Thursday, April 10, 2003

It's still difficult for me to get away from the idea that to be a poet, one must be prolific. There certainly needs to be a certain amount of time and focus spent on it, but it's hard to shake the feeling that I should say produce a poem every day, which I don't. I really feel like I only produce some serious poems every 6 months or so. And by serious I mean poems I can feel good about. The ones in between, are well, eh.

I must say, I tend to feel this way about just about most everything I do. Even when I'm in my teacher's Kali class, and he says, "your technique was very very good." (this from a man who usually gives compliments underscored with critique.) Yet, I feel as though, I was only ok.

I was speaking with Joey Ayala one time about writing and whether he thought his writing was that good. He's often said that the reason he wrote songs was because he didn't feel like his writing was as good as his mother's, renowned poet Tita Lacambra. Actually, some of the first poetry he did he put in the trash, which his mother salvaged, edited then submitted on his behalf. Funny, I had a similar experience with a high school teacher. What's up with Filipino women going through the trash? It's probably for the best really.

He said that when people come up to him and compliment him on his work, he says, "eh, it was alright." But his mom too, reacts the same way when someone compliments her on her writing as well. She says her poems were alright.

At first I thought, but this is THE Joey Ayala who by his own accord brought the folk music rock scene into the mainstream in the Philippines and this is THE Tita Lacambra whose writing has well inspired so many other generations after her. Then I thought, no, this is just Joey, who writes and sings because well he can never turn the radio off in his head, and this is just his mom, who writes.

The story made me feel better knowing that it's ok to feel this way. Perhaps part of it is that I don't want this to end, that I'm searching for something more and that my imagination creates level that way out there that's unattainable yet seems within reach, just so I keep going, which is probably a good thing for something I've told myself I'd like to do for the rest of my life. "The rest of my life" is both forever and now. I need something to keep going for, keep trying at, because if I'm done, that's it.

I hate to think that there wasn't another poem to write or that I can't try anything new. Though in this moment it feels that way. I'll just have to wait then. There are a few things coming up that I think will add some spice to the perculating poetic pot. Like most chefs I guess, there's something to be said about using ingredients that are naturally in season or ripened on the plant. It's all in the timing. And that takes a bit of patience.

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