"POETRY is the art of capturing the heart."

Such were the words of writer Shirley Lua during the book launch of Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta’s “Burning Houses” at Greenbelt 4’s Powerbooks in Makati last March 8.

Published by the UST Publishing House, “Burning Houses” is Lacuesta’s second collection. Her first book of poems, “The Proxy Eros,” was published back in 2008 and was shortlisted for the Manila Critics Circle’s National Book Award in the same year.

Lacuesta said she did not intend to release a second collection, but a personal experience prompted her to express her emotions through writing.

“My father just passed away. Somehow, I wanted to explain that kind of loss by writing this book,” said Lacuesta, who won the second and third prizes at the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Poetry in 2005 and 2008, respectively.

Her new book was widely praised by notable writers and poets who graced the event.

Award-winning Thomasian poet Carlomar Daoana commended Lacuesta’s new collection for being able to connect her personal experiences to historical and cultural domains.

John Jack Wigley, director of the UST Publishing House, was also present in the launch. “Burning Houses is a collection of fine art to folk and pop culture, and only Mookie can turn such inspirations into poetry,” Wigley said.

Meanwhile, National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose praised Lacuesta’s work for its “music.”

“Her poetry has music. Many poets today are tone-deaf. They don’t know what music is. Poetry with the combination of music creates a smooth flow,” he said.

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The event was sponsored by the De La Salle University Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center in partnership with the UST Publishing House.

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