In line with Suicide Awareness Month this month, an upcoming title from the University of Guam Press – “Dry Nights” by local poet Pep Borja – will be raising funds to support youth suicide prevention. Prior to the book’s official release on Oct. 2, UOG Press will be accepting pre-orders. From every sale, $2 will be set aside to fund a project that will solicit youth-generated stories and films about suicide.
“Dry Nights” is a collection of Borja’s writing that he describes as “reflections about what it’s like to be close to someone.” UOG Press describes it as “unapologetic in its ambiguity, intrigue, and powerful imagery of intimate and often taboo subjects, including heartbreak, addiction, sensuality, and suicide.”
The first poem Borja wrote for the book titled “Billie,” which appears toward the end of the collection, is a powerful tribute to a teenaged girl who died of suicide.
“If it makes readers feel uncomfortable, then for me, I feel like it did a good job,” Borja said. “That’s what poetry and art are supposed to do. They’re supposed to make you feel something.”
According to statistics provided by the Guam Medical Examiners Office, the risk for suicide is highest in youth and young adults, with almost half of the suicides in the last 10 years occurring in individuals 30 years of age and younger. Guam’s suicide rates have also increased significantly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The office reported that Guam saw 18 suicide deaths in the last seven months.
“It is clear that our community is hurting, especially our youth,” said UOG Press Managing Editor Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero. “They need an outlet to express themselves, and writing and art will allow them to do that. We hope that the poems in ‘Dry Nights’ and the youth project the book will support will facilitate healing.”
“Dry Nights” will be available starting Saturday, Oct. 2, with a socially distanced book signing from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the atrium of the Humanities and Social Sciences building on the UOG campus. Pre-orders are available now for $12 on https://uogpress.com/, and sales in all local bookstores will begin after the launch.
UOG Press also partnered with locally acclaimed filmmaker Brian Muña to produce a short film inspired by “Dry Nights” that will be released later this year. Follow UOG Press on social media to stay up-to-date on upcoming events for the book.