Eratosphere (
-   General Talk (
-   -   Not quite translations - Filipino poetry in English (

Philip Quinlan 01-25-2009 04:41 AM

Not quite translations - Filipino poetry in English
Not, perhaps, exactly the right place to put this but I wanted to mention a rather wonderful book I have of Filipino verse in English [sic].

It is called "A Native Clearing". edited by Gemino H. Abad - University of the Philippines Press.

One example of a beautiful poem in the anthology is Landscape II by Carlos A. Angeles, from which I hope I may quote one stanza (for educational purposes) at least without offending copyright:

Sun in the knifed horizon bleeds the sky,
Spilling a peacock stain upon the sands,
Across some murdered rocks refused to die.
It is your absence touches my sad hands
Blinded like flags in the wreck of air.

the rest of it is equally good, if not better, and I guess you could call it a 15 line sonnet.

Written in English it is, nonetheless, a translation of sorts of non-native English sensibility into semi-native English (language and form).

The anthology contains many gems like this and I thoroughly recommend it. Some of it (unsurprisingly I suppose) comes over like some of the better translations of Neruda.

Has anyone come across this or similar?

I would happily share more in private correspondence.


Adam Elgar 02-14-2009 05:20 AM

Interesting that no one has responded to this post, Philip. Are we all non-plussed by the example you selected? (And it does look as though copyright is safe now that we know Google can't pry.)

I doubt that I could read a whole book of such writing. It’s rather over-wrought. True, it doesn't creak like so many translations of modern verse - there's musicality in it which is very welcome, and it reads naturally. The content is a bit of a problem though. I can't make sense of line 3’s syntax at all. And if something has been murdered, it has no choice about whether or not to die. Always assuming that a rock can be murdered in the first place. And “blind” hands? “blind” flags?

It’s always good to learn about new poetry, but I don’t think this is for me, Philip.
Best wishes,

Janice D. Soderling 02-14-2009 11:20 AM

I think it is OK to quote a part of a poem as an example.

But Adam is right, why so little attention to this! My guess is that it is because it is in the wrong place. I am moving it to GT where more folks might drop in. My bad conscience and limited time has kept me out of Translations lately, because this is not a place one can give fly-by comments, you have to really sit down and think.

So hold onto your hat, Philip, we're off for a quick ride.

Philip Quinlan 02-14-2009 11:40 AM

Bless you Janice

A very smooth ride indeed.

I'd quite forgotten this posting.

Actually, if anyone is interested, there are a series of these books (difficult to get now but I found a secondhand bookshop in the Philippines who could get and send them). My friend (agent) has purchased them for me and I expect to have them in a couple of weeks.

They cover different time periods. "A Native Clearing", from which the quoted poem comes, is 50's to the "present day" (as it was in 1993), and the particular poem is from 1954. The author (Carlos A Angeles) is a mystery to me, however, because I can find no trace of him elsewhere from research.

The poem "Landscape II" is not necessarily representative of Angeles' work in the volume. Nor is his work representative of the whole. I quoted that poem because it leapt off the page at me. But there is quite a range of work.

As I say - these are NOT translations. Thes poems were written by Filipino's in English, and I, for one, find the quirkiness of the language one of the most endearing features of them. They also appear to be formalists almost to a man. The idea of Filipino poets resonating with the Shakespearian Sonnet kind of tickles my interest too.

If anyone is interested the companion volumes seem to be:

Man of Earth (1989) 1905 - mid 50s
A Habit of Shores (seductive title I think) (1999) - 60s to 90s

The Editor Gemino Abad has a mench on Wikipedia

Anyone with any info about a) Carlos A Angeles b) Other Filipino poetry in English I would love to hear.

Thanks Janice for moving this and (hopefully) reviving it.


Janice D. Soderling 02-14-2009 11:49 AM

Thanks for the link. I had/have no knowledge of this sphere of poetry at all and am always happy for the opportunity to expand my knowledge.

It's a big world out there.

Michael Cantor 02-14-2009 12:13 PM

I dunno, Phillip - to me that's the kind of slush and gush that elicits slobbering cries of Oh, I really, really love your images from poetry ladies of all ages and genders. Possibly that's why the post didn't get more attention. It is your absence touches my sad hands. C'mon!

If Filipino poetry interests you, check out Luisa Igloria, who lives and teaches in the States, but is very active in the poetry communities in both countries. Here's some recent work of hers in Umbrella Journal - -
and here's the home page of her extensive web site:

Another Filipino poet of note is Jodie Reyes, who was the Hudson Review cover boy in their New Writers issue a few years back, and is involved on an irregular basis with our local Powow River Poets group. Jodie, who has won poetry awards in the Phillipines and here, writes intelligent and often wryly humorous poetry. (Unfortunately, a quick Google didn't reveal much available on the internet.)

Philip Quinlan 02-14-2009 12:50 PM


Reading between the lines I'd say our tastes differ somewhat (to say the least). But that's fine. No need for the full punitive wrath of a vengeful God to be visited...

When all is said and done, all the poetry ever written don't amount to s**t in the great scheme of things.

As I say, not all of his contributions are like that, and, little though there is, it is enough to show he is more than a lovesick schoolboy or an old maid.

Thanks indeed, though, for the links which I will follow up.

I have to go and adjust the lace cloth on the hallstand now...heavens - it's almost time for my poetry group! Where does the time go?

PS - I must correct the wrong impression I gave above that "they are all formalists to a man". It wopuld be more correct to say that the poems are almost all formal in tone, if not structure, and some of the better examples are indeed formal in the fullest sense. And of course they aren't all men

PPS "poetry ladies...of all genders"?

R. S. Gwynn 02-24-2009 09:16 AM

Janet Kenny 02-24-2009 05:21 PM


Originally Posted by R. S. Gwynn (Post 96716)

Great stuff Sam, but why in this thread?
Indian writing in English is (in my humble) the most alive writing in the contemporary English-language world.

R. S. Gwynn 02-24-2009 09:13 PM

Because Desani wrote a briliant kind of hybridized English. Very influential on Rushdie apparently.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:03 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.