Tuesday, December 16, 2008



(Meritage Press, San Francisco & St. Helena, 2004)


poemcrazy: freeing your life with words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge
(Three Rivers Press, New York, 1996)

Pinoy-poetically, poemcrazy

“In Viking times every man was expected to be a poet. If a captured Viking could compose and recite a skillful poem to please a rival king, the Viking’s life might be spared,” writes Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. [1] Wouldn’t it be grand if we can use poems as leverage in this Age of (Supposedly) Risk-Free Returns? But we are not pirate Norsemen and poetry is not the first thing we spare. How relevant is it really, this artful sequencing of words, meanings, sounds and rhythm? What is the worth of the Poetry in our lives, or our lives with or without Poetry? “It’s impossible to teach anyone to write a poem. But … We can write and make discoveries about who we are and who we might become whether or not we truly commit ourselves to becoming poets,” says Wooldridge. [2] Following her suggestion, I set out “collecting words [to create] a wordpool”, and took out my copy of Pinoy Poetics, a book I’ve read three times, three times unsettling me. For how could I have been so unaware of this Poetics, my people’s? Thereby possibly, indirectly, contributing to our poetry’s “stubborn invisibility”? “All you have to do is look,” asserts Nick Carbó. [3] So I did, and continue to do so, for a Pinoy’s Poetics and all it suffixes has become that ubiquitous space between All That I Do Not Know and All That I Do. And my wordpool became a “word ocean”, which, having the potential to be inflated or marginalized, is definitely high-risk, and an absolutely poemcrazy way to swim -- oh, but to savor a good day’s catch!


And when I write, I want the largest space, [4] like a thumbprint. [5]

She chose to be a cadre’s poet, [6] the rhythm, can you feel it? [7] A poetics of E Pluribus Karaoke. [8] I’m favoring sightedness, either near, far, or the standard fare. [9]

If I let go of English, I am not sure if my Filipino can spread out enough net in time to catch me -- or grow enough bones for wings to break my fall. [10] “the elusive other.” [11] I start from a place that I know, [12] It starts with an itch, you see, so you scratch. [13] I long for the day when I will have no more need of words. [14]

A maybe of love. [15] when the sea sang inside me and told me her ancient, shimmering name. [16] It is never about distance, never about nearness. [17] Gotta love that jazz. [18]

My life, even without words, is lived within the poetry that refuses to stay dormant [19] I am a whisper slipped between strangers: the soft air that floats between lips and ear [20] … after I have swallowed / the last of my cone … [21] kaya ngayon mismo [22] “the completion of the human.” [23] let them be and leave them as they are. [24]

If the shoe matches my fear, / then I know this is her. [25] Truth is wrapped in a thousand and one lies / nurtured by words / Whose origins you no longer know [26] I gahng up dos stairs, Charlie. My art, my art! [27]

Nothing is permanent. Not even memory. [28] The cavalry is here. / Every neigh and wild whip of hair. [29]

If we wish to know the soul of our people, we must read our poetry. [30] Yes, I’ll be a poet. I will write in broken lines in a form of my own choosing. [31] I take your hand and press it lightly / to my forehead to hide my shame [32] If anything, it is like water. Taking the shape of what surrounds it. [33] it takes more than talent / to do what I do. [34]

My hunger for crossing bridges is birthed anew. / Unskilled, I build them quickly, I burn them too. [35] “with a lot of white space,” [36] hard hands picking fruit and planting our dreams -- dreams which grow like mangoes and wash over us as we reach out and dare to bite into them. [37] We took a piece here, a piece here and made a sentence, a beat, a collection of rhythmic cacophonies. [38] We are Filipinos, Anytime, Anywhere. [39] The first step is Acceptance. [40]

A poem is a zip file. [41] Wayward, the fall and / the garden. From a place and mind / of some consequence [42] “honesty” is what Villa was fleeing in his move across national and generic boundaries. [43] No one could ever raise a yard of color. [44] In all that immensity I discover / within my love a living mirror … [45]

