence or depravity in the world?”
Igloria’s honors include a James Hearst Poetry Prize, a National Writers Union Poetry Prize, a Crab Orchard Review Richard Peterson Poetry Prize, a Stephen Dunn Award for Poetry, a Fugue Poetry Prize, and residencies at the Ragdale Foundation, the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, and the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers. She has received the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature 11 times; the award honors Filipino literary excellence. She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world's first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott.
From 2009 to 2015, Igloria directed the graduate program in creative writing at Old Dominion University. In 2018 she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. She lives in Virginia.