Poetry reading under the Rambutan tree

By Bryan Edulzura

Imagine reading aloud your favorite poetry and sharing it to others who can’t wait to listen under the sturdy Rambutan trees atop a hillside.

“I’m missing it. Those Saturday morning sessions with friends who share your passion for poetry and art, lively conversations and laughter,” declares Vangie Pena-Dominise, an English major graduate and city tourism officer.

She and a few others pioneered perhaps the only outdoor poetry “barkadahan” (gang) in Caraga Region and Mindanao composed of professionals from different fields that’s been going on way back few years ago.

Initiated by creative writer RJS who thought of inviting artistically-inclined friends to his family-owned farm he named after his mother, Zoila.

“At first I thought my friends wouldn’t like the idea of following up a winding foot trail and end up a hill shaded with Rambutan trees but they like it,” remembers RJS.

Since then, regular poetry-reading sessions were held every first Saturdays of the month. Those who came were like tree branches too, friends, relatives of friends, and some came just to listen and make friends.

Poetry became the binding spirit of camaraderie of the unofficial name, “Butuan Outdoor Poetry Society” suggested by the late Casiana Torralba, a humanities teacher of Father Saturnino Urios University and artist.

“Participants come and go. We have lawyers, public and private office heads and employees, businessmen, teachers, students even expats,” informs RJS, who says there are times when there are only four or ten enthusiasts who came.

“There’s no fee of course, just bring food to share with, a smile and your favorite poetry or any written pieces.”

I am privileged to be invited all the time in his unique gathering. For where in the world you share the magic of poetry and the power of the written word? The topic and discussion, even the surprise interpretations and performances branch out to creativity and fun. All those become a good come-on.

There were also instances when venues were held elsewhere like other residential farms, gardens and fish pond as others offered to host.

Poetry-reading may be a lost art but it sure affirms the humanity and enforces humility to those who indulge it.

For the local poetry gang, they keep seeking the passion, follow the winding path high above, and bath in the light and shadow of the meaning of life.

Artwork by Goy Candelario

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