29 September 2007

To rain or not to rain on his parade of poetry: UP Press offers Kilates’ Mostly in Monsoon Weather

To rain or not to rain on his parade of poetry: UP Press offers Kilates’ Mostly in Monsoon Weather

Whether in a sun-baked or soggy mood and mode of writing as he himself so describes, poet Marne L. Kilates lets the proverbial pen flow freely to commit poetic word after word to paper (or its electronic and computer counterparts). The result: his latest collection of poems new and revisited entitled Mostly in Monsoon Weather published by the University of the Philippines Press.

The collection is separated into two parts, the first called “In Dry Season Light” (with 25 poems) and the second “Mostly in Monsoon Weather” which is further divided into “Revisitations” (with 13 poems) and “Moon Songs” (with 25 poems). The works were written between 1998 and 2005 from the poet’s own dating of each piece.

A veritable mix of old and new works, Kilates’ poetic terrain—to borrow a term coined by poet Gemino Abad—maps out the inner and outer beings, traces and surfaces of the poet’s persona and his immediate surroundings, interacting whether drenched in rain or scorched by the sun. Widening his artistic reach, these surroundings are not limited to the poet’s current Metro Manila urbanite realities (with poems such as “Sometime Mornings Sestina” and “Saturday Afternoon at the College of Music”). Rather, it hovers and touches the surfaces of other locales (like Palawan in “Honda Bay” and “Snake Island” or Cebu in “Bus Ride from Argao”), expands all the way back to his Bicol roots in Daraga and Legazpi City in Albay (as exemplified in “Kagsawa” and “Legazpi Pier”), his paternal roots in Naga City in Camarines Sur and even extending it to other nations such as Italy (“Not So Alone in Rome”), China (“South of the Clouds”) and Thailand (“Thai Dance”), to name a few.

So what does Kilates want to achieve in this kind of literary mapping? Perhaps a more definitive query of his own inquiry, as he repeatedly asserts that “The monsoon always catches up with me.” But does it, really? “I wanted to remember sunlight, try to make a clearing for it in my memory,” he aspires. The whole collection indeed reflects these attempts of avoiding the rain one time and embracing the rain the next time, or doing both—at the same time.

Mostly in Monsoon Weather is Kilates’ third collection of poetry. His first is Children of the Snarl and Other Poems (1987) and the second is Poems En RouteBangkok, Thailand. (1998). Both collections were cited by the Manila Critics Circle’s National Book Awards in 1988 and 1998, respectively. Aside from receiving numerous Palanca awards, he also received the SEA Write or the Southeast Asian Writers Award established to honor leading poets and writers in the ASEAN region. He received the award in 1998 given in

A well-published poet, Kilates is also known as a translator of Tagalog poetry, authoring books on translations by poets such as Rio Alma (Sonetos Postumos, Dust Devils: A Bilingual Selection of Poems on Youth and Selected Poems of Rio Alma co-authored with Alfredo Navarro Salanga and Mike L. Bigornia), Rogelio G. Mangahas (Gagamba sa Uhay) and Jess Santiago (Gitara) as well as Maguindanao Folktales.

Kilates is currently one of the Board of Directors of Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) and a member of the Center for Bikol Arts Foundation Inc. (CEBIKA).

Mostly in Monsoon Weather 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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