I started writing poetry at age 7. They were the kind of sing song poems that had a set cadence to them that meant each line was approximately the same length and the last words rhymed. I had scribbled down my first poems in pencil in an old diary which was quite the find for me back then. I think that was when I started my love affair with paper. I liked notebooks and journals and I liked to write on them.
There were times when I could churn out one piece after another. And there were times when I would experience a dry spell. Like the last 15 years.
I wrote back when there were no computers to encode them in yet. But I was always diligent about keeping my pieces, published (in the school paper) and not– and through the several trips I’ve taken home, I’ve managed to bring them here. So I have the words of the younger Dinna scribbled in my own hand here.
Words have always been a bestfriend. I am used to giving formal definitions based on how I use and know the word. I guess you can see where the writing comes from. I can say something formally or simply. In law school, I learned how to structure a story so that the retelling of something I had read could be better explained. So all those complicated cases were easily and well-digested into the facts/issue/decision blocks that we had to put them into. Verbally, I could explain it so it would not be as complicated as it was written.
But poetry or prose was a totally different thing. I didn’t want to call them poetry because I didn’t feel they deserved that categorization. I wrote prayers as well, so I had a series of prayers I called “Prayer in Prose.” I wrote scripts for speech choirs, and I wrote songs. I penned our graduation song and corps song in the the Citizens Army Training Corps back in high school, and one of my dreams had always been to join the MetroPop. Never happened — but that was a dream I nurtured in my heart for the longest time.
I would sit and just feel it flow. Back when I was conscious about rhyming, I would think hard to make the lines sound melodic. As I grew older, I became a free spirit in terms of writing and found myself writing more spontaneously than before, not caring so much about rhyming or rhythm itself. It was a different form of release and while I did not write to be published, I found great fulfillment in writing and being able to show emotion in the words I wrote. Even now, when I come across something I had written, I hear a different ‘me’ speaking through those lines. It is a revelation and at the same time a way of reminding myself of who I was and who I am now,
For some reason, the creative juices stopped flowing when I moved to New York 15 years ago. The last poem I wrote I had written just before I left Manila in 2000. Not for lack of trying, but somehow the inspiration never quite hit me. I had enough emotion, both happy and sad, regular and extremes, but the words just didn’t come. Where it would flow like there was a mill in my head just churning out the words, there was just absolute silence.
Until a week ago.
I had this line that kept stabbing at my brain for days on end. I wrote a stanza. It showed promise. Then I sat down and read the lines to me and it didn’t sound good. So I rewrote it from scratch, and in no time, the whole poem was done. As I ended the poem, I found myself amazed that finally, I found the words again.
And it wasn’t a giddy happy poem, or a heart-wrenching piece. It was more “middle-of-the-road” or “off-road” even.
It came out at the start as seemingly a poem with sad notes. And then you get to the middle where you see that there is that realization that there has been so much gained, that even if lost, I would still come out the winner. That from the start of the poem until the end, I was claiming victory — no matter what happened.
I typed up the poem and sent it to four friends. Two who knew my work from way back — friends from high school who both knew the words I had written, because they had, at one time or another, been the subject and recipient of my poetry. A third person who had exchanged poetry with me and who would know what the words I wrote meant. And another, I sent the poem to, because she knew what the lines meant to me as I wrote them in the here and now.
I feel as if I had unlocked the gates which had been barred shut for more than a decade. I haven’t tried writing again although I know that if I did, I would be able to write with more ease. I don’t really consider the poem finished — even though I think it’s more than good enough as it is. It is to me, a new beginning. I am writing again — and I am so floored by that thought. I think of it and utter the words and I can’t help but beam with pride. Something has been set free. My spirit is soaring again.
But I’m not ready to share it with the world. It is more than enough that I have written poetry again. There are feelings that are too private to shout out — even when the stop has been pulled and you feel it all gushing out of you and part of you just wants to share it with the universe. This one needs some working on, and I feel myself enveloped with that trepidation to claim this is worth sharing. “I’m shy,” as a friend often teases me. Ha!
Our brains and our hearts work in very mysterious ways. Like the masters have their artistic blanks — when they just cannot create — sometimes we just lose the words. Then we find them again. I’m just glad to be reacquainting myself with the words that had helped me sing a long, long time ago — be it sad or happy tunes.. It’s just another part or me I welcome back.