Category Archives: Jim Pascual Agustin

Wings of Smoke at Cape Town Central Library

This past Friday I was fortunate to have been invited as a panelist at the Franschhoek Literary Festival for the first time. Renowned South African poet Antjie Krog and I were interviewed by award-winning poet Karin Schimke. I have been nervous about the event for quite some time, but felt completely relaxed when the time finally came to face a big roomful of strangers.

Karin threw some tough questions about the value or use of poetry in such terrible times we now face, both locally and in the rest of the world. I posited how poetry has never really skirted away from politics, that all along it was being written even as love and nature apparently take precedence among those who write poetry.

But how can I share more good news when the demented president of my country of birth has declared Martial Law in Mindanao – a massive island in the Philippines –when it appears the “trouble” is localized (in Marawi City) and, according to the military, largely under control?

Marawi City

Nonetheless, I shall try to use the coming invitation for me to read my work at the Cape Town Central Library this Saturday as a platform for three human rights issues:

  • Highlight the ongoing hunger strike by over a thousand Palestinian prisoners held in inhuman conditions by Israel

  • Express my support for women of South Africa who are far too often inflicted with such violence, including horrific murders, by men who should never be allowed to walk among us

  • Share the fear that people in the Philippines are now facing as a nationwide declaration of Martial Law seems imminent.

As it is also Africa month this May, I shall read not just from my new book, WINGS OF SMOKE, but also poetry by African authors.

Please join me at the Cape Town Central Library, 1400 – 1545, this Saturday 27 May 2017.


This Friday at Franschhoek

FLF2017

I’ll be participating on a panel discussion at the Franschhoek Literary Festival this Friday, 1430-1530, with highly respected poet Antjie Krog. We will be interviewed by Sue de Groot of the Sunday Times.

Here is a LINK TO THE PROGRAMME. The main website  of FLF2017 has links to author profiles as well.

Wish me luck. Not sure I’ll know anyone there. Or them me. Haha.

 


Canopic Jar features my poetry!

Fellow Onslaught Press author and amazing poet Rethabile Masilo, winner of the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, invited me to send work for consideration at Canopic Jar, an arts journal. I was delighted, but could only hope the other editors of the online journal would like my work. It turns out they did!

On Friday, 12 May 2017, Rethabile tagged me on Facebook to say that my work is on the “Featured Voices” section of Canopic Jar. But I couldn’t get online to post and share the news until now.

HERE is the LINK to Canopic Jar. Hope you enjoy and share the page with your friends, or anyone who you think might like such poetry.

Thank you, Rethabile! More power to Canopic Jar!

If you have the budget, dear reader, please consider buying my new book, Wings of Smoke! And for those who are in the Philippines, my most recent books published by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House are still available and can be ordered through the USTPH Facebook page.

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Date of Birth – originally posted on “days of stone”

Date of Birth

On the scorching final day of March
1969, multiple copies of a government document
were made to mark the birth of a child
just in time for afternoon siesta.

Though it bore his name,
chosen for him without asking
his consent, and the time
and date of his arrival, his weight,

the document said little else. Leaving him
to one day wonder whose hands
had pulled him out of his mother’s
flesh. Was that person careful

not to hurt him as she forced
open the child’s fists while counting
his fingers and toes? Did she listen
with her good ear as he took

his first breaths, listened as air
explored his lungs for the first time?
Was it a slow and intimate moment
or was the operating room

quickly wiped up and prepared
for the arrival of another child
before he could even test the limits
of his throat? Did she return

to see if he’d survived
his first hours? Or did she rush
home to her own?
Years later he would carry

a certified copy of that piece
of paper to prove his existence
to officials. But he himself
has no memory of being fished

out of a sea of watery darkness
to be held up in the humming
fluorescent light
and weighed.

-o-

This poem was written on 22 September 2016 (1324-1402) for the days of stone website of my good friend, Ryan Stone, who lives in Australia. One day I hope to finally meet my friend in person and thank him for reading my work and encouraging others to do the same.

If you are interested in my writing, my new book, Wings of Smoke, has just been released and available through various online retailers like Book Depository, Amazon and my publisher, The Onslaught Press. Readers in the Philippines may contact via Facebook my Manila-based publisher, UST Publishing House.

Writing starts largely as a solitary act. Any writing may as well be a leaf pressed by the elements between sand turned to stone if it is never read. Today I thank all those who have spent time with my words.

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Duterte’s dead

httpss.yimg.comnyapires1.2S30Kp_tWv.YqcaDoYQR8dg--YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9NDUwO2g9Mjc3O2lsPXBsYW Tony Perez photo of chick on top of coffin 17426098_1307916249295099_709865950848

photo by Erik de Castro found on Yahoo News

Duterte’s dead

are squirming with worms
that take the place
of forensic investigators.

They seek the shortest
and most efficient way
of exposing bone.

To those unacquainted
with the language
of final repose,

the worms render
each body
nearly identical.

Duterte’s dead
have lost the need
for food and water,

for the rare solace
of undisturbed moments
at the toilet.

Hope leaves no trace
in their hollowed skulls.
Only the living carry

that weight as they navigate
the mute streets, the dark
alleys, the witnesses

to the carnage.
Is there really
no memory in heaven?

-o-

The world seems to be on a tailspin – so-called leaders are intent on taking entire countries into variations of hell on earth. In my country of birth, it has been reported that over 8,000 people have been killed under the reign of President Rodrigo Duterte. Among the victims are children, innocent bystanders, and relatives who could not point to the whereabouts of a supposed target.

I entered this poem in the current Goodreads.com poetry competition. I don’t know if the good judges will choose it as a finalist, but I just wanted to put it out for as many readers as possible.

In the Philippines, there is a practice of not wiping the tears that fall on the coffin. It is also believed that if one places a young chick on the glass of the coffin with some seeds to peck at, those responsible for the death will never find peace.

The photo is credited to Erik de Castro, image found on Yahoo News.


PROMOTIONAL SAMPLER selected poems from Wings of Smoke

PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL for Wings of SmokeDSCF8849

Please send me a request if you wish to read this sampler.

Wings of Smoke is available worldwide through The Onslaught Press website, on Amazon and, for South African readers, through me (leave a message here).

I also put up an audio recording of the set on Soundcloud.com.


Using what’s free to fight what’s wrong

protea going dry

I posted on Soundcloud.com audio recordings of both the original Filipino and English translation of my poem “Danica Mae” which won the Gabo Prize from Lunch Ticket. The texts were published here on Matangmanok as well as on Lunch Ticket.

I’m using Soundcloud as I have over 160 minutes of free time to fill. I thought I might as well use it as another platform to spread not just my poetry but to also express my disgust at the continuing murderous war on drugs policy of the Duterte regime in my country of birth.

I can’t say “Enjoy it!” as that is not the intention. Be bothered would be more apt.