My photo
ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I joined Philippine-born poet Maria Luisa A. Igloria today in one of her creative writing exercises: composing poems from a given line written by American poet Dave Bonta in his Morning Porch Blog ( Igloria, a creative writing professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia, USA, thinks this is as good a writing exercise as any specially during these winter doldrums. I agree with her. So, breaking a block, I sat down and wrote what Bonta would later describe as a "musical poem." I am happy with the almost 2-hour limbering.

Bonta's ligne donne (given line) today triggered Igloria's poem which Bonta posted in his Via Negativa blog ( She has been involved in this collaboration since November 20, 2010. At this writing, she has posted as comments of Morning Porch some 28 self-standing, full-bodied poems. Bonta has included them in a series (See of poem-reactions to the meditations posted by Bonta in his blog.

Today's Porch line was:

The wind has scoured the branches clean, but the old concrete dog standing at point in the shelter of the lilac still wears a coat of snow. --- Dave Bonta, Morning Porch

After the creative exercise which I posted as a comment to Bonta's Morning Porch, I obtained his permission to repost it. under a separate title.


Porches have this way of noting counterpoints:
an anomaly of shorn branches, blackened leaves
rotting in snow, a hiatus of spring hinted coyly
by bare bramble bloomed past a promised season
when lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d…
but the old concrete dog standing at point
in the shelter of the lilac still wears a coat of snow,
like all memento mori---still and unmoved
though life and laughter teem around hearths
and homes and hearts that remember:

Rover razzing rabbits out of cabbage patches,
Rover playing catch where twigs snapped
and whipped from wind and whistle were
what passed, when retrieved, as love from
a canine’s best friend, Rover roughing up crayfish
strayed on breakwater boulders in lost beaches,
Rover at the foot of the rocking chair whimpering
when the chair was empty and forever still.
When the wind had scoured the branches clean,
Rover pined and pawed at a stone marker and left.

There is a Canaan after this absence of foliage
and this reign of gloom, as frisky as remembrances
of the dog now sheltered by blackened lilac bushes
still standing at point, an old concrete dog
that wears a coat of snow. There is a covenant
in the whistle of the wind: the leaves will be back
on their twigs soon, and snow will be swept off
this sentry’s back, but memories like fallen lilac
will cover its back before it wears a coat of snow.

---A. B. Casuga
 Mississauga, January 13, 2011

What this exercise involved aside from the staples of poetic language, rhythm, and images are obviously the organization of objective correlatives to the poem's content (images forming a gestalt that cultimates in a subjectified objectification of the poetic experience suggested by the ligne donnee.)

Did the result of cogitation result in the composition of a poem? Is it poetry? These will be subject to another post on an evaluation of the creative effort as an aesthetically valid piece of art.

Twenty-eight poems later, as of today, Igloria has written good poems, good enough to start a collection on "Porch Poems."

In her Literary Blog, A Lizard Meanders, Igloria explains her poetic exercise thus:

A Poem a Day (January 5, 2011)

"... for the last eighteen or so days. Hopefully this trend keeps up, or that I keep up with it. Thanks to my now daily visits to Dave Bonta's The Morning Porch, I've found ways to turn the observations he pens there, into poems. At some point in his own day/s, Dave transfers the poems I've written in the comment stream, to his main blog, Via Negativa. There is now a small collection of 18 poems or so -- The only "rules" I've set up for myself are really quite simple: once a day (no fixed time) I go the site, read the day's observation, go to the comments box, and from there try to write a poem-response immediately arising from those words and whatever images they bring before me. I try above all not to tense up or bring any pre-set expectations. My goal is simply to enter that zone where I can be limber and play: with language, with image, with memory, with sound. Some of the poems begin in observations that might seem to parallel what I find in what Dave's written; but eventually I do not feel bound to do a poetic rendition of nonfiction reportage. The mind will leap as it will, and I've found most delight in trying to follow where it goes, how it changes. For all the changes, it is also a nice thought to realize that in a way (as Dave says in one previous post-comment) it's like we live on the same street. Don't we all? Today, Dave emailed to inform me that a buddhist nun in Korea has linked one of the poems to her site. How cool is that? The street has branches in another part of the world."

I have nothing but admiration for the poetic prowess of Luisa Igloria, and if this "exercise" works for her, it might extend its efficacy to other poets who can beat the "block" anytime with triggers to composition. This has its counterpart in creating poems out of visual stimuli as in "ekphrasis".

As a creative writing department director, Igloria's practises what she preaches. Give her a read in Morning Porch or the Via Negativa series, and like me, you would be green with envy.

DAVE BONTA      Dave Bonta is a poet, editor, and web publisher from the eastern edge of western Pennsylvania. He is co-editor of qarrtsiluni, an online literary magazine, and co-manager of the Festival of the Trees, a monthly blog carnival. He has been publishing his own material on the web since 2003. In 2010, Phoenicia Publishing brought out Odes to Tools, a small book of 25 poems that originally appeared at Via Negativa.

1 comment:

ernie said...

Very... Nicee... Blog.. I really appreciate it... Thanks..:-)