Love and Misadventure by Lang Leav: A Book Review

loveandmisadventureI do love reading  poems, but  I am not a certified poet; nevertheless, I can write one whenever I get down, or have an epiphany or sudden insights into something.

Writing poems is an art. It is an emotional   way of human expression, but some  poems are obvious while some  are latent. So, the good benefits it can give to us is   emotional catharsis; it is a good way for us to relieve  stress.

Love is the common theme of poems which are  apparent in works of  some famous poets such Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy- you name it.

This is Lang Leav’s book debut  – a collection of poems which all deal with the stages of LOVE:  Misadventure, Circus of Love, and  Love based on her personal experience.

However,  most of the readers on Goodreads  at the very least  have given it a thumbs down; they did not care about giving it 1 star which means I did not like it as the rating system on Goodreads. Unclear  about their reasons, but I surmise that , since I gave it a try, maybe  the problem about  her poems is that they are  superficial as in shallow, as if even an elementary student can write such poems. ( I am sorry to put it.)  Her prose is not as creative enough to move or inspire  a down-to-earth reader who may have never been head over  heels in love as other famous poets’.  Most of her poems are short  , just nothing; you might not feel nor imagine anything. In fact, you might end up finding them childish  or puerile which  can add to the fuel of your disappointment since the author herself is an adult. Nevertheless, there are a few  long and remarkable though. By the same token, her book is too feminist, fit for young   female readers, notably she has some cute  and fairy-like illustrations of a “kikay” (chick).

On the contrary, I came to the realization that reading poems in any forms or structures  are not that easily comprehensible at all; we all have different perspectives. In other words, there are many beholders in the world. We may not be sure of how we understand the poems we read as they are unless they are all crystal-clear in their words. Bear in mind that   poems  could be enigmatic or  euphemistic.

Thus, what is the advice to us readers whenever we read something beyond our understanding? Read between the lines. This superannuated  cliche is  absolutely  applicable to  us readers whenever we do not get at what an author tries to drive at, notably to reading poems just the likes of Leav’s. Read between the lines. You may not get at the fact that what Leav intends to express in  her poems are all about LOVES. Read between the lines. Admit it, although the prose of the short poems   is simple, but you still couldn’t get  the meanings behind them. If so, re-read and ponder over them.  Read between the lines. Not all poems should be par excellence. Some famous poets  do likewise. Try to read the poems  by E. E. Cummings. You might cringe at them too, but still  they are widely-read.

In the end, I want to be subjective for  giving it 1 star. Let me be in your conspiracy, fellas!  Simply because her poems are not my cups of tea; I prefer  love  poems that  could make me do a somersault  like Danton Remoto’s and J. Neil C. Garcia’s erotic poems. (laughs) Don’t be green-minded, buddy! ^_^   How about Marcelo Santos III’s a la poetic quotes or the beloved Senator Miriam Defensor  Santiago’s cracking pick-up lines?  In foreign poems, aside from E.E. Cummings’s I have mentioned above, how about Thomas Hardy’s, Emily Bronte’s, and Emily Dickinson’s compelling poems? Their poems are “hugot na hugot”.

Maybe I’ve been borne upon the  literary  standards of poem or upon the award-winning poems I have been taught since elementary.  Uh-oh, enough said! Any genres  can be praiseworthy. ^__^

Rating: 1/ 5 stars ( I did not like it.)

Bulosan: An Introduction With Selections by Carlos Bulosan: A Book Review

IMG_20130110_034754Carlos Bulosan caught my interest when I found out  his autobiography, America is in the Heart, in a National Book Store branch. This  book won the National Book Award in the Philippines. It was deserving of the award because  it is a novel  that the Philippines should treasure until the next generations. It is the epitome of the revolutionary books that  made a big difference in society such as Richard Wright’s Native Son, To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by  Harriet Beecher. It is pregnant with heart-breaking stories  to which you might relate starting from his early childhood  until how  he managed to survive  in America. Besides, Bulosan’s writing skills  especially in  such a novel is an example of the cliché a diamond  in the rough that you would make yourself stare into the space and  finally ask how he did it ! He had never been educated before he went to America at his early teens. He was the archetype of a person who had changed  a great deal out of self-discipline and dogged determination , his willingness to transform himself into someone new. He could not have done it without his bitter, heart-breaking, abominable, gruesome , and miserable life in the USA as an immigrant who had   also dreamed of American life. Thereafter, in awe, with my jaws dropped as though I had wanted to do a somersault , bursting with excitement that I was eager to share it with my acquaintances ( but alas, most of my friends  do not have the same batty interest except my friends on Goodreads.), I said in a whisper that I would doubtless  rate it 5 out of 5 stars. 5 stars is equivalent to 100 %. In adjectives,  amazing, excellent, superb,  and impressive.

