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The woman, the poet


Mercedes B. Suleik

Mercedes B. Suleik


How does one begin to write about a talented young woman who at such an early age, has already published two books and is about to launch another one? How does one begin to understand the poems that to someone who confesses to being staid and bland, is simply surreal and out of her depth?

Desiree L. Balota, soon to be conferred her PhD., a graduate and faculty member of St. Theresa’s College is about to launch a third book of her poems. The book, entitled What Name Do You Give Her? And Other Birthrises, “transports us into another dimension of her literary world,” according to Assistant Professor Sheilalaine Goopio-Romulo of the Cebu Technological University, in her Foreword to Desiree’s book. Yes, as uninitiated as I am, I agree with the Professor’s description of Desiree’s poetry as “ (it) affirms the flexibility, multi-dimensionality, and inter-sectionality of her poetic language.”

In one of her poems, tanka S12, which I quote,

“and a brush of smile

carved a canvas in the air
to still a fleeting

poem from a breath stuck loose
to hold a timid love song.”

I am struck by the image that my mind sees…I see the smile like a painter draws his subject, and a lover adoring his beloved…and relates to my own experience of being loved.

And another, tanka S21

“the tree that was scorned

for wearing empty sky

wept her nakedness

to the bare mountains and made

nimbus, soaked, she wore heaven”

Again, my simple reaction to the poem is about our environmental problems, as I had once written about, and how indeed, nature would weep about her nakedness, and be reborn, were we all to learn to respect the only planet, the only home that we have.

And indeed, if I may quote Professor Goopio-Romulo once again, “Dess leaves us suspended in the air because her persona takes a deep breath and realizes that nature will have her way. We will see that one day, the earth will take a new form and a new birth shall rise.”

And in praise of Desiree, the Professor adds, to which I wholeheartedly agree, “And the woman is instrumental in this rise. She, the one who can never be defined by any name or label. She is Woman – the breath of the human soul.” Let me affirm that Desiree is one who reflects the genius of Woman.

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