Yolanda and poetry

/ 10:43 AM November 24, 2013

At the height of the massive relief work for victims of Yolanda by various sectors, we took time out to relaunch Charmaine “Shane” Carreon’s “Travelbook” a book of poems on November 16 at the Handuraw in Lahug. Shane is a faculty of the Humanities Cluster of UP Cebu. “Travelbook” was her thesis for a Master’s degree in Creative Writing in UP Diliman and the UP Press published it. It was first launched in UP Diliman months before and I broached the relaunching of the book here in Cebu for a wider circulation. The Women in Literary Arts (WILA), in which Shane is a member, offered to organize the relaunching.

Haidee Palapar, WILA president, made a beautiful introduction to Shane’s book… “In the second part of the book, “Notes on This Travel,” Shane admits that the poems in the collection were shaped by her experiences as a woman-loving woman. One of the things that fascinated me in Shane’s poems is her ability to amplify details, thus the moment or experience, by using only a few words. What we don’t see at a mere glance in Shane’s poems, and which can only be manifested through reading the poems, is how the silences have replaced the spaces for the words. I refer to them as “disquiet silences”; silences that speak volumes, but without words, and are crucial to the poem and its impact. . . All these can only come from someone who is not a stranger to silence and even enjoys the company of silence, but is not a quiet person: someone who is observant and obsessive, even compulsive, enough to keep (and throw away) particulars of scenes and experiences that would fill the poem and leave the interstices to the silence. That’s the Shane I know of.”


When it was Shane’s turn to talk about her book, she shared with us that she is working on another collection of poems which will be made sooner as she has been rewarded a research grant as a faculty member. With the Yolanda phenomenon, she confessed that she is interested in studying the after cities. She also announced that she wrote two poems on Yolanda, “After City” and “Birth-Day” and she was submitting one for a call on Yolanda poems. She read the two poems during the relaunching. I asked her if I could feature her poems in the column, she graciously agreed. Two days ago she informed me that her poem “After City” has been accepted by the Meritage Press for an anthology entitled Poems in the Time of Yolanda. So, I can only feature one of the two poems Shane wrote on Yolanda.



by Shane Carreon

Here is a travesty

That life goes on for a number.

That celebrations are called

for some other reasons

if one does not care to remember.

In another place, entire towns


and cities are awashed.

Only the memory have names.

Too many bodies are found,

cold and strange. The loved ones

remain missing. Underneath

all the mud and debris where

those who survive must stand

go on living.

Then a few friends and students of Shane took turns to read selected poems from the book. My role as in-charge of the UP Press Bookstore Cebu based in UP Cebu was to sell the books during the relaunching. UP Press sent 30 copies which were all sold out before the end of the program. The book costs PhP 250. We have ordered more copies. I would like to congratulate Shane for very impressive work and working on it fast and getting published in a very short time (her course work up to the thesis writing and publication took only three years), within ten months of waiting from submission. I also thank her for her enthusiasm and eagerness to share her craft with her students and the community. I wish her a more productive literary career!

* * *

Attention, UP alumni based in Cebu! The TATAK UP AWARD 2013 has been moved from Dec. 6, 2013 to January 24, 2014 (the Friday after the Sinulog). The venue will still be decided later because the original venue, the Cebu Cultural Center has been slightly damaged by Yolanda. This means you have more time to submit nominations. For inquiries or submissions of nominations, please contact 0917-3295201 or e-mail to [email protected] You can personally submit your nomination to the UP Press Bookstore Cebu, Rm. 141, AS Lobby, AS Building, UP Cebu, Lahug.

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