National Poetry Month: Guest Post #6, Alegria Imperial . . .

I am proud to post my friend Alegria Imperial’s bilingual work here as my sixth guest poet.  Alegria, who grew up in the Philippines, lives in Vancouver, Canada, where she writes both free verse and Japanese short form poetry that she features on her blog, jornales.   Her distinct poetic voice is diverse and full of texture and lyricism that never fails to inspire me.  Here in her own words, then, is Alegria, as well as three of her poems (haiku, tanka, and free verse):

Why I write poetry?

” . . . Most times, my thoughts skitter in a space that I imagine is paper.  For example, a snowfall isn’t a snowfall for me until snowflakes dance on a blank page and pile up like a bale of tulle for a bridal train.  When I see autumn leaves these turn into bits of rainbows and splinters of old suns.  When I have transformed the images I see or hear or touch into living things on paper, then, only then, do I know the poetry has taken over . . . ”

(excerpt from “Why I Write?,” Maryland Writers’ Association Newsletter, June 2005)

Why I write haiku?

“ . . . haiku has lent me ways to see things simultaneously through the past into the present, as well as from a pinhole as in a bee wading in pollen to the vastness of a punctured moonless summer sky.  I leap from image to thought and feeling simply and exactly losing myself in what a moment presents . . .”

“Transformation by haiku – a commentary on Basho,” Notes from the Gean 3:4, March 2012 pp. 61-62

Why these bilingual (Iluko to English) poems?

“Iluko is one of four major in 87 Philippine dialects, of the northernmost edge of the archipelago. A dialect I was born with but hardly ever spoke as an adult and never written with until three years ago when it awoke in my spirit among members of a yahoo group. While I’m re-learning my tongue like a child, I find in it each time the soul of my expression. The source of my anguish must be its imprisonment in the tangled web of borrowed thought and language. But kneading them together now as in this poem has allowed me bouts of sheer joy. I seem to be writing through this ‘duality’ since and my anguish has lessened since.”

–Alegria Imperial

batbato iti                         stones
on the riverbank
sabsabong ti sardam      
dawn flowers

daluyon iti                          billows
tengga’t aldaw                  at high tide
ararasaas mo                    your whispers

bulan nga                           setting moon
agpadaya                           in the east
magpakada kadi?            did you say goodbye?

inururot                             pulled strands
a pagay                             of rice grain
tedted ti lulua                   tear drops

dagiti bulbulong               rustle 
nga agtataray                  of leaves
lenned diay laud               sun set

Lynx, XXIV, February 2009

ayuyang-limdo                      a haunt of sadness
diay aripit ballasiw               the dried creek at the crossroad 
ditoy a sumken                      here they recur
sinit a nalidliduan                  those untended flushes
nagtinnag nga anem-em     turned chronic fevers

marurosto manen                  petals in shreds
dagiti rinemmengmo             those bouquets of roses–                
     a rosas
ipinas mo man                        patch if you please
dagiti tid-tidda ti biag           these remnants of life
iti baet dagiti birri                  between fissures

Lynx, XXV: 2,  June 2010

agsapa                                                dawn

by Alegria Imperial

naimayeng                                            startled,
dagiti bituen idi mangngegda            stars fell in the dark
ti as-asug                                              among leaves
dagiti bulong iti sipnget                      pining over lost suns–

narba                                                     loves
dagiti pinatanor ti lawag                   that light birthed
iti danarudor                                        drowned in the roar of the
dagiti agam-ammangaw                   faithless

awan pakpakada                                unbidden
ti yuuli ti lam-ek                                  a freeze crept,
kadagiti di pay nabungon                  swaddling
a kaipasngay                                        the newborn

nagkaribuso                                         leaves whirled
dagiti nayaplag a bulong                   onto a fractured cloud,
bayat ti isasangpet                              stars splattered, blinding
ti ulep a makapurar                            the lost

nagkurno                                              jasmine blossoms
dagiti hasmin                                       curtsied
kas man la agpakpakawan              as if penitent
narurosda                                            shedding their petals

iti ima                                                    in the palm
ti maladaga                                          of the newborn blossoms
nagbukelda a kuentas                        bloomed into a garland
ti agsapa                                               for dawn

Bannawag, the Ilocano vernacular magazine of the Ilocos region in northern Philippines, May 16, 2009

Both versions as featured poems in Newsletter, Spring 2010

(All translations by the author.)

[Sponsored by Couplets–the brainchild of Joanne Merriam of Upper Rubber Boot Books.  I’ll be hosting guest poets here throughout the month.]


About Margaret Dornaus

I’m a writer and a teacher, as well as a haiku-doodler. I live in a beautiful woodland setting, surrounded by native oak forests, that inspires me to record haiku snapshots of luna moths and our resident roadrunner, and even an occasional black bear as it hightails it across the top of my road, my mongrel dog barking at its heels as I watch with wonder. My work as a travel writer has appeared in publications from The Dallas Morning News to the Robb Report. You can find examples of my travel writing–as well as excerpts from a travel memoir I’m working on–at my other WordPress site, Travelin’ On. What more than that do you need to know? Only that I started this blog with an eye toward collaboration. Got a haiku? Send it my way. . . . I’m all about new visions & voices. Best, Margaret
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8 Responses to National Poetry Month: Guest Post #6, Alegria Imperial . . .

  1. sanjuktaa says:

    Ah…my friend Alee! ” a snowfall isn’t a snowfall for me until snowflakes dance on a blank page and pile up like a bale of tulle “…what a beautiful write-up! Loved knowing you a bit more and this lovely sound of your language.Thank you, you indeed do have a distinct voice! And many thanks, Margaret, for bringing us Alegria Imperial!

  2. alee9 says:

    Oh, Margaret, now that I read of me on this your page, I feel overwhelmed yet humbled! I’m at a loss for more words. Mil de mil gracias, mi hermana de mi alma.

  3. alee9 says:

    Dear friend, Sanjukta, what precious words from you!!! Thank you! Were I not soaring with them right now, I could perhaps say more! Thanks again.

  4. Claire says:

    Alee, I agree with Sanjukta about the write-up! You are such an inspiring poet and it’s a pleasure to know you in the haiku community — especially as an ongoing friend in NaHaiWriMo — you are one of the most generous-hearted poets I know.

  5. alee9 says:

    Oh, Claire, what precious words from you!!! My pleasure in knowing must be certainly greater than yours. I’m totally amazed by your poetry and what luck that I get to read a new one everyday at NaHaiWriMo! Thank you for noting how ‘un-lidded’ my enthusiasm at the site simply pours over; it’s for me an exhilarating moment when I begin scrolling to read, something I liken to walking on a shore studded with stones and shell shards, each with a lovely story to tell. Thanks again so much!

    And I have to keep on heaping ‘gracias’ on you, mi hermana! I’ve shared this link with family, friends as far back in elementary and high school, and those I’ve once worked with, who have no idea what I’ve been writing since! Imagine their surprise! Mil gracias mil veces!!!

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