Marjorie Evasco's DREAMWEAVERS

by Ed Farolan

(Marjorie Evasco finished her M.A. in Creative Writing at Silliman University and is presently the Director of the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center of De La Salle University. Her poems have appeared in two anthologies: Luna Caledonia and Six Women poets. At the recently held 10th Vancouver International Writers' Festival, she read from her latest collection of poems, Ochre Tone and Other Poems (1997). Dreamweavers, which contains selected poems from 1976-86, was published in Manila in 1987.)

I first met Marjorie at the 1980 Silliman University's Writing Workshop which was then run by novelists Ed and Edith Tiempo. It was nice to see her again here in Vancouver after more than 17 years. We recalled the fun days at the workshop, how our poems were being cut to pieces, what happened to our colleagues, etc. It was just nice seeing Marj again after all these years.

Remembering Marj at the workshop, she had that fire in her belly, so to speak. I had a gut feeling, as I suppose writers have, that she was going places. And, true enough, three years after that workshop, she came to Manila to teach at De La Salle, and now heads the Creative Writing Program there.

Dreamweavers is a collection of poetry for women, and Marj Evasco commits her vision as a woman in these poems. But men, who are sons of women, can feel their mothers' voices, feelings, passions, and angsts evoked in this collection.

In Birthing Poems, she expresses her feelings of fear and pain as she gives life to a newborn:

This is the hushed hour,
the time of waking
to the distant hum
of the beginning song.
Inside the caves--
head, heart, belly--
the word-shapes
sound the interiors,
bats winging night
till light breaks through:
rush of waterborn creatures
with heads, hearts, bellies
screaming my pain, full-
filling my body's
birthing places.

A poignant poem she dedicates to her father is entitled Mama's Death Anniversary. The lyricism and symbolism of this simple and beautiful poem reflect the spiritual journey of a mother's soul as she she is guided by candles we light for her in remembrance:

Comes now the time to light
Candles for the dearly dead;
Beacons for a homing flight
Out of her grave to your bed
In the trackless night.

Would she know her way
Into the light?
Will your prayers
Be her second sight?

In a CBC interview aired the day Marj returned to the Philippines, she read a poem which touched me: To a child contortionist performing at the NPC. Her social conscience is reflected in the last lines of this poem after seeing this child being exploited as a circus freak:

I did not last your act tonight.
Something within me fell.

The humanitarian, compassionate woman in Evasco is evoked in these two lines: how she feels for the oppressed, particularly the women and children who are easy targets for exploitation.

Marjorie Evasco has arrived. From the young poet I remember waiting for that creative vision to happen--it has happened, Marj, and you are in the midst of the political and social awakening that once was just a dream, a dream that you have now woven, like the dreamweavers in your poems!