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.”
batbato iti stones
kapanagan 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–
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
by Alegria Imperial
dagiti bituen idi mangngegda stars fell in the dark
ti as-asug among leaves
dagiti bulong iti sipnget pining over lost suns–
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 winningwriters.com 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.]
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!
It’s my pleasure, Sanjukta!
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.
No, thank you, hermana . . .
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.
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.
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!!!
So glad you’re able to share your work this way, hermana. And, thank you, again for your generous spirit.