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 second 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.
Camia masterfully employs a minimalist poetic style — strings of short, abrupt thoughts are packed with expressive, meaningful imagery. Each line flows smoothly into the next, effortlessly delivering a vivid picture with no more than a few words.
– Nadia Siu Van, Room Magazine
In their concision, her poems read like concentrated versions of longer works, their images and characters evoking greater backstories and a raw, palpable tension, lending a heft to Camia’s slight volume.
– Annick MacAskill, CV2
Contemplative and affecting, The Significance of Moths burrows itself into the consciousness as an earworm would.
– Beatrice Paez, Shameless Magazine
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.
– Stephen Hong Sohn, Asian American Literature Fans
This is brave, bright poetry distilled and pure.
– Michael Dennis, Today’s Book of Poetry
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.”
– Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press
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
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.
– Ang Peryodiko
The Significance of Moths is a hauntingly beautiful look at the migration process.
– Matt Dionne, AWS Publishing