The Water We Swim In

Christian Aldana

ISBN: 979-8-9857712-6-8
Library of Congress Control Number: TBD
Cover Art: Cori Nakamura Lin
Book Design: Maria Bolaños
Paper | 6 x 9 | 83 Pages
Publication Date: 00000 00, 2023
Distributors:, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books Inc., Sampaguita Press, and select bookstores
Price: $20

I am the storm,

the monsoon,

the rainfall that quenches the rice field

The debut poetry collection by poet Christian Aldana.


Christian Aldana’s debut poetry collection, The Water We Swim In, is an ode to radical care. Through community organizing and deeply held love, Aldana follows in the footsteps of Grace Lee Boggs against a carceral state, questioning the broken system and reaching across diasporic distances for the future within our grasp. Empowering, mobilizing, and unrelenting, The Water We Swim In is a poetic revolution, a manifesto for all who believe in fighting for more.

Advance Words:

“The Water We Swim In is a raucous baptism of queer brown joy, calamansi raunch, and divine abolitionist, anticolonial, collective power. Mga kasama, Aldana reminds us that “our life is a truth we have fought for, / there is nothing more precious than you.” Whether we are wiping teargas from our eyes or searching for ourselves and our people at the bookstore, Aldana’s ferocious voice and tender attention to craft is here to guide us – and I do mean, us. Aldana’s vision for kami is a call to action, hope distilled.”

Rachelle Cruz, God’s Will for Monsters

In Christian Aldana’s THE WATER WE SWIM IN, the details of our everyday lives transform into symbols of possibility. Text messages become incantations and lists become invocations. These formally inventive poems function not only as protest (against violence, colonialism, abuse) but also as praise to the sacred power of community: the Filipinx we and queer we and radical we that in these pages grieves and loves and rages and sings together. In this spiritual and yet deeply embodied book, Aldana both reimagines the world we live in and builds the one worth waiting for. We are lucky to be invited.

Jami Nakamura Lin, The Night Parade

There is risk in The Water We Swim In, and a profoundly attentive poetics of appreciation. In sharp work that moves with emotional and formal agility, the voices talk dangerous, fighting, dancing, and Christian Aldana—in listening with them—invokes the type of gentleness towards which the poems reach. Oof, let me tell you, the poems reach. Unabashedly (praise be). Committed to multiple iterations of love we need right now. Which is to say, ongoing and beyond. Here is one of Aldana’s imperatives: “your kanta should conjure an altar / overflowing with offerings.” And The Water We Swim In does.

Hari Alluri, The Flayed City; Our Echo of Sudden Mercy

Christian Aldana (she/they)

Christian Aldana’s poetry is a safe space for wicked and sinister femmes who hate imperialism. She is the author of The Water We Swim In, a full length collection of poetry published by Sampaguita Press in 2023. They are a queer, Filipinx, artist, educator and community organizer based in Chicago. Though she has a soft spot for the Midwest, part of her will always be in South East Asia (Cebu and Saigon) where she grew up. 

Christian currently serves as the Programs Manager at 826Chi, a non-profit creative writing center that amplifies the voices of Chicago youth. She is the founder and Creative Director of Luya, a poetry organization that centers the stories and experiences of people of color. Alongside their comrades at The Digital Sala, Christian is dreaming up alternative visions of what radically flexible, community-centered, revolutionary writing spaces can be.

Their poetry has been published or is forthcoming in the Chicago Reader, Injustice Watch, Marias at Sampaguitas, the Capilano Review, and Locked Horn Press. Their performances have been featured at the Poetry Foundation, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Stony Island Arts Bank, Young Chicago Authors, on NPR’s Worldview, and more. 

When they’re not writing poems you can find them in deep discussion about dystopian sci fi, cooking in their pjs, and trying to throw off the tether of scheduled time.