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Writers Write the Pandemic with Reine Arcache Melvin, Angelo Lacuesta, and Dorian Merina

It is said that writers find creativity and inspiration in isolation, but a pandemic brings its own special set of challenges.

Join us this August 25, Tuesday at 5:00 PM as three internationally acclaimed Ateneo de Manila University Press authors--Reine Arcache Melvin, Sarge Lacuesta, and Dorian Merina--discuss how COVID-19 is shaping their writing.

A discussion on how COVID-19 is shaping their writing

Sarge Lacuesta
author or City Stories

Sarge Lacuesta has won many awards for his writing, among them three National Book Awards, the Madrigal Gonzalez Best First Book Award, the NVM Gonzalez Award, and numerous Palanca and Philippines Graphic Awards.

He is Editor-at-Large at Esquire Philippines and Nonfiction Editor at Panorama: the Journal of Intelligent Travel.

Reine Archache Melvin
author of The Betrayed

Reine Arcache Melvin was born and raised in Manila and is a Filipina-American writer and the author of A Normal Life and Other Stories and The Betrayed, published by Ateneo de Manila University Press. The Betrayed won both the National Book Award and the Palanca Grand Prize for the Novel. A Normal Life won the National Book Award for fiction and was translated into French and published as “Une Vie Normale” (Esprit des Peninsules, Paris).

Dorian Merina
author of Di Achichuk

Journalist, poet, and author Dorian Merina has taught and reported throughout Southeast Asia and in New York and Los Angeles. He co-hosts the podcast, Istorya Nu Ivatan, about life in Batanes and among the Ivatan diaspora.

He is the author of Di Achichuk: Poems and Images from Batanes, two chapbooks of poetry, The Changegiver and Stone of the Fish, and a spoken word album, Heaven is a Second Language.

City Stories

When I was young I dreaded leaving my city for the countryside. It meant leaving the space around me: a small desk, a twin-sized bed, and the wall beside it, covered with posters of my favorite bands.

There was also the street I lived on, my best friend’s house two blocks away, the store another block after that. A little farther out was the avenue lined with the grocery stores, cafés, and videogame arcades I regularly visited. Across it was the school I attended. And just a bus and jeepney ride away was the mall I went to with friends for ice cream and sausage sandwiches and comic books.

The only time I was ever happy to leave was on the rare occasion I was visiting another city—often more advanced and more exciting, with skylines that soared higher, with brighter lights and busier streets. But even there I felt right at home, surrounded by millions of people and their millions of stories, in which the city became the foreground or the background, the hero or the villain, the familiar or the alien, the inexhaustible or the disposable.

In this collection, I’ve chosen to briefly revisit the cities that I’ve written about across two decades of writing. Most of the stories have been extensively rethought and rewritten, and I hope that they offer a fresh experience to old readers, young citizens, and new visitors alike.

Welcome to my cities, and thank you for your stay.

The Betrayed

Set in a time of dictatorship and political upheaval, The Betrayed tells the story of two sisters who love the same man. Their passion threatens to lead them to betray not only each other, but all that their father stood for. Shy, idealistic Pilar initially resolves to carry on her father’s fight against the dictator, while her flamboyant older sister Lali reacts by marrying the enemy—Arturo, the dictator’s godson. Each tries to find their place in this violent world, but can they withstand the corruption of politics and the relentless pull of their own desires? What price must one pay for passion?

Di Achichuk

This is a beautiful, moving example of the poetry of place.

Achichúk names both the collection and the place with which Merina is deeply familiar. That two-part signification invites us to read Achichúk as lyric geography. Its best poems convey deftness, verve, and grace. And the syntax found in the poems—in the arrangements on the page and the word-music they score—embody the energies of tide and wind.

If culture is a form of survival, then Merina not only enriches Philippine poetry but also enables Ivatan culture to thrive in a language that his tillage has made hospitable. ­—John Labella, Ateneo de Manila University

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