Reformed Young Poet: Delighting Grace Interviews Leah Paula Villanueva

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It pays to “Like” Facebook’s page suggestions on your newsfeed. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t stumble to a page that show case some good poetry. And not just poetry but solid, biblical poems. Delighting Grace reach out to the page owner and poet Leah Paula Villanueva to talk about poetry, inspirations and her poems.
Delighting Grace: Hello Leah! So tell us what poem had an impact to your life?
Leah Paula: Hi Delighting Grace and to its readers. This is the poem that has made an impact in my life:
I asked the Lord that I might grow 
In faith and love and ev’ry grace, 
Might more of His salvation know, 
And seek more earnestly His face. 
‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray, 
And He, I trust, has answered prayer, 
But it has been in such a way 
As almost drove me to despair. 
I hoped that in some favored hour 
At once He’d answer my request 
And, by His love’s constraining pow’r, 
Subdue my sins and give me rest. 
Instead of this, He made me feel 
The hidden evils of my heart 
And let the angry pow’rs of hell 
Assault my soul in ev’ry part. 
Yea, more with His own hand He seemed 
Intent to aggravate my woe, 
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, 
Humbled my heart and laid me low. 
“Lord, why is this,” I trembling cried; 
“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?” 
“’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied, 
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.” 
“These inward trials I employ 
From self and pride to set thee free 
And break thy schemes of earthly joy 
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.” 
JOHN NEWTON
Delighting Grace: Wow, that is one great poem from John Newton. So when did you start writing poetry?
Leah Paula: I started writing poetry way back in college.
Delighting Grace: Do you have a poet hero someone who you look up to?
Leah Paula: I don’t have a poet hero but I have friends — classmates in college — whom I look up to for their writings inspire me to write.
Delighting Grace: What was the first poem you wrote?
Leah Paula: The first poem I wrote is about Indepence Day, a Tagalog poem.
Delighting Grace: When did you decided to put up a FB page for your works? By the way, I really like your poems.
Leah Paula: Thank you. It was when a Facebook friend asked me if I have a Youtube channel for my sign language covers. I told him that I have but the videos just got deleted right after because of the coppyrights so he suggested that I should atleast have a page so that it will be easier for friends to look for it. I listened to his advise so on that day I created a Facebook Page for my sign language covers and also a page for my poems at the same time so that all the poems that have been stocked in my phone will be saved because I was actually planning to compile it on something and delete every poem in my phone to save memory.
Delighting Grace: How do you get inspirations or poem prompt specially in writing love poem? Do you have certain habits or rituals when you start writing a new poem?
Leah Paula: I get inspiritations in writing love poems by reading other people’s works or by re-reading the previous works I’ve already written. Or sometimes it just depends on my feelings. If I feel hurt or in love, or if I feel the hurt and pain that people experience, it triggers me to put everything into words. And I don’t really have any habit or ritual every time I write a new poem. But there are times that when I learn a new vocabulary that just sounds good to me, I feel like I need to include it in my poem just because it’s very pleasing to my ears.
Delighting Grace: How about in writing poems that has a biblical message? Is the writing different with other poems you have done?
Leah Paula: When it comes to writing theological poems, I can say that I do it ultimately to help me in my sanctification.  I have learned from John Piper that one of the ways to meditate on God’s Word is to write a poem so I try my best to practice it. I have poems that is rich in doctrine, and there are others that is purely emotional prayer.
The difference with other poems is because it actually takes a lot of effort and energy to write a theological poem since I really make sure I only write what is biblical and I also desire that through my writings, people will be blessed.
Delighting Grace: Among the poems you have wrote so far, which one is your favorite and why?
Leah Paula: My favorite poem I have written is I Am Adam because every time I read it, I just feel in awe of Jesus’ person and work as our Federal head. He is the second Adam who came to rescue us from ourselves
Delighting Grace: Do you agree with the notion that if you want a heart felt love poem, you need first to have an experience or had a relationship to write one?
Leah Paula: Not really. I’m not 100% sure, but I’ve experienced writing a heartfelt poem when one of my bestfriends in college got cheated on. I felt like I was the one who’s in pain and who got betrayed that’s why I was able to write a poem. But I think that I was also able to write that because somehow thru my friend’s pain, I felt that all the pain I’ve experienced became a reopened wound.
Delighting Grace: What do you think can poem convey that other forms of writing say essay or prose can’t do?
Leah Paula: All writings convey a message to the readership or to the audience. The only difference is just the method on how we want our message to be expressed. But the good thing about poetry is that it is more entertaining to read. The metaphors and other figures of speech present in the poem make us think critically about the message and by understanding the meaning gives us pure delight.
Delighting Grace: For readers who want to try poetry what piece of advice can you give them?
Leah Paula: Writing is never easy specially poetry but by practicing everyday will help us improve. No matter how fast or slow our progress is, what matters most is the improvement we make. Besides we cannot fill a glass with water without having all the droplets combined.
Delighting Grace: I also want the readers to know that aside from poetry, you have this sign language video thing. Can you tell us about it?
Leah Paula: Yes. Senyas is the page intended to promote sign language to our hearing community and for them to be aware that deaf people exist and that they need to be understood and prioritized, too. It’s also my goal to help the deaf community understand the songs we sing so that they’ll be able to enjoy it as well. Please “Like” or “Share” if you enjoyed the videos.
Delighting Grace: Thank you, Leah. Please invite our readers to check you and your poems.
Leah Paula: Hi friends! Please do follow my FB page and I hope you’re blessed thru my poems and please react or write a comment for me to know your feedbacks. Thank you!
Delighting Grace: Thank you again Leah. Guys check her out OK. Till next time!
How about listening or watching some Pinoy preachers online? Here’s the list:

