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Tag Archives: A Thousand Eyes
My poem is among a few selected by the judges of Poetry! at Goodreads.com this month. Please find time to read and consider voting for “Ignoring the Hand of God.” HERE IS THE UPDATED LINK
I know it may be a bit cumbersome to have to join Goodreads.com and sign up with the Poetry! discussion group before you can cast a vote.
And yes, I’ve admired her work ever since I first listened to Debut. She and Nina Simone were my musical companions as I learned to cope with my unexpected move from Manila to Cape Town in 1994. More on that period later.
What I am posting here is a set of poems from A THOUSAND EYES. Enjoy and I hope to hear from you!
Thanks for being part of this journey.
My new paper child, A Thousand Eyes, has finally been born. I was in a bit of a mood when I wrote about it (in Filipino, translation later maybe) and posted the rambling as a Note on Facebook.
Copies of the book may for the meantime only be ordered via my Manila publisher, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. Try contacting them on their Facebook page or email them here: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope to be able to help with the distribution in the next few months. Meanwhile all I can do is try to promote it. I came up with a novel idea of asking friends to send me their readings, doodles, and photographs in response to some of the poems from the book. If you are interested in taking a creative trip with me, drop me a line here and I’ll send you the sampler. If I think we can make it work, I’ll ask your permission before I share it with others.
Thank you, dear readers, for staying with me.
Today my country of birth, the Philippines, celebrates Independence Day.
Google put this banner up, but being in South Africa it took me a while to work out that it was only visible when you log onto the Google Philippines search engine.
As a kid, all I remember when that day came was being on holiday. My parents never took me to wherever there might be parades or state activities. I do remember the national flag being displayed on the most prominent window of each house. I have this vague memory that it was more a national decree to do that rather than something citizens just felt like doing. You remember things differently as a kid. Sometimes memory and imagination cross borders. And sometimes children see things as they are (or should be) much clearer than adults would.
Is my country of birth truly independent when it welcomes military forces from another country to wage war? When drones fly over, identifying targets? When the leaders of the land need to consult foreign powers for the country’s own “protection”? When foreign-owned mining companies put up bogus “local owners” just to resources and displace indigenous people?
When you leave the country where your feet first touched soil, you will never return as the same person. But you also do not have to leave in order to see things a different way. It could be as simple as tilting your head or closing your eyes for a moment while you listen to what’s around you. Sometimes you are drawn to something and cannot explain why. The lines on your palms mark the way you close your hand when you sleep or are at rest. How can anyone see them as anything more?
Here is a poem from ALIEN TO ANY SKIN, the first book that my current publisher, UST Publishing House released (back in 2011). I am still very fond of that book for it made me want to get back in to publishing. I can’t wait to see my forthcoming paper child, A THOUSAND EYES.
Geometry and Fear
i knew someone once
who could read lines
it was a gift she never wanted
to use, unless you begged her
for some glimmer of a future
she said faith should be enough
and seeing the doubt in my eyes
she had to allow geometry
to lead me out of the dark
you will leave your country
stare loneliness in the eye
bury the dead among the living
and resurrect them unwillingly
because your hands are your way
of seeing in the dark
and i laughed
a bitter laughter
that i had
never heard before
October – November 2007
I have a feeling I may have posted this poem before, but no matter. There must be a reason I do not yet understand why it resurfaced into memory. It must be the thick fog that had settled overnight where I now live – and it still has not lifted though it is nearly 11 in the morning.
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.
If all goes well, I’ll be reading at Off the Wall in Observatory’s A Touch of Madness bar and restaurant here in Cape Town. One of the poems I intend to read is “The Man Who Wished He was Lego” which appeared in Sixfold. I shared a link to that in an earlier post. But for those who missed it, HERE IT IS AGAIN.
I’m hoping not to make the audience fall asleep. Well, an audience would be nice to have in the first place. So if you are in Cape Town or plan to have a weird night on Monday, come on over. 🙂
I’m also going to read work included in the recently released NEW COIN POETRY bumper issue. If you ever read contemporary poetry, this journal has got to be on your list. Convince your local library to subscribe to NEW COIN POETRY (check them out on Facebook).
Hmmm wait, might as well post the poem here for lazy readers who cannot even click to a link. haha.
The Man Who Wished He was Lego
His hands would be yellow
and forever curved
into a semi-square “C.”
Designed only for quick
and easy snapping
of pieces meant
to fit. His shoes
would be the same color
as his pants with no zips
or buttons, no pockets
for slipping in notes
that could be shredded
in the wash. He would need
not worry about the shape
of his head, or haircuts
and thoughts for that matter.
And best of all, his chest
would be stiff and hollow,
far too small
for a heart.
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.
I need to tell you how everything went on the night of 4 November 2014 at the Goethe Institut in Johannesburg. But it’s going to take me some time. I also want to tell you a lot of other things that made the brief trip way better than I ever expected.
For now, I want to congratulate my new friends and fellow winners of the 2014 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award – Rochelle Jacobs and Thabo Jijana! You guys are amazing people and I hope to meet up with you soon again.
And this was my home made pin for the event, up close.
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.