Lawrence Ypil

Books - Poems - Essays - Collaborations


The Experiment of the Tropics (2019) - [Order here]

The Experiment of the Tropics

Through the lens of history and photography, The Experiment of the Tropics returns to the early twentieth-century Philippines during American occupation and asks, “How does one look at the past?”

By braiding the music of anthropology with the intimacy of the lyric, Lawrence Ypil explores history’s archives and excavates a city, both real and imagined, that is constituted by the shimmer of petal and porch, coral and brass — a river-refrigerator where women catch their reflections on the sheen of magazines and men lean against the walls of old houses and beckon, come here. So, we approach.

Spare, musical, and erotic, The Experiment of the Tropics uses the intersection of text and image to meditate on the nature of a city and its longing, the revelatory power of photography, and the startling capacity of poetry to cut into the violent but redemptive parts of history.

  • Lambda Literary Awards finalist, 2020
  • The Believer Book Awards longlist, 2020
  • Inaugural Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize co-winner, 2019
  • One of The Millions’ must-read poetry books, April 2019

Praise for Experiment:

“[These poems] feature the remarkable mind of an exceptional poet who has, against the backdrop of colonial history, brilliantly put into words those covert feelings that complicate our everyday desires and ‘disconcert the world.’” - Mary Jo Bang, author of The Last Two Seconds
“[Ypil is a] mature writer…One lifts the pages of a family album with the poet, one falls under the spell.” - Wong May, judge of inaugural Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize, author of Picasso’s Tears
“What seems far away in time comes closer in Ypil’s writing, and the past no longer seems past…[Ypil] teases out what is erotic in the everyday.” - John Yau, winner of the 2018 Jackson Poetry Prize
“With their surprising, capricious conceits, these ruminations on place, time, image, and memory bespeak a distinct intelligence and sensibility. Ypil is one of the finest poets from the Philippines today.” - Resil B. Mojares, National Artist of the Philippines for Literature
“Ypil’s observant poems are direct and eye-opening…By the time you’re done contemplating the truth of an early line, Ypil offers another.” - Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
“A careful investigation of a rich and variegated place.” -Theophilus Kwek, Hong Kong Review of Books
“We find ourselves, at the end, with a book that has only revealed a part of its secrets to us. Woken from a dream, we open our eyes to a world that seems a little more beautiful.” - Kendrick Loo, Empty Mirror
The Highest Hiding Place (2009) - [Order here]

The Highest Hiding Place

“In the context of the kinds of poetry that continue to tell people that it’s a form that’s too difficult, a cultural product that’s only for the educated and the elite, the ones who speak in English and are from urban Manila, Ypil’s poems refuse this question of easy or difficult…In and through Ypil’s words, we come to a particular space in this country, the kind that is his secret, but which becomes ours as well.” - Katrina Santiago
“Reading Ypil is meeting oneself in memory, that of the poet’s and one’s own, and in that encounter, affirm everything that one had gone through — pain, fear, lust, love, the interminable secrets that are always converging and fading, and converging in every moment of one’s ordinary day, and even in one’s dreams. And we find our own hiding place.” — Merlie Alunan
  • Madrigal-Gonzalez First Book Award winner, 2011
  • Gintong Aklat Awards for English Literature finalist, 2010


The Nature of a City - Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, October 2017

The Experiment of the Tropics - The Margins, October 2017

Night Report / The Hour is a Dirty Pocket - The Lifted Brow, January 2017

At the Beach - Softblow, 2009


Kobo Abe’s Beasts Head for Home and the Question of Home - Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, June 2017

A Song of Two Cities - CNN Philippines, April 2016

Impermanent Residencies - Philippines Free Press, January 2007


Writing the Philippines - Guest co-editor, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, July 2018