by Patria Rivera
Puti/White explores the past in places buried under layers of shifting reality. Here a poet searches for her lost roots – partly remembered, partly imagined – where language questions the everyday and probes the persistent difficulties of preserving the personal from the pull of the public world. These poems seek to capture the voices that lie within, those engagements of the particular with the universal that spark moments of grace.
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Patria Rivera is a Toronto poet and editor. Her first poetry collection, Puti/White, launched in 2005, was shortlisted for the 2006 Trillium Book Award for Poetry.
Patria won an honourable mention in the 1997 ARC National Poetry Magazine Poem of the Year Contest and has received fellowships to the Banff Centre for the Arts and the Hawthornden Castle International Writers Retreat Centre in Scotland.
In 2005, Rivera’s poem, “Rare species”, was selected as the second prize winner in the Eric Hill Award of Poetic Excellence competition held by QWERTY, a literary journal published by the English Department of the University of New Brunswick.
Born and raised in the Philippines, she lives with her family in Toronto’s east end.
Second prize winner of the Eric Hill Award of Poetic Excellence
Patria Rivera has clearly been indelibly affected by both the largely-charged and the everyday. She brings both to bear in her poems. Through her taut, intelligent verse, the reader can imaginatively access other geographies and uncommon encounters, created from the matrices of general history and personal memory.
This is Rivera’s gift, this ability to reach into a remembered time with utmost ease and clarity – delineating pain, divining life.
~Remé Grefalda, Galatea Resurrects
Puti/White chronicles the exile’s condition and the conditions leading to exile, without guile, nostalgia or pity. Right from the bilingual title of Rivera’s very fine collection, which was justly a finalist for this year’s Trillium Prize in poetry, oppositions exist in unquestioned justaposition: home with exile, belonging with exclusion, torture with moments of breathtaking and breath-giving grace… An absorbing and promising first book, Puti/White suggests an alternative to homelessness, inviting us instead to be multi-homed, learning the past by heart without wearing it on our sleeves.
~Katia Grubisic, The Globe and Mail
Puti/White is a compelling book of poems by Filipino-Canadian writer Patria Rivera, which dance us through a world rich in lyric, colour and vivid imagery… Certain images, often dark, run throughout the book – the repetition of references, such as the heartrending “Naomi in a shoebox”, add to Rivera’s explored notions of disappearance and exile, poverty and silence. War, women and language are examined in their relation to the nature of the Earth. Among many things, this book is a marriage of the living, the dead and the ghosts among us hidden in language.
~Jocelyn Grossé, Fast Forward
This may be Ms. Rivera’s first full-length collection, but she’s obviously been around the block a few times and she was a delightful discovery for this reader. … Quite simply put, this is an excellent book, and a most welcome debut. Not since Rienzi Crusz’s debut, have I tasted such rich language and succulent turns of phrase.
~Richard Stevenson, The Danforth Review
In poems both tough and tender, Patria Rivera explores the notion of exile – from place, culture, and language – with passion, precision, and wisdom. This is a book to savour.