Filipino American AND LGBT History Month: Joseph O Legaspi

Image by Rachel Eliza Griffiths, from Poetry.Org

Joseph O Legaspi is a poet born in the Philippines. When he was only twelve, his family immigrated to America, arriving in Los Angeles, California. His life has always been oriented towards writing, and his academic career reflects that passion.

Legaspi received his BA from Loyola Marymount University and went on to get an MFA from New York University’s Creative Writing Program. Since receiving his MFA, Legaspi has released multiple chapbooks and collections of poetry, including the collection Imago (2007), for which he won a Global Filipino Literary Award. Legaspi was honored with a poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation of the Arts.

Poets&Writers conducted in interview with Legaspi about his poetic style, and what poetry means in his life. As he explains, “I know I’m not leading the ideal poet life…all-consuming devotion to the craft, incessant hunger, obsessive writing. Full disclosure: I shortchange poetry. I heed her call, but she doesn’t come knocking every day…I compartmentalize my life as most of us do, juggling daily responsibilities.”

These responsibilities appear in Legaspi’s work. He integrates his Filipino American identity into his writing, and co-founded Kundiman, a non-profit organization that works to serve Asian American writers. The intersectionality of that identity with his sexual orientation also impacts his writing. Legaspi currently lives in Queen, New York, with his husband.

This year, Legaspi released his poetry collection called Threshold. As Cavankerry Press explains, this collection “enters a landscape of seemingly perpetual in-between, crossing from conventionality to queerness; exploring the fluidity of gender; and translating the hard hold of family. This collection mediates on passageways and what it means to arrive at, and pierce through, thresholds.”

Cavankerry Press posted two of Legaspi’s favorite poems from Threshold: “Moose” and “At the Bridal Shop.”

Legaspi’s identities and responsibilities are elements that will continue to influence his writing. As he concluded his interview with Poets&Writers, “I continue to tinker with poems, stringing words like light in search of meaning, to get to a truth.”