May 6, 2012

First Book Review Printed Before I Turn 44

"The Beloved Idiom: A Reading of Villafania's Pinabli & other poems" is officially the first review I've written that saw print. Or, will see print later when the sun rises on the newsstands. I published some online for (I recall reading a poem then appending a translation) and (a Rushdie reading, among others), but I wrote those samples years ago, lifetimes really, for I had no children then and was yet to meet my wife.

There was a reason why I didn't pursue critiquing as a regular writing activity. I wished to keep my students from knowing how I read out of fear that they would parrot my voice or, perhaps worse, gain my eye for the page. How would I grade them then? Flunk them for the insult or deck them with five fat check marks for the flattery?

This was also the reason why I kept this blog down for so long. Someone read what I thought about a certain novel, and she confessed that she had difficulty thinking of a new angle after that. I heard she's teaching now at another university, but I valued her thoughts years before she qualified for that position. It was sad to know I somehow left a stopper somewhere in that mind of hers, and deleting the guilty posts did not help at all.

Maybe I should just accept the whole teaching-as-modeling framework without any reservations. Once, there was a co-teacher who gave me "hawa-hawa lang 'yan!" as some sort of pedagogical principle or battle-cry. Monkey-see monkey-do, yes? Is it not valid? Is it not well-made and of-nature? Is it not the universal way of teaching?

Remind, again, why the surface of this earth teems with the peelings of bananas?