Tag Archives: Filipino-South African

“Like a Log” on SoundCloud to mark UN Refugee Day

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I am bothered by news from back home. Internal displacement in Mindanao due to the fighting between government forces and the Maute group comes to mind. Disturbing news of the growing number of dead from the fighting as well as in the dire situation at refugee centers.

And then, of course, there is the ever-increasing number of people fleeing their own countries in desperation due to war. They try to cross treacherous seas, and, even if they survive, they are rarely met with open arms. They face borders.

Borders, before they become fences and walls, are imagined. Applied to people, they can easily be turned into tools of abuse, tools of turning one human being against another, tools of forgetting what happens when those armed and more powerful impose their will on the vulnerable.

Listening to the radio this morning, I learned it was Refugee Day.

I have never been a refugee. I’m an immigrant by choice – by luck. Even as all of us can be struck with a longing for our place of birth, the place where we took our first breath, tasted water, touched mud, got blinded by dust on a hot day, we can only imagine the struggles of refugees.

I’m sharing my poem, “Like a Log,” which first appeared in The Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology VI. I’ve also posted a voice recording on SoundCloud. The link is HERE.

 

Like a Log

 

“I’m not going to tell you another story,
my boy. You laugh too loud,” grandfather said
as I begged. His voice sounded
like it was coming from the village well

before it was blasted. The stories he told
came from a time when the sky
was not yet something to be feared.
His eyes, clouded with cataract,
only saw white shadows.

But he could sense when someone
was stirring awake. He began to fade
into the damp wood. I whispered to him,
“I am afraid of the dark and the sound
of water splashing against the sides

of the boat.” Grandfather held
my small hands and then patted
the tied up bundle mother left me
before they threw her overboard.

-o-


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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Aerodrome reviews WINGS OF SMOKE

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Some people have little care for words. Some learn a few that stick to them like bubblegum to orange hair, they end up using the same words over and over on television or Twitter. Surprisingly, one such person apparently managed to convince millions, mesmerised by his words, to vote him into power.

I don’t pretend to know more words than the average writer, but I try to care for the words that I let go, the words I allow to land on a page. In a world that seems to be increasingly overtaken by the loud and forceful, rather than those who seek truth and a common humanity, one has to be thankful for being read at all.

I previously posted links to the first review of WINGS OF SMOKE. I am delighted and deeply humbled by another review that has just been published at Aerodrome. Endless thanks to South African poet Christine Coates for her very kind words toward my latest paper child.

-o-

ABOUT THE BOOK

Wings of Smoke (The Onslaught Press, UK, 2017) is Agustin’s latest poetry collection, launched in the UK and worldwide in February 2017. The book may be ordered via the publisher’s website – www.onslaughtpress.com – and Amazon. It will be made available in South Africa from March 2017 mainly through the author who will be reading and launching the book at various venues: at the Writing for Liberty Conference at the Centre for the Book on 28 March, at Off the Wall (A Touch of Madness Restaurant) in Observatory on 30 March and at Kalk Bay Books on 4 April. More readings are to follow during the year.


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

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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.