Written in a period of grave illness, Kaluluwa turns the tables on traditional disquistions on the subject: the speaker of these mournful meditations, these terse and urgent lyrics is the self-as-body, mortally aggrieved, and looking to its soul for assurance, for consolation, and finally, for a restitution of its fragile claims on life, for a kind of resurrection.
What may be said to distinguish Kaluluwa is its attempt to interweave metaphysical and animist accounts of spirituality, wagering everything on the necessary unity of all corporeal knowledge, all embodied imaginings of the soul. Variants of the story garden, where a god and his creations suffer the pangs and reversals of love, may be found in many oral literatures of the world, and indeed this story is at the heart of this poem-cycle as well.
In the end, the poems in this collection demonstrate how, despite their indulgence in things bleak and unavailing, a bright seething, an ardor and love for life and its ongoingness, can and do manage to whisper past the tempest of the here-and-now - deep into memory's transfiguring calm, our luminous hereafter.
J. Neil C. Garcia finished his BA Journalism (magna cum laude) in the University of Santo Tomas in 1990. He is currently teaching creative writing and comparative literature at the University of the Philippines , Diliman, where he also serves as an associate for poetry in the Institute of Creative Writing . He is the author of numerous poetry collections and works in literary and cultural criticism, including Our Lady of the Carnival (1996), The Sorrows of Water (2000), Kaluluwa (2001), Philippine Gay Culture: The Last Thirty Years (1996), Slip/pages: Essays in Philippine Gay Criticism (1998), Performing the Self: Occasional Prose (2003), The Garden of Wordlessness (2005), and Misterios and Other Poems ( 2005) His latest critical work , Postcolonialism and Filipino Poetics: Essays and Critiques , is a revised version of his PhD dissertation in English Studies: Creative Writing, which he completed in 2003. He is currently working on a full-length book, a postcolonial survey and analysis of Philippine poetry in English.