abo sa dila

May iniisip ka? Oo. Ano? Ayaw kong sabihin. Baka magkatotoo.

Dahil makulit ka
Kilala kita. Oo, ikaw 'yun: Nagkasalubong na tayo minsan, sa LRT, sa Gotohan, sa kanto ng Aurora at Katipunan. Nagkatinginan tayo. Hindi mo ako kinausap, pero alam ko, nakilala mo rin ako. Kaya ka narito, di ba? Para sabihing, Oo, oo, ikaw nga 'yun. Naaalala kita.
O, ha, Plurk, o, ha!
Radyo? Radyo?
Libreng humirit

Mag-exercise tayo tuwing umaga
Tambay ka muna
Lokal Kolor
Ano'ng hanap mo?
Basa lang nang basa
Tropa ko

    na, mula noong 24 Enero, 2006, ang nakitambay dito

Two Poems: Eavan Boland
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

11. A Habitable Grief

Long ago
I was a child in a strange country:

I was Irish in England.

I learned
a second language there
which has stood me in good stead--

the lingua franca of a lost land.

A dialect in which
what had never been could still be found.

The infinite horizon. Always far
and impossible. That contrary passion
to be whole.

This is what language is:
a habitable grief. A turn of speech
for the everyday and ordinary abrasion
of losses such as this

which hurts 
just enough to be a scar.

And heals just enough to be a nation.


A Woman Painted on a Leaf

I found it among curios and silver,
in the pureness of wintry light.

A woman painted on a leaf.

Fine lines drawn on a veined surface
in a hand-made frame.

This is not my face. Neither did I draw it.

A leaf falls on a garden.
The moon cools in its aftermath of sap.
The pitch of summer dries out in starlight.

A woman is inscribed there.

This is not death. It is the terrible
suspension of life.

I want a poem
I can grow old in. I want a poem I can die in.

I want to take
this dried-out face,
as you take a starling from behind iron,
and return it to its element of air, of ending--

so that autumn
which was once
the hard look of stars,
the frown on a gardener's face,
a gradual bronzing of the distance,

will be,
from now on,
a crisp tinder underfoot. Cheekbones. Eyes. Will be
a mouth crying out. Let me.

Let me die.

(from New Collected Poems. W. W. Norton and Company, 1st American ed. 2008)

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posted by mdlc @ 12:30 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
"Why do people stop breathing?"
- Pancho Alvarez

Do they? And if they do, perhaps
it's simply because they can't

anymore, the way the horizon draws
a sentence from a pair of lungs, beyond

or some other last word. The answer
lies in color, blue and the vast

resignation of a sky aware of how small
everything else is, how fleeting. Or gray, 

ash and the natural spiral of dust
stalling on its journey to ground. What

I mean to say is, half of your heart
is already pulsing with the wild

rhythm of knowing. The other half 
is the largest window you've ever seen.

What you mean to say is, Why do people 
die? Imagine that window, now, 

the stone-constant horizon, the beyond 
where fragments of breath, colorless, 

turn into ice then water 
then back again to breath. People 

don't stop breathing.
We do.


posted by mdlc @ 5:12 PM   1 comments
Welcoming a Child in the Limantour Dunes
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Robert Bly

for Micah

Thinking of a child soon to be born, I hunch down among friendly sand grains.... The sand grains love a worried man-- they love whatever lives without force, a young girl who looks out over her life, alone, with no map, no horse, a white dress on. The sand grains love whatever is not rushing blindly forward, the mole blinking at the door of his crumbly mole Vatican, and the salmon far out at sea that senses in its gills the Oregon waters crashing down. Something loves even this planet, abandoned here at the edge of the galaxy, and loves the child who floats inside the Pacific of the womb, near the walls, feeling the breakers roaring.

(from What have I ever lost by dying?: Collected prose poems. Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.) 

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posted by mdlc @ 4:03 PM   0 comments
The Late Hour
Friday, March 20, 2009
Tom Crawford

It's a pleasure sometimes
to notice my aging hands
holding each other,
so familiar,
the fingers interlocked.

Evenings I allow myself
two really good poems
to read over and over,
my warm milk and crackers
I suppose.

Over my shoulder
the radio turned low
brings in the same old song
every night: love me
somebody, please!

My own loneliness
when it's good
I can tell you is so vast
nothing will satisfy it
but the late hour
and a sky full of stars.

(from Wu Wei: Poems. Milkweed Editions, 2006.)

