Monday, June 06, 2011

from different ages and places

May 19 – Finally, Converged

The previous day didn’t entirely end in a bad note, what with the catalog of lost things that continued growing almost every other day. As mentioned before, there was good news. Before I and the rest of the alumni hopped on the war bus to visit the Silliman Rose Lamb-Sobrepeña Writers Village in Valencia, to barge in the fellows’ second from the last workshop session, I purchased the May 21 issue of the Philippines Free Press and confirmed what had been previously relayed to me. My poem, “How to Write Another Story” was published in an issue that had literary works (by Alfred A. Yuson, Jose Wendell Capili, DM Reyes, Ricardo De Ungria, Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, and Christine Godinez-Ortega) dedicated to the celebration of the workshop’s anniversary.

It was a big deal, of course. It has been born especially for this event, and to actually see it during the homecoming activities is beyond words. I just blushed. To all alumni and the current fellows of the 50th Silliman University National Writers Workshop, this one’s for you.


How to Write Another Story

Remain calm,
the (word/world) ends only when
the (word/world) stops spinning.

Consider the whiteness as some sort
of cleansing: do not let the blank page
(t/d)aunt you.

Remember, in space, there is no void,
only a chance to burst in multiple
limitless directions.

There are other stories to tell.
Never depend on the full moon
—it could be the devil’s halo.

Just squint a little harder.
Look instead for things golden(ed),
like the dictionary in the attic.

Yes, a lot has been too easy these days:
the smiling, the laughing, the l(o/i)ving,
the homemade remedy for bee stings.

But easy is not always right.
Not even enough. To ignore complexity
is to question the generosity of the sky.

Take (ad)vantage of this (short)coming:
what we own is a glorified reflection
of what we do not have.

Case in point: apple on the table.
This fruit could be re(a)d
for another (r/s)eason.


Poetry hums in the very core of Dumaguete. It pulsates in all sights and structures, fragrant in the air as if uncapped bottles of perfume were wedged in every street corner of the city. Nighttime came and people congregated at Rizal Boulevard for dinner, conversations, and most certainly, poetry—care of this year’s workshop fellows.

What made the evening special aside from the presentations, Banda Manga, and Sharon Dadang-Rafols’s singing and chanting was the presence of the students from the University of Iowa. They went here for cultural immersion, visiting the country’s tourist spots, just in time to take part of the celebration.

Age, race, language—barriers of all kind collapsed. We probably made Blue Monkey Grill happier that night because once again we were there, now with the Iowans who mingled from one table of alumni to another until the early hours of next morning. The clinking of beer bottles was the night’s popular music. A couple of the writing fellows were present too, perhaps delighting in the remaining hours of the city’s charm. In just a day or two, they would be going back to their respective routines.

The moon in the sky was still nearing its full form, but the writing family in this small spot of the city was in some ways complete already, just continually growing, branching from different parts of the world. The lively chatter faded as the hours inched forward, but everyone knew this was something that would linger in the head for a while (and it wouldn’t be a hangover).

(seventh of eight parts)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 |

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