Category Archives: Mga Tula / Poetry

Official Announcement of the release of SOUND BEFORE WATER

“Sound Before Water” (Poetry)
by Jim Pascual Agustin
UST Publishing House, 2013
P 250.00 (send order inquiries to

* * *From the back cover:
“Sound Before Water’ is a carefully thought-out collection, with Jim Pascual Agustin clustering the poems around five poetic markers that suggest different ways into the labyrinth of memory, while keeping their bearings in the phenomenal world of things and names. As part of the literature of the Filipino Diaspora, this collection gives valuable insights on the chosen South African milieu of the poet, as well as his global perspective. Faithful to his craft for more than 25 years now, Agustin shows the gift of his lyric imagination, which roots us in each poem’s rhythms and resonances.”- Marjorie Evasco
“There’s a rhythm to these poems that didn’t take long–took only a few poems, that is–to get to me. Not so much the rhythm of the words and the lines as it is of feelings and ideas and the images that are their correlatives.”

- Cesar Ruiz Aquino
“Reading Jim Pascual Agustin’s English poems is like treading on ground littered with watusi firecrackers. Every piece is cramful of surprises, the rhythmically fragmented lines crackling at every step, without knowing why they are there, we stumble on, and every step of the way we are startled by the exploding light, and we are blinded by the many moments of marvel that the poet has laid out for his readers. The collection invites us to exclaim, My God, Mr. Agustin, where did you learn to poeticize this way? Overnight, in my book, you have mounted the stage of Filipino poetry in English, and on it you stand tall as an artist.”

- Bienvenido Lumbera


sound before water final cover from ust facebook page

Syrian Dawn

blue before dawn’s breath
stillness past sleep, past waking
man plays god again




Here is a LINK to a previous post where I offer a free set of poems for anyone interested.

Thinking out loud, wishing softly: an open letter

In the past few weeks, I have no idea how or why, I gained a number of new followers to this little blog. Some look like legitimate poetry lovers, others probably liked a single post they found at random and decided to follow what I write anyway. Whatever each reader’s reasons may be, I would like to say THANK YOU. I hope to one day hear from you.

A bit of looking back, looking forward now.

My first book of poetry, Beneath an Angry Star (Anvil Publishing, 1992), came out two years after I graduated from university. The book was one of the first in that publisher’s series of titles which appeared with, literally, back-to-back authors. Each poet had his/her own front cover. You had to flip the book to read the other. Romulo Baquiran, Jr’s Filipino poetry appeared with mine.

Two years later came Salimbayan (Publikasyong Sipat, 1994) a poetry book which I shared with two good friends, Argee Guevarra and Neal Imperial.

After a long gap, two books came out at the same time in 2011 (I had already been living in South Africa since October 1994). University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, with Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo at the helm, launched Alien to Any Skin and Baha-bahagdang Karupukan. As far as I know, no other Filipino poet has published two poetry books in two languages (not just translations of the same set of poems) at the same time. It was a great year.

This year, if all goes as planned, that is bound to be repeated with the publication of Sound Before Water (by end of August or early September) and Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran (September or October). I believe I have found my ideal publisher in UST Publishing House. The care they showed to both author and book has impressed me to such an extent that I find it unimaginable not giving them first look at future manuscripts.

There are plans to eventually put these titles out on digital format. I am hoping to convince them somehow that it will be worth their while to do that sooner rather than later. I want to ask them to take a leap with my poetry books – to begin with, the two titles in English (Alien to Any Skin and Sound Before Water) – and make them accessible to possible readers (buyers!) outside of the Philippines.

This is me hoping against hope that a small wish will be heard by the few followers of this blog. But one can’t just expect kindness and support out of thin air, one has to offer something. Here goes.

I’m busy putting together two new poetry manuscripts in English. One of them (tentatively called Sky for Silent Wings) has a section called “Endings are Beginnings” which contains a nine-poem cycle I am very proud of. I will send you the whole section if you send me a request in the form of a comment to this post. Your message should have your email address – which I promise not to make public – to which I shall send the file. If, after reading the poems, you think my poetry deserves to reach a wider audience, then please return to this post and show your support.

There is no obligation for you to buy my books – in print or future digital format. Although doing so would obviously make my publisher happy to continue supporting my work.

Is this too much to ask? :) I wish to thank you in advance.


endings are beginnings cover page

And for those who may want to see some of my poems which appeared in ALIEN TO ANY SKIN, a number of them are featured in The Houseboat.

Poems from ALIEN TO ANY SKIN featured on The Houseboat

Someone thought this baby has something special

caspian and my watch

In an earlier post I mentioned a poem that I didn’t expect would get noticed. Got a nice surprise this morning.

The current judges of the Monthly Poetry! competition thought my poem has something special enough to be chosen as a finalist for the August Newsletter. It isn’t the biggest charmer among those chosen, but it’s got a lot going for it.

Donning my salesman’s hat here – all ragged and out of shape. :)

First, this poem has an unusual title: End of 2010: Another Science Fiction Year has Come and GoneNow, how many poems do you know can pull off that kind of title and still expect to be liked? hahahaha… almost falling off my chair here.

I’m not going to tell you that the other poems are not as good. Much of poetry comes down to taste. But if you want more than just a passing oooh and aaah, something that deals with more than just the pretty and easy, something that will make you stop for a moment and won’t let you slide back into the groove of the day, maybe you want to give this poem a chance.

If you do like it – odd as that may sound – please sign up with and the Poetry! group in order to vote for it. And tell others. Or at least tell me here. One day the poem might end up in a future collection tentatively titled SKY FOR SILENT WINGS.

Had my fun. Thanks for reading this. Oh, that cat is our stray Caspian. He has nothing to do with the poem. He’s there to attract readers.   :P  Or scare them.

An Updated Entry and a Ramble

The five poems of mine which appeared in the online Middle East Monitor needed links updates, so I might as well mention it here.  I hope the poems are still worth reading, years after they were written.

Now the ramble…

When I arrived here in Cape Town I worked briefly for a small company (mother and daughter owners) teaching little kids how to use the computer. It was an odd experience, but one of the many things I clearly remember was this strange sensation when I was referred to as someone who had come from “the Far East” – a phrase I’d never thought of.

For me, “the East” was not far at all. It’s home! And then if you really think about it, there is no East or West or North or South when you look at the globe. It’s a sphere and wherever you turn and keep going, you’ll end up just going round and round without reaching East, West, North, or South!

End of ramble. End of silly ramble.

wallet made in guatemala from susan

Another poem finds a home

Here’s some good news. Often when one sends out a poem to a publication there is a huge chance it will get lost if not outright rejected. Well sometimes one gets lucky. I wrote about such an event – small as it may be – in my blog for Alien to Any Skin.



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