ALOYSIUSI LIONEL POLINTAN Reviews
Histories by Charlie Samuya Veric
(Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2015)
APHORISTIC LETTERS OF HOMEWARD MELANCHOLIA
The coconut trees
on the boulevard, those long green figures
must be the envy of trees in autumn,
shedding leaves, brown and rigid,
newly dead, beautiful.
- from "A Singular Catastrophe"
Charlie Samuya Veric’s overtly personal poems place the reader in a realm of literary puzzlement. Verses with the subject of a resounding "I" struggle and pain in places the reader might not know, thus rendering a gap between authorial intent and desirable reading. Notwithstanding this gap created by overflowing emotions longing for substantiation, Histories (AdMU Press, 2015) offers evidence that the poet aware of possible writer-reader relational ambiguities creates poems capable of transcending context and circumstance. The poems found in this collection are not confined as jewels on a crown ever-radiant in a literary coliseum (and this is not his intent, for sure). More than anything else, Veric's verses vivifies (alliteration intended) his nostalgic and appetent tendencies with sincerity and simplicity, thus making his "paper children" aphoristic letters of homeward melancholia.
"Boys and girls in immaculate clothes, carrying wreaths that left a trail of fragrant decay”—this is how Veric introduces his impetus of writing poetry in regards to how he misses his hometown. Until now, as what one would read in the last line of "Lines Composed While Biking to the House of My Grandparents, Long Gone", he recognizes the truth he's "still that boy / looking for love." The 35 poems are by turns the reverberations of his amazement at New Haven's symmetry and surrealism and the repercussions of how homesickness lurks on the wallpaper staring at him while scribbling down a handful of verses dealing with loneliness. The balance between these two hemispheres is not something to care about, for what's important in the middle and end of this reading journey is that one is roused, and eventually moved, to focus on chasing his dreams while acquiring bits of temporal delight.
One clarification at this juncture is the fact that Histories does not totally shelter itself under Veric's personal narratives, as seen in gleams of poems dwelling on the persona's preference to be dispassionate observer endowed with "a distant voice, speaking in a familiar tongue." The authorial self decided to transcend axes and peripheries so he could look at and ponder on the environs of a homesickness-inducing territory. One fine example is the voice in "After Paradise"—a work of alternating histories birthing the possibilities had Adam and Eve adhered to the Creator's command during their stay in the Garden of Eden. The voice ends his soliloquy with: "He must have longed for those days / when the sun shone without end / and the rain fell only when he wanted it." Another example is "Ode to Experience" where "[a] son comforting a mother beside herself, / speaking in a rabid fire of what ifs" reminds a quotidian reader of his childhood experiences with an extended family claiming authority over children approaching puberty, the period of first infatuations, and heartbreaks. This book, needless to say, is more than personal reminiscences and frame stories. This volume of verses endeavors on relevance and humanity being shared in the void of words and in the abundance of silences.
Fragments of a lived life Veric did not insist as one lived immaculately, these poems were brilliantly and beautifully written under one theory. And that theory is personal autonomy, postulating that the poet need not be "written under" in the fertility of acts of contextualization, historicization, and deterritorialization. He has the grasp, a total grip, on how his life will be written. However, how it will be understood by readers vicariously "looking for a missing heart" slips from his hand.
Aloysiusi Lionel Polintan is a Senior High School Coordinator of Divina Pastora College in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija. He loves reading and writing poetry, and everything that ranges from Bob Dylan to Hozier, and from Mahalia Jackson to Christina Aguilera. He is doing research on intangible cultural heritage of Southern Novo Ecijanos. He maintains a blog: /react-text http://renaissanceofanotebook.blogspot.com