POLITICO’s Summer Reading List

From POLITICO, Here’s What Politicos Are Reading This Summer: 27 books + The Ruin of Everything by Lara Stapleton! So thrilled for Lara whose book was released in fall of last year by Paloma Press, and also featured in The New York Times and Philippine Star, among others!

The Ruin of Everything tells tales of abandoned children living in adult bodies. Bastards, bi-racial half-siblings, and orphans raised by aunts, they lose their last best love through brokenness like “the impossible loop in a stress dream.” Racial ambiguity abounds and confounds US color lines. Tones stretch from lugubrious sorrow to wicked dramedy. Obstinately fluid in architecture and identity, stories range from slick Hollywood glam to essayistic musings, from traditional immigrant realism, to rehearsals of autofiction that grow more metatextual as the book goes along. Just as we think we’ve learned how to read Stapleton’s stories, they shapeshift. And yet, the pieces reflect each other, a sad-clown funhouse hall of mirrors. Through wanton experiments with character, The Ruin of Everything asks us what is important to a tale and what it means to be American in country and continents. Lovers of Clarice Lispector and Luisa Valenzuela will find much to admire here.

About the author:

LARA STAPLETON was born and raised in East Lansing, Michigan. Her maternal family is from the Philippines. New York City is her homeland. She is the author of the short story collections The Ruin of Everything (Paloma Press) and The Lowest Blue Flame Before Nothing (Aunt Lute), an Independent Booksellers’ Selection, and a Pen Open Book Committee Selection. She edited The Thirdest World (Factory School) and co-edited Juncture (Soft Skull). Her work has appeared in dozens of periodicals, including The LA Review of Books, The Nerds of Color, Poets and Writers, The Brooklyn Rail, Ms., Glimmer Train, and The Indiana Review. A writer of prose, poetry, and teleplays, she is developing 1850; co-created with Rachel Watanabe-Batton, the television series is set in antebellum New Orleans and is about mixed-race families, taboo and the color line. The project was selected for the IFP No Borders International Co-Production Market. She is also at work on a show about a self-destructive multi-cultural community in Brooklyn and another about a Filipino-American restaurateur with Nicole Ponseca. 

She was the recipient of a Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation Grant for writers and a two-time winner of the University of Michigan’s Hopwood Award for fiction. She was also the winner of the Columbia Journal fiction prize. A graduate of NYU’s creative writing program, her greatest pride is for her students at Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York. 

Forthcoming this summer!


A Debut Poetry Collection by Cynthia Buiza

Advance words:

“In her enchanting collection of poems, Cynthia Buiza traces “the shape of memories, / the noise they make,” with a delicate, uncompromising touch. Her calm, melodious lines push open the doors we tell ourselves we cannot open, doors to rooms that hold what we believe we cannot face — “mother, lover, loss.” Distilled from years of longing and griefwork, of solitary walks and communal rituals, Buiza’s wisdom is sweet wine for bitter times.”

– Boris Dralyuk, poet, translator and Editor In Chief of Los Angeles Review of

“Cynthia Buiza’s poetry continues to witness, unceasingly, inviting us to join her in what I call as the last vigil to a passing world, where despite the odds and doubts, she continues to recollect the tracks and thoughts of our fugitive, fragile lives, now enshrined in a foreign tongue she has recoiled and reconciled as her own domicile, a second skin.”

– Kristian Sendon Cordero, poet and translator

“What does poetry look like from the notebooks of a life thoughtfully walked?  These pages reflect the maturity of consequence, filled by a migrant advocate, world citizen, and a spirit who has held poetry long enough to understand its torrents.  Poetry, for those who stroll outside its white walls, is a “miracle at dawn.”   And there are many miracles in this debut collection – language as a “dance between mercy and grace” – so much thinking, so much survival, so much courage, from a poet who paves her journey by documenting the everyday vanishings and appearances.”

– Bino A. Realuyo, author of The Gods We Worship Live Next Door and co-founder of The Asian American Writers Workshop

“Many worlds collide in the poetry of Cynthia Buiza, but what remains with the reader are the worlds of the new country vis-a-vis the old homeland. Silt and silk, stone and star, a vast country and an archipelago “with too many names for islands.” People suffer and live in her poems; violence and hope commingle here. “She maps this line of desolation from one continent to another…” It is a poetry teeming with images moist and melancholy, “ghosts frozen in the dead eye of memory.” The rough-grained world of the everyday and the slippery world of dreams are present, “surfacing in her dreams/ trailed by a lullaby of crickets nesting… in secret places.” This is an assured debut for a poet whose wise and wonderful voice deserves to be heard, loud and clear.”

