Monday, March 31, 2014

Hay(na)ku after Haiyan


Four months ago, the category 5 super-Typhoon Haiyan (known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines) devastated much of Southeast Asia, particularly the central Philippines.

Poetic responses to the disaster include two books whose profits will be donated to nonprofit and service groups providing relief for the typhoon survivors.

A Philippine anthology of literature and visual imagery, titled Surges: Outpourings in Haiyan/Yolanda's Wake, edited by Rosana B. Golez and Joel P. Garduce, who published it only a month after the typhoon, amazingly.

The cover of the book is a now-famous photograph of a boy carrying a toddler piggyback in the midst of strewn debris of trees and wood left by the typhoon. A fitting symbol of how Filipinos have responded to the plight of the typhoon survivors as a family would, in compassionate solidarity.

You can order Surges on facebook.
                         
An American anthology of poetry by Filipino poets around the world, titled Verses Typhoon Yolanda: A Storm of Filipino Poets, edited by Eileen Tabios and published by Meritage Press in March 2014.

The book's cover is a painted rendering of a satellite image of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in an ominous shade of bilious yellow.

You can order Verses Typhoon Yolanda through lulu.com.
                         
   
Hawak Kamay logo
Another poetic project, Hawak Kamay: Poems for the Philippines, started by Juan Felipe Herrera, poet laureate of California, is the first of its kind: a poetry disaster relief project intended to ease the lives and lot of survivors through the dissemination of poems.

The project — of which I am a part — has so far collected, via facebook, over 100 poems from people across the world pertaining to the typhoon and particularly to the plight of the survivors. A selection of these poems will be distributed through print or other means to the people in the Philippines who were hit hardest by the typhoon.

The Hawak Kamay project is still ongoing. If you would like to contribute poems to the project, you can do so at the Hawak Kamay facebook. I hope you will.

A poem that I wrote for the Hawak Kamay project is intended to be soft and encouraging to typhoon survivors. This poem is serving two purposes, also appearing in Verses Typhoon Yolanda and thus contributing to disaster relief fundraising.

I'm going to share below my poems in these two books, hoping to encourage you to buy them and provide some cash for disaster relief.

Hay(na)ku for the Survivors

Oh
dear friends
who persevere after

Typhoon
Haiyan/Yolanda
passed over you

like
an angry
angel of death—

help
is coming
soon sooner soonest,

rice
clean water
almost there now.

our
hands raised
up toward heaven

beseeching
your deliverance,
your babies safe.

We want you
to know
now

we are here,
we love
you,

we are millions
singing for
you.

— Vince Gotera, from Verses Typhoon Yolanda (2014)

I sent this particular poem to Eileen Tabios, editor of Verses Typhoon Yolanda, because she is the inventor of the hay(na)ku form: a 3-line, 6-word stanza with 1 word in line 1, 2 words in line 2, and 3 words in line 3. Sometimes a poet will use a reversed hay(na)ku — 3 words in line 1, 2 words in line 2, 1 word in line 3 — as I do in the last three stanzas. The form depends on good lineation . . . not just the division of six-word groups into the line pattern, but useful, sense-laden line breaks.

Here is another poem, which I wrote to try and make sense of a heartbreaking story that surfaced from the Philippine disaster. I don't know if the poem succeeds in "making sense" of this personal devastation, but at least I can honor the people who suffered it. The daughter's heroism and the mother's heartbreak are monumental. This poem appears in Surges and thus also contributes to raising funds for disaster relief.

News from Typhoon Yolanda
— a hay(na)ku sonnet
Ma
save yourself
just let go

dying
daughter moans
to her mother

grasping
her wrist
in surging waters

mangled
wood piercing
her broken torso

Ma whispers goodbye
daughter slips away

Based on the Philippine Daily Enquirer 11-11-2013 news story at
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/524723/ma-just-let-go-save-yourself.

— Vince Gotera, from Surges: Outpourings in Haiyan/Yolanda's Wake (2013)

This poem is also in hay(na)ku, but more particularly it is a hay(na)ku sonnet. This is a form I invented, made up of five hay(na)ku where the last one is squished into two lines (combining the 1-word and 2-word lines) in order to get the requisite 14 lines. The form has gotten some online attention recently, in the hay(na)ku "home" blog and in Eileen Tabios's personal Eileen Verbs Books blog.

I hope this inspires you to pick up both Surges and Verses Typhoon Yolanda and help to provide much-needed money for the Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda disaster relief efforts in the Philippines. Poetry can do much more in our lives than we often consider it does. Let's help poetry do good for people and the world.

Would you please leave a comment below? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Look for a blue link below that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line below that starts "Posted by" and click on the word "comments."

Tomorrow starts National Poetry Month. Shall we all meet back here? I hope you will try writing a poem every day in April. Ingat — take care, friends.


2 comments:

Laurie Kolp said...

I enjoyed both of your poems, Vince... but the second one really touched my heart. Thanks for sharing.

Vince Gotera said...

Laurie, thanks so much. It's an amazing and heart-wrenching story, isn't it. Good luck with your poem-a-day April!

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