Tag Archives: Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran

A free gift… Sixfold Summer Issue

A few new poems got included in the latest issue of Sixfold. Here’s a page off the issue.


SUMMER 2014 ISSUE the man who wished to be legoIf you like this one (which is now included in a manuscript in search of a publisher) maybe you’ll like the others in the issue. HERE is the SIXFOLD link. And if you end up liking my other poems, then maybe you can show them to other readers and then… maybe find enough time to vote for my books that are nominated at the Filipino Readers Choice Awards. HERE is the link. 🙂

I know it’s a long shot, as it is basically a popularity contest (haha! an excuse for those who are left unread or with a less supportive group of friends perhaps?). But hey, worth a try. I’m currently recording some of the poems in the books and thinking of putting them up on Soundcloud… and always that question, why? Which should always be answered with WHY NOT?

Paper, Water, Air, Alien Hands

My mother taught me how to make paper boats. Newspaper was not the best material to use, for water moves fast on its skin, further darkening the printed words. But newspaper was what I was allowed to fold and tear. What is a boat if it never runs on water? A round basin of water is no more than a cage. So making paper boats meant waiting for rain. Or setting your fragile boat on rushing open drains – water that spurted from neighborhood pipes, dragging bits of rice, fish bone, sometimes other stuff that I’d rather not mention. I was young and only what flowed mattered.

I never thought I’d be writing one day. My hands look like they were meant to do something else, hold a scythe or a hammer, tear down old buildings or mix cement. I have the hands of someone who might till the land. Yet I don’t. I write as if it was something like air for me. If I don’t write I know I am slowly dying – the kind that starts from inside, and no one else can see or sense until all limbs hang without a single beating vein.

jim with sbw smile 2

Now this. After more than a full month in various dark places (sorting boxes, airplane cargo bays, conveyor belts running through metal tunnels, etc) and being handled by strangers who may never hear of me or read a single word I write, the only copy in Africa (yes! the only one! for now!) of my new poetry book in English (the language of one of my former colonial masters) Sound Before Water felt young and weary when I finally held it in my hands yesterday. That sentence was intentionally long and tedious to reflect the journey. Or just to test the patience of the reader. 🙂

stella and other friendly ghosts low res

A very good friend, the poet Emmanuel Q. Velasco, sent Sound Before Water by post along with a copy of Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo’s book of essays, Stella and Other Friendly Ghosts and the various documents from the National Book Awards last year. I was thankful that my collection in Filipino was a finalist, but was also sad at the same time that the English collection was not even nominated.

My new book joins Alien to Any Skin and Baha-bahagdang Karupukan in their search for readers who might find my words on paper worth keeping. One more paper child is due to meet the world soon. We always hope for the best for our children.

close up of sbw and alien

Here is the Goodreads LINK to Sound Before Water.

Thinking out loud, wishing softly: an open letter

In the past few weeks, I have no idea how or why, I gained a number of new followers to this little blog. Some look like legitimate poetry lovers, others probably liked a single post they found at random and decided to follow what I write anyway. Whatever each reader’s reasons may be, I would like to say THANK YOU. I hope to one day hear from you.

A bit of looking back, looking forward now.

My first book of poetry, Beneath an Angry Star (Anvil Publishing, 1992), came out two years after I graduated from university. The book was one of the first in that publisher’s series of titles which appeared with, literally, back-to-back authors. Each poet had his/her own front cover. You had to flip the book to read the other. Romulo Baquiran, Jr’s Filipino poetry appeared with mine.

Two years later came Salimbayan (Publikasyong Sipat, 1994) a poetry book which I shared with two good friends, Argee Guevarra and Neal Imperial.

After a long gap, two books came out at the same time in 2011 (I had already been living in South Africa since October 1994). University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, with Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo at the helm, launched Alien to Any Skin and Baha-bahagdang Karupukan. As far as I know, no other Filipino poet has published two poetry books in two languages (not just translations of the same set of poems) at the same time. It was a great year.

This year, if all goes as planned, that is bound to be repeated with the publication of Sound Before Water (by end of August or early September) and Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran (September or October). I believe I have found my ideal publisher in UST Publishing House. The care they showed to both author and book has impressed me to such an extent that I find it unimaginable not giving them first look at future manuscripts.

There are plans to eventually put these titles out on digital format. I am hoping to convince them somehow that it will be worth their while to do that sooner rather than later. I want to ask them to take a leap with my poetry books – to begin with, the two titles in English (Alien to Any Skin and Sound Before Water) – and make them accessible to possible readers (buyers!) outside of the Philippines.

This is me hoping against hope that a small wish will be heard by the few followers of this blog. But one can’t just expect kindness and support out of thin air, one has to offer something. Here goes.

I’m busy putting together two new poetry manuscripts in English. One of them (tentatively called Sky for Silent Wings) has a section called “Endings are Beginnings” which contains a nine-poem cycle I am very proud of. I will send you the whole section if you send me a request in the form of a comment to this post. Your message should have your email address – which I promise not to make public – to which I shall send the file. If, after reading the poems, you think my poetry deserves to reach a wider audience, then please return to this post and show your support.

There is no obligation for you to buy my books – in print or future digital format. Although doing so would obviously make my publisher happy to continue supporting my work.

Is this too much to ask? 🙂 I wish to thank you in advance.


endings are beginnings cover page

And for those who may want to see some of my poems which appeared in ALIEN TO ANY SKIN, a number of them are featured in The Houseboat.

Another poem finds a home

Here’s some good news. Often when one sends out a poem to a publication there is a huge chance it will get lost if not outright rejected. Well sometimes one gets lucky. I wrote about such an event – small as it may be – in my blog for Alien to Any Skin.