ARTISTIC STATEMENT What makes a poem work for me? What do I look for in a poem?
Emeniano Acain Somoza, Jr. One would think that growing up in a tropical third world country such as Philippines did not have to involve the cultivation, or honing of one‘s finer sensibilities – survival for the most part they say is physical. Well, yes, it‘s part of the reason why my dalliance with literature bloomed rather late, with poetry coming in way much later than fiction. Like most of my playmates‘ parents, mine also did not send me to school to memorize sonnets, or haikus, or tirza rimas at the end of the day, but to learn a skill – either farming or fishing – that would help alleviate the family‘s living condition. Looking back, however, I think I was always this attuned to the beautiful music created by a symphony of words early on. This despite my teachers‘ unanimous reminder to give extra special attention to this seeming handicap in math and numbers. Which means that if one were to rummage through my recycled school bag (at the time the vogue was a striped net bag commonly used for groceries) one would most likely find, other than notebooks and pens, either of the two childhood treasures – an old newsprint dictionary, or a disintegrating pocketsize catechist calendar with copy of Desiderata. Sorry, teach, no mathematical flash-cards. So regarding what makes a poem work for me and what is it that I look for in a poem – I only have two criteria – (1) with fiction being my first literary passion, does the poem have a clear storyline?; and, (2) as homage to those who paved the way for us and to my first favorite poem ever, can the poem‟s logical and metaphysical bearings stand ground against „Desiderata‟, and in particular the following lines –