from 'Poems en Route'
I've never been prolific, although I like to think I can think and write on my toes. It has been exactly 10 years between the printing and publication dates of Children of the Snarl and this my second book, Poems en Route. Maybe in some of the occasional journalism I was doing, I could work fast—a feature story here and there, on "moonlight" basis, or more to my main line of work, a product feature, or advertising copy. But the latter only as soon as the "strategy" has been laid out, as soon as every word one chooses would contribute to the "concept," the central message of the sales pitch. It was almost like poetry, I was telling some of my juniors who sometimes couldn't get the drift of it. "Show, don't say!" "Don't say the product is good or superior, create the 'brand experience.'" It was almost like poetry, except that I could only pause to scribble a line (or save a first draft in a "secret" folder) between the tightest of deadlines.
But a second book of poetry was even a source of amazement for those who knew how advertising work made a different kind of demand on one's creative juices. And I thought I could "balance" the two, or, as I said at the start of my adman's "career," I could "buy" time to write. I could even travel—to that conference somewhere, that shoot somewhere, that video-editing supervision somewhere. And the new collection, some 85 poems, was done in transit, en route to one point or another, between epithalamion and entropy, between exile and loss and exile again while staying in place, without ever leaving home. And so en route it was, perhaps forever. Krip Yuson called it "paeans to place and portage... where Kilates continues to unscroll the meridians of memory." Ophie Dimalanta said it "brings forth... this singular excitement of watching a masterwork emerge to take its place in our country's literature." And Jimmy Abad called some of the poems "the finest... being written today... Marne shows us that he is the poet of our memory by which we know again our humanity and thereby recognize our nativity."
I am unable to thank them enough for the encouraging words, indeed to keep me en route. I chose the woodcut I bought on the trip to Russia (ten years earlier) from a Ukrainian artist who signed his name in Cyrillic (which I forgot to have our guide Vladimir translate or rewrite in our alphabet), and it didn't have much to do visually with the contents, except that it was foreign, bought on travel as a souvenir, though there was a rather long cycle of poems on Russia in the book. The new book also helped me go to Thailand for the SEA Write Award, and helped me ultimately to go out on a limb from the advertising day job. And once again I was en route to the next book.
The Ayala Quartet