Thursday, August 26, 2004

Gabriela Silang Speaks

--figure of Gabriela Silang, Filipino Revolutionary of 1763 (via Filipinas Heritage Library)

To My Students: Assignment for Monday, Aug. 30 through Wednesday, Sept. 1

**keeping in mind that you have also been assigned to read by Monday the two essays and to listen to the readings at the Carrboro Poetry Festival site**

Below is a poem about poetry and poets and histories of colonization, from Eileen Tabios' Menage a Trois with the 21st Century:
--published by xPressed: (Espoo, Finland: xPressed, 2004)--editor/publisher: Jukka Pekka Kervinen

Eileen has signed this copy of Menage to me with a wonderful note: "To poetry as a way of life!" Here is one poem evoking that motto in several layered ways, and by speaking to far more than its apparent subject, an aesthetic kind of polish that Eileen has been experimenting with for a while now, and has become a consummate master at effecting in her poetry.

Menage a Trois with the 21st Century is sectioned into differing historical poetic-voices or personae--a poetic mode that is called *dramatic monologue*--something students should look up: Google it to see what you find, and look into poetry written in the mode of dramatic monologue, by North American poet, Ai (winner, National Book Award, 1999). Find an Ai poem and compare it with the poem below.

One persona in Eileen's book speaks in the recovered voice of the filipino revolutionary, Gabriela Silang, wife of Diego, who organized the Ilokano revolt against Spain's colonizers. Gabriela has been revived as a 21st century persona in Eileen's poems, for example:

A Memory's Resonance Du Jour (II)
            As Gabriela Struggles to Apply Significance

One wants to slap any majordomo
For believing he controls the equinox

Until I shy from physical fulmination
As someone obsessed with oxymorons--

The doughty poem offers its own significance:
e.g. ancilla for "Understanding James Joyce"

And saffron-colored mulsum and turriculae
Imbibed by the Romans turned inane then insane

From raisins fermenting in ill-designed earthenware--
Oh, my Love--how many civilizations expired

After marauding soldiers were deceived
By myrrh, honey, balsam and pepper

Camouflaging spoiled wine in amphoras
Now lining the Mediterranean?

Thousands and thousands of shards deliver
an inadvertent memoir of an empire's fall--

Bones from a million rebels
Become my history whenever I exhale Poetry--


~~~~~~poem copyright of Eileen Tabios~~~~~~~~

Study this poem for Monday's class (I will be bringing in the book for you to have a look), and then be ready to discuss it, as well as to respond both poetically in short essay form, and creatively.

--signed: chris murray, Engl. 4330-001,
Seminar in Writing: Electronic Poetry--