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Review of "Pulotgata" The Love Poems"

This is a review of my book that I just read in the Internet today. It was written by Ralph Semino Galan of UST and was published in the Inquirer. It comes in two parts.

Honeymooning with Words, Part I
by Ralph Semino Galan

Love is a favorite subject among Filipino poets, regardless of gender. For despite the influx of modern and postmodern ideologies, the pervasive influence of the Romantic spirit is still prevalent in Philippine literature, especially in poetry. It therefore comes as no surprise that even a gay-identified writer like Danton Remoto has composed extensively verses expressing the intricacies of love and lust, desire and devotion, passion and compassion.

In his third book of poetry aptly titled "Pulotgata: The Love Poems" (Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc, 2004, 88 pages), Remoto delves the depths of the human heart through lyrics in English and Filipino that sing of the anxiety and the excitement, the agony and the ecstasy which accompany the act of love.

The joy of loving and the consummation of desire are celebrated in the verses "Tonight I Will Live in Your Skin," inspired by Pablo Neruda's penultimate love poem in Veinte poemas de amor y una cancon desesperada, "Water," "Fire and Ice," "Autumn," "Room," "Black Silk Pajamas," "Song of the Flute," "Destination," "Dawn," "The Seat of Love," "The Ring" and "Sky," among others.

On the other hand, the pain of parting and the power of memory to redeem those special moments, which otherwise would be lost to oblivion, are articulated in the following pieces: "Childhood," "BurningSeason," "Chairs," "Snowstorm," "Departure," "Rain," "Stairway," "In Tagaytay," "Winter," "All the Clichs," "At Bellarmine" and "Song of Rumi."

The poems in Filipino, whether of the first or second persuasion, are more precise and direct, penetrating the heart of the matter with the sharpest of inquiries and insights: "ano kayang bitag/ ang itinatago ng buhay/ para sa akin?//" ["Pagdidilim 1."], "ibig maging buhangin/ upang masarayan// kahit minsan man lamang/ ng kanyang talampakan.// ["Baler, na Bayan Niya"], Pag-ibig ay tinig na tila sagwan/ humahati sa dagat ng kawalan./, ["Hindi Kinang ng Buwan"], "tinipong hininga ng mga mangingibig! -/ at sandaling inisip/ ang karahasan ng pag-asa" ["Kabalyero"], "Ikaw,// na iniwan akong nag-iisa,/ walang kaibigan// o kasama,/ kundi mga wikang dayuhan// at paiba-iba.//" ["Wika"].

There is a seeming simplicity in Remoto's poetry in his choice of words and images. He does not employ verbal fireworks for effect and efficacy. Nor does he rely on arcane and orphic tropes that obfuscate the reader into believing that something profound is being


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