Saturday, July 14, 2012

Beyond the “Small Miracle”: A Singapore Poet's Perspective on Literature, Memory, and Imaginative Frontiers

I know now

that the fullness of the heart

is the burden of ourselves
made completely aware
of the world we must live in;
that the soul is just
another word until it learns
to hurt. What I did not know

is how love comes to life;
how glass shatters in the dark
and brings no answers; how
you reach into my world
and show me the shape of things,
the shape of things.

Few lines from the poem “Knowing” by Alvin Pang and we can already say that craft lecture and poetry reading sponsored by The Bienvinido N. Santos Creative Writing Center (BNSCW) is indeed Beyond The “Small Miracle.”

From the poetic invocation of Jessica Clemente to the succinct but very informative and jaw dropping opening remarks and introduction of speaker by Prof. Ana Maria Katigbak-Lacuesta, the BNSCW Associate for Poetry, to the mind enhancing and enchanting lecture and poetry reading of Mr. Alvin Pang, to the lively and very intellectual question and answer session until the heart fulfilling closing remarks of the BNSCWC Director Dr. Shirley O. Lua; the only best thing to utter for everything is that “the best feeling are those that cannot be express by words.”

Like miracles, the tongue is tied for explanations and the mind cannot conceive how few poems can clearly show us the magic of imagination, the madness of memory and the magnificence of literature.

But one can expect to have an explanation on how these poems are perfectly formed. The speaker, Mr. Alvin Pang holds First Class Honours in Literature from the University of York in England and a Fellowship in Writing from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. His first volume, Testing the Silence, was listed as one of the Top Ten Books of 1997 by The Straits Times and City of Rain, his second volume of poetry, was the only Singaporean work listed in The Strait Time’s Top Ten Books of 2003.

Mr. Pang enlightened everyone about literature through his poetry. He perfectly captured the reasons for those things that we thought have no answers.

So what is the best way to end this but through his poems that do not only reach the heart but also feeds an empty soul.

And you tell me there’s nothing to write about, that life
has handed you a blank sheet and you’re just waiting in line
to pay up and get out. You could even be right. Maybe this is
all there is: moving on, moving up, a queue line
of souls waiting for checkout and proceeding to wherever.
-What to Write about in Cold Storage,Circa 2000 AD

We were trapped
In that tyranny of touch. How you
Amplified silence into
Nothingness as your tears fell.
In your eyes the myths have shattered
And you tread on broken glass,
Each word a shard
To burst your bubble heart.
-Reading a Fragment of Poetry

21 September 2011 (Wednesday)
Yuchengco Seminar Rooms 408-409

Photos by I.A.B