Writing and I…or how I persist as a non-conformist to literary norms and rules

Writing and I
…or how I persist as non-conformist
to literary norms and rules
by Apolinario Villalobos

This share will, I hope, help others to realize that they, too, have the gift of writing. Style, though, in writing varies according to the temperament of the person. Once others realize this, I hope that they will begin to express themselves using this age-old mental instrument.

Good thing that the age of blogging has at last arrived…as with it, different kinds of literary statements have also been boldly manifested. For the sake of grades, however, the traditional teachings are being endured by students. But, once they have graduated, they go on a rampage of expressing themselves literarily with a vengeance. I am doing it myself, although, it took some time before I finally stamped my own statement in the different literary expressions that I have made, be they in poetry or prose.

When I was in high school, I always had to argue with my English teacher about my habit of beginning some sentences in my essays with “And” and “Although”. For her it was a big NO, NO, which was of course very right based on traditional English grammar. Due to my persistence, she gave me low ratings, although my materials were better than those of my classmates. Many years later, she transferred to Manila and earned respect as an educator in a certain district. That time, she also came across my contributions in broadsheets and magazines, and learned about my job in a reputable company. She invited me as one of the judges when she chaired the Committee of the district that organized an essay and poetry writing contest. I was elated, as it was an indication of her acceptance at last, of my literary “style”.

I am most indebted to a former boss, Vic Bernardino, in Philippine Airlines who tolerated my style when he trusted me with the job of editing the travel magazine of our department, the TOPIC Magazine. He was, himself a writer in his own right. The publication promoted the touristic areas, activities and facilities all over the country, as the company’s contribution to the government’s effort in jacking up inbound tourist movement. As the magazine was in black and white, I had to be colorfully descriptive in what I featured. I realized later that in my sincere attempt to deliver what were expected of me, I had overstressed some of my presentations. Fortunately, I found out that such style is what feature magazine writers are using today. Had my boss called my attention to what I was doing, part of my innate skill would have been suppressed.

Writing is an art and liberal expression of one’s feelings, as well as, instrument in releasing what are in the mind. My views regarding this matter may not conform to what are found in the books. In poetry for instance, I maintain that expression should not only be in written form but also through facial expressions. Of course, fingers and hands can help. Movement of the eyes could mean something poetically, even the contortion of the lips, or the raising of eyebrows. It is then, up to the one who perceives to fully utilize his poetic imagination to understand the message.

My being a non-conformist to traditional and bookish grammar is such that I do not observe the basics – rhyme and meter. But, sometimes I give rhyme the chance to seep in subtly by using words that “seem” to sound alike. As for meter, I totally disregard it, for I even start my poem sometimes, with just a single word, and employ dots to indicate suspense. I came across so many non-conformist styles in blog sites and current poetry books that the traditional writers may view as trash. For me, however, the essence of writing is freedom of expression, so nobody has the right to say that one is wrong in his style, especially, in poetry, as it is tantamount to curtailing his freedom.

Today, not only are poems recited, but also rapped in the accompaniment of tapping or clicking fingers. That again is an indication of the richness of poetry as a literary form of expression which can be transposed comfortably into music, and maybe not yet in English grammar books. An artist can also easily transform a simple and monotonous poem into a musical rendition. This is the full manifestation of what was meant by the traditionalists as “poem with sing-song cadence”.

Finally, on how to start, my suggestion is with conviction…with boldness, and generous imagination.