“Locus” is a wonderful history and culture lesson through the intersectional journeys of the author using the form of poetry. Jason Bayani navigates youth, aging, history, identity, drugs, violence, belonging, becoming, impermanence, immigration, religion and perseverance. Bayani pulls you in with abstract recollections and reflections on moments in his life, and by the last page, things just ‘connect’.
Bayani’s poems move around this theme of his experience with music, DJ culture, and will have you listening to him, looking for the meaning and connections between the different pages and momentums. He mentions a time when he didn’t know who sang a song, but he knew it ‘did something to him’. This collection has that same potential — even without all the context and knowledge of the history of Filipinx Americans, the reader can be affected and moved by what they read.
The author mentions this ‘language of defiance’ and arguably so, this collection demonstrates this. Being open and vague, but vulnerable and honest, Bayani talks about things from a first-hand experience that are not, and cannot always be shared among Asian cultures, especially so in this format. These poems are abstract because the experiences themselves are. As the reader, you join him during his own confusion, fear, reflection and growth.
Throughout “Locus”, Bayani confronts and works through these different parts of his experience and relation to his culture. With this, he demonstrates connectivity of himself with Asian American culture, the Asian American experience in America, and the Asian American community with America. “Locus” is worth listening to — and hearing.