Jun 24, 2024

Born and raised in Winnipeg, poet Shirley Camia is a second-generation Canadian Filipino.

Canadian Filipino poet Shirley Camia releases a new collection of poetry titled Mercy in the month of May, a timely homage to her late mother. This is Camia’s fourth collection which chronicles her journey through grief and bereavement.

“My mother died at the start of 2016, and a few months after her death, I woke up and felt compelled to write,” Camia shares with Canadian Filipino Net (CFNet). “So I picked up a pen and paper and all of a sudden, I had a poem. The next day, it happened again. And again and again. Until I had approximately 50 poems, and the beginning of a new collection.”

An only child, her parents’ illnesses made a deep impression on Camia. Her third book, Children Shouldn’t Use Knives, is a dark examination of pre-adolescent life and draws from that difficult period when both parents frequented the hospital. In an earlier interview with CFNet, Camia shared, “…because of what I was going through, I viewed life through a dark lens.”

“I did not anticipate my mother's death. It was my father who was in and out of the hospital first, with various illnesses that threatened his life,” Camia tells CFNet about writing Mercy.“Then, during that time, my mother's health declined quite rapidly. She too had to stay in hospital for stints that got longer and longer, until finally, she never made it back home.”

In the poem “Feeding the Wolves” from Mercy, Camia asks:

how did this happen


did i do enough

did i do it right

where will i go

when did i get so old

Canadian poet laureate Di Brandt says of Mercy, “Here is an earth song, a death song, a grief song, sung with such gentleness and clarity that every detail, every remembered joy, every terrible moment of surrender, is lit up, vibrant, luminous.”

Mercy’s book launching is on May 9, 7 p.m. at the McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Avenue in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Camia embarks on a series of poetry readings across Canada and the U.S. in May:

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Speaking Crow Reading Series

May 7, 2019, 7 p.m.

Millennium Library - Carol Shields Auditorium, 251 Donald Street

Bridgewater, Virginia

Bridgewater International Poetry Festival

May 16, 2019, 7 p.m.

Bridgewater College, 402 East College Street, Carter Center Concert Hall

Toronto, Ontario

Poetry Reading

May 10, 2019, 7 p.m.

Knife Fork Book, 244 Augusta Avenue, 2nd floor, The Dark Side Studio

Vancouver, B.C.

Poetry Reading

May 26, 2019, 3 p.m.

Massy Books, 229 E. Georgia Street

Mercy is available for purchase on www.amazon.com and www.turnstonepress.com.

About the Author
Rachel Ramos-Reid started writing for magazines and newspapers when she was still a junior at the University of the Philippines’ Communication degree program majoring in Journalism. She continued to write in a public relations/corporate communications capacity in various private and government offices until moving out of the country in 1997 to work as Programme Officer for the arts and culture branch of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO-SPAFA) in Bangkok, Thailand. At the end of her term, Rachel found herself immigrating to Canada in the year 2000 and again searching for new beginnings. Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the North Island College’s Board of Governors in a part-time capacity.

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