A SIGH IN THE DARK
The starless night
A frail gondola drifts
From a storm-tossed Venice, to return
The wind laments
Through the barren desert.
My soul is desolate; I, too,
THE CLOSED HEART
Call not . . .
Sharp brambles cast
Deep shadows on the stone door
Of my hall . . . O strange one, why linger
by Angela Manalang Gloria
In the late twenties, a new verse form appeared called a cinquain. It was invented by an American poet Adelaide Crapsey, composed of 5 iambic lines containing 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 syllables respectively. To the surprise of an American professor and longtime resident in Manila, 3 cinquains appeared in a 1927 issue of the Philippine Herald Magazine. In an article he wrote years later, Prof. John Jefferson Siler noted:
One of the first writers in the Philippines to use the cinquain in a purely Japanese manner was Angela Manalang Gloria .Like moonstones in filigree is the delicate loveliness of these 3 poems. Their disturbing allusiveness, haunting, eerie, is the very essence of the hokku art. These may be called the perfect example of this poem form written in the Philippines. It is to be regretted that Angela Manalang Gloria has not given us more such exquisite work.
Angela Manalang Gloria: A Literary Biography, Edna Zapanta Manlapaz, ed. (ADMU, 1993), p. 63. Could that gentleman have known that 14 years later Angela Manalang Gloria would deliberately stop writing poetry altogether?
Would the literary world notice that poetry in English would flourish among Filipino writers to this day? Even then, it was a phenomenon when one considers that colonial America's school teachers had just disembarked from the S.S. Thomas at the turn of the century. What the American government couldn't conquer by the use of military ammunition, they "pacified" using education and language. It took 16 years, but they conquered. Literature in English would implode years hence.
We bring you in this issue an implosion of poetry in the millenium written by Filipinos away from the homeland. It is a diasporic outpouring from a community of writers who carry their "Filipino-ness" like an ache they can barely part with. And so they singthey must! They have made this borrowed tongue their own.
So we put before you poets ranging from a 10 year-old child to corporate professionals, ordinary workers and even those who have retired and become grandparents. Poetry, it seems, is the art form of those who have discovered the ineffable Longing. For a few, poetry indeed has become a way of life. For others, this is their first "in print" experience. Some of the poets have given us a folio of their works, and we've chosen to highlight them in sets.
We began this venture of a magazine with no inkling that within a year, we would harvest such rich literary fare. This issue swells from the feel of such a harvest. Separate from the poetry, the selection of essays showcase a literary prism: Notably, a speech originally in Cebuano delivered by Prof. Macario Tiu at a P.E.N meeting touches on the significance of one's inherent language in the writing process. It is translated and reprinted here. In a reflective essay, theologian Dr. Melba Padilla Maggay ponders on the global tragedy of our times. And in a rare insightful offering, Eileen Tabios, poet and art critic, throws open a window on poetics and artentwining her own poetry with her insights on Artist Manuel Ocampo's works. Step by step, she escorts us in a wondrous visitation into the minds of those whose passion for creative thinking results in the pleasures of artistic proliferation.
The issues of Our Own Voice for 2001 are complete. It is wonderful to know that these online issues are being considered for a compilation in a print version. Through a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous, this unusual endeavor will be possible. It is a gracious and thoughtful attempt at sharing. Who, after all, would be so thoughtful to those who are not readers online?
But it is primarily you, dear readers, who make this literary attempt a possibility. And it will be you who will continuously bring it to fruition. This we truly believe.
May the Christ Child bless us all abundantly during this holiday season!
December 30, 2001