Arts & Culture

Musical moments in Babeth Lolarga’s poetry

2. Moon Hanging Low Over My Window and Other Poems as photographed and arranged by Wendy Fernando Regalado.

Babeth Lolarga’s latest book of poems, Moon Hanging Low Over My Window and Other Poems captures beautiful, if, ethereal, moments we are inclined to disregard as we cope with the work-a-day world.

By her own admission, it is a thick book of 305 poems written over five years. “This means I was disciplined writer during that period,” she intimated.

Going over the first few pages, one discovers she can turn day-to-day encounters into moments of truth, fleeting as they were.

It could be the memorable encounters with friends and /or acquaintances or the last picture show in her mind.

Always, Lolarga finds meaning in all of those day-to-day unfolding of every day life.

Lolarga has devoted part of her time into helping performing artists get media exposure. Thus, she watched concerts all year round whenever her time allows.

Hence, one wonders how those musical encounters figure in her latest book of poetry.

1. Author Babeth Lolarga reading from her latest book. Photo by Alma Miclat

Francis Lai’s film scoring of A Man and A Woman finds the poet recalling French movie idols then and now.

She wrote:

I was appalled at how

Jean-Louis Trintignant

in “Amour”

had aged more

than drastically

turned into

a wispy ghost

of his handsome

self in Lelouch’s

Sixties classic

but in “Amour”

he trudges

as he serves

the fading wife

who once ran


her finger’s


the grandest piano

Then she concludes:

a man

and a woman

how green

love is

She ruminates in a poem entitled While Listening to John Rutter’s The Lord Bless You and Keep You:

it feels

like I’m

lying on

the lap

& being rocked by

this man

you call

your lord

well, I said



to this


I think that

was the



to approximate

the music of

the spheres

the marriage

of the earth-bound

and the spiritual

In the poem While Listening to Valerie Tryon Play Chamidade’s Automne, the poet sees substance beyond the notes outlined by the composer –

I think it’s more

the depth

       of feelings

       that matters

       She concludes:

       listen then

to how

the melody

tapers off

in the end

& as it does

watch how

the heart closes

& cries 

Her love affair with poetry started when she was in grade six. “I loved Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sara Teasdale, Emily Dickinson. I still do. They were my muses. Poetry and prose writing to me are indistinguishable. They feed each other.” 

What she went through writing her modest poetry output she sums up as living in between excitement and suspense. “Excitement and nervousness of course, nervous about how it will be received by my readers.

Babeth Lolarga and friends during informal book launching of her latest book. Photo by Teddy Espela.

Some years back, Krip Yuson reviewed my first book for Manila Chronicle. Pasckie Pascua reviewed my second book. NVM Gonzalez liked my second book in 1997 and went out of way to ask for my phone number and give his words regarding dangling doll. Third book was limited edition of 55 copies. Gave them away as gift books to friends.”

The back-breaking production (layout and design) routine is one sticking in her mind. “I usually supervise this stage, getting my own artist collaborators like Lynett Villariba, Grace de Jesus Sievert and Jenny Carino among others. For me, packaging, not just content, is just as important. I have very little birthing pains because the UST Publishing House team is made up of professionals. It is sheer joy to work with them.”

The author admits her output are prayer poems, her form of morning meditation. “I usually wake up early then I update myself on what’s happening in the world, then I write.Poems are my prayers. I get the feeling that I’m talking to God and He responds by sending the Holy Spirit to help me complete the lines and stanzas.”

 Anthropologist and poet Padmapani L. Perez sums up Lolarga’s book: “I read this collection in snatches while alone in transit, and each time I found myself at home with a girlfriend, for here was poetry that listened. Here was poetry that heard your mood swings, giggles, anger, mourning, love, gossip about other friends, complaints about relatives, and mad cackling. Here was poetry that took the annoying bits and wondrous pieces of life that you thought you knew, and made them fresh in surprising images and pirouettes (not mere turns) of phrase. Here was poetry that heard even your faintest, most secret whispers of a familiar despair.”

 (Babeth Lolarga’s MOON HANGING LOW OVER MY WINDOW AND OTHER POEMS is available on the UST Publishing House online shops also at Shopee and Lazada.)