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P.O. Box 31928
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A space to encourage writing of Filipino American literature and the arts

 

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To Love as Aswang Reading Questions

Below, we have compiled a list of discussion questions to assist educators and students in reading and discussing Barbara Jane Reyes's To Love as Aswang. If you are interested in course adoption, or using this book for a reading group or book club, please contact us at pawa@pawainc.com

 

  1. In the table of contents, note that each poem is formatted in infinitive form. Why do you think this is? Why is this important?

  2. Many of these poems employ repetition and litany. What is the significance of these repetitions? What is the effect on you as a reader?

  3. Reyes has written many of the poems in this book in double columns. Why do you think this is? What is the relationship between the text and speaker of each column? How do you read these -- left column first, then right? Straight across?

  4. In the poems “To Read the Newspapers” (page 6), and “To Remember Something from Long Ago” (page 16), where are these quotes coming from? Why fashion a poem out of them?

  5. What is the language that Reyes uses in the poems, "To Fork the Tongue" (page 2),  and "To Recite Tita Bruja's Credo" (page 65)? Why is it important to these poems? Who is speaking in this language? To whom is the speaker speaking?

  6. In the book's description, we are told that the aswang is a monstrous creature long associated with female transgression. Who are the women and girls in this text, and how do they transgress? What are the consequences of their transgressions? Who does the punishing?

  7. In the poems, “To Violate Convention” (page 25) and “To Know” (page 60), Reyes’s use of Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool” as a model is apparent. Similarly, in the poems, “To Remember” (page 47) and “To Spend and Be Spent” (page 61), Reyes uses Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” as their model. Why do you think this is? What is the importance of Brooks and Ginsberg to Reyes’s project?

  8. In the poems, “To Go Along with Others” (page 13), “To Bless the Meek” (page 36), and “To Give it To God” (page 40), why is some of the text in grayscale? Who are the speakers in these poems? To whom are they speaking? What is the relationship between the text in grayscale and the regular text?

  9. What do you think is the author's ultimate message about the experience of Filipina girls and women, throughout history and into contemporary times? What is she saying about Pinay rebellion, resistance, and survival?