In TAKE CARE, Eunice Andrada has further developed her poetics as a multilingual woman of Ilonggo ancestry from the Philippines. This new collection, her second after Flood Damages (Giramondo, 2018), interrogates the ethics of possession and custodianship – what determines who takes and who receives? The concept of “care” is examined through the lens of American imperialism and global capitalism, exploring how power and violence are intimately tied to varying forms of nurturing, reproduction and the maintenance of existing structures of dominance and control.
Over four sections titled “TAKE:”, “:COMFORT”, “:REVENGE”, and “:CARE”, Andrada traverses the colonised landscapes of the Philippines, Palestine, Jerusalem and suburban Australia, while grounding the body in specificities of history and memory. Andrada demonstrates both range and ability: from the bone-deep fatigue of bearing and resisting identities thrust upon one in “Subtle Asian Traits”, to the powerful spell-work of “Vengeance Sequence”, to the keening, barely articulated longings of “Nocturnal”. The poems serve as an echolocation and a call to action, as well as a record – both real and imagined – of the women who have come before and will come after her.
Andrada’s writing demonstrates both a controlled restraint and a finesse of form. The poems in this collection display a fine balance between form and language, even as they reveal a growing anger that draws from the clear-eyed naming and documentation of the various and ongoing injustices that have been enacted upon her people. The language in these poems is startling in its quiet intimacy, its expansive terrains, its fierce tenderness and the latent violence in its acts of resistance and revenge.
A standout is the untitled sequence in the second section of the book dedicated to Filipino women victims, both in the Philippines and Australia, of the ruthlessly militarised political regimes of Marcos and Duterte. Poems that address the themes of femicide and rape – historic, institutionalised and personal – are particularly poignant. In particular, in a section where the subject of every line is the word “rapist”, Andrada conveys with burning precision the experiences of women who must continue to move through the world bearing the scars and wounds of their trauma. In “Uninhabitable”, Andrada tells us: “Rage is the whale I must dwell in / when I move through cities my body / cannot inhabit. // This is no hero’s journey. / The objective of my wrath is not / to save.” This is a tremendous, transformative work of power and incendiary rage, and of resistance and survival against the odds.
Giramondo, 82pp, $24
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 25, 2021 as "Take Care, Eunice Andrada".
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