28 September 2007

Mannahatta Mahal: fil-am in NY's poetic tales from 9-11 and beyond

Mannahatta Mahal: poet expat’s latest opus from UP Press

The University of the Philippines Press is proud to release award-winning poet Luis Cabalquinto’s latest book of poetry.

Entitled Mannahatta Mahal: Collected Expatriate Poems, the collection boasts of 77 poems describing New York life as livid, lucid, lively, sometimes lonely, and, more importantly, larger than life—as seen through the poetic lenses of a Filipino living and working in the Big Apple.

A poem entitled “September Eleven” decidedly marks the start of the poet’s latest inner and outer journeys, and eventually goes within and beyond that important event in any New Yorker’s life. Here, we see Cabalquinto zoom in on the details of the streets, the people, the stores, the arts, the surroundings, even the birds and bugs that most take for granted on a busy day or active night. But as he points to these things, he pulls out to reveal meditations, ruminations and spirited thoughts about these observations. While there seems to be a default disconnection associated with life in New York, Cabalquinto is quick to point out its opposite, as he tells us of small pleasures one gets from the seemingly simple or mundane that fuels the fires of the soul, such as experiencing an outdoor classical music concert or quick restaurant meetings with dear old friends one has not seen for the longest time.

As another award-winning poet, UP College of Arts and Letters professor emeritus Gemino Abad, says of the collection, “With Cabalquinto, we enter the very heartland of poetry, its revels and revelations—there, a steady hand on the pulse of language, poise and vibrancy of expression, a clear-eyed venture into the heart’s secret wagers, a maturity of insight touched at times with humor and tenderness.”

Born in Magarao, Camarines Sur on January 31, 1935, Cabalquinto earned his BA in Communication at UP Diliman. He pursued further communication studies in Cornell University at Ithaca, New York under a Fulbright-Hays grant in 1968. It was in Cornell where he immersed himself fully in the world of poetry and fiction writing under the tutelage of notable literary writers. Cabalquinto was encouraged to focus on poetry when small press journals in the US began publishing his work. He also received multiple writing fellowships and awards such as the New York University Academy of American Poets poetry prize and the New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship award in poetry.

Since then, Cabalquinto’s works have appeared in local and international publications such as Caracoa, Philippines Free Press, Philippine Graphic, Manoa, Asiaweek, and American Poetry Review, to name a few. He has been published in the U.S., Australia, Hong Kong, France and even in the Czech Republic.

Mannahatta Mahal adds to Cabalquinto’s already impressive list of books which include The Dog-eater and Other Poems (1989), The Ibalon Collection (1990), Dreamwanderer (1991), Bridgeable Shores (2001) and Moon Over Magarao (2003).

In 2006, Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) awarded Cabalquinto the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas for poetry. According to UMPIL, the award is given to “living Filipino writers who have contributed outstanding works in any language currently used in the Philippines and who have dedicated their lives and talents to the development, propagation and promotion of any Philippine literature.”

Indeed, with Mannahatta Mahal, the UP Press continues to support outstanding works by writers like Cabalquinto in its mandate of championing talented Filipino artists.

Mannahatta Mahal is available at the UP Press Bookstores in UP Diliman, Baguio, Cebu and Davao, Popular Bookstore in Tomas Morato Ave., Quezon City and Solidaridad in Padre Faura St., Manila as well as branches of Powerbooks, National Bookstore and Fully Booked.

In the U.S., UP Press titles are distributed by the University of Hawaii Press and the Philippine Expressions Bookshop. For those in America, please contact these establishments for the availability of this book.

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