– Danton Remoto, author of Riverrun, A Novel, Winner of the National Achievement Award for Poetry, Writers’ Union of the Philippines

About the author:

Cynthia Buiza is the Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC). She earned a Masters in International Affairs from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, with a concentration on human security studies. She also holds certificates from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Cynthia currently serves as a California State Commissioner with the Little Hoover Commission and the CA100. This is her first poetry collection.

CITY LIGHTS LIVE! Barbara Jane Reyes and Rajiv Mohabir

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, City Lights presents

Hybrid/Liminal/Diaspore: Barbara Jane Reyes and Rajiv Mohabir

Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of numerous books of prose and poetry. These include “Letters to a Young Brown Girl”, “Invocation to Daughters”, “Gravities of Center”, and other works. “Wanna Peek Into My Notebook”, epistolary and lyric essays, is her seventh book. She is the recipient of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets and the Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry. She makes her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Rajiv Mohabir is an Indo-Caribbean American author of three acclaimed poetry collections, “The Taxidermist’s Cut”, “Cowherd’s Son”, and “Cutlish”, which was a finalist for the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. His hybrid memoir “Antiman” is Finalist for the 2022 PEN Open Book Award and Winner of the 2019 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.

This event was originally broadcast on Thursday, May 19, 2022 in the zoom platform and was hosted by Peter Maravelis of City Lights. This program was made possible from support by the City Lights Foundation

Congratulations, Lara Stapleton!

Congratulations to Lara Stapleton who has just been accepted to La Chispa’s International Artist in Residency Program in Medellin!

LARA STAPLETON is the author of the short story collection, The Lowest Blue Flame Before Nothing (Aunt Lute), an Independent Booksellers’ Selection and a Pen Open Book Committee Selection. She is the recipient of a Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation Grant for Writers, a two-time winner of the University of Michigan’s Hopwood Award for Fiction and winner of the Columbia Journal Fiction Prize. Her second story collection, The Ruin of Everything, was released by Paloma Press in October last year.

Congratulations, Vince Gotera!

“Aswang Mango: Santiago’s Fantasia” by Vince Gotera (MiGoZine Summer 2021) was nominated for a 2022 Rhysling Award in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. The Rhysling is given for best speculative poem in the previous year.


                                    —curtal sonnet
There is no fruit I love more than the mango.
Taut skin, yellow and red, the blushing cheek
of a maiden, the soft curve, the shy smile
on my girl’s sensuous mouth, a slow tango
smoldering in her eyes. The mango’s sleek
flesh, sweet and fragrant as her bosom. While

Clara’s away these summer nights, the heavens
cloudless and clear, moonlight-filled, where she wheels
in air, she leaves with me her hips, two cheeks
like shapely fruits, the moon’s curvy crescent,
            firm mango handfuls.

Note: this poem is part of an ongoing novel-in-poems about two aswang—Philippine mythical monsters—who fall in love and try to live as ordinary humans. Clara is a manananggal, which means that she can split herself at the waist, with the top half flying off to hunt prey, leaving her bottom half, in this case, in the care of her lover Santiago.

Vince Gotera teaches at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as Editor of the North American Review (2000-2016). He is also former Editor of Star*Line, the print journal of the international Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (2017-2020). His poetry collections include DragonflyGhost WarsFighting KiteThe Coolest Month. and the upcoming Pacific Crossing. Recent poems appeared in Altered Reality MagazineCrab Orchard ReviewDreams & NightmaresThe Ekphrastic ReviewPhilippines Graphic (Philippines), RosebudThe Wild Word (Germany) and the anthologies Multiverse (UK), Dear America, and Hay(na)ku 15. He blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar.

Renowned Poet Visits NCCC

Jeanne-Marie Osterman at NCCC

The Niagara County Community College, as part of its Poetry on the Edge Series, successfully hosted a reading featuring Jeanne-Marie Osterman on April 21 in the Dolce Valvo Art Gallery at the Sanborn Campus. Ms. Osterman read from her books Shellback (Kirkus Top 100 Indie Books of 2021) and All Animals Want the Same Thing (Winner of the 2021 Slipstream Poetry Chapbook Contest). The series has been a tradition of the College for 29 years.