Tag Archives: Filipino-South African poet

Not an Instapoet

I’m not. I’ve been writing long before the internet became accessible to the general public. Yes, I’m not as young as I wish to be.

But I’ve recently been sharing my poetry in Instagram.

HERE IS THE LINK to the latest post.

Please follow me there if you wish to read more. I’m keeping this blog for longer random musings and other stuff.

My crowd funding campaign for me to get to Seattle this March is still ongoing. Please consider donating our sharing the campaign with your network of friends and supporters of poetry.


The neglected, the old, the new, and paths with unknown destinations and companions

New year can be seen as a new beginning, a new opportunity. It can also be seen as nothing more than a change of numbers on a piece of paper or whatever you use to keep track of the dates.

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while. My apologies. I think I got overwhelmed by 2022. When the year began one of the things I was almost sure to happen was to finally see my very first book get published in South Africa, my home since 1994. Then, after the launch of the book in May things just got crazy.

I managed to share on this blog some of those unexpected events and bits of recognition, but not all. Listing them now might seem like boasting, and I was taught to think tooting one’s horn – or, magbuhat ng sariling bangko (lifting one’s own chair?) – is really uncool.

But I’d like to think that mentioning such blessings should be a good way to show appreciation and thanks to whoever made such miracles happen. Also a kind of reminding yourself that a journey is never truly a solitary thing. Sometimes it’s just not that easy to see who is supporting you, who’s there to help you on your path, who might feel it worth their time to clear the path for you so that you can travel better, further, to stages and places you maybe never thought possible with the barest that you have.

So in no order, and with apologies if I may have left out some names, I owe a debt that I can never repay to the following:

Robert Berold of Deep South for BLOODRED DRAGONFLIES, Quaz Roodt and Ismail Mohamed of Poetry Africa, Jee Leong Koh of Gaudy Boy, Yeow Kai Chai who chose my manuscript for the book prize, Marianne Chan and World Literature Today Gary Cummiskey and Stanzas, the organisers and judges of the Poetry in McGregor Festival, San Anselmo Publications and the Santelmo Journal team, the readers and judges of the Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards, the Johannesburg Review of Books for publishing my essay, and the generous donors to the ongoing crowd funding campaign.

I’m writing this on a second hand phone which I bought with funds from one of those gifts I received in 2022. I’ve had less time in front of my laptop (personal reasons I’d rather not explain here), so this phone has become a kind of refuge, another way to keep writing. My previous phone was a bad hand-me-down, but I was also using on the side a phone left behind by my brother-in-law. That one could take good photos and make decent audio recordings, but it wasn’t really mine and is also fairly old, I now have to give it up.

With this phone I found myself posting more on other platforms, Instagram and Facebook, short bits of writing or photos with a bit of text. Rambling and random stuff that may one day become a poem or story. Like the following paragraph.

People remember either the darkness or the light. More difficult to recall what was in between, the moments before, when there was no certainty that what would follow should be welcomed or not, when it was unsure that who became visible from the fog was friend or someone intent to end your hopes.

I posted that on Facebook today.

For now the thing that is making me uncertain and uncomfortable is the scheduled trip to Seattle. Honestly don’t have all the funds yet. It’s in March!

If you read this post, please share it and the crowd funding campaign. Donate if  you feel inclined to do so, but at least spread the word.

I’m still hoping to keep going to wherever this writing life may lead, even if the Seattle plan falls through.

HERE IS THE LINK TO THE CROWD FUNDING CAMPAIGN.

Thanks for reading this, and if  you are a subscriber, even more thanks for staying with me on this journey.

Peace and Freedom for the New Year, and all the years we have before us.


Dragondream, Old poem

Posted on Instagram this one from my second book, SALIMBAYAN.

2022 brought many unexpected gifts after many years of grief and other woes, it felt like a series of dreams one has while having a fever.

Please consider donating to the crowd funding campaign for me to get to Seattle next year. If you don’t have funds to contribute, please share THIS LINK with your network of friends and family.

