By Eunice AndradaPoetryGiramondo Publishing

Flood Damages

In Flood Damages, Eunice Andrada explores the open wounds of colonial occupation, diaspora and inheritance. Through the figure of a young Filipina-Australian woman whose family has been irreparably damaged by deportation, violence and illness, events both political and personal are felt most keenly in and through the body – ‘your blood sings of the scattered histories/ that left you here’. A poet and performance artist, Andrada combines the passionate intensity of voice, image and rhythms of prayer to affirm the brown female body as a site of vulnerability and power.

Portrait of Eunice Andrada

Eunice Andrada

Eunice Andrada is a Filipina-Australian poet, journalist, lyricist and teaching artist based in Sydney. Featured in the Guardian, CNN International, ABC News and other media, she has also performed her poetry on diverse international stages, from the Sydney Opera House and the deserts of Alice Springs to the United Nations Climate Negotiations in Paris. During a residency in Canada's prestigious Banff Centre, she collaborated with award-winning jazz musician and Cirque du Soleil vocalist Malika Tirolien. She has also shared her verses with celebrated composer Andrée Greenwell for the choral project Listen to Me.

Eunice co-produced and curated Harana, a series of poetry tours led by Filipina-Australians in response to the Passion and Procession exhibition in the Art Gallery of NSW. Her poems have appeared in Peril, Verity La, Voiceworks, and Deep Water Literary Review, amongst other publications. She was awarded the John Marsden & Hachette Australia Poetry Prize in 2014. In 2016, she was honoured by Australian Poetry as the first of their 30 Under 30 Poets. In 2018, the Amundsen-Scott Station in the South Pole of Antarctica will feature her poetry in a special exhibition on climate change. Flood Damages is her first book of poetry.

Judges’ report

Flood Damages brims with indelible images: a diasporic daughter’s tongue turning to rust as her country drowns, a nurse named Ferdinand Marcos conducting an allergy test, alternate copy for whitening cream, the conspicuous gaps between the lines of captions in a photo album.

Eunice Andrada’s debut brings a strong voice that reveals her skill as a spoken word performer yet transfers to the page with deft, subtle flow. Patriarchy, colonisation, climate change and deportation are just some of the currents running through this collection, which burns with musicality even as it shudders, shouldering so many forms of violence. But the bodies of water that separate families and destroy homelands in Flood Damages also offer a model of resilience, of survival and resistance, if not resolution. 

Extract

autopsy 

Ma loads her gun with aratelis berries
shoots at Noy till the wildfruit explode
against his hair, then keeps shooting.
Syrup and rind spray against
their too-small shirts,
curl into the webs of their toes. 

It is just after siesta and their backs
have been clapped with talcum powder.
The air is overripe
everything bruised and liable
to burst at the slightest touch.
Point of sale. 

When dark begins to pour
around their laughter,
they abandon the wreaths of mosquitoes
that call them holy.
Splotches of juice blacken the soil,
punctuating the walk
to the dinner table.
In that festering summer, Ma learns
the futility of sweetness.

 

last meal before deportation 

if there was a final dinner with my mother
before she left, I cannot recall it
but I can picture five brown bodies
and their light-skinned mother
embracing over the grimy carpet 

I can’t remember what we ate for dinner
but I know she would have scoured
the fridge for substitute ingredients
if I had asked for my favourite dish 

I know my mother would have told us
to hold each other’s hands
as she prayed in two languages 

how my mother must have felt her mother’s
rosemary beads grind against her throat
as she breathed
testing idle hopes in her accent
seetisen,  citizen
mader,       mother 

choking back and eating the labels
dirty immigrant, illegal, TNT
so they would not find our plates 

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist