Among all the contemporary Filipino poets writing in English, Alfred A. Yuson alone pulls off the neat trick of being intimidating and inviting in equal measure. Reading his poetry can be difficult, with its layers of meaning and nuance, and its linguistic contortions. However, it can also entice for the same reasons. Sensing the labor involved in plunging into his poetry, one resists being drawn into it. Still, his riddles fascinate and draw the reader into his celebration of language and image. By then it is too late. The reader is trapped, but happily.
Studying Yuson, particularly his influences, offers a different set of challenges. Being a Filipino poet writing in English, he straddles two streams of tradition, two cultures, two worldviews. Centuries of poetic theory and technique lie at his, and at any other contemporary poet's, disposal. The problem is further compounded if one considers the different types of English that he could be writing from.
This paper will attempt, through a study of a collection of Yuson's poems, to determine where and how he has carved his niche in the stream of tradition. It will identify adherences to and departures from specific poetic movements, as identified by both poet and researcher/reader.