Thank you to all of you for the support.


Injured in the Night – a poem for Joel Pablo Salud

Here is part of what I said during the Zoom event (watch it on YouTube) for the announcement of the winning manuscript for the 2022 Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize:

This September marks the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines by the late deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The lies that continue to be spread by Cambridge Analytica-trained social media handlers of the Marcoses will keep trying to decimate the memory of those who fought the regime.

My manuscript  doesn’t just tackle martial law, but I chose these particular poems today to highlight the anniversary of the declaration.

There are four sections – Bound by Wood, The Belly of a Termite, Something in Its Grip, and Resonate. The first three sections deal with nature, politics, and departures respectively. The fourth has all three, but the themes are bound together by a single line from a song by Icelandic musician Bjork, a line “misheard” in different ways becomes the title of each poem in the final section.

“Injured in the Night” is among the poems I read, written for Joel Pablo Salud who has many interesting stories about those martial law years.

Injured in the Night
for Joel Pablo Salud


September is a war of memories
in the home country. Roads and alleys,
unmarked cemeteries. Billboards
are nothing but metal skeletons hiding
behind the clash of colours on tarpaulin.
The promise of whiter skin looms
over the patchwork maze of shacks.

No one mends a bullet-ridden car.
It becomes fodder to the crunching jaws
of scrap machinery, not a piece of evidence.

Who will remember those injured
in the night, the disappeared?
Are we only here to scavenge
a landscape where smoke coils
long after the last burning?

-o-


2022 GAUDY BOY POETRY BOOK PRIZE!


Photo by South African poet and photographer Ken Barris

A few years ago, when my book How to Make a Salagubang Helicopter & other poems was about to be published, my publisher asked me to contact a professional photographer so there can be a portrait of me in the book. I hate being photographed – not really camera-friendly, haha – but my publisher insisted. I got hold of SA poet and photographer Ken Barris. He took a number of shots – he was very patient with me. I should have had a proper sleep the night before. Anyway, this was the best of the lot, or so I’m told.

The organisers of the 2022 Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize required me to send a photo for their social media posts for the upcoming awarding event which will be on Zoom.

I get to read to strangers!


The news I mentioned a few days ago… Finalists of 2022 Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize 🔥

The news I teased about the other day can now be revealed… My manuscript, “Waking Up to the Pattern Left by a Snail Overnight” has been selected as a finalist for the 2022 Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize!!!


Something about a snail

From 4.30am ET on 30 August 2022 I will be allowed to share some good news. It is an unexpected and welcome gift – yes, I prefer to see it as a gift – that gives comfort and hope for the act and journey of writing that is often solitary and unrecognised.

So until tomorrow then. For now I shall share this photo of a snail that escaped being crushed by my large and clumsy feet.


Bloodred Dragonflies on video attempts

I’ve been fiddling with a free video app to try and share my work. The results may not be effective – and are definitely far from perfect. But hey, without a budget and much experience, whatever comes out of the exercise will have to suffice for now.

I’ve created a playlist that should have more as I go along. It’s on YouTube. Care to subscribe? I won’t get anything out of this. Hahaha. Not by a long shot.

The playlist should be updated automatically as I add more videos.


A new version of The Sound Before Water

I wrote this poem many years ago. I thought I was finished with it. Then Robert Berold of Deep South Books worked on it again with me. So a new version was born and included in Bloodred Dragonflies. We’re launching the book on 3 May 2022 at 7pm at The Book Shoppe, 3 Arts Village, Plumstead, Cape Town.

I can take orders from South African readers or they can order the book through their local book shops. In the Philippines the book will be released by San Anselmo Publications – contact them on their Facebook page. International orders and the Ebook version are available through the African Books Collective Website.

I hope to have more readings in the coming weeks/months…

Here is the reborn version of The Sound Before Water which you can also listen to on Soundcloud.

#BloodredDragonflies

#TheSoundBeforeWater

#RobertBerold

#DeepSouthBooks

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