Rachelle Cruz Wins a 2018 American Book Award for Her Debut Poetry Collection

Rachelle CruzRachelle Cruz, a lecturer in the department of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, has won a 2018 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for her debut poetry collection, God’s Will for Monsters (Inlandia Institute, 2017). The award was established to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of the nation’s diverse literary community.

God’s Will for Monsters explores Filipino folklore and customs, religion, womanhood, and the lingering effect of colonialism of the Filipino diaspora. The central figure in her collection is the “aswang,” a mythical shapeshifting creature in Filipino folklore.

“I was interested in the aswang as a shapeshifter and my own identity, as someone who can shapeshift and code switch as well,” she said. “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.”

Cruz holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York and a master’s degree in creative writing and the performing arts from the University of California, Riverside.

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