Pub. date: November 1, 2020
New Rivers Press | ISBN: 978-0-89823-397-1 | 200 pages
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EDITORS’ CHOICE SELECTION: New Rivers Press 2018 Many Voices Project Prose Competition
A lyrical collection of essays that grapple with identity, family, and femininity, and with the dysphoria of being from a spiritual, matriarchal society in a colonized, patriarchal world.
PRAISE for We Are No Longer Babaylan
“Every word of We Are No Longer Babaylan brilliantly hooks with and hinges on magic, and the magic of possibility. Valmidiano frames the ancient, persistent pain that hammers and chisels Filipina American knowledge with ritual and unrest. She articulates screams and silences, exalting that in order to engage with the Filipina, female, and storied being is to see her in all of her palimpsests. Her prose about the mysteries of waiting, family in manifold forms, and Pinay friendship, features a heartfelt, phenomenal voice declaring, time and time again, women’s bodies–of writing, of work, of ceremony–theirs to narrate and protect.”
— Janice Lobo Sapigao, 2020-2021 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, author of microchips for millions and like a solid to a shadow
“When a powerful witch promises revenge before being fed to crocodiles and then, hundreds of years into the future, over decades of colonization and occupation, whispers into the ear of a rebellious girl, the ear of her descendant, a book like We Are No Longer Babaylan is born. Elsa Valmidiano uses language like a bolo cutting through hectares of land overgrown with amnesia and myopia. With this collection of critical and graceful stories, we readers are able to see again with such clarity and light. So much light that the shadows lengthen and then retreat again, a continuous ebb and flow of politicized, personal revelation and cultural examination. Many who read this book—from those of generations who remember demons intimately to the younger generations only now recalling their names—will see a kind of summoning of the babaylan we ‘used to be’, an invitation for her to once again stand by our side.”
— Trinidad Escobar, graphic novelist, cartoonist, poet, author of CRUSHED
“In Elsa Valmidiano’s deeply moving debut collection of essays, We Are No Longer Babaylan, one finds oneself so utterly changed in the reading, in the way that only the rarest works do, and rarely so, for such transformations do not come lightly. Every book we open is a risk to all that we knew before. To read is an act of courage, to write, a bravery beyond even the word itself. Such is Valmidiano’s book, a bravery in spirit, an absolute truth telling, a sacred kind of song. No matter how much has been done to them, the light of some things cannot be turned down. But we are required, then, to speak of the unspeakable, to hold the unholdable, to tell our stories with compassion, complexity, honesty and awe. We Are No Longer Babaylan is a brave and astounding work that touches the spirit in unpredictable and beautiful ways. Healing is part of it, and hope, and love, and pain.”
Cover art: Engine by Isobel Francisco
2 x 2 ft (60.96 x 60.96 cm)
oil on canvas
Image of the visual artist, standing before her painting, Costumes, 4 x 8 ft (121.92 x 243.84 cm), oil on canvas, 2017