Conversation with Danny Sillada in Manila [Excerpt Part 1]

Tshombe Sekou: What are some of the challenges you find within the understanding of your art as a Filipino artist?

Danny Sillada: Sometime what we mean in our poetry gets lost during translation; I write sometime for my own people to understand, but when it is translated to other languages, I am afraid that it will be lost in context.

Tshombe Sekou: You’re right, sometimes it is difficult to preserve the context when others peruse our work; they may often take our struggles as something else, which is why there will be somethings lost along the way.

I think what we can collectively assume is, our poetry, despite its codification serves as a bridge; take Khalil Gibran for example, he wrote from all that is Muslim about him but he speaks beyond the limitations of his faith.  In a way it is the point of commonality of expression on a global perspective.

Danny Sillada:  You’re right! And everyone wants to be a poet today, and it is a way of telling our lives; it’s becoming a phenomenon by which we are sharing.  Yes, everyone wants to be a poet now.

[interrupted by a young Filipina lady soliciting for Youth for Peace]

Tshombe Sekou: What does Youth for Peace do?

Young Lady: It helps to teach children music, and we need donations to help make possible Sir.

Tshombe Sekou: do you teach them poetry?

Young Lady: What do you mean Sir? We teach the instruments.

Tshombe Sekou: What if I gave you enough to make pen and paper the instrument?!

Young Lady: Okay Sir.  Thank you Sir.

[back to conversation]

Danny Sillada: That was very generous of you!

Tshombe Sekou: I think it’s extremely important, because when a human expresses art it changes things; this is what makes artists of any society dangerous because of what they may incite.

Danny Sillada: Yes, that’s why I like the works of Ben Okri

Tshombe Sekou: Okay, so I have a question that may seem a little weird; however I would like to know, when you create art what do you feel? Are you the same person?

Danny Sillada: I feel like I am possessed by something higher than myself; it’s like something else is causing me to do this, its like a trance controlled by a strange power.  Sometimes it feels like I am different…

Tshombe Sekou: Do you ever feel like “when or did I write that?”

Danny Sillada: That’s that feeling!