Poetry Friday – A Brief Conversation with Tita Lacambra Ayala

For Poetry Friday this week, I am happy to share with you a brief conversation (by email or thru Facebook Private Messaging to be precise) that I had with Tita Lacambra Ayala. Her “voice in the wilderness” publication called Road Map Series has just recently celebrated its 30th Anniversary, 21st of July 2011, and I thought that this is the perfect timing to do this piece.

I was very intrigued by Road Map Series when I visited her nearly a month ago, and also amazed at her tenacity and dedication in showcasing young talents through this series of publication. And so, here are some of the questions I asked Madam Tita or TALA as she is known to most.

Could you share with us the birthing process of the Road Map Series 30 years ago? What was the inspiration behind all this?

I started Road Map Series in May 1981. Volume #1 ‘I am dressed I am not going anywhere’ was printed because I thought that the poetry of Lia Lopez-Chua should be shared with the world. This became an addiction for me.

Is there any story behind the name “Road Map”?

The road map is an open hand. Your life is in your hands
Like reading the lines of a hand, one reads one’s fortune and love line, life line, fate line.
I grew up during the war, the Japanese inspired origami, the art of paper folding and paper sculptures, bonsai, everything miniaturized.

Is the Road Map Series restricted to artists based/born in Davao?

Davao and its environs, as far as Cebu. I had one issue which had Spanish poems.

Approximately how many artists/writers/authors have been featured for the past 30 years?

There are 83 titles.

What is it about Road Map that has contributed to its longevity and its constant publication despite limited resources? Could you share with us the life-force and energy behind all this?

The publication owes its longevity to the production of the artists. Every issue belongs to the artist. I encourage artists to Do it Yourself! Without the artist there is no Road Map. Taga-salo lang ako (I am just a conduit). When you give the artist printed matter, they can gauge where they are seeing their work in print. It makes them objective, and makes them assess their own value.

What is in store for us in the next 30 years?

It’s up to you. What you can make happen is going to happen. It’s how you flow with or against or create your own current.

Poetry Friday is being hosted this week by Kate Coombs at Book Aunt. And for this week, I’d like to share one of my favorite Tita Lacambra Ayala poem, entitled Love Poem Macabre.

Love Poem Macabre by Tita Lacambra Ayala, 2008

The chico brown feel and
scent and taste of you
keep me shamelessly honeyed
honeyed for hours after and
I can taste you even more
in my midmorning coffee,
even when you have been gone a week.
I taste you everywhere.
When are you returning from the
restlessness of our travels?
Will you also omit to tell me about
the drive you took to the sea to watch
the moonrise, the cocktails served
under dim lights and tender music
as you sipped your martini.
I long for the note of command in
your voice
when you call
from the stairs.
My veins spring into motion and gush
at the sound of my name
from your lips, straight
and stern, even then,
tweaking my ear as you pass
by my chair.
Strange for me who’s been gone
so long.
Strange to be so alive. And
loving even then.
I feel your hands on my knees
as if it were true.
Why are your shoes so muddy,
where have you been?


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  1. Rasco from RIF

    What a special treat, the interview and the poem. Thank you!

  2. gb_admin

    Thank you for visiting, Rasco. Truly our pleasure.

  3. Tabatha

    30 years — that’s quite an achievement!! Fantastic dedication.

    1. gb_admin

      It is truly a landmark publication devoted to nurturing young artists. =)

  4. Tara

    Thirty years of remarkable creativity…thank you for sharing!

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