[1] Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, poemcrazy: freeing your life with words (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996), 178.
[2] Wooldridge, poemcrazy, xii.
[3] Nick Carbó, Pinoy Poetics (San Francisco & St. Helena: Meritage Press, 2004), xi.
[4] Gemino H. Abad, “What Does One Look for in a Poem?,” in Pinoy Poetics, ed. Nick Carbó (San Francisco & St. Helena: Meritage Press, 2004), 4.
[5] Rick Barot, “The Nightingale And The Grackles,” in Pinoy Poetics, 20.
[6] Mila D. Aguilar, “The Poetics of Clarita Roja,” in Pinoy Poetics, 9.
[7] Michelle Macaraeg Bautista, “Kali Poetics,” in Pinoy Poetics, 34.
[8] Catalina Cariaga, “A Poetics of E Pluribus Karaoke,” in Pinoy Poetics, 39.
[9] Oliver de la Paz, “My Unwritten Book: A Poem Disguised as a Narrative Process, but Not Cleverly Disguised,” in Pinoy Poetics, 40.
[10] Ricardo M. de Ungria, “An English Apart,” in Pinoy Poetics, 50.
[11] Ruel S. De Vera, “Otherwordly,” in Pinoy Poetics, 63.
[12] Marlon Unas Esguerra, “The Poetry of Rebolusyon,” in Pinoy Poetics, 75.
[13] Luis H. Francia, “Meditations # 1 & 2,” Pinoy Poetics, 79.
[14] Eric Gamalinda, “Language, Light, and the Language of Light,” in Pinoy Poetics, 85.
[15] Sarah Gambito, “Essay 2356 on Poems,” in Pinoy Poetics, 98.
[16] J. Neil C. Garcia, “Of Legends and Poetry,” in Pinoy Poetics, 110.
[17] Eugene Gloria, “On Memoir and Poetry,” in Pinoy Poetics, 113.
[18] Vince Gotera, “Love and War, Contrapuntal: A Self-Interview,” in Pinoy Poetics, 126.
[19] Remé-Antonia Grefalda, “Lyricism and Poetry in Playwriting,” in Pinoy Poetics, 129.
[20] Leslieann Hobayan, “Mo(ve)ments in Silence: Constructing ‘Home’ in the Gap Through Poetry and Letters,” in Pinoy Poetics, 142-143.
[21] Luisa A. Igloria, “Considering (A Poem’s) History: Sources and Point of View in ‘The Incredible Tale of the Ice Cream Cone Dog,’” in Pinoy Poetics, 146.
[22] Paolo Javier, “Marginalia,” in Pinoy Poetics, 163.
[23] Joseph O. Legaspi, “Boys in Skirts and Other Subjects That Matter,” in Pinoy Poetics, 168.
[24] R. Zamora Linmark, “Big Trouble,” in Pinoy Poetics, 175.
[25] Mike Maniquiz, “The Essence of Us,” in Pinoy Poetics, 181.
[26] Lani T. Montreal, “Poetry and Bonesetting,” in Pinoy Poetics, 191.
[27] Kristin Naca, “The Cult of Language in Pinoy Poetry,” in Pinoy Poetics, 196.
[28] Rene J. Navarro, “After the Shih Hua: Poetics,” in Pinoy Poetics, 206.
[29] Aimee Nezhukumatathil, “The Ocean at Night: An Inside Look at the Poetry Process,” in Pinoy Poetics, 214.
[30] Efren Noblefranca Padilla, “Binalaybay: Soul of the Island,” in Pinoy Poetics, 216.
[31] Patrick Pardo, “On Being a Filipino Poet,” in Pinoy Poetics, 224.
[32] Oscar Penaranda, “The Filipino American Sensibility in Literature,” in Pinoy Poetics, 237.
[33] Jon Pineda, “At the Fence of the Experience,” in Pinoy Poetics, 241.
[34] Cristina Querrer, “Volcanic Laughter, Pacific Words,” in Pinoy Poetics, 244.
[35] Bino A. Realuyo, “Dear Warrior,” in Pinoy Poetics, 245.
[36] Barbara J. Pulmano Reyes, “The Building of ‘Anthropologic,’” in Pinoy Poetics, 252.
[37] Tony Robles, “A Poetics of the Common Man(ong),” in Pinoy Poetics, 262.
[38] Patrick Rosal, “A Pinoy Needle in a B-Boy Groove,” in Pinoy Poetics, 270.
[39] Leny Mendoza Strobel, “A New Twist on Decolonization: Eileen Tabios’ Poetry,” in Pinoy Poetics, 278.
[40] Eileen R. Tabios, “A Poetics of ‘Everything, Everything, Everything,’” in Pinoy Poetics, 315.
[41] Joel B. Tan, “Brown Faggot Poet: Notes on Zip File Poetry, Cultural Nomadism, and the Politics of Publishing,” in Pinoy Poetics, 317.
[42] Jean Vengua, “Abilidad and Flux: Notes on a Filipino American Poetics,” in Pinoy Poetics, 337.
[43] Timothy Yu, “Asian/American Modernisms: Jose Garcia Villa’s Transnational Poetics,” in Pinoy Poetics, 360.
[44] Alfred A. Yuson, “Taking the Litmus Test,” in Pinoy Poetics, 376.
[45] Nick Carbó, “Introduction,” in Pinoy Poetics, v.


Aileen Ibardaloza’s works have appreared in various online and print media, including the books The Blind Chatelaine’s Keys by Eileen Tabios (BlazeVOX, New York, 2008) and A Taste of Home by Ed Maranan and Len Maranan-Goldstein (Anvil, Manila, 2008).

1 comment:

  1. Other views on PINOY POETICS are offered by Juaniyo Arcellana in GR #10 at


    and by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz in GR #2 at


    and by Abigail Licad in GR #1 at