Award-winningauthor and poet, Victoria G. Smith, was born in the Philippines, the eldest among ten children in a family of modest means. Through full academic merit scholarships and the application of talent and industry, she transcended the poverty that still sadly holds back many of her native countrymen. After graduating among the top students of her pre-law and law degree programs at the University of the Philippines, she practiced law as associate attorney in one of the largest, most prestigious law firms in Manila and later became the sole female counsel to one of the biggest, best-performing global companies based in Southeast Asia before she met her husband and moved to the United States (U.S.) to be with him.
After immigrating to the U.S., she attended the University of Michigan Law School where she attained her Master of Laws degree. However, the frequent international travel required of her husband, in addition to the challenges of a mixed-culture marriage and the responsibility of raising her children—absent the usual support of her network of Philippine family and friends—compelled her to choose to be the at-home parent. Her desire to apply herself to creative endeavor that did not require her to work outside the home away from her children led her to rediscover and pursue a childhood passion: creative writing. To this end, her Philippine heritage and law practice years, immigrant experience, and her family’s travels abroad and frequent moves across the U.S. in connection with her husband’s career combine to lend her a powerful and unique perspective that informs and inspires her writing.
Her novella, Faith Healer, was a winner of the 2015 Brain Mill Press (BMP) Driftless Unsolicited Novella contest, and was launched at the 2016 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Los Angeles, CA and at an author event for Ms. Smith at the Beverly Hills Public Library. Her story collection manuscript, Faith Healer and Other Stories,was chosen as a semi-finalist in the 2015 Elixir Press’ Fiction Award contest. Ms. Smith’s fiction first gained national U.S. recognition in 2004 when her short story, Portrait of the Other Lady, won first place in a nation-wide short story contest—the first time she’d entered a writing contest. The short story and an interview of her were published in a Los Angeles-area newspaper (Portrait of an Award-Winning Short-Story Contest Winner, Ventura County Star Sunday Arts & Living Edition, November 28, 2004). She was selected as a participant in the 2005 UCLA Asian American-N.V.M. Gonzales Writers Program and was interviewed and featured in several media articles (Finding Their Voice, Philippine News [Los Angeles Area Newspaper Edition], July 6-12, 2006; Light in the Shadows, Philippinenews.com [San Francisco-based On-line Edition], May 18, 2005).
Ms. Smith’s essay, Gatekeepers and Gatecrashers in Contemporary American Poetry: Reflections of a Filipino Immigrant Poet in the United States, appears in the 2015 Black Lawrence Press anthology, OTHERS WILL ENTER THE GATES: Immigrant Poets on Poetry, Influences, and Writing in America.
Her first book of poems, Warrior Heart, Pilgrim Soul: An Immigrant’s Journey,was published in October 2013 under the author name, Maria Victoria A. Grageda-Smith, followed by a series of successful author events sponsored by major city libraries, writers’ clubs, and other educational and civic organizations in the U.S. and Philippines. Kirkus Reviews spearheaded critical acclaim for the collection, describing it as:
A cohesive poetry collection that… addresses fundamental issues of identity…. boldly address(es) the beauty and ugliness of life …. in grand sweeping language…. (R)eaders will delight in…. original perspectives on well-worn tropes…. A forceful poetic expression of art and the self.
Her poem, The Way We Are, was recognized with an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Annual Crosswinds Poetry Contest, while another poem, My Rumpelstiltskin, counted among the finalists. Her other poems were also chosen finalists in the 42ndNew Millennium Poetry Awards, 2016 Knightville Poetry Contest, and 2016 Edwin Markham Poetry Award. Her poetry and other literary work are published by, among others, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, New Millennium Writings,Reed Magazine, Fifth Estate, Abyss & Apex, The Earthen Lamp Journal, andLyrical Iowa.Ms. Smith also writes a monthly poetry column, Warrior Heart, Pilgrim Soul, for VIA Times Magazine.
She was recognized in 2017 by the Republic of the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs among the most notable “Filipinos Around the World”, and was a nominee for the 2016 Pamana ng PilipinoPhilippine Presidential Award for Overseas Filipinosfor outstanding literary achievements. The Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame (CHOF) honored her with the 2016 Woman of the Year Award and the 2013 Outstanding Writer and Community Volunteer Award.
Ms. Smith has also served as officer of various writers’ clubs, conducted writers’ workshops, and managed her own writers’ critique partnerships. She founded and ran a poetry program for The Iowa Homeless Youth Shelters in 2007-2009. She is a member of the Poetry Society of America. A featured poet at the 2002 Austin International Poetry Festival, she continues to read and perform her poetry in a variety of poetry readings and festivals
Her current projects include a first novel, Gabriela’s Eyes, a second poetry collection, Mother of Exiles, a story collection, Daughters of the Bamboo, and a poetry chapbook, Incursions of Light. Updates on her literary works and author events may be found in her website, VictoriaGSmith.com; on her Facebook page, Author Victoria G. Smith; and on Twitter @AuthorVGSmith.
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