HERE’S SOME LOVE FOR AMULET
Jason Bayani’s poetry brings much needed guts into a world hung up on presentations.
My mouth / has been using other tongues. / My mouth has been screaming on someone else’s picket line,” writes Jason Bayani in his debut collection, Amulet. It is a wonderful thing, this collection, full of breaking and hunger. In thoughtful and deftly crafted poems, he explores the social limitations and contradictions of the masculine, the mouth, tongue, voice. Strong-willed and smart, the language of Bayani’s poems pops and bangs, punches, hurls bricks, and then does not flinch from tenderness. Amulet is the opposite of “someone else’s picket line”; it is self-reflective, tough, and articulate, a very welcome addition to our growing Filipino American literary world.
It is clear that despite the insistence that painful words and experiences ‘can break your posture,’ Bayani refuses to collapse. Broken does not mean beaten. And the mean-ings of the word ‘beat’ need not be confined to that of the negative verb.
Even as his poems touch on various social and artistic tribulations, they are united by Bayani’s voice… the verses come at the reader as if he’s performing each piece in front of them, his speech resonating through each line of the book. The words permeate with self-doubt, rage, and compassion, yet the poems themselves feel measured and perfected.
Nobody combines brains with guts quite like Jason Bayani. Holy shit, these poems. These are the words of a streetwise introvert, a prophet brawling his way out of rehab. When digging into his work, you know that poetry is alive, kicking and singing. Poetry lovers rejoice – Jason’s art can now be passed on and on, and forces you to remember you have hands.
Bao Phi Author, Song I Sing