scenes from the kritika kultura (soft) launch

I’ve been out of school since I graduated in 2007, and I have never written a serious paper since then. I no longer know how to write/talk about literature the way literary majors do. The way I used to do, perhaps (I was a Journalism major but I took a lot of creative writing electives and enjoyed the discourse). I was able to follow the discussions of editors Mark Anthony Cayanan, Conchitina Cruz, and Adam David, but I felt like an outsider, a gatecrasher (even though I’ll have a poem in the anthology).

But let me try:

The editors mentioned in the roundtable discussion(s) that the “new” in Philippine literature (or at least in the contributions) follows the practices of Western modernism. Modernism is a break from tradition. It is a movement away from Romanticism, with its focus on the “soul” and the “soaring spirit” and all that is awe-inspiring. When I think “modernist literature” I think “fragmentation”, I think “pessimism”, a marked disillusionment. (Understandable, since Modernism came to the fore after the first World War.) I think James Joyce and Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway, I think despair and alienation and experimentation with literary rules and accepted forms. Modernist literature champions the “I”, the individual.

It sounds like the “new” in Philippine literature is the same old “same old”, but I am very interested to read this anthology. We mentioned experimentation with form, so look at this poem:

The soft launch featured several readings, but alas, I can be a poor listener if I don’t have the text in front of me (esp. if it’s a long text, as is the case with “The Story of Love” by Alyza Taguilaso, who read a section of her poem in a very soft voice, “Between what we know as finite and the person in your mouth” by Carlos Quijon, Jr., and  “Invisible Islands, or Theses on Philippine Disappearance” by J. Pilapil Jacobo), so I was only able to fully appreciate Petra Magno’s “In all the pleasance of your seriousness”, John Revo Ocampo’s “Problem Solving”, and Anna Oposa’s “Facebook Makes and Breaks Relationships”. I enjoyed Anna’s spirited reading of her piece. Tamang energy lang para sa subject matter.

I sat beside fellow contributor Tin Lao! Good thing I saw someone I knew, or I would have felt incredibly out-of-place hehe. I also met her daughter Sinta, who also had purple frames for her glasses.

It was nice to say hi to Mark, Adam, Chingbee (who never seems to age – can poetry make you wrinkle-free? lol) and Christian (who’s going to be in the antho as well, congrats!). Too bad I had to leave early.

One of the contributors (Arlene? Arlyn?) came up to me after the event and said she liked one of my poems, which of course made me blush happy. (Arlene, Arlyn, if you’re reading this – thank you.)

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