Merlinda Bobis was born in the Philippines and taught for ten years at two universities and a tertiary college in Manila. She completed a Doctorate in Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong, where she became a senior lecturer in Creative Writing.
Merlinda Bobis has published two novels, a short story collection, five poetry books, a monograph of lectures on writing a novel and various stories, poems, plays and articles in literary anthologies, journals and magazines. She has had dramatic works performed for both stage and radio in Australia, Philippines, France, China, Thailand and Slovakia. She is an accomplished performer of her own works, embodying text in theatre, music and dance. She has won more than a dozen national and international awards and fellowships for her writing.
'1987. The Philippine government fights a total war against insurgency. The village of Iraya is militarised. The days are violent and the nights heavy with fireflies in the river where the dead are dumped.
'With her twelve-metre hair, Estrella, the Fish-Hair Woman, trawls corpses from the water that tastes of lemon grass. She falls in love with the Australian Tony McIntyre who disappears in the conflict. Ten years later, his son travels to Manilla to find his father.
'From the Philippines to Australia, Hawai'i, to evocations of colonial Spain, this transnational novel spins a dark, epic tale. Its storytelling is expansive, like the heart - How much can the heart accommodate? ... Only four chambers but with infinite space like memory, where there is room for those whom we do not love.' (From the publisher's website.)
'Most everything has dried up: water, the womb, even the love among lovers. Hunger is rife, except across the border. One night, a village is bombed after its men attempt to cross the border. Nine-year old Amedea is buried underground and sleeps to survive. Ten years later, she wakes with a locust embedded in her brow. This political fable is a girl’s magical journey through the border. The border has cut the human heart. Can she repair it with the story of a small life? This is the Locust Girl’s dream, her lovesong—
'For those walking to the border for dear life
'And those guarding the border for dear life'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'The eyes catch a black bird close to an eerie sun. Instantly, a poem: an accident of composition. Or a tree, rock, light from a story heard, dreamt, read or remembered returns as if it were the only tree, rock, light in the planet. The poet is caught, returned to her first heart: poetry. after four novels, Merlinda offers seventy-six poems from the stillness of contemplation to the spinning of tales, then to passage across different histories. Glass becomes eternal greens underwater, fish gossip about colonisation, a gumnut turns dissident, and the dreams of Captain Cook and Pigafetta circumnavigate the globe leaving a trail of blood, beads, and the scent of cloves. But between, the port hopes: 'there could be accidents of kindness here.' In her latest collection of poetry, award-winning author Merlina Bobis traces the accidents of art and life. Drawing on the journal of Pigafetta whose writings have become an accident of history, Merlinda Bobis composes with an attuned ear and her poems are rich with imagery; with breath and heart.' (Publication summary)