Monthly Archives: January 2017

“The Breath of Sparrows” on Soundcloud

sparrow-from-wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

I have many fathers. One who gave me flesh and bone, a few who guided my first steps in the world of words, some who don’t even know I exist, and then many now no more than dust. I shall not name them here. There is no need.

In that vein I wrote “The Breath of Sparrows” years ago and posted its early version here on matangmanok. It now finds a final version in print form in my forthcoming book, Wings of Smoke (The Onslaught Press, UK, 2017).

I did a rough audio recording of it. Please click this LINK TO SOUNDCLOUD to listen to the final version of “The Breath of Sparrows.”

Tell me what you think, if you have the time or inclination.

Advertisements

Of Pregnancy and Paper Children

I have the utmost respect for mothers. It is no small effort to carry a life that is slowly growing inside you, turning your body into a vessel that seems less and less your own. Imagine bearing two or more!
My wife didn’t have the easiest time when she was carrying our twins. Likely only the mothers of twins or multiples will ever have a true idea of how it was for her. All I could do then was try to be around whenever she needed any assistance, especially in the last few months of the pregnancy. I’ll spare you the details of those days for now.
Here’s a poem I wrote way back, not to make light of the whole ordeal, I hope. The poem appeared in my book Alien to Any Skin (UST Publishing House, 2011) – a book I wish more readers would seek as it contains what I feel is a substantial body of work.

Pregnant Moon Reflection

I watched the moon lift herself,
a woman ripe
with twins.

Brimming with awesome fullness,
she heaved her burden of light
over the eastern mountains,
past sandstone peaks,
cubist dream of broken rocks,
deserted cities of the future.

Up she pushed herself
until the blue darkness
surrendered his realm.

The stars felt faint,
their grandeur diminished.

A hush fell upon the heavens
reminiscent
of my wife’s visit
to the clinic.

     January 2009
-o-

wings-of-smoke-cover-jpg

I call my books paper children. The struggle to bring each one to life is not at all like carrying a real child.
A paper child is bound to be put out for adoption once born. Yet I feel something similar to a parent who is forced to surrender a child for whatever reason.
What I let go will have to wind its own way without looking back. It has to find its own home. Otherwise it will be forever lost, perhaps shredded beyond remembrance by cruel time.
Who will adopt this new one?
My UK publisher, The Onslaught Press, posted an initial announcement regarding the worldwide release of Wings of Smoke. CLICK THIS LINK to the page on their website where you can place your order come 1 February 2017.
Two other fantastic titles will be released – Hold Your Breath by Waqas Khwaja (Pakistan-United States) and long days of rain by Janak Sapkota (Nepal).
Friends in South Africa will have to wait just a little longer – 1 March 2017 – to be able to order the book through me. I’ll see if an arrangement can be made with accommodating local book dealers.

Here is the Goodreads.com link to WINGS OF SMOKE.

Aside from The Onslaught Press website, the book will also be made available through Amazon.


The Boy in the Chair – a first draft

The Boy in the Chair
should be the last victim
of the hand that slaps,
shoves, hits and maims
a child at school

now in his shack that has
no windows, he hears
the other children kicking
a soccer ball in the distance

with legs no longer
like his own, he still
dreams of the day
he becomes a doctor

-o-

This is an initial reaction to a news item in South Africa about a boy who was assaulted by a principal after accusing him of stealing R150.


Veins Cut Open – an audio recording attempt (although the poem is about xenophobia in SA, it might as well be about Trump and his troops)

tortoise-shell-low-res

I’ve got a new paper child about to be born – WINGS OF SMOKE. I’ll write about it in the next few days, I hope. “Veins Cut Open” is one of the poems, it was first published in the Sol Plaatje EU Award Anthology. I recorded an audio reading of it – instead of just posting the text – to give you an idea of what’s in the book. Well, I just felt like it. haha. Tell me what you think.

I don’t have a great voice, I admit. But it’s the only one I have. Although I do drive my kids nuts when I take on various voices, sometimes singing made up lyrics of some language plucked out of nowhere.

So HERE IS THE SOUNDCLOUD LINK.


What to do when you get a rejection letter

There have been many articles written about how now-famous authors received not just dozens, but hundreds (or thousands, even!) of rejection letters. I got one yesterday and actually felt good about it. Really. Here it is:

-o-

Thank you for submitting your manuscript, and for your patience during the assessment period. Unfortunately, we cannot offer to publish your manuscript.

There is much to commend in your novel, and your writing is not without merit. However, as a small publishing imprint, we only manage to publish twelve to fifteen titles per year and consequently stay close to our mandate. Regrettably, your manuscript does not meet these criteria and therefore does not suit our publication lists, at present.

Once again, thank you for your submission. We wish you all the best with your writing endeavours.

