Thursday, July 18, 2019

Velez: Poetry of our times


MARCH 21 was World Poetry Day. March 22 was World Water Day. This month El Niño strikes the country.

Let us read two poems from the late Benjaline Hernandez, Atenean, poet, officer of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.


Saw God in

a hallway

and he was dying.

He told me to raise my fist

so I could continue living.

(written in 2000)

Here’s another poem which I can’t seem to locate from the old Ateneo’s literary folio, so this is a bit of a paraphrase.

The Gods of Life

created water

so that people can live.

But the little gods

placed water in a bottle,

and sold it in the market.

(written circa 1999)

These poems may have been written nearly 20 years ago but it still captures the times we are facing. Our farmers are facing a double whammy of El Niño and zero rice tarriffication, they are hit both high and dry.

Residents in Manila face a fake water crisis to pave the entry of a China-funded Kaliwa dam project that will damn the public to nearly a half-billion peso debt.

We live in a time where words have become weapons by the powers that be that divide us, pierce us and throw us into the dark. Let poetry then be the unifier, the healer, the light that shines on us about our humanity and our capacity to build.

Let the words by the youth like Beng in her prime who questioned authority, and also by the elders who continue to rage on, we have poetry to capture such spirit.


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