There is a belief, in Filipino culture, that the recently deceased may return in the form of a moth. Though their bodies disintegrate, their spirits linger on. Fragile but insistent, these spirit-memories permeate Shirley Camia’s collection of poetry, The Significance of Moths.
In her latest work, Camia exposes her experiences in Canada as a child of immigrants. Although true for many, the newcomer experience magnifies the “strands of the past” that are “bound to the present.” Like a voyager though time and space, she perceives her present through a film of nostalgia for a home she never knew, while she faces a future laden with the expectations of a family who risked everything for a better tomorrow.
"Her sense of the Filipino-Canadian "home" is as spiritual as it is temporal or geographic. Home is, as the moth reminds us, where our beloved and their spirit endures."
"The Significance of Moths" is one of those collections of free verse that will linger in the mind and memory long after the slender volume has been finished and set back upon the shelf."
--Midwest Book Review
This is brave, bright poetry distilled and pure.
Most readers will find The Significance of Moths to exist in that rare intersection of sophistication and accessibility that so many poetry collections cannot sustain.
-- Asian American Literature Fans, Stephen Sohn
The Winnipeg-born Camia (who now lives in Toronto) combines her own memories with an attempt to capture cultural memory, the experience of Filipino immigrants. The poems recover moments through sharp, strong images — a cardinal is "a matador’s flag / for the bull / of winter" and certain remembered men had "faces / cracked like roasted pig skin" that "sent out smoky circles / cut by children chasing chickens."
--Winnipeg Free Press, Jonathan Ball
“The Significance of Moths” is a hauntingly beautiful look at the migration process."
--AWS Publishing, Matt Dionne
“Contemplative and affecting, The Significance of Moths burrows itself into the consciousness as an earworm would."
--Shameless Magazine, Beatrice Paez
These poems are quick, sharp stabs from the blade of a supremely talented poet.
With a gorgeously understated emotional range anchoring a wide intellectual landscape, entire worlds exist in a Shirley Camia moment.
She may be the best minimalist poet writing in Canada today.
Shirley Camia is a broadcaster and journalist, born in Winnipeg to first-generation Filipino immigrants. She has traveled throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, sleeping alongside the rice fields of rural Japan and falling in love with Canada's far north. She lives and writes in Toronto.Website: shirleycamia.com/