by Marc Gaba
“Marc Gaba meditates on the nature of aesthetic beauty with an almost clinical passion, weaving expertly among the emblems of Christianity as well as Marie Curie, Watson & Crick, and other secular icons of the modern moment. Have shimmers, a tapestry hanging from the stone wall of faith, or more precisely, from an idea of faith, inside of which ‘what must you forgive’ and ‘what you would forgive’ wrestle.… (A) gorgeous debut.”
—G. C. Waldrep
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In Marc Gaba’s poems, austere typography reveals by suggestion, never declaration. In phrasing and imagery as precise as pencil drawings, the page’s white spaces are as active with import as what is visible. Have swerves formally among varied styles, constructing and awakening through the sign-language of a physical book an irrefutable question: Could any of us say that our life is our own?
“Marc Gaba meditates on the nature of aesthetic beauty with an almost clinical passion, weaving expertly among the emblems of Christianity as well as Marie Curie, Watson & Crick, and other secular icons of the modern moment. Have shimmers, a tapestry hanging from the stone wall of faith, or more precisely, from an idea of faith, inside of which ‘what must you forgive’ and ‘what you would forgive’ wrestle.… (A) gorgeous debut.”—G. C. Waldrep
“With its steady and compelling exactitudes, Marc Gaba’s Have calls to mind the poetry of George Herbert, where lineation is both a form and a subject, a meditation on lines in their ubiquitous though no less mysterious generations of relation and rupture. Where Herbert’s linear tropes—hold-fast, pulley, wreath, rope, cage, cable, and so on—feel for the contours of absolute indebtedness—We must confesse that nothing is our own…That all things were more ours by being his—in Gaba’s poems, the physical-metaphysical ‘fold’ is conjured through a painstaking attention to line as ultimate paradox, i.e. that which joins in the very act of dividing. To have is to be constantly halved, cut into subject and object in every act of perception. To have—to own or possess—is equally to be subject to experience. The “tireless symmetries” a line interposes—through diptych, groove, wound, gash, door, shore, slit, veil—prompt agonistic and ludic responses in turn. Through Gaba’s freshening ear, a tiresome joke sounds a haunting theological query: Knock knock / Who’s there / Who. The poetic line, in Gaba’s hands, is both the door and the knock, the barrier, and the means of admission. A sentence changes its grammar midway, self-interruptive, self-mending, as if to seize a passage between ‘air and air.’ Disorientation and divestment prevail. Where what why who. Not ours nothing nowhere no one’s. Gaba is a pilgrim in the sense I respect most: a peregrine, a poet not afraid of the play between assertion and error—what wanders outside calculation. What alters the altar. What goes in search of free worship.”—Sarah Gridley
Winner, Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry Published in 2011, Our Own Voice Literary Ezine
Marc Gaba is from Quezon City, Philippines, where he continues to live. He received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Also a visual artist who has had solo and group exhibitions, he is curator of the art gallery Krem Contemporary Art. Previous publications include two chapbooks and Atomic Neutral, a single-edition collection of poems published as part of an exhibit, Birdsounds.
|Dimensions||6 × .5 × 9 in|
as fear | swift
| as another prayer meant both ways | Who
refers to you and what?
God | enough
room in you for pleasure | the sense not to be shared |
The quiet trees | sway and glitter
| Do you wish us that
| Do you
forget the self in you like time
no heart can keep | from blood however forgiving