Reviving my Annual Selections

Among my most read posts on this blog are my annual selections of literary works by writers both currently in and products of my alma mater, the Ateneo de Davao. Inspired by Jose Garcia Villa’s own selections, and motivated no doubt by my own vanity, I started featuring what I considered the best, and the worst, printed output by Atenistas two years ago.  I don’t get much traffic here, but when the selections come out my views spike significantly.

But as readers may have noticed I was only able to do half of the originally planned two installments last year. The reasons for this are varied. First, that was the time when I was beginning to cringe at my youthful vanity, and I inadvertently found the selections rather vain. And being the shrewd attention whore that I was I also knew that the then recent USEP brouhaha would draw attention away from what was a considerably worthy cause. I also felt the need to distance myself from Ateneo de Davao then, and I felt that continuing the selections would not let me go of the school I’m no longer attached to.

And so I decided to stop doing my selections, with the intent of never continuing it again.

But as can be observed, there’s a slight contradiction in those reasons: I knew it was a worthy cause to make the selections,  and those reasons are not enough. To add to this several students and alumni from AdDU have asked me to continue the selections again.

And so I have decided to resume the selections this year.

As in the past years there will be a selection of best and worst for poetry and fiction, with a look at form and substance, form, substance, and an emphasis on the year’s theme. Since I was not able to discuss fiction last year, the fiction selections will be from 2012 to 2014.

Since these are my selections, I have decided that my theme for 2014 is the same with my personal theme for my Ten Years of Writing Year, “Living for the Applause.” Much has been said about the latter part of Horace’s immortal maxim “dulce et utile,” but barely enough of the former. Dulce, the entertainment value of pieces, will be this year’s focus.

And added feature for this year will be that third entry which has never really materialized: one on essays and plays. I have been able to disregard this in previous years because few notable pieces of the two genres have been published, but in the past year works have been printed that deserve mention I will try to include in this article a comprehensive directory of the other AdDU people whose works have been published for the year.

In my selections I haven’t really discussed who qualifies as “student” or “alumnus,” and I feel I must determine that once and for all. There is what I call the Rivera-Amigo guidelines, guidelines used by Aida Rivera and Cesar Amigo in their selections of the first few issues of Silliman University’s Sands and Coral. They accepted submissions from students currently enrolled, current members of the faculty and staff, and alumni (graduate, undergraduate, out of school) who have not been attached to any other school since leaving Silliman. I will be less rigid: I will consider as “Atenista” any person who has been to Ateneo de Davao for his/her college degree for at least a year, regardless of any current attachments. Once an Atenista, I’ve come to learn, always an Atenista. I will also include current faculty and staff. As in the preceding years, I will no longer include Palanca awardees or other writer with national or international distinctions.

I will also be doing this year’s selections in partnership with someone, so that my selections can be more objective. Published writer and fresh graduate Alfredo Carlos Montecillo has agreed to work with me in the choices.

And to top it off, I have decided to do this for more than one school! Since I am currently attached to Negros Oriental State University, I will be making a similar evaluation of the annual output of the students in that school for the year. What about Silliman? There are enough good critics in the school by the sea already. Mike Gomez is enough for Silliman.

I intend to come up with, and release the selections for AdDU this summer, and NORSU later during the year. Don’t miss them!

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