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Filipino Poet Victor N. Sugbo

I first met the Filipino poet Victor N. Sugbo in Tacloban, Philippines last September just as a typhoon was heading our way. We spent a wonderful afternoon in a Tacloban literary café talking poetry and sharing our work. Sugbo is one of the Philippines most accomplished poets. He writes poetry in English and Waray. The selection chosen for this blog is a Waray poem that he has kindly translated into English. His poems in English have been included in national anthologies and journals. He has edited four books published by the Philippine National Commission for the Culture and the Arts, and recently released his first collection of poetry in Waray through the UP Press. He is also a professor of Communication and Literature at the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College, Tacloban City, Philippines. He holds a Ph.D in Communication and two master's degrees, one in TESL and the other in Industrial Relations, all from the U.P. Diliman. He obtained his undergraduate degree at the Divine Word University of Tacloban. He has a number of articles published in reputable journals. His research interests are: language and literature,language and media, communication research, and language policy.

First, you can read the poem in its original Waray and enjoy the music of the syllables. Then you can read Sugbo’s English translation.

by Victor N. Sugbo

Ano nga adi ka man?
Di ka na nananagat?

Diri na gad.
Waray ko na sakayan.
Linamon han dagat.
Hadton inmagi nga bagyo.

Diri ka ngay-an nahihidlaw han dagat?

Maiha na ako nga waray
Bumisita han dagat
Dinhi na la ako hinin
Daan nga sakayan,
Inin ak katurogan,
Kay kun nanngangawil na ako mas
Damo nga bitoon
Ngan mga isda
Iton nag-uurualirong
Ubos hinin akon binubugsaybugsayan.


Why are you home?
Do you still go fishing?

I don’t fish any more.
My boat is gone.
The sea took it away
In the last big storm.

Don’t you miss the sea?

It’s been ages.
I have not been there.
I spend more time,
Riding this old boat,
This bed,
For whenever I cast a line
So many stars
So much fish
Come close
Under the water where I row.

Translated by Victor N. Sugbo

Selected Works

1. Nonfiction
"Completely awesome"--Time "Hill tells the story of the birth of hip-hop with his own catchy rhythm, and Taylor’s illustrations bring out the enthusiasm and sense of community at the heart of this trend-setting sound."--New York Times Book Review
"Phenomenal."–Howard Zinn "Excellent."–New York Times Book Review
Harlem Stomp! is a wonderous new book: it celebrates a time, a place, an energy, and a people who refused to be held back and so they created a culture the entire world is still reeling from.”
--George C. Wolfe, writer, director, and producer of the Public Theater, NYC
3. Poetry
A picturebook poem describing the life of the slave potter Dave. Illustrated by Bryan Collier.
“Contemporary Poetry of New England offers a vivid portrait of a region, its colors and smells, its physical and emotional textures, and the people…. It presents a range of poets, few of whom would call themselves a “region poet,” although each has taken to heart in a private way Frost’s haunting dictum: ‘Locality gives art.’”
--from the Introduction
2. Fiction
A seventeen-year-old is plucked out of the Grande Armee to sit in place of Napoleon for a portrait of the Emperor by the artist David.
"I felt like a kid reading every word on the page! I liked the strains of "magic realism" coming through in Frida's house! Children will relate to this very much! The story is charming and reads like a thriller." –Margarita Aguilar, Assisant Curator, El Museo del Barrio
4. Middle Grade Series
These kids love extreme sports--snowboarding, skateboarding, rock climbing, wake boarding--and are ready to fight when the right to do their sport is threatened.