The first thing that strikes the reader of this book (“Cadena de Amor” by Marra PL. Lanot, University of the Philippines Press), apart from the fact that it is written in three languages— English, Filipino and Spanish —is the lyrical tone of the poet. It is filled with images and metaphors, like good or great poetry, and yet accessible.
The themes are many—romantic and sensual love, love of one’s parents, love of nature, anger at man’s injustice and, of course, feminism, for Lanot has always been in the forefront of the struggle for women’s rights.
It is a hefty volume for a poetry book: 42 poems in English, an equal number in Tagalog, 25 in Spanish, and finally 36 poems in the three languages grouped under “Selected Poems.”
In “Touch,” the poet declares that the touch of her partner is “Something that has no end/A scent of green tea your touch is. (That touch better be that of her husband Pete Lacaba.) Romantic love and love of nature coalesce in “Drizzle”: “I cannot hear the drizzle outside my window/ but I can smell the grass and a breath of forest air/ Refreshing my room/ I cannot see your face beyond the sea but I can hear your voice/ Asking why and why not/ Robbing me of sleep.”
The reign of the late President Marcos is dealt with succinctly: “Where the dictator is buried I don’t care/ Straight to the depths he’ll go, anyway, and there/ Steal the fire and the crown/ And make Satan fear for his throne.”
The poet longs for her father Serafin on his death anniversary: “Babalik ba ang halakhak at awit sa saliw ng iyong gitara/ Ang kumpas ng iyong kamay/ At padyak ng iyong paa sa paso doble at tango?”
In “No soy una mujer solo de un pais,” a cry for peace, the poet declares that she does not belong to one country but is “a citizen of the world,” without borders, without warships along the coast, without warplanes that startle the birds and darken the heavens: “No soy una mujer solo de un pais/ sino un ciudadano del mundo/ sin borde, sin buque de guerra en la costa/ sin avion militar que espanta los aves y oscurece el cielo.”
Lanot’s facility in speaking and writing in three languages is something to admire.—CONTRIBUTED