Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Life of a Poet - Dennis Go

Today, kids, we are going to a very beautiful place on the planet, the Phillipines, a country of very lovely people, my adorable daughter-in-law's home country. We are visiting Dennis Go, of Deeper Linings. Dennis is a faithful and regular participant at Poets United. I am envisioning  beautiful palm trees, ocean breezes, and people zipping about on jeepneys. Hold on! We're driving perilously fast, and the streets are jammed with people, and all manner of vehicles. We are plunged deep into the middle of Life, teeming with humanity.

Poets United: Dennis, you are a man of mystery. I found no clues on your site, and look forward to visiting with you. Would you please tell us about your life?  

Typical downtown Manila corner - taken outside our apartment

Dennis: I’m Chinese by blood, Filipino by citizenship. I have a wife and daughter, and been living at the heart of Manila for as long as I can remember. Fookienese and Tagalog are my native dialects but English is spoken here by everyone.  I work at a cigarette company and yes, I’m a smoker and find it real hard to quit although I kept trying. A 35 year-old, 200 pounded man with signs of elevated sugar level due to my Coca-cola addiction and occasional beer barrage. I love gadgets and I just can’t live without an acoustic guitar.

My workplace

We’re situated near Manila’s Chinatown district. The Chinese always want a peaceful community and living here is a good thing. Convenience is everything. From marketplaces to luxury malls, sidewalk food cravings to grand Chinese seafood banquets --- it’s all here. The combination of industrious Chinese people and hospitable Filipino population makes me at home in this area, although the intense city traffic and the usual third world pollution needs a little getting used to.

Manila Chinatown - Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch
google photo

Poets United: Do you have a favorite story or memory from childhood you might like to share?

Dennis: I remember my brother and I would bring our electric guitars and walk our way home from our friend’s garage after our weekly jamming. Instead of taking the jeepney, we’d rather walk in order to instil in our minds the need for hard work in accomplishing things, which is before, our dream of becoming a successful heavy metal band. That’s about an hour or more of walking. We used to compose lyrics and discuss guitar riffs on our way home and oftentimes he would laugh and tell me that my suggested words are way too “flowery” and I might need to shift into poetry writing. Well, I guess his words were prophetic.

He passed away when he was only 22. I was only 20 then, but until now, I’ve not yet entirely recovered from the incident.

Dennis at Sabang Beach, Palawan, circa 2006

Poets United: I’m so sorry, Dennis. I can well imagine how you must miss him. When did you first begin to write, and what was it that made you choose poetry as your means of creative expression?

Me and my guitar

Dennis: My brother and I, before we started a band with a friend in her garage,  all we ever thought about was writing new material. He wrote songs and vocal lines, but I, being the dumb one, couldn’t contribute with the lyrics. I found myself reading classic poetry books trying to get ideas. As expected, it didn’t help. Strangely though, I became fond of poetry. Those were adolescent years when I have to deal with all sorts of stress. It gave me an idea to have a journal just to vent out steam and save my sanity. I tried to write as much poetry as I could during those times and eventually it grew on me.

Poets United:  What keeps you writing? What is it that you love about poetry?

Dennis: I keep notebooks of what I’ve written. From raw scribbles up to free form poetry I always critique myself, every now and then. Seeing the diversity of writing styles I’ve developed, it will be such a waste if I stop writing. What I love about poetry is with just a few words or syllables, an entire universe of ideas and feelings are conveyed.

Poets United: Well said. When did you start blogging, and how has blogging impacted your writing?

Dennis: I started blogging in 2010 using my old Blogspot account, shifted to Wordpress when I accidentally messed up my layout and couldn’t retrieve the old interface.

I’ve always wanted to share my works with others and see how they will react. I have no writing and literary background whatsoever, and by posting my work on an anonymous cyberspace --- without me dealing with ridicule face to face --- definitely made an impact. Seeing different reactions and reading other’s work made me realize that I’m not alone on my poetry quest.

Poets United: The encouragement and feedback from other writers definitely motivates us to keep writing, doesn’t it? The blogosphere has changed my life! Who – or what – would you say has been the single biggest influence on your writing?

Dennis: Who is the single best influence on my writing? Let’s just say that it’s because of my heartaches in the past that I’ve learned to write like this. Old wounds just keep on resurfacing. Thanks to my wife, the negative aura has been lifted. But still, the topic of unrequited love pops out every now and then.

Very First Family Photo-Naomi, Nicole and Dennis

Poets United: What a beautiful family, Dennis! I’m so happy for you! Do you have a favorite poet? What is it about their work that you admire?

Dennis: William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience ignited my interest in poetry, and Emily Dickinson’s pieces awed me. The works of Welsh poet R. S. Thomas urged me to try explore my freestyle writing. Depth and beauty is showcased by simplicity in his excellent wordplay.

Poets United: I see the tendency towards minimalism and simplicity in your work, as well. I admire that, as I can be too wordy. 

My mom's 70th birthday. From left to right -
nephew Denver, younger sis,Jackie, me, my mom Diana, baby daughter Nicole,
eldest sis Ronnie, niece Desiree, wife Naomi, elder sister Gig and brother-in-law Dayton

You have a wonderful family, kiddo! Do you have a favorite poem, written by you?

