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AGIMAT by Romalyn Ante
Poetry Book Society Recommendation Autumn 2024
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Published 5th September 2024. Available for pre-order.

'A powerful and hopeful collection, filled with heart and beauty' Cecile Pin
'An alchemical wonder of a poet' Fiona Benson

this charms the buried light of stars –
this deflects bullets – this unblooms a war –


In some Filipino clans, parents pass down to each child an AGIMAT, an amulet, in the hope its magic will protect and empower them. In a world of daily pain and loss, Romalyn Ante’s second collection asks: how do we keep safe what we hold most dear?

At the dawn of the pandemic, the poet – a practising nurse in the NHS – is thrown onto the frontlines of the war against COVID-19. Past conflicts swim into the now. When she falls in love with a man of Japanese heritage, it forces a reckoning with her family’s suffering under Japan’s brutal wartime occupation of the Philippines. Elsewhere, we meet the irrepressible goddess Mebuyan, who, in Philippine myth, nurses the spirits of children in the underworld. Here, she watches over young people in crisis – a girl who can’t stop cutting herself, a teenager who has leapt from a railway viaduct.

These are poems of strength and solace; they question what it means to fight, and what it takes to heal.

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