The Murmur Asylum Poems (Reprint)
From the synapses of a body of memories, this first collection of ten poems by Ned Parfan, six of which are lyric sequences, offers the ear and eye voices of splintered selves breaking out of dark passages of childhood trauma, and images broken off from the core of chaos-as-point of origin. The poems’ aperture into human asylums of pain is constantly widened by personae intent on conversing with each other and with others, propelled by the desire to rebel against or to surrender to the untouchable darkness at the edge of mortal vision. In “The Waves” the persona says: “I am here to propose a legend that says the city was once / a tribe of children / humming around in a circle / with embers at the center and cold hunger / for a story.” Calamitous as the blind eye of havoc storming through unsettled lives, the waves engulf everything, including human memory. This is the “ocean returning” . . . “as though welcoming us back.” The poetic imagination of Parfan hurtles through time and space, the way it moves through stations of the LRT when the flood of typhoon Ondoy wrought near-apocalyptic visions of water as the end of life as we once knew it. Can we, like Parfan’s personae, envision how the darkening skies could bring everything back to that originary pulse of creation? — Marjorie Evasco
Ned Parfan’s debut collection, The Murmur Asylum, funnels memoir, nightmare, history, a splintered ego, lament, and desire through an aesthetic mix of layers and sequences (grim lyrics detailing invasions of a physical self and its self-lacerations), metaphors of conscious design and inspired accident, and a range of voices that tell of little dead places. Naturally, the collection can’t be an easy read as masks donned by the poet could (or did) inadvertently make him stray into an adversarial relation with himself in certain particular pieces, lending a tender pathos or a kind of offhand subversive elegance to his lines as he transports the reader to the precipice of night and a child in a middle room, or flood waters at Central Terminal. Throughout the collection, Parfan’s verses are brimful of formal virtuosity, candor, grace, and therapeutic possibilities his art offers as he gets under our skin, leaving luminous scars.
— Benilda Santos
About the Author
Ned Parfan obtained his MFA in Creative Writing from De La Salle University. His poems have been published in Crowns and Oranges, Dapitan, High Chair, Philippines Free Press, Sunday Inquirer Magazine, TOMAS, Under the Storm and other publications. A two-time finalist in the Maningning Miclat Awards for Poetry, he is currently an instructor at the University of Santo Tomas.