Ligaya Mishan reads The Ruin of Everything


NYT food and culture writer Ligaya Mishan on Lara Stapleton’s The Ruin of Everything:

“Stories of racial ambiguity, of being in-between, “both hypervisible and unseen,” and love letters “to a modern generation of brown girls.” I covet galleys because they make me feel like I’m in on a secret; check out these stunners from @kylelucia + @daphnepalasia + @stapletonlara (“an Anaïs Nin of late capitalism’s bohemia,” per @gapostol — how’s that for a blurb!).”

Luisa A. Igloria reviews MARCELINA

“[Marcelina] is a 31-page sequence weaving [Jean] Vengua’s own visits to Stockton and the Jersey Island delta, with rumors of the crime, ghost stories circulating in the community, and fragments of news reports from 1933 that also capture the economic and social tensions seething under the surface…

What strikes me most in this reading of Marcelina, however, is the careful way Vengua gathers inchoate bits of story like someone panning for clearer residue.” (Luisa A. Igloria)

Read the full review here.

The Halo-Halo Review is edited by Eileen R. Tabios. Check out Issue 11 here.

Osterman is featured in HeraldNet!

An Everett native pays a poetic tribute to her father
“Shellback” is a collection of narrative poems honoring John D. Osterman, a lifelong Everett resident and WWII veteran.

In “Shellback,” Osterman remembers her father from her mid-century childhood to his death at 98 in 2017. The book is set in her Pacific Northwest hometown and the Pacific theater of World War II. Her poems speak of love, forgiveness, tragedy and grief.

“Shellback” — the title is slang for a veteran sailor — is a plainspoken portrait of a World War II naval combat veteran.

Osterman, 68, writes about the nostalgia of her childhood days trying “to be his boy,” followed by the nightmares her father witnessed during World War II. With a daughter’s devotion, she then writes about wishing to understand him and caring for him in his last years.

Read the full article.

The Everett Public Library presents “Writers Live: Everett Poetry Night” at 5 p.m. April 20 via Crowdcast. Jeanne-Marie Osterman and Steve K. Bertrand are the two featured poets. Register at A link to the event will be emailed after registration. Call 425-257-8000 or go to for more information.

Elsa Valmidiano reviews Marcelina


Jean Vengua, a daughter of the Manong generation, was born in San Francisco, raised in Santa Cruz, and lives in Monterey. Marcelina, a long epic poem recently published as a chapbook, begins with a quote from Carlos Bulosan: “And perhaps it was this narrowing of your life into an island. . . .” For those unfamiliar with Bulosan, he is what a Filipino-American pupil might call the Godfather of Filipino-American Literature. Bulosan is honored for writing about the experiences of Filipinos working as laborers in the US during the 1930s and 40s, when Celine Navarro, a young Filipina immigrant—the subject of Vengua’s book—was murdered by her Filipino community. The reasons behind Navarro’s murder are never made clear in Marcelina, but in it Vengua takes the reader through an extended examination of that era’s Filipino community in the US, revealing the terrorism and violence inflicted on the community by white society. She reveals, as well, the misogyny within a Filipino community that resulted in Navarro’s death: members of her own community buried her alive as punishment or retribution for either being an adulteress or informer to the police. Eighty-nine years after her death, still none of us know the reason for it, a mystery which is further compounded by the lack of historical accountability for the terrorism inflicted on the Filipino community, as well as the acquittal of Navarro’s killers…

Continue reading here.

Maggie Smith tweets about Shellback!

Award-winning poet and bestselling author Maggie Smith just gave Shellback the thumbs up!

“New poetry alert! Shellback is a beautiful tribute to Osterman’s father and to memory itself.”

Jeanne-Marie Osterman’s collection, Shellback, takes us to the heart of her relationship with her father, a World War II Navy veteran and kamikaze survivor. Set beneath the tall trees and rainy skies of the Pacific Northwest, and the Pacific theater of World War II, these poems speak of love, forgiveness, and the tragedies of war. Vividly nostalgic and plainspoken, Shellback is both a tribute to her father, and a longing for the closeness to him she could never quite achieve.


A not-untroubled tribute and a difficult elegy, Shellback traces the attachment of a daughter to her father from her childhood days of trying “to be his boy” to the grown-up’s task to be his caregiver in his last years. Including horrific details from the father’s WWII Navy service in the Pacific, which the poet memorializes in blunt, terse lines, alongside the harrowing specifics of his decline, Osterman limns a portrait of a complex relationship. Marked by candor and clear-sightedness, these poems resist soothing resolutions and easy solace, which is why they are sure to ring true to readers. —Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Letters from Limbo

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