Rachelle Cruz wins 2018 American Book Award for poetry on Filipino folklore

Rachelle Cruz wins American Book Award for her poems about the “Aswang.” Image from UC Riverside.

Filipino-American poet Rachelle Cruz won an American Book Award for “God’s Will for Monsters,” a collection of poetry exploring the Filipino heritage of the author.

The child of Filipino immigrants, Cruz was one of the 15 recipients in the 39th Annual American Book Awards held in San Francisco on October 28.

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Cruz was awarded by the Before Columbus Foundation in recognition of her outstanding literary achievement in “God’s Will for Monsters,” a book of poems that received the Hillary Gravendyk Prize in 2017.

The University of California (UC) Riverside alumna and lecturer’s book was subsequently published by Inlandia Institute.

In an interview published by UC Riverside, Cruz revealed how she took inspiration from tales about the “aswang” and other mythical creatures in Philippine folklore which she learned from her parents and grandparent.

“I was interested in the aswang as a shapeshifter and my own identity, as someone who can shapeshift and code switch as well,” Cruz was quoted in the report by Jessica Weber.

“I was thinking about how Filipinos — people — are the number one export in the Philippines. Anywhere you go in the world, you’ll find Filipino labor, primarily female labor, and there’s a sense of shapeshifting there, where they can blend in and adapt and hide,” adds Cruz.

The American Book Award received by Rachelle Cruz was given by fellow writers from the Before Columbus Foundation to excellent literary writers and works across America’s diverse literary community.

“God Will for Monsters” by Rachelle Cruz is available in paperback edition on Amazon.

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