“Romalyn Ante's poems are exquisitely detailed and a real feast for the senses. She has an instinctive talent for crafting precise and finely-tuned poetry that captures the exact sensations – potent, close to home and as incisive and accurate as a scalpel's first cut. Whether it is the sun's rays that ‘infiltrated your bones, filling them with gold’, or the heart which breaks open like a pomegranate, ‘the seeds, / rusty-red like rivets, / contour a constellation’, life's preciousness is measured here carefully in its proximity to death. These poems are gracefully poised and balanced perfectly, alive with their own irresistible songs of love and longing.” Jane Commane
“Rice & Rain is an impressive first collection of poems that take us from the Philippines to Cannock Chase. The poems are confidently written – Romalyn Ante’s surprising and original imagery shows us how to fatten a boy with the boiled water from rice-rinsing; a handbag mirror made from solidified gin; cornflake sunsets.
“Her poems explore sickness and separation – the longing for the sour-sweet taste of home – but there is also emphasis on nurturing and nourishment. With many references to food from ‘sheen pieces of bullet tuna wrapped in banana leaves’ to ‘luggage stuffed with sun-dried squid’ it is a book you feel you could almost eat.” Jane Seabourne
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"This is a powerful debut that demonstrates a control of language and emotion typical of poets at more advanced stages in their careers. In her editorial blurb, Jane Commane says Ante’s poems are ‘a real feast for the senses.’ Indeed, by focusing on sensory details – from listening to the ‘rattle’ of ‘monsoon raindrops’ and the ‘tarri-tik’ of the ‘hornbill lizard’, to smelling a mother’s ‘tamarind-scented fingers’ – Ante’s work richly exploits sensory awareness of her homeland, The Philippines."
Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, Sphinx, full review here.
My chromosomes got divorced in 2006.
The papers on the narra table parch
with apoptotic blotch. The screams
that fragmentise picture frames
and wine canisters remain free-floating
in the dark cytoplasm of the cellar.
The swearings at each other’s mother
accumulate in the lounge rug.
Even the sword corrodes, its gleam
fading after a saber-arch wedding
many summers ago. Forget about the picnic
in the grove, the colour of sky that day.
Forget about the accidental discovery
of a kingfisher with gun-shot wing.
Forget about the scintillating moment
when XX chromosome, young and dumb,
threw her sandal to the river, certain that
my future father would recover it for her.