The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Responding with Dignity to Poorly Expressed Criticisms


While skimming my eLf ideas blogspot for some old pictures of mine that I have posted there years ago, I stumbled upon a comment posted by a netizen expressed in a not-so-positive way.

It was in 2005. It just shows that there were already detractors as early as that time. And, as usual, I responded responsibly.

Here's the comment: has a message for you about your article "A Poet to His Firstborn."

Hi there!
Its my first time to visit the website of isnare. your poetry caught my attention. I dont want tobe rude, i just thought i'd give you an unsolicited advice. your poem A Poet to His Firstborn, is not a poem. its pure prose and full of cliche's. pls be guided on your poetry basics. better yet stick on essays. I like your essays more than your poems. a friendly comment from a Palanca winner. Good day. I hope to keep in touch."

Here's my reply:

First, I am quoting from a personal letter sent to me by my best-friend Rain Paggao:

"...a writer, as a true child of knowledge, must entertain and care for impressions good or bad, not only for a counterattack (I love a warrior pen!), but also—this more than anything else—for his refinements."

Now, here's my personal response:

When do we consider a poem not a poem? When do we dismiss it as pure prose?

Answering these questions is indeed a feat, for since the advent of free verse the line dividing poetry and prose has become thin and blurry. And even though a number of formalist poets had expressed their disdain for the form—including Robert Frost (1874–1963), who said that writing free verse was like "playing tennis without a net"—there were those who became as highly regarded for embracing free verse—poets like Walt Whitman (1819–1892) and Gustave Kahn (1859–1936).

Carl Sandburg (1878–1967), a known free-verse poet, thus began his "Languages":

There are no handles upon a language
Whereby men take hold of it
And mark it with signs for its remembrance.
It is a river, this language,
Once in a thousand years
Breaking a new course
Changing its way to the ocean.

Here's the poem in question that I wrote:

A Poet to His Firstborn
Finally I found the lady
Who would be your mother and fairy 
Lucky you for 
She is all whom I could ever wish for 

Your mother and I 
Have been friends first before 
We began to love each other 
Or should I say, 
In our hearts we have been loving each other 
Long before we decided to be together 

You may have come late in your parents' lives 
But that's the very reason you are special 
Not only to us but also to all the people 
Who care about us 

I promise you that 
Whatever happens 
We will give you everything 
You will ever need 
I'm sure too 
That your mother will love you 
As much as she loves me and as I love you 

Just promise me two things: 

As you grow up 
Love to learn, read, and write— 
For this is the key to 
Understanding the world and 
Accepting thy neighbors for what and who they are 

And most importantly 
Love and respect your mother and your siblings
As much as I respect and love them 


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