Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Ateneo Writers Workshop Now Accepting Submissions

The Ateneo Institute for Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP) is now accepting applications for the 4th Ateneo National Writers Workshop to be held on October 18-22, 2004. Each applicant must submit a portfolio of works containing any one of the following: (1) five poems; OR (2) three short stories; written in Filipino or in English; together with a title page containing the author’s pseudonym and a table of contents. The portfolio must also be accompanied by a diskette containing a file of the document(s) saved in rich text format (rtf).

All submissions must also include a sealed envelope containing the author’s real name, address, contact number, and one-page biodata with a 1x1 ID picture attached to it. Twelve fellowships will be awarded to the accepted writers from all over the country, and will include travel fare and food and lodging accommodations.

Entries must be addressed to: Dr. Benilda Santos, The Director, Ateneo National Writers Workshop, c/o the Filipino Department, Dela Costa Building, Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

Deadline of submissions is on August 27, 2004. For inquiries, call 42606001 local 5321 or 5323.

The First Dream
Billy Collins

The wind is ghosting around the house tonight,
and as I lean against the door of sleep
I begin to think about the first person to dream,
and how quiet he must have seemed the next morning

as the others stood around the fire
draped in the skins of animals
talking to each other only in vowels,
for this was long before the invention of consonants.

He might have gone off by himself to sit
on a rock and look into the mist of a lake
as he tried to tell himself what had happened,
how he had gone somewhere without going,

how he had put his arms around the neck
of a beast that the others could touch
only after they had killed it with stones,
how he felt its breath on his bare neck.

Then again, the first dream could have come
to a woman, though she would behave,
I suppose, much the same way,
moving off by herself to be alone near water,

except that the curve of her young shoulders
and the tilt of her downcast head
would make her appear to be terribly lonely
and if you were to notice this,

you might even have gone down as the first person
to ever fall in love with the sadness of another.

Rainy Days and Wednesdays

Sometimes you just wonder where the hell you’re going and why is it that you keep on persisting in doing what you do. You ask yourself whether anything is worth living for – sometimes the whole world seems to conspire to pull you down, and you want to ask yourself why is it that you are holding on, why you just don’t allow yourself to disappear. Sometimes it’s so much easier to give up, to throw up your hands in the air in a gesture of resignation, turn your back and walk away. You wonder, sometimes, why you are being so stubborn in just standing still.

You wake up one morning and ask yourself why the sky is still gray. You watch the rain sweep across the horizon like a giant silver broom, brushing away the clouds across the sky. You can see the tree outside your window bend down, the leaves slick with rainwater. The wind is picking up, and your feet start searching for the blankets that you’ve kicked down the farthest corner of your bed. A flurry of SMS arrives one after the other, informing you that classes have been cancelled and that the traffic outside is horrendous. Sheryl Crow is playing on the radio, and for a moment you look for the stuffed toy dog that he gave you on your first month, and then you remember that you took it away, along with the other memories you had of him.

You want to bury yourself beneath the pillows, the blankets, the softest of mattresses. You want to sink into the cotton and the fabric, melt into soft oblivion. You want to erase everything in your mind, begin on a clean slate. Tabula rasa, you keep on repeating to yourself, pretending that God is just playing a trick on you and that everything will be all right in the end. You are finally used to this cycle of sadness and triumph, and sometimes you want to believe that there is no happy ending to your story.

Perhaps it’s the overcast heaven that is influencing your mood. It’s not the best way to wake up, after all: with a heavy feeling inside you, as if there are stones inside your chest cavity, weighing you down. You hope that it will pass soon.

You remember that there is still a slab of chocolate in your bag, courtesy of a friend that you met up with the night before. Dinner at Megamall and coffee afterwards: just two girls catching up on each others’ lives, reminding each other that everything must go on. The snatches of conversation alternates from the mundane to the profound, the practical to the whimsical, punctuated by occasional sneezes (both of you are nursing colds). You go home alone, wishing that there was someone to hold your hand while you ride a taxicab all by yourself because you don’t trust buses.

Perhaps it was because of weariness, or the two cups of coffee that helped you plow through your writing backlog, but you find yourself walking down your neighborhood as it nears midnight, your voice raised as you allow all the anger and frustrations you’ve had for the past few months build up and just exit through your mouth. Your friend is silent as he walks beside you, cigarette smoke curling around his lips as he allows you scream at the stars why why why.

The heavy feeling accompanies you as you walk back home with him and say your goodbyes. Even talking online doesn’t help: your temper keeps on flaring up at the most inopportune moments, and you start hating yourself. You wonder if you’re the bad guy, really, after everything that has happened. You wish that you didn’t have to think so much, that your mind was only able to comprehend a series of dots and dashes, instead of these complex swirls and whorls. You wonder if you’re doing the right thing, and if it is right, is it worth it?

Outside, the rain stops momentarily, a moment of silence. Then the first heavy raindrops, like approaching footsteps, fall again.

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