Filipina poet wins Resurgence inaugural prize

Luisa Igloria wins highest English language single poem competition.

by Ted Alcuitas

Filipina poet Luisa Igloria has been chosen as the first prize winner of the Resurgence Prize Poetry Prize—the world’s first major award for ecopoetry.

With a first prize of £5,000 for the best single poem embracing ecological themes, the award ranks amongst the highest of any English language single poem competition.

The award ceremonies were held the Leighton House Museum in London last December.

The judges were the former UK poet laureate Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott.

Resurgence is a long-running British magazine focusing on ecology. It has always made room for poetry in its pages, but this was the first year their parent nonprofit has awarded the prize.

Founded in the spring of 2014 by the former UK Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, actress and green campaigner Joanna Lumley, and entrepreneur and environmentalist Peter Phelps, the Resurgence Poetry Prize reflects the founders’ shared passion for and commitment to poems that investigate and challenge the interrelationship between nature and human culture (read more on Ecopoetry).

Igloria told the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle that “it was an honor to meet the judges as well as key personae who are members of the Resurgence Trust.”

On the Poem, Upbringing and Future

“I always find it difficult to “explain” my own work—but about “Auguries,” the winning poem, I guess I could say that it is a kind of lyric elegy mourning a world that seems to be passing away.  I was raised in Baguio in a mostly Ilocano household that had a strong awareness of animistic beliefs. We practiced atang, for instance—putting aside small offerings of food and drinks for the spirits of our loved ones who are departed; and I was taught not to indiscriminately trample on or pull up plants in the backyard because spirits might live there.

“In our contemporary world, many might feel uncomfortable with such ideas. And unlike in my childhood, our modern environment seems so full of dangers and risks that we don’t want to expose our children (or even ourselves) to.

“While my poem expresses sadness at such things, at the same time, I like to think that there is hopeful sentiment there too—with all the very real effects we are experiencing owing to climate change. As I said in a few remarks at the program, our dearest hope is for our children to have a viable world to inhabit in the future.”