A review of L. Lacambra Ypil’s The Highest Hiding Place

The poet L. Lacambra Ypil, in a talk given around a month ago at the Ateneo de Manila University, thought it best to speak of his first book of poetry, The Highest Hiding Place, by tracking the laborious yet joyful process of arriving at a perfect cover for the book. A slideshow annotated by Ypil acquainted the audience with a plethora of covers that his book tried on for size, a wardrobe so eclectic that with every dress change the book seemed to put on a different face, croon with a different voice, and strike a different pose. To get to the current cover—a reddish photograph of the author’s floral wallpaper in his childhood room, zooming in on a rip that bisects a flower and its leaves—Ypil had to discard a plainer cover of various leaves set in a few sensible rows a la field guide, a cryptic cover of interlocking squares drawn by hand against a white background, a morbid photoshopped cover of a body, perhaps a suicide, afloat—with only the torso and lower limbs visible—above a meadow, and a quaint cover of a flowering tree in a garden, the old photograph conjuring up, as a friend of the author so aptly remarked, a very “Our Daily Bread” feel. With the wallpaper cover came a story—several stories, in fact—for the audience, of the author being born to a mother who was hoping for a girl, of the author’s childhood angst over the ultra-feminine wallpaper in his room, of the author’s relief upon the removal of the wallpaper which seemed to announce, way before he was ready to do so, his homosexuality, and of the author’s delight later in life upon finding the old wallpaper not discarded and gone forever but merely relocated and living on in the maids’ quarters of the family home.

The rest of this piece is available here.