Dennis: For now, the poem dedicated to my daughter, “Child”, is my favorite.


You came when time
Anxiety beckons, 
Uneasiness swells.
You came
Where hopes and dreams
Are distant places
Too futile to dwell.

Whatever it may be,
Though hardships haunt me
And shadows overcome
My soulless night,

I reach within
Deep beneath the bowels
To nourish my spirit
And end my strife.

You have been
The most beautiful face
I've gazed through
My entire life. 
Dennis Go

Denise Nicole, born May 11, 2012, 2 1/2 months old
Poets United: So loving and tender, Dennis. This poem really moved me when you first posted it. Your daughter is so beautiful! You now will see the world through her brand new eyes. If you could meet with someone famous, who would it be, and what would you talk about?
Dennis: I would very much like to meet the late Bruce Lee. His philosophies about life and martial arts are priceless and putting them into practice makes one a well-rounded and better person. I would surely ask him about his teachings, particularly how to be like water --- how to adapt in a time like this just as water “becomes” the cup when it is poured into it.  

Water becomes the cup

Poets United: That is such a beautiful concept – the water becoming the cup! When you aren’t writing, what other activities do you enjoy?

Dennis: I play the acoustic guitar; listen to folk, rock and heavy metal music.  I love to have a few drinks – a beer or a cup of coffee -- and get together with family and friends or just plainly sitting alone in a coffee shop with my iPad surfing and writing poetry.

Poets United: What are your writing goals for the next few years?

Dennis: Maybe if I could publish my poetry that would be very fulfilling. Poetry here in the Philippines does not thrive unless backed up and scrutinized by top local literary figures, and you’re at the mercy of the readers’ tastes. And for me not having any literature background on my resume, publishing might be a bad idea financially. But seeing my work printed would be worth all the while.

Poets United: You might consider self-publishing. There are some very inexpensive online forums where you can order only as many books as you want, and where people can order them online inexpensively. Many poets are doing that these days. Poets United produced a very inexpensive anthology through . Do you have a favorite quote that you use often, or live by?

Dennis: There’s this one statement quoted by Russell Crowe as General Maximus Decimus Meridius in the movie Gladiator. “Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.”  It made me realize that death is inevitable, and I must embrace it in order to make time and life worthwhile. Knowing that I’ll be dead soon motivates me to do what I must.

Poets United: Hopefully not soon-soon! You're so young! Is there anything else you’d like to share with Poets United?

Dennis: I’ve recently posted a piece entitled “The Pursuit of Poetry”. That would be my message to all poets out there. Thank you, Poets United, for featuring me in this series. Hope I won’t bore you guys hehe

The pursuit of Poetry is a lifelong affair,
Where one must strive hard to interpret his thoughts.
A scene treasured in the realm of the mind
Must be awesomely penned to justify its course.
Write on and ease your woe
For words vaguely written are the sentries of the soul.
The joy of poets is sought endlessly on paper.
Feelings never herald astound in plain dues.
Shortly reforms its elegies likewise,
And cuts its nothingness off without a clear view.
Striving without meaning…
For words cannot satisfy the thoughts the heart presumes.
The sound of rhyme and rhythm misjudge the context lines
Wherein rules uphold the grammar and meaning
Instead of the heart’s ways freely patterned,
Unmindful of the verbal errors in wordings.
Writing still in strange tones
While others see your craft as relentlessly worthless.
The serenity of poems lives on forever
As the soul is wounded by the impact done.
It cherishes thoughts rarely mystified
Altering the concavity of one’s reason
To study emotions
And the perpetual shelter within altered minds.
The proverbs of the soul must be kept sacred for life.
Antiquities herein outlive the ages.
Let poets be the scribes of tomorrow
To overshadow the fools from being sages.
Solemnly, live the dream
Be wise enough and pursue the vastness of writing.
Dennis Go

Sigh. Time to leave the palm trees and the beautiful people behind, and zip back to Real Life, kids. But wasn't it a lovely trip? Isn't Dennis wonderful? Come back to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you! 


  1. Another good interview, Sherry. You definitely find the most interesting people. Dennis, it is good to know more about you. I had no idea you lived in the Philippines. I hope you do look into self-publishing a poetry book. Try Lulu, which is what I have used. It's this would be a good choice. Your little daughter (and your poem about her) is beautiful. Music and poetry do compliment each other, don't they?

  2. What a beautiful child, Dennis. Blessed~
    Happy you found a community here at Poets United.

  3. Dennis, your daughter is beautiful! I love the poem you wrote for her~
    I love music, too and I think there is a place for both to harmonize together! I enjoyed getting to you know better, Dennis! I so hope you will try self publishing...I am considering it myself!
    Wonderful interview you two! I loved learning more, about one of our fellow poets!~ :D

  4. Dennis, this is a great interview! I enjoyed ALL of it. I especially appreciated "The Pursuit of Poetry." The poem to your daughter is precious. Thank you! Be well!

  5. Ei thanks guys. It's my pleasure to be part of the Poet's United list. :)

  6. As well as helping me get to know Dennis better and meet his lovely family, this interview brought back happy memories of my visit to Manila many years ago. Thanks, Dennis and Sherry.


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