21 December 2008

Manila Times column for 20 Dec 2008 "Writer's night, unholy night"

original post here.

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
Writer’s night, unholy night

Writer’s Night is one night of the year when literary writers get together and have an excuse to party. This year, it was on December 5 at the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) in UP Diliman.

People have the impression that Writer’s Night—because it is organized by the UP-based Institute of Creative Writing (ICW)—is only for UP writers (UP graduates, UP-based writers or participants of the UP Writers Workshops). While the event aims to gather fellows of previous UP workshops, it is open to all writers of the country at whatever stage of their writing life/career.

This year, we saw a different Writer’s Night celebration as it started during the day, thus it was billed as “Writer’s Day and Night,” with activities beginning during the daytime that segued into the nighttime revelry. There was a lecture by poet Dr. Gemino “Jimmy” Abad, the awarding of the 8th Madrigal-Gonzalez Best First Book Award given to first-time published authors (Zosimo Quibilan Jr.’s collection of short stories Pagluwas bagged the prize), and the launch of the second issue of ICW’s Likhaan Journal. The Writer’s Night proper featured a program of literary and musical performances while the crowd availed of book sales, barbecued food and drinks for sale in the premises.

Writer’s Night is indeed a happy excuse for us writers to hold mini-reunions of our respective workshop batches. But since writers are based all over (the country and the world), not many could attend the gathering. My own Baguio batch of 1997 only had three attendees—UP CAL English Department faculty Butch Guerrero, freelance photographer Marnie Dolera and myself. Still, that didn’t hinder us from having a good time or reminiscing about our workshop antics. The photo exhibit of the workshop batches helped jog our memories. The P60 vodka-juice pitcher also helped.

This year’s revelry was a bit toned (read: tame?) down, for reasons I don’t really know. I’ve been attending Writer’s Night since I became a short story fellow of the 1997 workshops (Baguio and Cebu) and I have seen “wilder” things happen in the previous ones. What I miss, though, is the carnival-type of atmosphere where one can get henna tattoo, avail of mixed drinks, have tarot card readings and such while the program is happening. It was a pity that the rains dampened the Writer’s Night revelry a bit. Still, we had fun.

I hope to see other writers out there next year.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com.

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