Book Review: The Maps That Contain Us


“On the clean wall of your bedroom, or on the space above your desk, imagine: a map of all the places you’ve ever been to. Run your hands through the islands, the bumps and the crevices. Imagine a line tracing the exact curvature of all the paths you’ve ever taken. Mark with a yellow pin the places your parents took you to. Mark with red all the places you’ve called home. With a blue pin, mark the places that have changed you. With white, mark the places you’ve changed since you first came.”

The Maps That Contain Us

The Map That Contains UsThe Map That Contains Us by Marla Miniano and Reese Lansangan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having lived enough time in the Philippines to want to read some poetry and fiction by contemporary Philippine writers, this was an excellent beginning. I loved this little book.

The scattered illustrations, micro-poetry, and GPS co-ordinates all create a journey. A journey to the places of the heart, mind and spirit; every place we have visited that has touched us or changed us in some way. Each poem in the voyage is narrated in first person except (interestingly) Queens (a tale of domestic violence and the possibility of survival), which is relayed in third person.

page 52 the maps that contain us

My favourite poems were Rizal Lib (I was lost in my own library of unfinished books); Yamanote (a haunting look at the randomness and inconvenience of death at an underground subway); and Matong (a tribute really to the simplicity of traditional Filipino life).

Next time I’m in the city I’m going buy some more copies of this book to place under the Christmas Tree inside bright coloured papers. It’s little books like this that reinforce the nature of our humanness, our connectedness and the neighbours in all of us; I think I’ll take a copy to my friends in Australia on my next visit.

Check out my other book reviews.

© 2017 Melinda J. Irvine

illustration from the maps that contain us