Poet and artist Raphael Coronel launches his first book, "will you tell me what I look like?" published by the UST Publishing House, on Friday, Feb. 2, at the Everything's Fine Books and Gallery in Makati. (Photo by Jana Francesca D. Yao/ The Varsitarian)

A COLLECTION of poems and paintings inspired by experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic was unveiled by a UST Publishing House author on Feb. 2 at the Everything’s Fine Books and Gallery in Makati.  

Poet and artist Raphael Coronel launched his collection titled “will you tell me what I look like?” the first UST Publishing House title to combine poetry and painting into one book. 

Coronel said his debut book was an effort to connect with others during a time of seclusion. 

“Like [any] other literature that came out of the pandemic, [my book] became a lot about isolation, and I decided to use my art to relate to the outside world,” Coronel told the Varsitarian

Having started painting before the pandemic struck in 2020, Coronel said the years spent under lockdown gave him more time to paint, and the works eventually became part of the book. 

The collection is also a product of his curiosity about language and what it could be like when combined with visual aspects. 

“I wanted to see how the verbal individual could interact–How do we relate to the past? How do you relate to different ideas outside their comfort zone?” Coronel said. 

“[I] think it’s so interesting when different forms of art come together. I hope through my work, people can practice empathy [and] be more open to things that they’re not familiar with,” he added. 

Asst. Prof. Benedict Parfan, director of the publishing house, said he knew Coronel was a poet with a distinct way of writing but not that he was a painter, too. 

“I took interest in his work because it was different, and he has this very particular ear for poetry,” Parfan told the Varsitarian

“No other publication has done this type of book before, according to the participants of our double-blind peer review system, where both poem and painting collections are combined in one title,” he added. 

Coronel was a fellow of the 2017 UST National Writers’ Workshop spearheaded by the Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies.

His book “will you tell me what I look like?” was part of his master’s thesis in creative writing at De La Salle University. 

Apart from the book launch, Coronel mounted his first painting exhibition in the same gallery from Jan. 20 to Feb. 8, where the artworks included in the book were displayed. 


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