Tag Archives: Baha-bahagdang Karupukan

A paper child is born

1 February 2017. Or nearly. As I start writing this it is 23:33 in Cape Town. It is already dawn where I was born. I wonder what it’s like in the UK where my new paper child, Wings of Smoke, has just been born.
A few years ago two books of mine came out at the same time, Alien to Any Skin and Baha-bahagdang Karupukan. I’m still very fond of those books. They broke the more than 10 years of publication silence I underwent. I was terrified what would happen to them, as if they were flesh and blood of mine. So I wrote a poem where I gave them names, Karu and Skin. That poem later appeared in another book, Sound Before Water.
I can’t remember if I’ve posted it here before, but it seems appropriate to share it as Wings of Smoke is born.
May you all find loving homes and eager readers, my paper children, sooner rather than later.

How to Sell a Child Door to Door
for Karu and Skin, my paper children

tell them this child has no parent
and can only bring joy
to its new home
bring light and promise
into the room
as it silently sits
in their hands

even as the world burns
outside the window

tell them everything
they want to hear
that might make them smile

anything just to get
this child’s little foot
in the door

do not bat an eyelid
should the child
gasp at fragments
of moth wings

by the kettle
no one invites sorrow
into their lives

-o-

silly-photos-of-jim-082-adjusted

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Versions Old, Revised,…Final?

moth wings blurred up

 

In January 2011 my two books were born: Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin. I was elated to have those two books published (both by UST Publishing House) for it had been a long gap since the last collection (Salimbayan, 1994). Soon after I wrote the first draft of the following poem. This one eventually joined a new set of poems that would become Sound Before Water (UST Publishing House, 2013), a much slimmer volume than the previous two which contain poetry from over 15 years. In a forthcoming review of this new collection this poem gets mentioned for the oddity of its title. I am posting this version – the one that is now in the book, as if being in book form makes it final! – perhaps as an invitation to adopt my paper children and make room for them in a new home.

It pains me not to be in the same country where these paper children are born. All I can do from where I am is tell as many people online how much I wish and hope the best for them. I will post a link to the review once it is available. For now, I share this with you.

 

How to Sell a Child Door to Door
for Karu and Skin, my paper children

tell them this child has no parent
and can only bring joy
to its new home
bring light and promise
into the room
as it silently sits
in their hands

even as the world burns
outside the window

tell them everything
they want to hear
that might make them smile

anything just to get
this child’s little foot
in the door

do not bat an eyelid
should the child
gasp at fragments
of moth wings
by the kettle

no one invites sorrow
into their lives

-o-


Seven Poems at OUR OWN VOICE 42, March 2014

I never gave much thought about borders and national identities twenty years ago. It seemed pretty clear to me back then that where you were born defined who you are and how you viewed the rest of the world. It was a simple way of identifying who was “the enemy” and who was on your side. It was narrow-minded and simply wrong.

Now I see that the concept of nationality can and has been used by those in power to turn us into pawns against each other. It is no more than an idea that is easy to throw around because it is in our nature to recognize and accept more readily what is around us as the norm, and that what is outside of that limited experience is something to be wary of.

Yesterday I heard that dreaded word again in a news report: xenophobia. That discussion will have to wait another day. For now I would like to share some news.

I intend to share a number of poems over the course of this month (March 2014) as my way of celebrating the books that have been generously put out by various publishers through the years. Some days I may provide links to poetry published online and other days I will just post the poems here. I have my own personal reason for this. Maybe I’ll explain that at the end of the month.

The first installment comes out today. It is from an e-zine that features poetry from the “Filipino diaspora” – a concept which to me feels like a cousin of “nationality” to a certain extent. I am and I am not. The grains of sand between my toes do not have passports…

The poetry e-zine Our Own Voice has featured my work a second time. Four of the seven poems are from Sound Before Water, one (with an English translation) from Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran, and the last two are from manuscripts in progress. (NOTE: as of this writing there is a layout problem with the first poem, “Air from Another Moment,” which I hope could be fixed by the end of today.)

I encourage you to leave a comment on the e-zine’s website. Even to say how you hate my poems and why. 🙂

Our Own Voice March 2014


The announcement I nearly missed

It turns out that yesterday’s Cape Times where Karin Schimke reviewed my book, Sound Before Water, had a small announcement in their “Diary” section. I nearly missed it, then nearly choked when I was shown it:

Off the Wall Poetry announcement Copy of DSCF6716

I haven’t come up with a list yet of poems to read. I plan to mix old and new, perhaps even some translations. Or I could play with a theme, music or music-related. I might post some of the poems here if I have the time. Otherwise, please hope I don’t bore the audience into trying to drown themselves in the nearest wineglass.

If the audience survives, or even likes my work, they might have a chance to buy the handful of copies of SOUND BEFORE WATER that I plan to bring with me.


Finally, SOUND BEFORE WATER gets reviews

I am sure my dear publisher will be glad to know that there are keen readers out there for my work, both in my country of birth and perhaps in other parts of the world. I hope they hasten to put out digital versions of my books. You, my dear readers, can perhaps help by sending a friendly message to UST Publishing House via their Facebook page.

Two reviews of Sound Before Water came out. The first one, written by Rina Angela Corpus, is available online at GMA News. Today, in the Cape Times, literary editor Karin Schimke wrote this:

-o-

KARIN SCHIMKE'S REVIEW Copy of DSCF6709


Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran is now available!

My new book of poetry in Filipino, Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), is finally out! Readers in the Philippines should easily find the book at National Book Store and Fully-Booked, Solidaridad Bookshop and maybe a few others.

The fantastic introduction from Benilda S. Santos alone is worth reading, aside from the poems. 🙂

The cover is designed by John Marin Flores. I hope you find it disturbing.


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.