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posted by mdlc @ 9:45 AM   0 comments
The Maningning Miclat Awards 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Maningning Miclat Art Foundation is calling on young poets aged 28 and below to submit entries to the 2009 Maningning Miclat Trilingual Poetry Competition in three divisions: Filipino, English and Chinese.

An entry must have at least eight but not more than 15 poems. Authors may join all the divisions but can submit only one entry in each division. All entries should be original in any of the three languages and not a translation of another entry.

Four copies should be submitted, with the poems printed double-spaced on regular bond paper with one-inch margins on all sides, using Arial or Times New Roman size-12 font. Only a pen name must be printed on an entry, with the real name and pen name submitted in a separate sealed envelope together with the entrant’s biodata, birth certificate copy, and a notarized declaration of originality and authenticity of authorship.

Entries must be addressed to the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation, Inc. (MMAFI), 2nd Floor, Mile Long Building, Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City (Tel No. 816-7490 to 91) not later than 5:00 p.m. of April 15, 2009. Entries sent by mail should be postmarked/invoiced not later than April 1, 2009.

The Maningning Award, handed out yearly since 2003, honors China-born Maningning Miclat, a poet in three languages, a published essayist, and a prizewinning visual artist who was also a teacher, translator and interpreter. Her collection Voice from the Underworld (Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2000) is the first book of poetry in the world in Filipino, English and Chinese written solely by one author. Some of her poems were included in a book of top international women poets in Chinese published in China. She passed away in September 2000.

The Maningning Miclat Art Foundation was formed in 2001 to carry on the artist/poet’s legacy, encourage creativity, and support outstanding young poets and artists. The trilingual poetry competition is held during odd-numbered years, while the painting competition is held during even-numbered years.

Grand winners in the divisions of the Poetry Competition will each receive P28,000 together with a Julie Lluch trophy and the special collector’s edition of the books Voice from the Underworld, Beauty for Ashes: Remembering Maningning and Beyond the Great Wall: A Family Journal, which won a 2006 National Book Award for biography.

Past winners of the Maningning Poetry Awards are Naya Valdellon and Joselito delos Reyes in 2003; Allan Pastrana, Joseph Saguid and Ye Cai-sheng in 2005; and Raymond John de Borja, Erica Clariz delos Reyes and Chen Si-yuan in 2007.

For more information on the 2009 Maningning Miclat Art Competition, e-mail maningningfoundation@gmail.com or amiclat2008@yahoo.com. You may also log in to www.maningning.com.

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posted by mdlc @ 4:58 PM   0 comments
The History of Forgetting
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Lawrence Raab

When Adam and Eve lived in the garden
they hadn't yet learned how to forget.
For them every day was the same day.
Flowers opened, then closed.
They went where the light told them to go.
They slept when it left, and did not dream.

What could they have remembered,
who had never been children? Sometimes
Adam felt a soreness in his side,
but if this was pain it didn't appear
to require a name, or suggest the idea
that anything else might be taken away.
The bright flowers unfolded,
swayed in the breeze.

It was the snake, of course, who knew
about the past—that such a place could exist.
He understood how people would yearn
for whatever they'd lost, and so to survive
they'd need to forget. Soon
the garden will be gone, the snake
thought, and in time God himself.

These were the last days—Adam and Eve
tending the luxurious plants, the snake
watching from above. He knew
what had to happen next, how persuasive
was the taste of that apple. And then
the history of forgetting would begin—
not at the moment of their leaving,
but the first time they looked back.

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posted by mdlc @ 1:25 PM   2 comments
From the Mar Roxas Archives: Doha, Quatar, 2001
Monday, March 16, 2009
(Was forwarded this by someone from the office who found it while rummaging through some old files. Interesting read-- written way back when by a guy who, if Facebook is to be believed, is now in Switzerland. Isang malaking "Apir!" kay Mr. Johannes Bernabe, who wrote this piece. Please, everyone. Spread the word.)

I'm surprised how MAR's brilliantly played out role as the Philippines' chief negotiator held last November 2001 in Doha, Quatar did not get the attention and praise it justly deserves. Anecdotes and situations where MAR's keen judgment, composure and leadership qualities were very much evident spring to mind quite easily.

There was for instance the confrontation with EC Commissioner Pascal Lamy regarding our refusal to agree to the EC's grant of preferential treatment in favour of ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) countries unless the resulting adverse trade effects suffered by the Philippines were adequately safeguarded. Unknown to many, the successful conclusion of the Ministerial Conference hinged on whether this issue would be resolved.

