Monday, July 15, 2024

WOMANHOOD, BEYOND PROSE

by Yuan Ceagor K. Raquel | October 12, 2022

          What does it take to write a book? What does it mean to write so passionately about a wonted thought – a depreciated cause – a story seemingly savvied only by storytellers, and to be brave enough to share it to a world that could not be more preoccupied and indifferent? Why write a book? Why write?

           In a world of tumult and obscured injustice, we need people who can clarify our negligence. In a society founded on urban pace and progress, we need people who do not live by their disposable nature. In a life as fleeting and arbitrary as ours, we need people who find purpose in helping others find theirs. Angela Gabrielle Fabunan is one such person. A recipient of numerous literary accolades and fellowships, she is also a published author and educator at Silliman University’s Department of English and Literature. Her latest book, “Young Enough to Play” was officially launched at the Romeo P. Ariniego Art Gallery last Sept. 30. It was met with great enthusiasm by the faculty members, students, art lovers, and friends in attendance.

A Story to Tell

           In an interview with the Weekly Sillimanian, Miss Angela stated that she was not originally as keen on writing the book as she ended up being. She began writing the book when she was pursuing her master’s program in Creative Writing at UP Diliman. She wanted to write a book that showcased the experience of women, especially the experience of female poets. When asked about the parallels between her published works, and of the relative liberties taken by her latest book, she replied: “My first book, “The Sea That Beckoned” was about the Filipino-American experience. I wanted this second book, Young Enough to Play, to encapsulate the Filipina experience.

           Her second book is a set of lyrical love poems told through the eyes of a young girl, then a young adult, and then a full-fledged adult. The poems are contrasted to the coming-of-age experiences of the speaker. They talk about the speaker’s relationship with other women, to the you persona, and to the time period of the present day. Its central, unifying themes include intellectual discourse, adolescence, and mental, rather than physical imagery; of the real, rather than the imagined.

           On the subject of prospective readers, she mused: “I have heard it said of my work that it is primarily targeted towards female readers. Indeed, the book is dedicated to all women writers. However, I do believe I write for those who are interested in poetry, no matter what genders, especially those interested in Formalism.” She hopes the book can influence the way the reader looks at their imagined lives, rather than their “real” or physical lives, and can serve to validate that imagination.

Reflections

           Miss Angela’s writing process was as much an exercise in catharsis as it was a display of her technical abilities. According to Miss Angela, when people write poetry about their traumas, or about what people cannot speak of in public, there is a certain way of reading it that takes the poet back to that same trauma. In writing the book, she felt the most intimate sharing of her life to the page, and for a long time, the page was her only listener. She relived the trauma almost every day while she was editing the proofs of the book. And when the book was published, she felt not as if a weight had been lifted off, but almost afraid that her readers would live through her traumas as well. She admitted that the greatest challenge of the book was leaving the stage where she was at psychic distance from what she was writing about.

           She said that poems can be instrumental to understanding our failings and addressing our follies. Sometimes, artists can only do so much as leave their work in other people’s hands without explanation. She has certainly learned that her books can be theirs as much as hers. She consciously writes with her audience in mind, but also understands that some people will not be able to relate to her work as readily as others.

A Final Word

          When asked why students ought to actively engage and appreciate literature, Miss Angela responded: “[Because] it changes the way you think about the world, about society, and about others. It gives you the tools to critique yourself and others, when there is an injustice you feel within you and around you. Engagement and critique are the tools of the student’s trade, and doing so with literary works can go beyond the classroom.”

          As students, our view of literature, and more broadly, of art, should not always be self-serving. Every injustice, every meaningful advocacy only awaits to be read and heeded – to be made to change lives, to change society, to change the world.

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