Philippine-born, award-winning author Maria Victoria A. Grageda-Smith writes poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, following an earlier law practice career in Manila distinguished not only by the prestige of the law firm (Sycip, Salazar, Hernandez & Gatmaitan) and company (San Miguel Corporation) she’s worked with, but by her significant pro bono work for indigent clients and other social justice and human rights advocacy. She is an alumnus of The University of Michigan School of Law (L.L.M.), the University of the Philippines College of Law (L.L.B.; Dean’s Medal for Academic Excellence; Justice Alex Reyes Scholar), and the University of the Philippines College of Arts and Sciences (A.B. Political Science; Magna Cum Laude; U.P. Government Scholar). After marriage to an American that led her to immigrate to the United States, she pursued her childhood love for creative writing.
She is a nominee for the 2016 Pamana ng Pilipino Philippine Presidential Award for Overseas Filipinos for outstanding literary achievements. The Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame is honoring her with the 2016 Woman of the Year Award. The same group also recognized her with the 2013 Outstanding Writer and Community Volunteer Award.
Her other recent distinctions include the 2015 Driftless Unsolicited Novella Award for her novella, Faith Healer, and semi-finalist for the 2015 Elixir Press Fiction Award for her story collection, Faith Healer and Other Stories. Earlier this year, Brain Mill Press published and released Faith Healer in two celebrated book launches at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Beverly Hills Public Library. The Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Asia Journal ran concurrent feature articles on the author, her work, and her book events. Ms. Grageda-Smith’s fiction first gained national U.S. recognition in 2004 when her short story, Portrait of the Other Lady, won first place in the Fifth Annual Ventura County Writers Club-Ventura Country Star nationwide short story writing contest—the first time she’d entered a writing contest.
Her essay, “Gatekeepers and Gatecrashers in Contemporary American Poetry: Reflections of a Filipino Immigrant Poet in the United States”, appears in Black Lawrence Press’s 2015 anthology, OTHERS WILL ENTER THE GATES: IMMIGRANT POETS ON POETRY, INFLUENCES, AND WRITING IN AMERICA. Her poetry and other literary work appear in, among others, Fifth Estate, Reed Magazine, Voices Journal, Ruminate Magazine, Abyss & Apex, Westward Quarterly, The Earthen Lamp Journal, Lyrical Iowa, and Dicta. She also writes a monthly poetry column for VIA Times Magazine. Her poetry collection, Warrior Heart, Pilgrim Soul: An Immigrant’s Journey, was first published in October 2013 to critical acclaim spearheaded by Kirkus Reviews. A hardcover Revised First Edition of this collection was published and released in April 2016.
Ms. Grageda-Smith attended the 2005 UCLA Asian American-N.V.M. Gonzales Writers Program and had since been featured as an emerging Filipino American author in various print media and online articles. She is currently writing her first novel, Gabriela’s Eyes, a story collection, Daughters of the Bamboo, a second poetry collection, Mother of Exiles, and a poetry chapbook, Incursions of Light. Updates on her literary work and author events may be found in her website, VictoriaGSmith.com; on Facebook at Author Victoria G. Smith; and on Twitter @AuthorVGSmith.