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(By Tita L. Ayala)
There are so many art workshops in the regions today. The art workshops are okay - especially as they are usually rigged up in summer to occupy the vacation hours of restless young children and young adults. A channeling of energy towards creativity, imagination and energy funneled to the production of images on paper, cloth with color, shapes, forms. Most art workshops hold exhibits of the student works on an on-campus or commercial basis.
What happens to the writing workshops? Do they put out collections afterwards so others may read them, so the workshoppers will see what they have done, remember how these were done, and carry over what they have learned into their own workaday businesses? Or do all the lessons learned on sequencing, tensioning of lines, editing, and proper use of words and language get lost to the winds, or relegated to just one more party or social experience.
Look at all the expense organizers of workshops go through-venue, resource persons and panelists brought all the way from their places of work from two days to a week, in the case of Silliman workshops two weeks, free transport and accommodations for workshoppers, daily stipend.
Today's writers are rally pensionados compared to how it was in the Fifties - where the only writing course was a subject on short stories, the requirement to pass it being two short critical essays or one short story. There were no creative writing courses, no poetry workshops, nothing curricular, nothing non-curricular either.
Poetry sessions came into being initiated by the main USIS library at Ermita (none at the first Escolta location).
Davao started its own poetry readings at book launchings of Road Map issues in the Eighties.
Now the NCCA is trying to institutionalize it - now, in the age of computers and high tech where oral literature has been assimilated by the movies, as it has assimilated the stage and improved on it with close-ups.
Perhaps cable TV should try to get poets to read their own works - Maya Angelou, Adrienne Rich, etc. And we Filipino, one of the best mimics, would be encouraged to follow suit more ardently than our own half-hearted efforts.
It would help to have some nice background music. Some Bach or Handed, flute or guitar, just to provide additional texture. Or an Enya and some New Age pieces instrumental in nature. Or just some soft drums to accent the beat and bring to the fore the internal rhythms of the verses.
I do think the reading of poetry needs a ritual, a preparatory ambiance for it to be well received and accepted into the hearer's inner ear and consciousness.
*From Birds and Bees, Ayala's column in Minda News (23 May 2002).