Proust Questionnaire: 17 questions with Conchitina Cruz
By Yong Shu Hoong
I'd met Filipino poet Conchitina Cruz in Singapore twice. The first time, I figured, must be during the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) 2014. Today Online reminded me that she was the "first-ever non-Singapore-based guest to have ever been invited into the annual lion's den that is the SWF Closing Debate" whose proposition for that edition was: "True art is always ugly."
But "The Prospect of Beauty" (which was incidentally that year's festival theme) or ugliness aside, the second time I met Cruz was as fellow judges of the 2017 Golden Point Award, together with Singapore author and academic, Rajeev Patke. By then, a friend had given me a copy of her 2004 chapbook, Disappear.
Cruz received her MFA in writing from the University of Pittsburgh in the United States. She currently teaches creative writing and literature at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Poetry collections that she has authored include Dark Hours (winner of the National Book Award for Poetry in the Philippines), elsewhere held and lingered, and There is no emergency. A new collection, Modus, is forthcoming in March.
Cruz also helps run Paper Trail Projects, a small press dedicated to poetry "and other investigations in language driven by the poetic impulse" that she founded together with Adam David. But she has continued to maintain her ties with Singapore. As recently as 2019, she was on the external panel of esteemed industry fellows, also featuring Singapore poet Aaron Maniam and Singapore academic Koh Tai Ann, for Sing Lit Station's Manuscript Bootcamp to ready new poetry manuscripts for publication.
2. If you were a famous literary character in a novel, play, or poem, who would you be, and why?
3. What is the greatest misconception about you?
4. Name one living author and one dead author you identify with most, and tell us why.
5. Do you believe in writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?
6. What qualities do you admire most in a writer?
7. What is one trait you deplore most in writing or writers?
8. Can you recite your favourite line from a literary work or a piece of advice from a writer?
9. Complete this sentence: Few people know this, but I…
10. At the movies, if you have to pick a comedy, a tragedy, or an action thriller to watch, which will you go for, and why?
11. What is your favourite word, and what is your least favourite one?
12. Write a rhyming couplet that includes the following three words: glitter, arc, distance.
There once was a cat dressed in glitter
13. What object is indispensable to you when you write?
14. What is the best time of the day for writing?
15. If you had a last supper, which three literary figures, real or fictional, would you invite to the soiree, and why?
16. Cordite Poetry Review, in an article, mentions that "Cruz's enumerative poetics moves smoothly between many forms, from spatially-oriented poetry, prose poetry and micro-fiction, to letters, lists and invocations, to forms that take their cue from reference texts." What are your joys and challenges transcending what people expect poetry should be?
17. What would you write on your own tombstone?
Copyright © 2001-2023 The Authors