Karla Quimsing’s Pancit Poetry a melange of tones and voices

By Tiny Diapana

“A poem should not mean But be.” — From “Ars Poetica”by Archibald Macleish

Pansit-Book-CoverJUST as refreshing as the comfort food it’s named after, Karla Quimsing’s first collection of poems, “Pansit Poetry,” takes us back home. Laden with images so familiar that they come close to acquiring tangible form, Karla’s poetry sends us back to the places that we’ve known all our lives, to the things we’ve hidden in the pockets of our mind, to the people we used to be and the people we’ve loved, lost or passed by.

Listen to the heart-pounding agitation splay over in a shameful burst when one finds a possible love interest making a move in her opening poem “Katong Nangayo Kas Akong Celfon Number.”

Pastilan hapit naputol ang yin-yang na lao tzu nga gipakabit nako sa zipper sa akong bag, gihabwa nako ang mga pirated dvd sa concert ni brandon boyd ug salida ni leonardo di caprio….

Samoka!
naukay lagi ang akong buyot
tungod nimo

Don’t you hear the same flustered voice you once had years ago when you had childhood crushes in elementary and highschool? Friendly and unassuming, Karla’s poetry shakes hands with the reader and fills in the spaces in between fingers like a long lost lover and friend. Listen to the persona in the poem “Sa Kaila Nako na Musikero” challenge the addresee seductively:

Paminaw, bungol.
Sepraha kuno ang tingog sa akong buhok
Kon mohaplas ni sa imong nawong.
Sepraha usab ang tono sa mga ginhawa
Kon magtagbo atong mga bibig natong duha.

Another poem, “Manga,” offers wistful childhood nostalgia as the speaker, a child, talks about how he/ she had been punished for stealing a piece of mango to sell for a few school supplies. Meanwhile, the poem “Bitin” exhibits biting imagery. Listen to the guttural crunch of the last few lines:

Isuka nimo imong kalag
ug mamalikas ka
kugumkom ug tam-is
Sama sa puwang mansanas

“Pancit Poetry” is a playful and multifarious medley.

Divided into four sections named after the different kind of tastes pancit offers — “Tam-is. Matamis. Sweet,” “Aslum. Maasim. Sour,” “Maasin. Maalat. Salty,” and “Kahang. Maanghang. Spicy.” — the collection boasts variety. Karla’s poems come in a mélange of tones and voices as her poems speak in English, Bisaya, Tagalog and Hiligaynon in an attempt to reach out to different kinds of readers that might happen to stop by to listen.
And without a doubt, the voices in Karla’s collection of poems “Pancit Poetry” are definitely worth listening to.

Dong, pamati-i bala/ ang akon mga ihutik nga binalaybay/ kay sa imo nga habal-habal ako masakay speaks the poem “Ang Ilongga nga Nagsakay sa Habal-habal.”

So go on. Let pancit poetry take you in for a ride back home.

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