Janice Lobo Sapigao (Poetry) | San José, CA
- toxic city (tinder tender press, 2015)
Blurbs, Press & Reviews
Janice Sapigao, in this powerful and innovative debut, captures her mother’s traumatic experience as an assembly line worker in Silicon Valley, as well as the larger social, economic, and environmental impacts of the high tech industry. The poems switch between English, Ilokano, and binary code, and between documentary, visual, ethnographic, and lyric modes. In our time of toxic exposure, labor exploitation, and gentrification, Sapigao shows us how poetry can be a site to protest injustice, affirm dignity, and maintain hope.
—Craig Santos Perez
Google the words “Silicon Valley,” click on “Images,” and you’ll find maps documenting the swarms of companies encroaching upon the Bay Area alongside pictures of youthful, bearded hipster entrepreneurs riding shiny new cruiser bikes along idyllic, palm tree-lined walkways to their million-dollar offices. What you won’t find are photos of those who made Silicon Valley what it is today: the assembly line workers putting in 12-hour day after 12-hour day, making “microchips for millions” — mostly immigrant, mostly women, all exploited. microchips for millions is a bitterly sweet love letter from Janice Sapigao to her mother, and through her mother’s eyes and words, she brings these unknown stories to light, somber reminders that like many other American institutions today, Silicon Valley is built upon the backs of those who give everything they have and are given little to nothing in return.
—Liza Marie S. Erpelo
“In poetry, prose, binary code, and Ilokano, toxic city, investigates the systemic exploitation of female immigrant workers in Silicon Valley chip plants. Sapigao, whose mother worked at such a plant, writes with the cool clarity of a reporter and the heartbreaking intimacy of a daughter. Short but haunting, this is a beautiful, smart, angry book.”
—Amy Berkowitz, author of Tender Points (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2015)
011001100110000101100011011101000000110100001010 (FACT): The talkstory that Janice Sapigao has incisively born into toxic city will charge you to furiously throw your smartphone across the room, but only after calling your mother first, if only to hear her voice. More than an indictment of the appropriation of native land, the terrible irony of brain-drain immigration, and false promise of security in the face of a technological boom, Janice offers this 0111001001100101011011010110100101101110011001000110010101110010 (REMINDER): there are lives behind every pixel of that LCD screen, every byte of information processed in that microchip. This Pinoy son of a Midwestern Teamster factory worker thanks Sapigao—a Pinay daughter of a Silicon Valley factory worker—for toxic city. 01000010010001010100001101000001010101010101001101000101 (BECAUSE): Her words are a necessary truth we must all declare if we dare call ourselves sons or daughters.
—Marlon Esguerra, Spoken Word Poet (I Was Born With Two Tongues) and Teacher