On the last day of negotiations, Lamy finally decided to engage MAR in a face-off, walked imperiously with his army of lawyers and advisers into the meeting room where the Philippine delegation had been consulting-- and receiving intense pressure-- from various delegations, and condescendingly issued an ultimatum: either the Philippines (and Thailand) accept the EC's last offer or accept responsibility for a failed Ministerial. Lamy then berated the Philippines for "holding the entire negotiations hostage" on account of a single issue (which obviously was untrue, since it was the EC which was forcing acceptance of the ACP preferential treatment upon us, since they needed the support of the ACP countries for the agenda the EC was pushing in Doha). Cutting him off, MAR stared down Lamy, saying, "I resent that. The Philippines is not holding anyone hostage here. If anyone is doing it, it is in fact the EC which is holding us hostage by insisting on our agreement to a deal which was never part of the Doha agenda in the first place!" Trying to rectify his faux pas, Lamy stammered that he "really didn't intend to mean that we were holding anything hostage," and that he "meant something different." At which point MAR said sharply, "C'mon, Pascal, you're far more sophisticated than that. We both know that you knew what you meant." Still trying to regain his balance, Lamy said that "English was not his mother tongue and that..." MAR pounced on him again before he could finish, retorting "Well, Pascal, English is not my mother tongue, too, but if you want, we can negotiate in Filipino instead!"

Minutes later, Lamy huffed out of the room, standing an inch or so shorter than when he came in. The EC had taken its best shot, going with its top honcho against MAR, and ended up contributing to MAR's growing stature in Doha instead.

Of course, the best part of it was in the end the Philippines got a better deal than even what the EC was prepared to give-- a mechanism for addressing our concerns that went beyond what the WTO rules obligated the EC to do at that point. Plus, by getting our deal and removing this final obstacle to the adoption of the Doha Declaration, MAR had essentially saved Doha. Otherwise, coming on the heels of a failed Ministerial Conference in Seattle, the WTO itself would now be teetering on the brink of irrelevance.

I wonder how many people realize that.

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posted by mdlc @ 1:11 PM   1 comments
‘Yun na ‘yun, Bok: Isang nabigong tangkang pagkasyahin ang aking poetika sa halos dadalawang pahina
Saturday, March 14, 2009
(Dahil baka iniisip mong naglaho na ako, dahil nga ang tagal ko nang hindi ina-update ito. Ito 'yung minadali kong brief ng poetics na ipinasa bilang requirement sa isang workshop. Para lang ibulong sa iyong, huy, rakenrol. Nandito pa ako.)

BUTI NA LANG WALA AKONG kotse, kasi ang totoo, sa tren lang talaga ako nakakapag-isip tungkol sa ganitong mga bagay. At sa dinami-dami ng biyahe ng tren mulang Recto papuntang Cubao, siguro makabubuo na ako ng tesis para sagutin ang mga tanong na dapat yatang nasasagot ng bawat manunulat: 1) Why do I write; 2) Why do I write the way I write; at 3) Whom do I write for.

Problema nga lang, sakit ko rin ‘yung sakit ng bawat manunulat: Ang daling mag-isip, pero ang hirap isulat ang lahat nang naiisip. Kapag ino-organize na, kapag ilalapat sa papel, parang naglalahong lahat. Parang ang daling makipag-inuman at ideklara sa mga kaibigan, sa tapat ng beer, ang mga paniniwala ko ukol sa pagsusulat. Kapag may nagtatanong, parang ang daling sagutin. Kapag sa akin mismo nakasalalay kung paanong sisimulan at padadaluyin ang usapan, ang hirap, hirap, hirap yata.

Meron na akong mahabang listahan ng mga pamagat, sa totoo lang, ng isusulat kong papel/tesis/encyclopedia/library ukol sa poetika ko: “Against Universality,” para medyo kontrobersyal; “Affect and the Pursuit of the Ineffable,” para medyo misteryoso; “Secret-sharing and Engagement in The Lyric Mode,” para medyo pa-intelektuwal. Pero sabi ko nga, doon na lang din ako naipit, sa mga malalaking ideya na sa totoo lang e kailangan ng mahaba-habang panahon at marami-raming bote ng beer para talagang mai-flesh-out sa papel. Hindi yata sapat ang bumiyahe lang sa tren.

