Skip to main content

Review of Pulotgata, part 2

revealed. Instead, he uses carefully selected metaphors and similes to convey his thoughts and feelings.

For Imagism has a very strong influence on Remoto's versifying, via Amygism (after Amy Lowell, who published the three-volume anthology Some Imagist Poets) and the Bagay poetry espoused by Rolando Tinio and company. A close reading of the poems will reveal that they conform to most of the guiding principles of Imagism/Amygism, "that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous," and that "concentration is of the very essence of poetry."

The image-making of Remoto is best described as elemental, evoking connections between the male body and the natural world, between powerful emotions and stark details of flora and fauna. Here are some prime examples: "My breath will begin by flowering/ in the caves of your ears.//" ["Tonight I Will Live in Your Skin"], "I will be the Falls of Dochart hurtling itself/ down the hills of Breadalbane,/ the rocks rumbling with my cascading force.// ["Water"], "Water slides down/ the leaves/ like tongue on skin" ["Rain"], "Swans skimmed the skin/ of your surface./" ["Winter"], "summer's thunder/ lighting up the sky/ oh heat thick/ as desire/" ["The Way We Live"], "My fingers brushing against/ the ferns in the mountain/ of your hair.//" ["Destination"], "your lips brushing// like a butterfly's wing/ against my lips./ ["Dawn"].

Among the poems in Filipino are the following: "Duhat na hinog ang mga mata ng gabi." ["Gabi"], "tila mga ibong hapo/ na humahapon sa pugad/ ng iyong puso.//" ["Kaarawan"], "Sa aming likuran,/ ang mga sanga/ ay nagiging kandila./ May talab/ ang kanilang lagablab.//" ["Ang Tawag"], "Matang may kubling// lungkot,/ mga salitang maigsi,/ manipis pa/ sa hugis-suklay na buwan.// ["Simula"], At ang iyong mga daliri'y/ naglalakbay, pumapasok,/ nawawala/ sa mga ulan ng aking buhok.// ["Pulotgata"].

There is also a sense of immediacy to Remoto's love lyrics, for almost all of the poems are written in the present or present perfect tense. Hence, the presence of the persona, the controlling consciousness, permeates the scene of each poem, the objective situation, even the spaces in between.

Another interesting feature of Remoto's poetry is its capacity to transcend traditional gender barriers, despite its homosexual underpinnings. Except for a few homoerotic pieces which some conservative readers might find rather offensive, most of the other poems are written in good taste, with the right amount of tenderness and tenacity of spirit.

Although a good number of the 57 poems in Pulotgata are reprinted from his two previous collections Skin Voices Faces and Black Silk Pajamas, the book is still worth buying, especially for die-hard romantics, since Remoto's love poems still remain fresh and clear and genuine, despite the passages of the years. For new readers, the book is a good introduction to the work of a highly accessible poet who writes proficiently both in English and Filipino.

Note: Pulotgata in Tagalog/Filipino means honeymoon

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Heart of Summer, a short story

On the first day of April, we moved to a row house in a subdivision carved out of the Antipolo hills. A row house is a nice word for houses that somehow managed to fit into 120-square-meter lots. They looked like matchboxes, really, built near the riverbank. The larger houses, of course, stood grandly at the center of the village, in front of the chapel. We’d be renting the house from the mayor’s mistress, one of three houses she owned there.

The living room of the house spilled over into the kitchen. The house only had two tiny rooms, but it was enough for us. The owner of the apartment we had been renting in Project 4 wrote to us (in pink stationery with the letterhead “Dr. Antonina Raquiza, Ph. D.”) to say that she’d raise the monthly rent to five thousand. If we couldn’t agree to her new terms, we’d have two months to leave. Mama glared at the letter, then said something obscene about our landlady’s father. A day later, she began poring over the ads, looking for cheaper rent in …

A teacher's tales

by Danton Remoto
Remote Control
www.abs-cbn.com/news

I’ve been teaching for 22 years – the longest job I’ve had. This will be my last year of teaching. I will take sabbatical leave beginning April 2009 – a paid leave for one year that senior professors take every seven years, to sleep the sleep of the and come back to school fully energized. But in my case, I will not just sleep and read and gain weight. I will spend my sabbatical leave organizing Ang Ladlad’s campaign, and my own political campaign, for the May 2010 elections.

But because I stayed here longest, that means I love this job. I admire those who’ve spent 30, 40 years teaching without repeating themselves. They’ve taught for 30, 40 different years, not just one year repeated 30, 40 times. Teachers like the now-departed Dr. Doreen G. Fernandez and the retired, but still teaching, Professor Emmanuel “Eric” Torres come to mind. Both have taught with us at the English Department of the Ateneo de Manila University.

Doreen and Eric …

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 …