Of Irony

by Cristian Carlo L. Suller Issue: Spring/Summer 2020

After J. Neil Garcia
“Forgetting is a coping mechanism. With all the problems that overwhelm Filipinos, they could become insane if they do not have a short memory. But this has made Filipinos hardened and fatalistic.”
           - Robert Young

“It is only that the majority of Filipinos are poor and uneducated, and would rather be subservient and survive than involve themselves in other issues.”
           - Rodolfo Capili

An American
professor-poet-laureate
once strongly emphasized
the importance of
irony in literature
in a writer’s workshop
in
Bataan.

I wrote in my poem
about how my
illiterate grandfather who
tilled hectares and hectares of farm-
lands in our small barrio, fished in the pond
nearby, and cooked us
sinigang na
tilapia in mortared-and-pestled
camias soup base.

I wrote that he had a severe
drinking problem. He also had
nothing to pay the townsdoctor who
treated his anemia, so he just
gave her chicken as payment.

I also wrote in that little english poem
how he was so drunk that night
that he did not care or remember the
curfew the Americans set during
its war against Japan in
Bataan. He was walking, swerving home
and was shot dead. It was probably
his fault. 

The American
professor-poet-laureate
commented that my poem
does not have enough fluency and not enough
irony.
“It needs revision,” he said with all his academic audacity.

The attendees turned to the next page,
to the next poem to be workshopped as if nothing
happened, and I stood up
respectfully, and asked with a little tremble

“Is it not ironic enough, sir, that I am writing this poem in english?”
 



Cristian Carlo L. Suller

Cristian Carlo L. Suller tries to sound like he knows what he is saying but he really doesn't. He has an M.Litt. from the University of Santo Tomas and is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Dallas. His dream is to go back home to the Philippines and teach in the mountainous barrios of his hometown San Manuel.