Jim Pascual Agustin’s Waking Up To ThePattern Left By A Snail Overnight: Poems

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Poems that meditate on joy and loss with wonder

In a fast-paced, ever-changing world, is there still time to meditate on the joyous, the tragic, the present, and the past echoing in the present?

002 Spotlight On Books Jim Pascual Agustin
Jim Pascual Agustin (Photo by Ken Barris)

Walking Up to the Pattern Left by a Snail Overnight by Jim Pascual Agustin is a collection of poems traveling through politics, ecology, and pop culture—meeting each subject with curiosity and care. 

Agustin’s work won the 2022 Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize, an annual literary prize given to an unpublished manuscript written in English by an author of Asian heritage from across the globe. 

The director of the Singapore Writers Festival, Yeow Kai Chai chose this manuscript for its “crystalline poems…masterfully observed, shone through with Zen penetration.” 

The book is made of four sections: bound by wood, the belly of a termite, something in its grip, and resonate: a series of poems after a line mis/heard from Björk’s “Anchor Song.” 

Binding them all together is Agustin’s gentle observation of the world around him. Walking Up to the Pattern is a series of meditations on nature and human corruption, presenting images of Taylor Swift, Bjork, Maria Ressa, Mad Max, Japanese anime, and the Marcos dictatorship.

Like most journeys, this book has a current of unpredictability, but still, it moves with purpose. Agustin’s writing dwells in the space between joy and grief, between destruction and rebirth, inviting the reader to wander through them. 

As Luisa A. Igloria, 20th Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (Emerita), said in her review: “Jim Pascual Agustin allows us to consider what else there might be besides shadow or sorrow, between those moments when we feel that what we carry is either heavy as sand or lighter than ash.” 

The author’s exploration of hope is further highlighted by Lúcia Leão from Rhino Poetry—”the experience of life as an effort to pull light from the night is central to this poetry collection….Lucid, ironic, and tender.”

Walking Up to the Pattern Left by a Snail Overnight offers readers a space for stillness to soak in the beauty and the destruction of the mundane. It is an invitation to reflect on what has happened and what happens in front of us, to always look closely, never allowing it to just pass by. 

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The archaeological traces of a snail trail are left on a window, evidence of a fevered, sleepless wandering. A charlatan fortuneteller utters prophecies from a coffin of a box. Small moments—the cutting of a butternut squash, the discovery of an octopus in the water —become windows into the tragicomedy of human life. Tinged with darkness but never with despair, these poems walk through remnants of grief, destruction, and corruption and toward versions of rebirth, each one a map showing us the way to heal from loss and answer with joy.

About the Author

Jim Pascual Agustin grew up in Marikina but moved to Cape Town, South Africa in 1994. Published in the Philippines, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and the United States, his books include Alien to Any Skin (2011), A Thousand Eyes (2015), How to Make a Salagubang Helicopter and Other Poems (2018), and Bloodred Dragonflies (2022).

Walking Up to the Pattern Left by a Snail Overnight: Poems by Jim Pascual Agustin is published by the Ateneo de Manila University Press. The book retails at PhP295 and is available at the Ateneo University Press Bookshop in Bellarmine Hall, and the Press’s official Lazada and Shopee stores.

Get your copy in paperback: website | Lazada and Shopee Stores



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