WHO SAID fashion can’t go with poetry?

Poet Carlomar Arcangel Daoana, a former UST Center for Creative Writing and Studies junior associate for poetry and Varsitarian associate editor, crosses over to the world of the “fabulous” with his second book, The Fashionista’s Book of Enlightenment (Designed By Words, 2009), a collection of 43 poems that tackle the complexities of couture, passion and loss. This follows his first collection, Marginal Bliss, which was released in 2002.

The poems are divided into three sub-collections, namely “The Fashionista’s Book of Enlightenment,” “Singled Out by Lightning,” and “Whirl,” which serve as headers for specific topics of high-society living, attraction to same gender, and the heartbreak brought about by a loved one’s passing. While most poems in the sub-collections carry a prominent theme or mood, there are also pieces that do not necessarily convey the same message as the majority of the poems.

Several pieces in the book reflect Daoana’s ideas on the intoxicating nature of the life in a city that “bristles with gorgeous shapes,” giving off words of detachment from the society “of laughter, caviar, and the scent/Of Chanel No. 5.”

“All of us, including you, have to rely on the sheath/Of appearances, wear what we think as a suitable/Disguise, cough a politically correct outcome,/Err, alas, on the side of the world,” Daoana writes in his second poem, “Desire.”

In “Diva,” Daoana calls for people to shed their pretensions:

“We are meant to tumble outwards: words and orgasms./Spilling, somersaulting, securing, our thoughts don’t service/Untouchable palaces; our tongues pay more homage to skin/Than gods. Hospitable heaven is mankind’s greatest fallacy.”

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“The Bird-feeder,” “The Ferryman,” and “Panic in Malacca” provide travelogues that seem to hang on a place’s fading beauty. The three poems also talk about the author’s displeasing experiences as a tourist in a foreign land.

“Octopus,” a poem that illustrates moments of intimacy, exhibits Daoana’s knack for striking, creative disguise:

“A male octopus travels an ocean/To have an embrace of his kind./The tentacles know what to do/And soon the gaps are sealed as/If to say: nothing else but hunger.”

In prosody, Daoana combines traditional meter (such “In lieu of” and “Blessing”) and the experimental (exemplified in “An Ode to Sleeve” and “The Page-turner”), while trying on other styles. An example of which is “The dressmaker,” a prose-poem he dedicates to his late grandmother.

Another experiment is “Two to Tango,” where the points of view of the poet and the fashionista are presented in separate poems under one title. Notable is the author’s effectiveness in giving voice to two entirely different personas.

It is safe to say that Daoana’s second collection lives up to its title—it enlightens in unexpected ways. With its profound lines filled with raw honesty and wonderful wording, this collection would definitely not go out of fashion. Rose-An Jessica M. Dioquino

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