Automatically, I included his other works on my list that I would love to read more. Fortunately, I got the chance to buy  it  at  a reduced price ( 10 pesos ) when the National Book Store near my house was selling some local books on sale . In the end, it did not let me down. In fact, after reading in this book his some short stories, poems, essays, and correspondence, I  admire Mr. Bulosan more- he was an exceptional  writer.  I wish he had been brought into the world later than in the 1950’s; he could be paralleled with  the apogees  of the contemporary writers such as F. Sionil Jose , Nick Joaquin, Bienvenido Lumbera, Virgilio Almario, et al. Then, I would be a Bulosonian. (laughs)

E. San Juan, Jr. , the director of the Philippines Cultural Studies Center, compiled the selections of Bulosan’s  stories, poems, essays, and correspondence. He may be an avid Bulosonian too. ^^

Most of Bulosan’s selections are the reflections on his pent-up anger and frustration for the hellish life not only did he lead   but also among his countrymen in the Philippines and abroad notably in the USA under the American colonialism. In his some short stories , the themes have something to do with how to make life better in America. In Be American, for example, Consorcio , uneducated , made a lot of effort to achieve his aspirations by working his butt off  at any cost. He even desired  to educate himself. Likewise, in The Romance of Magno Rubio, Magno , the protagonist , symbolizes himself as how he is enamored of  his white correspondent believing that she loves him and  no sooner will marry him than he gives her all things she needs . However, in the long run, both the main protagonists would realize that to be an “ Americano” as Consorcio put  it is a matter of ‘survival of the fittest’. In fact,  in The Times of Our Lives  paints the portrait of  how  the Filipino community  was  not united  in protecting their labor rights.  Some were  practical considering that they were intellectuals and  influential. ( This part could have been a lampoon at that time. ) In this case , there was an instance that a hard-up Filipino would be at the end of his tether  just the like of Cesar Terso in The Thief . In order to finish his medical studies, he stole money ; then, paid  it back by helping the destitute Filipino when he became rich , but he was suspicious of being into  illegal business  .

Bulosan also expressed in his As Long as the Grass Shall Grow  his desires to be educated  so that he could get ahead of life . Just the same, Filipinos were subject to discrimination, as a matter of course. In Homecoming, on the other hand, the last part among the short stories, is bizarre but heart-breaking. Bulosan expressed how his brother Marciano was so hapless to meet his family back from America after many years that he could not bear with the effect of his downright failure. Gee!

Among the short stories, I won’t forget about the letter his brother  had sent to his father which he kept many years  because  no one in their family then was not able to read nor understand English.

While reading all the short stories, the only voice  I could feel was Bulosan’s . I believe that he projected all the pains he had harbored on those characters, much more on the tones of the sentences.

Bulosan’s poems and essays  are also impressive .Every line  is peppered with anger, pity, hunger, pains, fear, desire- and hopes, love, determination.

His correspondence motivated me to continue my habit before: to write  a diary again. I have got an idea of what writing styles I should do. ( I hope so. I wish I had 48 hours a day. )

If you want to read it, I recommend that you first read his America is in the Heart. Eventually, you will understand why most of Bulosan’s stories, poems, and essays are so heart-rending that you might end up finding him a bad-ass  “ socialist” and “ idealist”. Bulosan went through a life paralleled with the life of  people living in a hell-hole slum such as the modernly filthy scenes in Baseco, Tondo , in Payatas or as the  ones you see in some poor places  in India, especially the life as an immigrant in America where at that time Filipinos were almost treated like Black Americans. On this account, in the end, Bulosan was like a dormant Krakatau volcano on the brink of exterminating the face of America and its adjacent ally, the Philippines,  by  letting the  lava of his literary pieces  wreak havoc on their fields of  consciousness. And somehow they did.

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It’s amazing.)

My Desire to Hear

My Desire to Hear

If  I had the ears, I could hear the world,

the chirps of the birds at the breaking dawn;

the crows of the roosters ,waking me and the rest of the world ;

the  light  rustle of the brooms , gathering the dregs of humanity;

the  heavy  steps of the students , on the go  to school;

the  deafening nags  of the mothers ,to preach a morning homily;

the  chugs of the motorcycles, driving past ostentatiously.

If everything  blended   together;

then , my world  would be more productive.

Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore : A Book Review

Tagore

This is about devotion to God. It could be a perfect inspirational book for religious people who believe in their callings. On the contrary, atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins might adduce that there was no divine intervention in writing these songs ; it was a matter of Tagore’s motivation brought about by his past experiences.

I only learned from high school social studies that Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. But I never attempted to read his works which made him win one of the prestigious literary prizes in the world as long as the heart of the western writers. I was just aware of the fact that I would take a look at his pictures in awe, for he has this Jesus-like aura. For me then, I had just an impression that he was such an enlightened literary figure. As a matter of fact,he took my fancy more when I had a nun student who recommended this book since it is her most favorite book. After getting around to it, I have come to understand why she, I guess even other religious people, likes this book.

Gitanjali means song offerings. Tagore wanted to show his strong devotion to God by singing Him beautiful songs he drew from the deepest part of his heart. No wonder the sentences are so beautifully mesmerizing. Each line can penetrate through your heart as well as might have a profound impact upon people , astray from their religious faith.

If you are the same with Tagore, you would opine that the God to whom Tagore is devoted is the same God you are devoted to. But if you are an avowed atheist, you could say that the God to whom Tagore is devoted could be in a pantheistic form, for the contents of Tagore’s songs have something to do with all the natural environment. Therefore, offering songs do not directly and clearly refer to whoever or whatever God Tagore may have believed in. No doubt these song offerings could be subject to hermeneutic principle.

I may be wrong since I have not read Tagore’s autobiographies nor his other works yet. Nevertheless, I was impressed by the fact that Tagore’s writing styles are the product of a deep, deep impression.

Rating: 3/ 5 stars