Monday, June 05, 2006

Good Fiction in a Writing Workshop, An Excerpt from Dr. Cirilo Bautista's column in Panorama published last May 28, 2006. Sir Bau, thank you

IN THE 7th UST Creative Writing Workshop, held last May 2-6 in Manila and Tagaytay, the fictionists had a better grasp of their craft than the poets had of theirs. The poets, who were more in number, failed to reflect in their works the excellence demanded by poetic structure and content.

After all, poetry of any kind is a discourse of naturally pleasing sounds. And achieving this requires mastery of the poetic language. We told the fellows in the Workshop – Roxanne H. Belen, Hazel E. Caasi, NiƱa Catherine P. Calleja, Alexie Renz M. Cruz, Ainne Frances F. dela Cruz, Margaux Dominique R. Dimanlig, Sarah Jean B. Grutas, Irene Lising, Heizel L. Mainar, Tim Nubla, Jonathan Siason, and Chuck Smith – that writing poetry is a life-long commitment, not a one-week child’s play. Considering that the fellows were participating in a national writing workshop for the first time, the panelists – Ophelia A. Dimalanta, Cirilo F. Bautista, Eros Atalia, Nerisa Guevara, Carlos Luz, Victor Torres, Lourd de Veyra, and Michael Coroza – gave small lectures on the discipline and requirements of the poetic craft.

The stories are more satisfying. They reveal the concerns of the young writers for both personal and social materials that alter their consciousness of things and the appropriate sensitivity and craft to validate their arguments. Mainar in Biyahe shows how the humdrum everyday realities seen in a third-class bus stop affect a young woman psychologically. After seeing someone taking a bath in a canal, after bearing the heat and noise inside the bus, after fending off the advances of a sex harasser, and after hearing the sob stories of some passengers, she feels dirty. All she desires is to reach home and take a bath. Mainar’s Ang Mga Bubuwit sa Flytrap is about relationships that have gone sour, and what decisions those involved have to do to get on in life. The author succeeds in conveying the repressed emotion that Karen needs to bring out to exorcise that past and get free of Roel. It is a touching story that needs only minor revisions to achieve more impact.

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