Poetics: Rogene Gonzales

Poetics: Rogene Gonzales

I write because I want to be sane


            It’s that simple to say.

In this world full of absurdities, my conscience dictates that writing is the only right thing left for me to do in order to feel “normal”. At the moment, I am caught up at a point when every year seems to be different; job choices change by the impulse and the monotony of the routine drains happiness out of everything I do.

Perhaps this is how it feels to be in the middle of everything.

I was once told that writing was only for expression, at times where memories were still vague to the luster of politics and economy. What would I be today when I never found that old essay my parents hid inside their cabinet?  Who could I’ve been when I just stuck myself with a retake of integral calculus and inorganic chemistry? These are the questions I always ask myself.

Thanks to the K to 12 program, I’ve been teaching English Senior High in a Catholic institution for several months now, living a double life of trying to inculcate the value of reading and writing to teenagers, and traveling to Manila for higher learning, writing workshops and spoken word events. It should be an easy, honest and care-free life; yet each day, something from within me screams that I pursue a career in writing.

My love for literature began when I was in college (a rather late age). Being involved in activism, I had access to books from different sources: book-worm friends who filled their apartments with various titles; union-offices littered with situationers; and chance encounters with fellow poets also struggling with their craft. I’ve always wondered why, no matter what I write about, my words always lead me back to the names and faces of those who have fallen. Those who’ve sacrificed their lives so that I can live and breathe the “writer life” that I’ve chosen.

And now, each day seems to be encased inside a glass container, viewing things in a retrospective manner, embracing the nostalgia of finally coming back to my hometown after almost a decade of trying to find out who I am (or what I should be). Nothing has changed much, actually, only me being estranged to the place.

I need to write, it always haunts me when I cannot. When I see or hear or feel something that disturbs me, I am compelled to write. I’ve already released three poetry collections, the latest being Diskonektado (which I believe is the other half of my current manuscript). I plan to do full-time writing soon, but I still lack the proper discipline, the techniques to effectively say what I mean, and the drive to take up the challenge and tell my story. And yet every time I try to write, there is always clutter, the distraction to strive for an honorable livelihood, the countless worries of playing various roles: of being a son for a cancer survivor, a teacher exemplifying good values, or someone who could at least contribute a piece of himself to everyone’s grand attempt of waking our “national conscience”.

I do not have much to tell, aside from my belief that I have an obligation to my generation to tell the stories I have seen through my own eyes, and give them at least a piece of advice during these troubling times of false information and mass slaughters. Somehow I am stuck in this driving hunger to recollect memories of being (and not being) in a middle class life, in hoping that my story fits with the countless others who must be heard, in an era when nobody listens and everyone thinks we are all fools.

I wish it could be that easy, just to tell my story, but where do I begin? When my dad died in 2011, everything went downhill, my days remain mostly shattered and covered in an endless stream of preserving lost memories, and persevering in his memory. I am caught up in my own web of confusion and personal justifications. There are times that I wish I could bring back the vigor to inspire and be inspired by ordinary people. And somehow, each day I try to reassure myself:

            “Perhaps through writing.”

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