Tag Archives: poetry

Aerodrome reviews WINGS OF SMOKE

trial-2-cover

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.


It’s alive! It’s alive!

three-books

 

My UK publisher, The Onslaught Press, posted this photo on Twitter of my new book alongside two other new titles. So my paper child is real. Alive. 🙂

Some inside pages were also posted.


Veins Cut Open – an audio recording attempt (although the poem is about xenophobia in SA, it might as well be about Trump and his troops)

tortoise-shell-low-res

I’ve got a new paper child about to be born – WINGS OF SMOKE. I’ll write about it in the next few days, I hope. “Veins Cut Open” is one of the poems, it was first published in the Sol Plaatje EU Award Anthology. I recorded an audio reading of it – instead of just posting the text – to give you an idea of what’s in the book. Well, I just felt like it. haha. Tell me what you think.

I don’t have a great voice, I admit. But it’s the only one I have. Although I do drive my kids nuts when I take on various voices, sometimes singing made up lyrics of some language plucked out of nowhere.

So HERE IS THE SOUNDCLOUD LINK.


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

almonds

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.


That other, as if one were

It was while reading Mahmoud Darwish’s last book, an autobiography of sorts that is more poetry than anything else, that I heard of the Arab literary tradition of writing about oneself as if you were another person.I tried doing it when my good friend from the other side of the world (Australia!) asked to interview me. I hope I didn’t fail in my attempt. Thanks, Ryan, for this, and the friendship across so much land and water, so much difference in time. One day we’ll share a cup of coffee or a bottle of beer, laugh at the world that seems intent on keeping people apart.

HERE IS THE LINK to Ryan Stone’s blog, Days of Stone.


My poem “Cousin’s Thumbnail” gets featured on NoiseMedium!

You take memory. Put it in a box. Shake it a bit. Open the box. Whisper into it. Close it up and shake it some more. Open the box. Take it apart. Look for the memory that seems to have disappeared. Now start writing what you remember, what should be remembered, what will always be remembered, and then make a new box out of air.

This is how “Cousin’s Thumbnail” was written. Now it has found a home at NoiseMedium. Please read the poem and leave a comment there. Or here. Thank you.


Aiza Seguerra, you will never meet Danica Mae

Thank you to Rappler for convincing Aiza Seguerra, newly-appointed by Philippine President Duterte as National Youth Commission Secretary, to read with much delight my rather old poem, “Litel Mis Pilipings.” I’m still working on the translation of the poem for a wider audience. I performed the poem myself many times way back in the early 1990s, to the disbelief and huge amusement of the various audiences who were (un?)fortunate enough be there. I’ll try and post an audio recording of my recent attempt to recreate those times. Or maybe not.

HERE IS A LINK to Aiza’s readingAIZA litel mis pilipings

Aiza has an interesting background, including ending up as a runner-up in the very contest I tackle in the poem.

(UPDATE: I posted on SOUNDCLOUD a scratchy recording of my own reading I did today.)

Aiza, if you happen to read this blog post, I hope you find the following poem I have just written, “Danica May,” worth your while.

 

Danica May eyes bnw manipulated

Danica Mae

Hindi kailanman lalapag malapit sa iyong barangay
ang helikopter ng Presidente. Hindi siya kailanman
maglalakad patungo sa bahay ng iyong ina, o magpapagpag
ng alikabok sa sapatos bago humakbang papasok ng pintuan.

Hindi kailanman hahagurin ng kanyang tingin kung saan mo
dating itinatabi ang iyong mga laruan. Hindi magmamabagal
ang kanyang mga mata pagtanaw sa mga damit mong nakasabit o tiklop na nakahimlay, ngayon ay hiwalay sa labada ng pamilya. Hindi niya tatanungin

kung ano ang pleybor ng paborito mong ays krim,
o kung paano ka humawak ng krayola,
o kung tinatakpan mo ng palad
ang iyong bibig tuwing matatawa.

Walang halaga ang ano pa man na aking sabihin,
lalo na sa iyo. Kahit pa man tukuyin kong hindi mga bala
ang kumitil sa iyong buhay, kundi mga salita.
Mumunting piraso lamang ng bakal

ang mga bala na maaari sanang naging pintuan
ng laruan mong kotse, o mga butones
ng damit na hindi mo na maisusuot
mula sa araw na ito.

-o-

LINK TO A HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH article

LINK TO A RELATED PIECE ON MATANGMANOK