HE CAME. He saw. He conquered. The first to fall was Canada. From there, he will bear down on the USA, after which India, then the rest of the world. Ambitious? Not really for eagles soar high. When this poet started publishing his writings, a handful of paranoid grammarians and doctrinaire traditionalists bellowed. Too taken aback were they by the poet’s ultramodern style. They had a hard time classifying his poetry, harder time in understanding it, and much harder time still in tolerating his audacity to defy existing norms.
It’s rather unfortunate that some Pinoy mainstream academics, those who resist out-of-the-box methodologies, do not and will not appreciate Doc PenPen’s innovations and creativity. But not to worry as he has hordes of believers and followers who continue to rev up his poetic engine. Notwithstanding criticisms, his admiring followers relentlessly pursued the publication of his visual poems.
Long story short, on May 4, 2012, Doc PenPen published PENTASI B POETRY (PBP), an anthology of his stunning multi-modal, multi-lingual, multi-dimensional and multi-sensorial poems. The hard-bound book, a work of art in itself, was launched in Richmond, Canada. The historic book launch was made under the auspices of WORLD POETRY CANADA & INTERNATIONAL (WPCI) when the prestigious organization held an international festival of renowned poets.
Ariadne Sawyer, founder of WPCI and People’s Laureate, proclaimed, “Doc PenPen — a visionary, a poet, an artist that reaches the boundaries of the world!” Recognizing and validating his contribution to modern literature, WPCI honored Doc PenPen with “Father of Visual Poetry” award. The awarding ceremony, attended by eminent poets from all over the world, was held on May 25, 2012 at Richmond Cultural Center. Hon. Vice-Consul Melanie Balisi Diano of Philippine Consulate-Canada graced the occasion.
Preceding this event was a tribute given by WRITERS INTERNATIONAL NETWORK CANADA SOCIETY (WINS) headed by Ashok Bhargava, a multi-awarded poet, World Poetry Ambassador to India, Nepal and Japan and World Poetry Lifetime Achievement Awardee. WINS is a global network designed to dis¬cover, nourish, recognize, cele¬brate, promote writers and assist them to connect with other writers.
Mr. Bhargava underscored, ‘’A prodigy, an achiever… a multi-talented genius … a doctor, a film ma-
ker, a poet and a writer. He is a bright new star of the exciting world of literature. A great pride of his country, the Philippines!’’ The tribute, held on May 16, 2012 at Vancouver, Canada, cited Doc PenPen with “Visionary Poet” award.
Topping off the Pinoy poet’s feat in Canada was his book’s entry to the University of British Columbia (UBC). On July 6, 2012, Vivienne Lee, Development Officer of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, UBC, officially received the book. Ms. Sawyer announced that the book would be prominently exhibited at the UBC during the April 2013 month-long event that would feature a conference, displays of poetry, books and other literary stuffs.
The best is yet to come. An illustrious American university, arguably the best in the world, will soon add PBP in its library. Imagine a Pinoy poet’s book lying alongside the world’s best!
Already, the book has found its way to the NATIONAL LIBRARY of the PHILIPPINES (NLP). Jennifer Dimasaca of NLP stated, “…the NLP finds itself as the proud custodian of 3 volumes of his as yet unreleased work which is at the forefront of modern art”.
From Canada, Doc PenPen flew to Glendale, California where Manny Calpito and Marvin Mangabat, Founder and President respec¬tively of OPERATION TULONG USA FOUNDATION INC. (OTUSA) reiterated its earlier proclamation of Doc PenPen as the “Father of Philippine Visual Poetry”. The occasion afforded USA-based Filipinos the chance to be part of the momentous occasion.
OTUSA auctioned its copy of the book. Businesswoman Shirley Goodwin, representing M GLOBAL SOLUTIONS, bought it for a cool USD10,000.00. Grateful, Doc PenPen donated the sale to OTUSA whose advocacy includes fostering education of the poor but talented students in the Philippines.
Convinced that PBP is a truly Pinoy magnum opus, Marvin Mangabat, a highly successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, committed to promote the book in the USA. Mr. Mangabat announced, “…I am proud to show this to Oprah and Bill Gates and the whole world”.
Jose Alejandrino, a distinguished Pinoy author, wrote, “Philosophical, experimental, visual—call it what you want—but Penpen’s style of poetry is original and it’s originality that makes a great poet. If Dr. Jose Rizal was alive today and read Penpen’s poems, I think he would have been very proud of him in the same way that Filipinos should be to have a poet of Penpen’s caliber…”
From Manny Calpito, Hall of Famer, Pinoy inventor, educator and social worker: “We are in the 4th dimension but his poems are in the 5th dimension… it contains original concepts and deeply explored universal truths than any other visual poems I have read and researched…”
One gloomy night, feeling abandoned, unloved and ill-fated, Mike, a US International Exchange Student, decided to throw in the towel. Ensuring that the preparation was in place, he thought of surfing the net for the last time. His fingers brought him to Doc Penpen’s site. There, he came across a poem, entitled “the hard truth”, that made him change his mind.
Mike confessed, “…because of always being rejected, I wanted to set myself free…but when I read this poem… I think my life now has meaning. I don’t need to commit suicide…” A young man’s life was saved. Can there be a greater accomplishment?
Most of Doc PenPen’s visual poems are challenging, if not difficult, to read. That’s not by design, but the result of his interpretations of the human psyche upon which he bases his conclusions, passions and philosophies. Consequently, the creep factor, a main feature in most poems, jolts the reader. He disturbs. He provokes. He awakens. He ignites the mind, caresses the heart and pacifies the spirit. That defines the style of Doc PenPen.
The compositions disregard theoretical approaches to poetry. Some poems are the images; some images are the poems. Words were used to paint pictures, and pictures wrote words. Words and pictures do not repel each other; they embrace in a poetic rapport. If this is not creativity, nothing is. Be that as it may, the poet shows that structure is not more important than the message, and that the former must not negate the latter. The poet proves that structure can complement and complete the message.
The blank spaces, marks and images, as enigmatic as they are, grab the reader’s attention, and, yes, his entire being. The reader will find himself staring at the pages, trying to demystify their contents. By reading and re-reading the poems, one can navigate his way through. By interlocking words with visuals, visuals with patterns and patterns with intent, the poems’ messages emerge.
Unlike most poets who write about states of affairs, conditions and experiences, the doctor-poet chooses to intellectualize them, appending his philosophies and advocacies, and applying heart-soul-and mind-searching in the process.
Obviously, PENTASI B POETRY is more than modern. It is futuristic. In this zone, Doc PenPen has found his roar. This roar that has begun to reverberate is bound to boom in the literary circles around the world.
OUTAKES: Pentasi B Conquers Canada
By Jobb S. Gosamo