Sharks, vicarious experiences and a writing workshop's first exercise...

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» Thailand > Angel > Poetry: Here and Now

Poetry: Here and Now
By Angelica Bautista Viloria
July 12, 2001

Last June 30, I started attending this poetry class at the Ayala Museum, from 9am-12pm. The classes will go on for four Saturdays and these are handled by Prof. Gémino Abad of the University of the Philippines.

There are about 14 participants, 10 females and 4 males. For three hours, we talk about things like meter, free verse, imagery, metaphor, how a poem creates meaning, and other topics which seem to be quite far removed from our daily problems like the depreciating peso and the Abu Sayyaf.

The class is enjoyable despite the numerous readings and hand-outs that we have to go through. There is something quite relaxing about pondering over the written word, about appreciating well-crafted phrases.

As in any class, there are assignments. Our first assignment was to write a poem about someone else's (a co-participant's) secret or high/low point in life. Since this was not our own experience, we would have to imagine the experience first, before we can let that person's voice speak through our poem.

The secret I got went this way: "Learning how to dive. Plunging into the ocean depths 100 feet below. Running into a school of sharks."

I am not a diver, have never attempted to be one, nor do I have any short or long-term plans to start learning how to dive. Still, an assignment is an assignment and what follows is the poem I came up with for this secret:


I plunge into a pool of tears
to escape
from two-legged foes
on land.
They have a nose for blood
and for now,
I smell
like a thousand wet wounds.
Even as they sleep
they move,
move in to tear me up like meat.
Their ploys,
as fine as grainy sand,
smoothen out my pores
and erase my face.
I plunge into a pool of tears
to fly high
and get away
even as I sink.
I run into finned foes at sea,
with teeth less sharp
than those who walk.

Pretty dark, don't you think? That's what a non-diver can do with such an experience. Anyway, I still think I was pretty lucky. Someone had to write a poem about: "I, being as about anything, and being everything, as nothing." I think our co-participant who wrote that was taking Zen and if you had the chance to read or hear the poem which actually went with that, you'd be pleasantly surprised. I was.

So why even take a class about "this slightly irrelevant enterprise of writing poetry" as Prof. Abad would say? Poetry helps us become more aware of our experiences, about what it means to be human. It can help us see things in a different light. Poetry is rooted in the here and now and that is pretty much what we should live with more fervor and enthusiasm.

In our session last week, Prof. Abad stated: "The present is a gift but it can only be opened with imagination." So to everyone reading this, may you realize that each day given you is truly a blessing. Savor life and keep your mind's eye open. Here and now.

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Poetry: Here and Now
(Poem - Dive)

Written July 12, 2001
Copyright © 2001 by Angelica Bautista Viloria of

Angelica Viloria is a Filipina mom, living in the Philippines, who works in a credit rating company, and occasionally posts articles in her family homepage at