Kaya heto, kahit medyo minadali at sobrang late na, pipilitin kong pagkasyahin sa iilang pahina ‘yung papel/tesis/encyclopedia/library ng poetika ko.

Siguro, para simulan, pinakamagandang itanong sa sarili kung “Ano ba ang mahalaga?” Ibig sabihin, sa mga binabasa at sinusulat kong akda, ano ‘yung hindi puwedeng mawala? Ano ‘yung kailangang nandu’n para ituring ko ‘yung akda na—hindi lang “panitikan,” kasi mas mahaba-habang usapan ‘yun, at siguro mas okey kung sa ibang kuwentuhan na lang natin diinan ang topic na ‘yun—hindi lang panitikan, pero ‘yung maganda, ‘yung astig?

Kaya ayun: ang sagot ko sa kung ano ba ang mahalaga: ‘Yung may Dating. Simula pa lang ng buhay-panulat ko, iniisip ko na ang maganda para sa akin e ‘yung malakas ang Dating, ‘yung kaya bang ikuyom ang puso ko o patinginin ako sa bintana. At napatibay lang ang paniniwala ko rito sa isang klase sa M.A. (na hindi ko naman din naituloy,) kung saan nabasa ko ‘yung papel ni Manong Bien Lumbera tungkol sa Dating bilang panimulang estetika ng panitikang Pilipino.

Lalong lumalim ang pananalig ko sa Dating sa isang seminar class sa Philosophy na kinuha ko bilang elective—‘yung “Contemporary Crises in Reason.” Kapag ang pambungad ng lecture e ‘yung sinabi ni Pascal na “The heart has reasons that reason cannot comprehend,” at dumiretso na upang pag-usapan si Levinas (“In the face of the other the finite becomes transcendent,”) hanggang umabot kay Scheller at sa mga teorya niya tungkol sa affect, siguro nga sapat na ‘yun para mapagtibay ang mga paniniwala ko.

At ano nga ba ang paniniwalang ito tungkol sa dating, sa affect? Ganito, in a nutshell: Oo, siyempre, logical system ang wika. Pero ‘yung sining, ang nagpapasining sa kanya, ‘yung katangian niyang i-extend ‘yung boundaries ng logical system na iyon—o, siguro, more accurately, ‘yung kapangyarihan niyang ipa-intuit sa atin kung ano ang nasa kabila ng boundaries na iyon. Art transcends (or at least attempts to transcend) mere logic to remind us of that human part of us, the part that thrives in the humility of saying that no, not everything can be explained. That thrives in faith, actually: Faith that there is a langue upon which each of our paroles are anchored upon—that there are things that cannot be encased in our feeble attempts at understanding. Kutob ko, nandu’n ang affect, e. The heart has reasons that reason cannot comprehend.

Kung hindi pa obvious, dito ko na rin babanggitin na hindi yata maipapaliwanag ang affect, anumang pilit natin. (Kaya nga marapat na sabihin na mas mapag-uusapan ang affect hindi gamit ang pormalistikong pananaw, kundi ang reader response.) Beyond language nga, di ba. Kaya mula sa puntong ito mukhang mahihirapan na akong ituloy ang papel na ito.

Siguro ang susunod na hakbang e ang itanong kung ano ‘yung mga katangian ng affective na akda. Una siguro sa listahan e ‘yung nakasanayan ko nang tawaging earnestness. Ibig sabihin: Clarity, and intensity, of emotion. Kapag nararamdaman mo ‘yung linaw at igting ng damdamin ng nagwiwika sa isang akda, nga naman, di ba, mas madaling tamaan dito?

Naaabot iyon, sa paniniwala ko, sa maingat na paggamit ng mga silences sa isang akda. Sa madaling sabi, pacing, at momentum. Kailan gagamit ng period, o ng coma, o ng double-dash? Kailan puputol ng linya? At bakit mahalaga ito?

Heto ‘yung isa sa mga pinakamahalaga kong natutunan ukol sa pagsusulat: Mahalaga ang handling ng silences kasi kinokontrol nito ang hininga. Hininga ang nagdidikta kung gaanong katagal magbababad ang mambabasa sa isang linya o kataga o imahen, o kung gaano kabilis niyang padadaanin sa haraya niya ito. Hininga ang nag-aapproximate ng emotion. Hininga ang nagbibigay sa atin ng signos kung gaano katotoo ang damdamin.

