Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I haven't the vaguest idea

"Interviewers and students of literature like to ask poets to reveal the secrets of their trade, as if they were famous chefs on television cooking shows eager to share their recipes, and say something like: Buy an Oxford English Dictionary, featuring 600,000 words and 3 million quotations at a reputable bookstore. Have your butcher trim a 4-5 pound roast from its pages and place it in a roasting pan, etc… And are disappointed and visibly annoyed when informed by the poet that he hasn’t the vaguest idea how or why his poems were written." - Charles Simic in "Short Days and Long Nights,"

It was a choice between a banana and a fried bangus with some rice this breakfast. But I espied a can of 555 sardines, spicy and hot, and decided to pound a few pieces of garlic that I later fried in virgin coconut oil. After I poured the whole simmering red glob into a bowl, I squeezed two pieces of calamansi over it.

I relished everything as though it were again a last meal and thought of the manuscript I had to mend, the students' compositions I had to check.

The world is constructed that way. It is equipped to interrupt at certain times one's inner equilibrium with its demands on one's time. But I heed the world's voice because how am I to pay my share of the bills, how am I to keep myself in the style I am accustomed to (hearty ha ha ha there)?

I haven't the vaguest idea why I do this. It's enough that I still haven't run out of something to fill the box of a blog, and the blankness of a page doesn't intimidate me as much anymore. Maybe because I'm heeding Julia Child, too, who I love as a writer and character (I draw the line on signing up for French cooking lessons though).

Let me just say there's joy in doing this although Mr. Simic may not exactly agree to my typing out words while a Korean lyric soprano sings a heart-rending "Once Upon a Dream" from Jekyll and Hyde.

This blog is brought to you by Charles Simic, Julia Child and Sumi Jo in that happiness-is-a-Wednesday-with-some-music order.

In the same essay I quoted earlier, Sumic wrote: "I’m always scribbling something in secret. Once my wife caught me chewing the end of my pencil and said to me: 'I hope you’re not writing more of that boring doggerel you call poetry?' 'No, sweetie,' I replied, 'I’m just balancing our check book and getting ready to write you a little love note after that.'" Photo©Richard Drew

Here's how I visualize operatic and crossover superstar Sumi Jo flying down to Manila next week for her Feb. 1 concert at Samsung Hall, SM Aura Premiere.
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