Monthly Archives: October 2013

New film from Brillante Mendoza


wish I could see it in Manila!sapi the movie

A piece of wood, some string, mythmaking

Blame it on the James Cameron movie that made Leonardo and Kate household names (Kate Winslet is an amazing actress, but a blockbuster movie definitely did her good), this news item on the Titanic violin makes me feel sick.

Violin from Titanic sold for world record price of £900 000

I could think of a million things better to do with that much money. Or even a drop of that.

Neither Here nor There, but Definitely Somewhere

Sol Plaatje iii

Doors close, doors open.

I sent an entry very late for this prestigious South African poetry competition, the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award, but was lucky enough to be included in the “longlist” which means my poems now have a place in the anthology. They didn’t quite make it to the finals, let alone the “shortlist.” Hmmm… all these lists. 🙂

But who am I to complain? I’ve never gotten any award for my writing until this year with the DALRO. Before this, the only other claim to recognition I had was when my book, Baha-bahagdang Karupukan, was a finalist at the National Book Awards in the Philippines. I am always thankful for any chance to share my work with readers, and any recognition such as these are just extra ego boost. Something to make you feel better when there is so little else to be happy about.

The three poems in the anthology are rather new. They are part of a nine-poem cycle called “Endings are Beginnings” which is the closing section for one of the manuscripts I am still working on. My copy of the anthology hasn’t arrived, so this image is straight out of the Jacana website.

Congratulations to Kobus Moolman who won First Prize, and to Vonani Bila (editor for New Coin!) and Nedine Moonsamy who won Second and Third respectively!

Maybe next year I’ll get up one rung higher. hahahaha. Ever hopeful. 🙂  Then perhaps a book deal from a South African publisher… keep dreaming. I will have to keep on making noise then.

The Floating City of Ghosts

I shall claim that as a good title for a poem or a story based on this article: “The Ocean is Broken”

For now, please read the article and let it weave nightmares as you sleep. When you wake up, you might have an idea how to fix this broken world.

Paper, Water, Air, Alien Hands

My mother taught me how to make paper boats. Newspaper was not the best material to use, for water moves fast on its skin, further darkening the printed words. But newspaper was what I was allowed to fold and tear. What is a boat if it never runs on water? A round basin of water is no more than a cage. So making paper boats meant waiting for rain. Or setting your fragile boat on rushing open drains – water that spurted from neighborhood pipes, dragging bits of rice, fish bone, sometimes other stuff that I’d rather not mention. I was young and only what flowed mattered.

I never thought I’d be writing one day. My hands look like they were meant to do something else, hold a scythe or a hammer, tear down old buildings or mix cement. I have the hands of someone who might till the land. Yet I don’t. I write as if it was something like air for me. If I don’t write I know I am slowly dying – the kind that starts from inside, and no one else can see or sense until all limbs hang without a single beating vein.

jim with sbw smile 2

Now this. After more than a full month in various dark places (sorting boxes, airplane cargo bays, conveyor belts running through metal tunnels, etc) and being handled by strangers who may never hear of me or read a single word I write, the only copy in Africa (yes! the only one! for now!) of my new poetry book in English (the language of one of my former colonial masters) Sound Before Water felt young and weary when I finally held it in my hands yesterday. That sentence was intentionally long and tedious to reflect the journey. Or just to test the patience of the reader. 🙂

stella and other friendly ghosts low res

A very good friend, the poet Emmanuel Q. Velasco, sent Sound Before Water by post along with a copy of Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo’s book of essays, Stella and Other Friendly Ghosts and the various documents from the National Book Awards last year. I was thankful that my collection in Filipino was a finalist, but was also sad at the same time that the English collection was not even nominated.

My new book joins Alien to Any Skin and Baha-bahagdang Karupukan in their search for readers who might find my words on paper worth keeping. One more paper child is due to meet the world soon. We always hope for the best for our children.

close up of sbw and alien

Here is the Goodreads LINK to Sound Before Water.

7.2 Earthquake in my country of birth

Ang Gising na Lupa

Isang igkas ng kaibuturan
nitong lupang tinutuntungan
at magsusugat ang mga bundok

Lalamunin ng ilog
ang mga dating hangganan,
alingawngaw ng pagbabagong
iglap lang sa kasaysayan.

At tayo na matatag
kung matatag ang kinatatayuan,
magugunitang kay rupok
ng hibla nating hinahabi.

Nakatitig sa atin ang gising
na lupa, dinidilaan ng ilog
ang mga paa nating
walang sapin.


This poem appears in my collection BAHA-BAHAGDANG KARUPUKAN (shortlisted for the National Book Award in the Philippines)

The Earth Awake

One thrust from the depths
of this ground we stand on
and the mountains bleed,
gape open.

The river will sprawl
where it was once edged,
echoes of changes
that are but a second in history.

And we who stand firm
when we stand on firm ground,
remember the fragile
threads we weave.

The earth, awake, stares
at us, the river
licks at our
bare feet.


7.2 Earthquake news from Inquirer News

The Trophy for Monsanto and Syngenta Should be Made of Skulls

How’s 5 million dollars for a bribe… err… “gift” ?

Pinay traumatized by horror trip to US | ABS-CBN News

Pinay traumatized by horror trip to US | ABS-CBN News.

This is not a special case, I bet. Israel has been doing the same and worse for decades, I’ve been told. I am sure more and more countries are treating people this way.

Put ignorance, prejudice, and plain stupidity in a uniform and there you go. Not that difficult, really.

It takes more effort to be human, it seems.

My Poems Greet Readers First!

The slightly delayed release of New Coin’s first issue for 2013 finally arrived in my postbox the other day and I was ecstatic to see my poems featured so prominently. 🙂  No, it wasn’t just because my surname starts with “A” – I had that thought for a moment, too, upon opening the journal.

New Coin June 2013 cover

Here is a link about the current editor and what he says of the issue: Vonani Bila.

New Coin june 2013 contents page

Subscribe to NEW COIN. Why? Because you get to read amazing poetry from South Africa! I’ve been informed that my work has also been accepted for the December 2013 issue… (Jim does a silly dance). This means I have better chances of winning the DALRO Award again hahahaha – yeah, keep wishing, Jim!

New Coin DALRO PRIZE judge's report

Here’s one of my poems in the June 2013 issue… one of four poems.

New Coin june 2013 HOOKS AND FEATHERS

Subscribe and you get to read all four and a whole lot of other great poetry from South Africa! More great news to come in the next few days/weeks, so please keep visiting this little blog. Better yet, make me happy and consider purchasing my books from UST PUBLISHING HOUSE:

Sound Before Water

Alien to Any Skin

Baha-bahagdang Karupukan (shortlisted for the National Book Award)

and forthcoming … Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran

… end of self-promotion. Please move toward the EXIT in an orderly fashion. 😛

Rhodes University MA in Creative Writing

Rhodes University MA in Creative Writing

If I had the time and pocket, it would be great to get into this very interesting MA put together by Robert Berold and other respected writers and teachers at Rhodes University.

Anyone got a winning lotto ticket to donate? 🙂