Woo: Poetry workshop with ‘The’ PSN

I GUESS the article ‘the’ before my name started in 2012.

I got Facebook friends from that time who called me dapetersolisnery.

I’m sure they’ve heard the superlatives said about me.

I mean, ‘the’ as a determiner denotes common knowledge.

And Peter Solis Nery as a brand has been common knowledge since 2000, at the latest.

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In my February Master Class in Creative Writing this year, my students/mentees started calling me by my initials PSN.

They said being called by my initials means that “I have arrived”.

They said it like one has achieved greatness when people resort to calling one by his/her initials only.

I guess it’s a Filipino thing — MLQ, RM, FM, RVR, PGMA, PRRD for our current and past presidents.

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Can you imagine calling Barack Obama — BO?

That’s also Body Odor.

Or Donald Trump — DT?

That’s also Delirium Tremens.

Delirium tremens is, of course, madness that’s experienced in withdrawal (commonly from alcohol).

Its symptoms include hallucinations, and shaking.

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Wait!

Does that sound like Donald Trump? — somebody asked.

I’m not even going in there.

This article is about me. 

And my WOO Poetry Workshop online.

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I announced the WOO workshop over Facebook in mid-July hoping to get the registration and word of mouth started early.

I wanted to give a 10-day intensive poetry workshop before the Peter’s Prize for Poetry.

So that the entries will be better-informed poems.

I called it WOO because I wanted to focus on love poetry. 

Which is basically “to woo” our beloved.

In less than 24 hours, my enrolment was up to 49 members.

In five days, enrolment was in the 100s.

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When I closed the group to start the workshop, we were up to 171 members.

When the workshop was finished, we were down to 169 members.

And still there were 27 requests to join the group.

My heart is broken, but I could not accept these requests mid-way through the workshop.

I just feel it is unfair for the rest of the group who were there with me in the beginning.

Ayoko naman ng mga meron. I don’t like bystanders.

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Usually, mid-way through my writing workshops, I encourage people to spill their guts.

To write from their deepest core.

To reveal their unique gifts, and individual voice, to the world.

As I always say, when you start to share something real from yourself, you begin to be a real poet.

Poetry is not about being smart.

Or about hiding or encoding special messages in metaphors.

That’s a stupid approach to poetry.

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You want to be funny?

Write jokes!

You want to moralize?

Go to church!

You want to tell a story?

Write a novel!

You want to philosophize?

Write a treatise. 

Write a dissertation, and get a PhD!

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Anyway, I wanted WOO to start on August 8, and finish on August 17.

But with over 150 members signed up by July 25, I decided to do the workshop from Vancouver.

Why delay?

Strike while the iron is hot.

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I closed the group (so the general public cannot see my critiques of the poems; I can be brutally frank), and started on July 26 instead.

I officially finished the workshop on August 5.

It was hard work.

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I gave writing prompts 24 hours in advance.

But the participants were so excited, so eager.

They posted their assignment outputs maybe 30 minutes after the prompt.

And I was just thinking, most of these are newbies.

How can they write excellent stuff in 30 minutes?

And so I ended up plowing through grammatical and syntactical errors.

But also teaching about compression, metaphors, techniques, and even organization.

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The workshop also gave me the occasion to write down my notes for poesy.

I think I will organize them into a book of Poetics before the end of the year.

Anyway, we finished the workshop with flying colors — mostly pink.

But feeling the participants’ hunger for good poetry teachers, I’m really convinced that I am doing a great thing with my online poetry workshops.

I may not get the “respect of peers” who are envious and malicious.

But I’m pretty damn sure I am doing more for the literature of the Philippines than these jealous and envious academics.

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The Philippines is a small country.

Western Visayas is a small region.

To play politics in literature and the arts is a stupid thing.

More and more, people are telling me there was malice when I was not included in the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Arts — Literature Volume (published 2018).

That the malice started with people in the region who were determined not to include me.

It’s not like they just forgot me.

They were hell bent on excluding me! — I was told.

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The CCP snub doesn’t bother me.

It didn’t matter to me.

I am THE Peter Solis Nery.

I am The PSN! (500tinaga@gmail.com/PN)

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