Answering The Question: Why Read Poems?

Well I will not spead the whole post making excuses on why I’m 30 minutes late for this afternoon event at the Lopez Museum and Library. So I might as well go to the nitty gritty of things.
The event entitled “Why Read Poems?” was held last November 16, 2013, 4 of the foremost comtemporary poets were invited to read their favorite poems and answer the question: Why read poems?” The poets who took turns in reading, explaining and most importantly captivating us . The four poets are Mark Anthony Cayaman, Adam David, Allan Popa and Vincenz Serrano. Their works are published by High Chair, a non-profit small press that promotes poetry in the Phlippines. The libarary filled with paintings and books added an intimate backdrop for the talk.

First to go into the fray is Mark Anthony Cayaman which of course I missed half of his talk. Still having a hangover with my Komikon adventure, I wasn’t able to dig in of what he just said. So lets jump over to the next poet 🙂

Next was Adam David, wearing something out of a North Face ad, but still this man has some heavy stuff to say. He shows us his favorite book “Waking Ice” by Ricardo de Mungria, a collection of poems for his deceased son. So David’s topic is writing poetry in response to a tragedy. He told us that in writing this kind of poetry we should avoid emotional blackmailing the readers. With the recent Tyhoon Yolanda calamity, floods of poems came rushing to different social media about the tragedy. Some are good but the notables are the bad ones. He points at that we should steer away from this err thats stains the art form that in the process betraying our readers.

Third in the list and my favorite is Allan Popa. He prefered to sit down and introduced us to a book by Belinda Santos “Pali-Palitong Posporo.” He read his favorite poems on that collection which made us smile. He then brought out his commentary on the book and his take on the why we should ream poems. He titled it “Distancia Amigos”. He told us, as he reads the essay that, even if a poem reveals certain things their is still a gap between understanding and not understanding it. Poetry has self control and has boundaries that only the author knows. He compares it with the donut, which someone may consume but not the empty circle part which goes to the poet. He adds thats knowing the poem in the process and fuels the curiosity of the reader. Wow we are floored by this man.

 

The last to talk was Vincenz Serrano who shared with us his love for Joseph Lacaba’s “The Annotated Catechism”. This poem was released during the Martial Law 1st Quarter Storm. Lacaba’s work is a response to that event. As the title suggest its the annotation or sort of comment on a catechism (a religious Q & A book). The bizarre thing is the annotations which contain reference from pop culture and society that are juxtaposed on the suppose content of the cathecism (or maybe the author is on drugs or something). Serrano wants us to appreciate writing forms montage and collage through the eyes of Lacaba by disecting some lines from the poem. In the end, what we consider a LSD trip of the poet turns into a relevant and important message to the Martial Law era.

If you ask me why read poems well its simple. Its another way to express yourself and what you are trying to express has soul. Its has depth.

Do I have a taste for poems? Well I like poets like Pablo Neruda, Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Frost (I have his book). I have two Dovers book on poems. So this event truly add some appreciation to the art form. Also when I hear poetry or poems as a Christian it reminds me of the Song of Solomon the Bible, John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost” and John Piper’s poems.

Before I head home I indulge myself with the complimentary hot coffee and checked out the Trajectories exhibit.