Pagong Cannot Climb Trees

Joseph ‘Butch’ Schwarzkopf Jr.

ISBN: 9798985771244
Library of Congress Control Number: TBD
Cover Art:
Book Design: Maria Bolaños
Paper | 6 x 9 | 72 pages
Publication Date: November 12th, 2022
Distributors:, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books Inc., Sampaguita Press, and select bookstores
Price: $20


Things happen to tear

the fabric of reality,


In this debut work, Joseph Schwarzkopf, Jr., reaches out to the empty spaces: a too-quiet house, the end of the universe, a silenced colonial history, the grief of losing a loved one. Weaving cinematic past, present, and future to deep-rooted ancestral rhythms, Pagong Cannot Climb Trees is a moving reflection on the messiness of life and heritage, and a reminder of the beauty and humanity in trying, with every new day, to carry the burdens of the heart.

Advance Words:

This collection is a rallying cry, a reminder that despite the freezing nature of loss, it is by focusing one’s inward gaze on remembering that we heal both ourselves and our lineages. Schwarzkopf holds all these complexities deftly, from its visceral to its meditative, all while peeling back layers of distance toward the page. Throughout we see vignettes of grief’s varied states, brightened by those of love—as quilt, as foundation of house, as party, as whimsy. PAGONG shows us that to live is to love.

Czaerra Galicinao Ucol, Luya Poetry, Author of Pisces Urges

Pagong Cannot Climb Trees by Butch Schwarzkopf is a collection of poetry that speaks to a generational grief, a collective trauma stark and cold. ‘Inang sweeps blood… blood of her anak’ is just one example of verbose imagery that speaks to mourning and reflection and the crimson sadness associated with grief. Schwarzkopf’s poetry speaks to an ‘Eastern Sun’ and ‘cries’ of long-gone ancestors that present not only the complexity of the author’s background but an intriguing dichotomy between ‘both colonised and coloniser’. This collection is characterized by Schwarzkopf’s bold willingness to challenge colonialism and its ramifications both within and externally. Whilst presenting a synthesis of reflection and mourning. This collection is daring and deserves to be read far and wide!

A.R. Salandy, Editor-in-Chief of Fahmidan Journal/Publishing & Co.

Pagong Cannot Climb Trees by Joseph Schwarzkopf, Jr. is a navigation of self. Reflecting on his experience with grief, he gives himself name across time and across family lineage. With care and tenderness but an unflinching honesty, trauma and family are given face, as “things happen to tear the fabric of reality sometimes.” This collection embodies the essence of Schwarzkopf’s water sign sun: he, as pagong, riding out the waves until he reaches shore. While we may hold the hurt from the past, the lesson is not in forgetting; but rather, continuing on with hope. With language and form, this book holds a new shape for love.

Keana Aguila Labra, Editor-in-Chief of Marías at Sampaguitas
& co-founder of Sampaguita Press, Author of (I am) Still, Mohilak, Natalie, and No Saints

Joseph ‘Butch’ Schwarzkopf Jr. (he/him) is a Illawarra (Dharawal Country) based Filipinx poet and filmmaker. He has performed as a poet at events such as Outspoken Poetics, Unspoken Words festival, and The Digital Sala’s Tula for Typhoon Relief. His works have been published in the UTS Writers’ Anthology, UNSWeetened Literary Journal, Australian Poetry Anthology, Mascara literary journal, and Marias at Sampaguitas literary magazine. His short film, ‘Body’, was a finalist in Made in the West, Sydney Lift-Off, and Cebu International Film Festivals. His favorite word is pie.