January 29, 2023

For bringing honor and pride to her hometown Baguio, migrant poet Luisa Aguilar Igloria was feted by city officials through a resolution for being installed poet laureate of the state of Virginia, U.S.A. for 2020 to 2022.
Through a virtual ceremony, Igloria was sworn in as the 20th Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia on July 29. She will be the state’s chief ambassador for poetry for the next two years.
In a resolution penned by Councilor Arthur Allad-iw and unanimously approved by members of the city council, it said Igloria did not forget her Baguio roots when she migrated to the U.S. and tenured as professor of English at the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where she also serves as the director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program.
Igloria was born and raised in Baguio up to her college years prior to migrating to the U.S. She is one of the founding members of the Baguio Writers Group.
“Her poetry never failed to evoke the city of her birth as more and more of her students became aware of Baguio and its beauty through her poetry,” Allad-iw said.
Igloria’s appointment is a “rare singular achievement for a poet”, according to the resolution.
Igloria’s poems have appeared in almost all the prestigious magazines and journals in the Philippines, U.S. and the rest of the world. They have been anthologized in various anthologies and textbooks.
Even before her installment, Igloria has been a recipient of national and international awards for her works. These include the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature for 11 times; the 1988 Black Warrior Literary Award; Charles Goodknow Endowed Award for Creative Writing; Illinois Arts Council Literary Award and the George Kent Prize for Poetry, among many others.
She has written 16 books and chapbooks on poetry, short fiction and essays, including Cordillera Tales, Cartography, Songs for the Beginning of the Millennium, Trill and Mordent, Ode to a Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser, Juan Luna’s Revolver, and Haori.
In her recent installment, the community paper Virginian Pilot describes Igloria, a Norfolk poet who is a “central force” in the annual literary festival of ODU where she teaches writing.
“Her output shames writers who struggle to produce one original thought per week, if at all. Her works are not only gorgeously evocative but also subtly political, and quiet rendering,” says the Virginian Pilot.
Her daily thoughts are posted at ViaNegativa.us
“Friends, thank you again for your good wishes on my appointment as Poet Laureate of Virginia. As chief advocate and ambassador for poetry in the state of VA, rather than speak for others, I see my role more as working with and alongside you as we create meaningful programs that center the necessity of poetry in daily life, and highlight it as an important part of our civic engagement and witness.  In the months ahead, I will be reaching out to see what we can do together,” Igloria said in her Facebook page.
The poet will release her newest collection of poems, “Maps for Migrants and Ghosts,” which is due in September but is now available for pre-order from Southern Illinois University Press. – Ofelia C. Empian