Novena – Shirley Camia – Canada

After a death in the family, the surviving members begin a traditional ritual as a form of honour and healing.

Director Biography

Shirley Camia is a Filipina-Canadian poet.

She is the author of four collections of poetry: Mercy (Turnstone Press, 2019), 2020 finalist at the High Plains Book Awards; Children Shouldn’t Use Knives (At Bay Press, 2017), 2018 winner of The Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award (Book Design) at the Manitoba Book Awards and an Honourable Mention at The Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada; The Significance of Moths (Turnstone Press, 2015); and Calliope (Libros Libertad, 2011).

Her work has been featured in publications such as The New Quarterly, CV2, The Puritan’s the Town Crier, and TAYO, as well as anthologies such as Endlessly Rocking (Unbound Content, 2019) and My Lot is a Sky (Math Paper Press, 2018).

Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Shirley has lived across Canada, the Philippines, Japan and Kenya. She currently divides her time between Toronto, Canada and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Novena, based on her poem of the same name, is her debut poetry film.

Novena: This short film, inspired by videos created by Filipinx artists of the diaspora who integrate their cultural heritage into their work, transforms one of my written poems into a multimedia artistic collaboration, incorporating elements of music, voice and motion design. The poem I have selected to adapt is titled, “Novena,” from my latest collection of poetry, Mercy (Turnstone Press, 2019). I chose this poem because it addresses grief, and provides a timely meditation in a challenging and uncertain time, where there is a collective grieving taking place around the world and people are searching for forms of healing.

Participants in Novena include a number of members of the Philippine diaspora, including Kat Estacio from Canada’s first and only all-women Filipina kulintang group, Pantayo, April Aliermo, from Hooded Fang and Phèdre, and my aunts, who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in the 1970s and 1980s.

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