I received a private message on Facebook from a teacher, John Toledo, who is also part (or the publisher) of Speqtrum, a blog on what I understand is an online news organisation that seeks to legitimise the issues of the LGBT community in the Philippines. He asked where he could get a copy of Remnants because he wanted to review it for Speqtrum. I ended up giving him a copy since he was going to write a review.
What I wasn’t expecting was the wonderful things he said about my collection.
I was quite surprised at the insights that he opened up and what he thought about the work inside. It felt really good to see how he seemed to break down my poetics and contextualise it as part of the LGBT/HIV/AIDS sphere and while I was trying to veer away from writing about HIV directly, preferring to discuss my world outside of my medical condition, I didn’t realise that for some other people, it bleeds back into the context of the material and the reading of it.
Wanggo’s defiance with the conventions of HIV-AIDS poetry (as compared to the distraught poems of Rafael Campo, Thomas Dunn, and Mark Doty who used the material realities and experiences of AIDS patients as their subjects) proves that there is always a rainbow after the rain. Commonly, stereotypes of brokenness, hopelessness, and wasted-ness are attributed to PLHIV. Wanggo subverts the norm and creates a fresh autobiographical poem, which at one point is memoir and in another, a forgetting. — John Toledo on Remnants
It’s strange to have my work broken down but it’s also thrilling, like this is part of the process, and it’s happening. I’m just so happy that I can see that someone appreciates the work that came into it the material — the technical discourse that is formed — and not just the articulation of the emotions behind each piece.
Please check out his review here: “And before I put this all behind me”: Wanggo Gallaga’s “Remnants” contribute to HIV-AIDS Literature in the Philippines (Speqtrum; link)
I’m so grateful for this and I’m glad that there’s another review out there of Remnants.
It’s always a blessing to know that you have connected with people. That’s why I do what I do.