CREATIVE writing professor Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, doyenne of Philippine creative non-fiction, has released a book in time for the holidays— “The Thing with Feathers: My Book of Memories.”
Published by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, the 349-page book is a collection of “narratives/essays” that are “mementos of an ordinary life—tales of love and loss, reflections on coming of age and confronting the decline, on joys hard won and deep abiding sorrows, fragments of dreams forgotten, forsaken, retrieved, honored…” (from the back cover).
Memoirs are tricky to write. They are always seen through the lens of the writer and filtered by time, emotion, and knowledge. The act of recreating the event by writing about it inevitably constructs an event that differs from the actual; but then, that is what memoir is for—it presents the truth about a life from an individual’s point of view. That is also what makes memoir interesting and valuable as a record of a particular time and place.
Pantoja Hidalgo, who teaches creative writing at UST and the University of the Philippines, says that for her, “reading and writing are acts of hope. One reads in the hope of finding answers to life’s troubling questions, or perhaps finding better questions. And one writes guided by the same hope.
“The inevitable question is: of what use are such memories as these, given the ominous signs that confront us today, signs that can only be interpreted as the coming of even more perilous times?
“To which my only response is that reading and writing are also acts of faith. Faith in the power of the word to recall, illuminate, and endure, to hold fast particularly during dark days, like those we find ourselves living through.”
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Also from UST Publishing House comes a unique five-volume set of the Tomas, the journal of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies.
The recently released set celebrates the Center’s fifth anniversary of its revival, and comprises volumes for Poetry, Drama, Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction, and Criticism.
To order these books, email [email protected]
or call 406-1611 local 8424 and look for Paul, Val, or Carlo.
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More exciting literature-related news from UST—the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters will offer a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing starting academic year 2018-2019.
It is a four-year course that will guide student writers in the genres of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and drama, as well as teach them how to write other forms, including writing for children and young adults, scriptwriting for film and television, speculative fiction, literary journalism, travel writing, food writing, nature writing, and literary translation.
The program also has a literature component that will expose students to Philippine literary history, Anglo-American literature, Latin-American literature, and more.
The program’s final outcome requires the production of a creative writing thesis in the form of a book-length manuscrips of a collection of poems, short stories, CNF pieces, or plays.
Among those on the faculty roster for the program are Dr. Mario Vargas Llosa, honorary professor (yes, himself!), Dr. Pantoja Hidalgo, Dr. Joyce Arriola (also the director of UST’s Research Center for Culture, Arts, and the Humanities), Assistant Professor Ailil Alvarez (also director of the UST Publishing House), Dr. Gemino H. Abad, Professorial Lecturer Bernardo Bernardo, and other professors (all published writers) of UST.
This is an exciting new degree program that extends the available opportunities for students interested in creative writing.
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The UST CCWLS has announced that the deadline for submissions to the UST National Writers’ Workshop 2018 has been extended to Dec. 31. Hard copy applications must be sent, no electronic applications will be accepted.
The workshop will be held March 18-24, 2018 at Ridgewood Residence, Baguio City. Fifteen fellowships are available to writers 21 years and older. Submissions in English and Filipino are accepted. They must be unpublished works—either two short stories, two CNF pieces, two one-act plays or short film screenplays, or four poems.
See the Center’s Facebook page for more details.
Dr. Ortuoste is a California-based writer. Facebook and Twitter: @jennyortuoste