-o-

It’s truly funny. Because I haven’t written a novel my whole life. I submitted a poetry manuscript. Gatekeepers don’t have to be literate, it seems. I had my laugh, now to send the manuscript off elsewhere. That’s how it spins.


A Ramble on the Randomness of Numbers: 13, 2017, 77, 7, 8, 48, 30, 31, 1… and don’t forget the over 6,000 and growing

almonds

Whether we like it or not, numbers seem to take over our lives – or at least they refuse to be ignored even as we desperately try to turn our backs on them. So here are a few that I’ve noticed and taken note of in the past few days.

13 – Today, as I begin to write this, it is midday on the first Friday the 13th of this by-now-not-so-new 2017. Again, another number that, if you really think about it, is really arbitrary. Just as someone said at some point that Friday the 13th was unlucky, someone else said, “Right, from today we start counting the years like so and so.” “Amen,” responded nearly everyone since then, and, through the years as more and more nodded in agreement, we have ended up with 2017.

77 – If there was an agency that certified people with green thumbs, my name would certainly be rejected. Apparently I tend to kill plants that fall under my shadow. But today, with plastic watering cans in either hand, I remembered to check on our remaining almond trees. I can’t recall how many we originally planted, but three we still have. Two of them had almonds ready for picking. Some of the nuts were already on the ground because of the winds we’ve had these days that have driven the various fires in the Cape out of control. I tried to stuff them in my pockets – luckily I had those baggy shorts with multiple expanding pockets! So the unexpected harvest of +/- 77 almond nuts (that still need to be shelled)!

7 – Yesterday, with the slightest touch they fell into my cupped hands, seven cherry tomatoes. Funny that we are getting a nearly daily supply from something I never really planted. About two months ago I just noticed seedlings sprouting about in the garden where I used to pour the water we save from washing vegetables and fruit in the kitchen – I guess sometimes bits of seeds somehow end up in the same bucket. I moved those seedlings into pots, with a vague hope that they at least grow, if not bear some tomatoes one day.

7 is also the number of poetry books under my name. But in a few more weeks another one will join my paper children. Wings of Smoke will be released soon by The Onslaught Press, an independent UK-based publisher. A proper post for that new baby soon, I hope, as it officially becomes poetry book number 8!

48 – I’m not so sure I should be sharing that number. But what the heck. This year I turn that many years on this planet (although I believe in other cultures they start counting your age the day you are conceived instead of when you are born).

30 – I’ve read at Off the Wall in Observatory before, both times after being asked by the organizer. This year I acted like Hermione and raised my hand, so to speak, and said “Pick me! Pick me!” for Thursday the 30th of March. I was thinking I might as well own up to having this new paper child, Wings of Smoke, and go all-out to promote it. It will be my first book that will be made available in South Africa largely through me and one other distributor until some arrangement can be made with interested bookshops. For now people can contact me through this blog or my Facebook page (search for Jim Pascual Agustin, in case you don’t know who you’re reading here right now hahaha). My publisher will put up online orders through Amazon. Signed copies through me. 🙂

31 – The last day of March is my birthday. There. It’s out. That’s why I chose something close to that date for the reading at Off the Wall. There’s also a conference in Cape Town I’m supposed to attend. I hope to read before a hopefully big enough audience and sell some copies of Wings of Smoke. I’m going to try to line up other dates and venues, but I’m practically on my own here, so any help  or suggestions are very welcome. Looking for reviewers linked with South African journals or papers/ezines perhaps anywhere in the world? Thanks in advance.

1 – Unless someone one day thinks my worldly shreds are worth replicating/cloning, I’m all there is of me. And the one thing I cannot live without (aside from the obvious, of course) is writing, also the one thing that I hope makes me unique. Since I cannot put a stop to writing, I might as well try to share it. My paper children (or their digital version, as Wings of Smoke will have – if things fall into place) is one way, doing readings is another. Without meaning to, I find that through my writing I let others know what catches my attention, what bothers me, what will not let go of me whatever I do until I wrestle with it and try to pin it down on the ground for some kind of blessing or curse. I don’t have grand dreams of changing the world, but I do what I can in my own small way.

6,000 + – The number that I really hate to be keeping track of. The ever-growing number of murdered in my country of birth in the name of the so-called war on drugs. If one examines closely, it is a war on the poor – at least for now. Extrajudicial killing or EJK is the worst calamity to fall upon the Philippines in the past six months. I intend to keep mentioning this wherever I am invited to read until the madness stops.

End of ramble.

PS It’s taken me longer than I thought to finish this post due to so many distractions or tasks I’ve had to do. It’s already the 14th! And being a Saturday, it’s less likely to be read. Surprise me. Last thing. I’m playing with the idea of an emailing list for those interested in knowing more about my literary (or not) activities that I don’t want to post on this blog. If you think it’s a good idea, please do send me a message here or on my Facebook page (Jim Pascual Agustin, in case you don’t know who you’re reading hahaha).

Thanks for hanging around.