HomeIDEYA: Journal of Humanitiesvol. 10 no. 2 (2009)

The Distance to Parnassus: A Palanca Commentary

Cesar Ruiz Aquino

Discipline: Humanities, Philippine Literature



This article is a critique of three poetry collections—The Gospel According to the Blind Man by Marie La Viña, Sl(e)ights by Ana Maria Katigbak, and Morphic Variations by Francis C. Macansantos—which won in the Poetry in English category of the 2008 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. This critical commentary highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each collection in terms of imagery, use of language, manipulation of form and structure, theme, and prosody. The Gospel According to the Blind Man is praised for the admirable ambition of its themes, but is criticized for the collection’s unevenness in terms of the quality of the poems. The article showcases how Sl(e)ights has more than sufficient gravitas and “high seriousness,” as well as consistency in terms of structural quality. However, some minor flaws are evident in the tonal quality of some poems. Finally, the paper justifies the victory of Morphic Variations, with its masterful use of deceptively simple but powerfully imagistic “natural phenomena” to present what Ezra Pound calls “an intellectual and emotional complex.”