The Gods We Worship Live Next Door was published originally by University of Utah Press in 2006 as the third recipient of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry, selected by Grace Schulman.
The Philippine edition was published by Anvil Publishing in 2008 and received the 28th Philippine National Book Award in 2009 from the National Book Development Board and Manila Critic’s Circle.
The Author’s personal take on the publication of The Gods We Worship Live Next Door, can be found here.
Reviews in the U.S. and Abroad
Bino A. Realuyo has that rare gift of transforming modern horror into art. In The Gods We Worship Live Next Door he writes of his beleaguered country, the Philippines, in ways that reveal universal truths. The land is vibrant and alive, real with mythical shadows–rituals, dances, work–and, at the same time, racked by persecution and death. The book is passionate without a trace of sentimentality, a compelling account of destruction under a silent god.”
- Grace Schulman, distinguished professor of English, Baruch College, CUNY
What is admirable is that Realuyo’s language is unadorned throughout; as he writes this shifting “I” who is the Filipino people, the accessibility of his words is important, not because he attempts to construct a singular, authentic Filipino voice, but rather, because it appears he means to minimize the distance between the “I” and his readers, the people to whom he has dedicated this book. As well, Realuyo’s language is unsentimental, for the speakers of his poems have no time to be emotionally overwrought. They are necessarily more invested in survival: “Is it so disturbing that I boarded a plane and held it up for a thousand pesos? That wouldn’t buy a day’s meal as we know it,” he writes in “Because Yesterday I Jumped Out of a Plane,” revealing to us the extremes to which some must go, barely able to live a hand to mouth existence.
– Barbara Jane Reyes, Zoland Poetry. More Here.
Realuyo’s collection, with its ability to hold up a mirror to history and memory, to hold the reader’s gaze unflinchingly, and to bring the neighbor out of his panoptic temple and into the full disclosure, is a fitting legacy of Ali’s life work and a tribute to the survival of so many unheard voices.
– Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor, Galatea Resurrection. More Here.
Realuyo approaches his subject with an assertive touch and a passion for the country of his birth. There is a narrative quality to the poems and also in the chronological layout of the book. He deals with the lot of the migrant laborer and includes two poems to the two Filipino women who were convicted of murder in Singapore and Dubai and whose plight — one was executed and the other subjected to imprisonment and 100 lashes — symbolizes and illustrates the potential tragedy and human cost of this economic diaspora.
- David McKirdy, Asian Review of Books. More Here.
The Gods We Worship Lives Next Door, is more than just a prize-winning poem collection. It is a reminder to the reader that we cannot ignore injustice and violence. War and the abuse of power are inexcusable because those who lose the most are innocent.
- Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Galatea Resurrection. More Here
The Gods We Worship Live Next Door is the winner of the 2006 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in poetry. I mention this because it makes sense to me to do so. It makes sense to think of Bino Realuyo’s poems as being in conversation with those of the late poet for whom this award is named, for the Philippines that emerges out of Realuyo’s collection is, like Ali Kashmir, a decimated landscape, a place populated by shelterless survivors, a country, to use Ali’s words “without a post office.”
-Kathy Graber, The Literary Review. More Here.