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Dinah Roma, Naming the Ruins

Ruins fascinate. They invite us into a world of disunities, fragments, memory, time. They beckon us to imagine the invisible and whole. Dinah Roma’s third collection of poems ruminates on the guises of ruins in our encounter with everyday—how in the slow shedding of surfaces we inevitably excavate our deepest resources, from where we rise to an awareness of what renders us vulnerable and enduring, what allows us to trace and inhabit landscapes at once ineffable and sublime. A certain rhythm leads this movement in all the poems’ low, lilt, and lift to one that sings us into a new way of being.

Dinah Roma in Axon Journal on writing Naming the Ruins.

"Dinah Roma’s poetry appears to intone as if emerging from a deep well of consciousness, as a kind of universal bell ringing out and bearing witness to emotion, emotion which is paradoxically fleeting in nature but timeless in effect." Plumwood Mountain Review

"Yes, Roma is a Philippine poet. She writes about her specific culture, its world and worldview—that she expands beyond this specificity, beyond the white spaces around her spare lines, beyond the page, the book, and into the air that we breathe.

Roma writes from the voices of her own home. And yet these voices can come alive in our own mouths: other breaths suddenly in our breath." Mascara Literary Review

“In Naming the Ruins, Dinah Roma keens. She keens for the lost past, for the gods both nameable and unnameable, for the terrains, for the past that threaten to take over the present, for the future that is not yet actualized but awaits in its embryonic form. These are graceful illuminating poems. These are poems of prayers, and we are undone and done with these poems.” Mariko Nagai 

“Something both earthy and transcendent about these poems renders the reader breathless. Dinah Roma has crafted ‘oracles out of love.’ Oracles of the body: from its ‘undulations of desire’ to its ‘last labor’—and our own bodies are co-opted into this oracle making. Into retrieving after loss ‘The phantom of a limb. The mind/haunting the flesh as when the arm/reaches for what was once there.’ Into being, as when the leaf’s ‘blade shapes what surrounds it,/suspended and held/by what renders it a leaf.’ Because word shaman that she is, this poet knows, ‘We are bodies/Circling into radiance unimpeded,/into that trail of sudden tremor…’ It is this ‘sudden tremor’ of consciousness after each poem that astounds—that frees our bodies like ‘each syllable freed for what it is.’ And with such tenderness, such grace.” Merlinda Bobis

Dinah Roma is the author of two award-winning poetry collections, A Feast of Origins (UST, 2004) and Geographies of Light (UST, 2011). She teaches with the De La Salle University’s Department of Literature (Manila). Her most recent collection of poetry Naming the Ruins (Vagabond Press, 2014) will be launched in May 2014 in Sydney.


Cover image © Kay Orchison, 2014.

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