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Dear Readers,

This year, Singapore's holiday season started in mid-November with Deepavali, the Hindu Festival of Light. Thanksgiving followed quickly, and then the special observances continued with Ramadan which culminated in the Muslim New Year—Aidilfitri and Hari Raya Puasa. Christmas and New Year come towards the end of the holiday string but the festive lights and colorful decorations along Orchard Road and Serangoon will not be taken down just yet, because there is Chinese New Year to be observed in mid-February. Commerce and education will pick up in late December, after the main bulk of celebrations pass, but there will still be some suspension from reality while local citizens wait for the Chinese New Year to pass before finally resuming the more normal pace of life.

It has been a quieter holiday season than in previous years. Greetings have been more solemn and heartfelt. The usual corporate gifts of planners and calendars are still sent out, but in less lavish versions. After 9/11, regardless of where we live, it seems the world is hunkered down to a more basic form of life. We are tuned again to core concepts—nature, human relationships, poetry as medium.

Poetry! Why do we turn to reading and writing poetry in painful and difficult times? Is it as Carol Bly explains in Beyond the Writers' Workshop, that through the fractured sentences, the poet slows down the reader?

"...Slowed, nearly halted here and there at line ends, you, the reader, are automatically dropped into a contemplative, spongy frame of mind."

As you click through the fifth issue of Our Own Voice, I hope that instead of judging the poems by scholarly standards, that you find yourself invited into that spongy frame of mind where old concrete givens can be set aside for the moment and you can try out new possible realities, see the world through other senses. Here is an issue rich with varying paradigms. Come read. Savor. Consider Professor Macario Tiu's exhortation to integrate self with a larger community through a natural choice of storytelling language. His essay raises an old question in a new way—who are we writing for? The voices of Filipinos the world over are here—discordant at times, but still—gathered together. Let this issue speak to your poet heart. Let the different works lead your attention back to your own core concepts.

Dear Reader, sana mapayapa ang ating mundo sa bagong taon!

Nadine L. Sarreal
December 2001

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