Two decades is a long time to be away from your own children. What if they were only made of paper, words on paper in a language you grew up speaking but now rarely use because no one else where you now live knows it? Would you still recognize them as your own? Would they seem as important and worth reading after all these years?
I am currently proofreading the text for my first book of short stories in Filipino, Sanga sa Basang Lupa, which is due for release later in the year. I had to stop for a while again. I remember the rough outline of each story, but I found myself getting all tense and fearful for the characters, or laughing with them at certain points of the narrative. Had they taken on a life of their own in all the time they had been in storage?
Would other readers feel the same way if and when they finally open the pages of the book and enter the worlds I had imagined? Will these stories even be given a chance by a single reviewer? A single reader?
I never thought of these at all when I was writing each story. If I had, none of them would be here now.
Stubbornness and wreckless abandon, I blame you, you twins of creation. And thank you. Now I have nothing but hope.
I just made up this design for this post and will not be used for the final book at all.
Mahirap panatilihing buhay ang wika kung ikaw lamang ang tanging bumibigkas nito sa iyong kinalalagyan. Hinahagilap ng isip ang bawat hakbang ng salita, hindi madaling magtatakbo kung saan pumapanig-panig at kumakampay ang imahinasyon. Kaya nga dumadalang ang aking pagsusulat ng mga tula sa Filipino. Balak kong gisingin muli ito sa pamamagitan ng pagsasalin. Ang una ko sanang proyekto – idedeklara na kahit hindi tiyak kung mabibigyang-pansin agad – ay ang pagsasalin ng mga piling akda ko mula sa Inggles/Ingles (alin ba ang higit na popular na baybay?). Ito sana ang pamagat:
KaLaman at DayuHan: mga saling-sarili.
Ngayong taon ilalabas ang una kong aklat ng mga maikling kuwento (SANGA SA BASANG LUPA) sa wikang kinagisnan. Gayong matagal nang nailatag sa papel ang mga salitang naipon bilang mga kuwento, ngayon lamang sila sabay-sabay na hahakbang sa mas malawak na daigdig. Pangamba kong matindi ang kanilang kahihinatnan. Magiging mabuti kaya ang kanilang paglalakbay? Paano kaya sila tatanggapin ng mga mambabasa? Sino kaya ang aampon sa kanila? Ilulunsad sila kasabay ng aking ikapitong aklat ng mga tula (A THOUSAND EYES) sa mga susunod na buwan. Sana, o sana, pagbuksan sila ng pinto, o kahit man lamang ng bintana. Lagi, kakambal ng “sana” ang “pag-asa.”
(ROUGH TRANSLATION: I’m worried I am losing my ability to write in my mother tongue so I am embarking on translating my selected poems from English to Filipino, even as two new books are due to be launched this year – SANGA SA BASANG LUPA (my first collection of short stories in Filipino) and A THOUSAND EYES (my seventh book of poetry). I hope to have an online launch of both books in Manila and a launch of the poetry books in English in Cape Town – if all goes as planned (more “as hoped for”).
Most of my friends are scattered in various parts of the world. Not a single one was able to attend when I read at Off the Wall on Monday night.
It would have been nice to see familiar faces. But that night I also made new friends, I hope. Thank you to those who came to listen, and for those who wished they could’ve been there, I’ve made a brief recording and put it up on Soundcloud. Tell me what you think. And thanks again for all the support. Soon I hope to announce the release of A THOUSAND EYES.
photo from The Guardian of a Lego man depicting what took place in Abu Gharib, Iraq
Back in my last year at high school I remember feeling not just a hint of fear when our homeroom teacher walked into the classroom for the first time. The whole class dreaded her, for she was very much of an earlier generation of teachers who believed students sat in silence unless asked, and that the distance between teacher and student was part of the whole system of learning. She was the complete opposite of our previous homeroom teacher who took interest in our perspective of the world and shared his own, like an older brother would. This new homeroom teacher taught us – or tried to teach us – physics. If memory serves me right, the textbook we used was called Applied Physics.
Near the end of the schoolyear, when news spread that a considerable number of my classmates might not graduate, I spoke to a guidance counsellor to complain about her methods. It was only then did I find out that, cold as she seemed to us, our physics teacher had gone way beyond her duties and met with various teachers and school administrators in an attempt to ensure the whole class gets to walk on stage on graduation day. I can’t recall if I ever told anyone about that conversation. I never thanked her properly.
Many years later, I met someone online who gave me sound advice. She spoke to me in metaphors that made sense of the maze of emotions I was struggling with. I wanted to thank her while I could, knowing my words may never be as moving as hers. As I was trying to write, the memory of my high school teacher came to mind. And so this…
My poem, “Applied Physics,” which forms part of my forthcoming poetry colletion A Thousand Eyes (UST Publishing House, Manila 2015) has been published on the electronic magazine Our Own Voice. I have made a crude voice recording and put it on Soundcloud.
I hope to hear your feedback on the poem as it appears on Our Own Voice or as I read it on Soundcloud, or just here on matangmanok. Maraming salamat, Luisa.
Our Own Voice has once again published one of my poems. This one, Applied Physics, is included in my forthcoming poetry collection, A THOUSAND EYES (due for release June 2015 from UST Publishing House). Thank you to the editors and poet Luisa Igloria.
Here is the LINK to the poem as it appears on Our Own Voice.
Here is a LINK to my silly soundcloud recording of it.
I started this post in January, then forgot all about it. I hope I have not duplicated another entry.
It has to be one of the longest title for a poem – or at least a poem I’ve written. It was first published in Our Own Voice in September 2012. Today I remembered making an audio recording of me reading it. Click HERE or the photo to listen to it. I know it’s pretty rough and Kermit the Frog doesn’t like imitators. I am posting this recording as I send it to my mother back home who is very ill. I wonder if she can still hear me.
Photo found on Wikimedia by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html. I have a photograph of the same type of bird, one that sat on the bricks by the kitchen window. One day I hope to find it for sharing.
My poem, “The Unspoken Child,” just went up on Aerodrome. It’s an odd piece that mixes memory and longing with elements from fantasy/horror movies – or one could just say a child’s imagination, just so potential readers don’t get creeped out. If you’re going to ask if any of this was real, as always my answer would be YES and NO.
I’m really glad that the poem has found a home so far from home, a place to haunt outside of my own head. Speaking of head, the original title was “The Head of a Child,” lifted from a line of a fantastic poem by Jimmy Pappas. Maybe one day I can get his permission to share that poem. For now, thank you, Jimmy.
My poem forms part of “Counting Backwards,” the opening section of a forthcoming book, A Thousand Eyes (UST Publishing House 2015 – hopefully).
There may be a bit of a gap between this and the next poem that sees publication as I have not sent out poems for a while.