Returning a Borrowed Tongue: An Anthology of Filipino & Filipino American Poetry

An anthology edited by Nick Carbó

April 1, 1996 • 6 x 9 • 238 pages • 978-1-56689-043-4

Poets from both sides of the Pacific join together for the first time in this 50th anniversary anthology.

A major collection of contemporary poetry, Returning a Borrowed Tongue brings Filipino/Filipino American poets from both sides of the Pacific Ocean together for the first time, in a single anthology of poetry. Ranging from celebrated poets such as Jessica Hagedorn and N.V.M. Gonzalez to writers whose work is not readily available elsewhere, this engaging collection represents a poetic tradition that is uniquely Filipino/Filipino American. Written in English, the poems of Returning a Borrowed Tongue reflect a relationship with the English language that spans almost a century. In the early years of U.S. colonization, Filipino poets were forced to “borrow” a foreign tongue; today, fifty years after independence, they return the borrowed tongue with lyrical poems about migration, immigration, exile, nostalgia, desire, poverty, exploitation, racism, American culture, love, and invisibility.

About the Author

Nick Carbó is the author of three books of poetry, including El Grupo McDonald’s (1995) and Secret Asian Man (2000). He has edited three anthologies of Filipino literature, including Returning a Borrowed Tongue. Among his awards are fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He resides in Madrid.


Returning a Borrowed Tongue is a necessary addition to our rich Asian American canon. It is an exciting tapestry of Filipino American poets from all walks of life—from the urban centers to lush rural settings; from the veteran activist generation to fresh young poets now blossoming from universities. . . . This volume should be an inspiring read for both poetry students and ethnic students alike.” —Marilyn Chin, author of The Phoenix Game, The Terrace Empty