Sa kabila ng kahalagahan ng clarity and intensity of emotion, ng earnestness, nakababatang kapatid lang ito ng isang mas mahalagang elemento ng poetika ko. Para ipaliwanag iyon, mahalaga ang back story.

Noong nag-aaral pa ako ng M.A. ko, postkolonyalismo ang teoryang pinakakinahumalingan ko. At sa pag-aaral ng teoryang iyon, may ilang ideya na hindi ko mabitaw-bitawan, hanggang sa mapagtanto ko na ngang doon pala nakaangkla ang buong poetika ko.

Una e ‘yung konsepto ng third space ni Homi Bhabha. Kung sa kondisyong postkolonyal e madaling maipit sa colonizer-colony dialectic, mahalagang alalahanin na kayang bumuo ng postcolonial individual ng third space kung saan lalabas siya sa nakasanayang systems of signification (and thought).

Ibig palang sabihin, itong third space na ito pala ang espasyo kung saan maeexplore ang lahat ng proyekto ng postkolonyalismo: resistance, ambivalence, re-membering, (ang kontrobersyal na) reconstitution, at (ang lalong mas kontrobersyal na) retribution.

At ito na ‘yun, ang pinakakinaaangklahan ng poetika ko: Itong third space na ito ang espasyo kung saan nagaganap ang phainomenon ng secrecy. (Galing kay Vince Rafael ang konsepto, sa sanaysay na “Freedom=Death: Oaths, Conjurings, and the Power of Secrecy.) May kapangyarihan ang lihim, ang wika, na magbigkis ng mga postkolonyal na indibiduwal, dahil labas ito sa system of signification ng colonizer. Secrecy creates an ineffable bond between the secret-sharers, a bond which invites people of the same condition into its space.

At itong ineffable bond na ito ang siya ring nagbibigkis sa pagitan ng nagwiwika at winiwikaan, sa pagitan ng makata at mambabasa. Kung imomodify nang kaunti, hindi naman talaga secrecy ang nagbibigkis, kundi ang phainomenon ng secret-sharing.

Dahil nga dito naliwanagan ako, bilang manunulat, sa kapangyarihan ng tulang magbigkis ng mga indibiduwal—lalo na ang mga postkolonyal na indibiduwal. Ang postmoderno at postkolonyal na indibiduwal—dahil sa panahon ngayon kung saan SSS at credit card number na lang ang tao, kung saan kabi-kabila ang tangkang i-dehumanize tayo, kung saan patuloy pa rin ang paniniil sa mga dating kolonya na ngayo’y bahagi ng third world, kung saan naghahari ang sistemang nagsasabi sa ating “mahalaga ka lang dahil nakakabili ka ng magarang celphone/kotse/damit,” ang sistemang sakim at papasok sa sarili, na nagkukulong sa atin sa kapital, sa numero, sa lohika—ang isa sa pinakamahalagang tungkulin ng sining e ang sabihin sa indibiduwal na may puso ka pa rin, kaya mo pang maramdaman ang lahat nang ito, ito (pagkuyom ng puso, pagtingin sa bintana). Kung baga: The heart has reasons that reason cannot comprehend, and you have a heart.

At ‘yun siguro ang punto: Resistance. Resist everything that denies us our humanity. Kaya nga siguro ang liriko ang naisip kong pag-ubusan ng panahon sa panulat ko. For the postmodern, postcolonial individual, the lyric mode is one of the most potent forms as it offers us a site of resistance, a well-bounded space that allows us to engage in secret-sharing. Hindi nga sigurong maling sabihin that the lyric space is the third space: Binibigyan niya tayo ng espasyo kung saan mapapaalalahanan tayong tao tayo.

Naaalala ko, minsan, ininterview ako para sa isang feature ukol sa mga batang manunulat. Ang tanong, bakit? Bakit pa? Ang sagot ko: To stay human. Of all my incoherent attempts at articulating why I still do this, of all the talk about my bilinguality (which I think is secondary to the idea that, heck, poetics transcends the geographies of language,) about my poems’ hyperactivity, its alleged disregard for the idea of “economy” in poetic language (which I think reflects my condition as a postcolonial and postmodern individual,) of everything I’ve said about poetry so far, ‘yun ang mahalaga, e, ‘yun na ‘yun, bok: It reminds us to stay human. It reminds us that we have a heart, and through art, in our most secret (lyric!) moments, that heart beats in its glorious, jagged, flawed, human rhythm.


posted by mdlc @ 11:17 AM   9 comments
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