The new dwells in possibility.
My thinking with regard to the new takes its bearings from German theorist Theodor Adorno, who likens the new to “a child at the piano searching for a chord never previously heard.” Despite the seemingly utopian disposition of this search, Adorno is aware there is no such thing as music “never previously heard”; chordial combinations are “limited” and “everything that can be played on [the keyboard has already been] implicitly given.” In other words: the keyboard offers both prospect and prohibition. One locates the new, therefore, not in the music itself, but in an unending and open-ended processes—informed by desire—of searching: “the new”, says Adorno, “is the longing for the new, not the new itself.” For me, what desire for the new translates to, on the one hand, is an endeavor to come to terms with the history of my chosen form (poetry). I’d like to know how poets from various localities and periods engaged with their givens: how they accepted yet disputed the limits and possibilities of language, in general, and poetry’s formal features, in particular. On the other hand, longing for the new also means an awareness of, and involvement in, the contemporary contexts in which possibilities of poetry might be simultaneously generated yet foreclosed: a knowledge of—and an ability to produce something from—the conflicts and affinities poetry has with society, culture, politics, the economy, and with itself. Though the poet John Keats privileged “heard melodies,” he valued even more “those [that are] unheard”: the new in poetry resides precisely in the poet’s ability to create conditions that make it possible for works to emerge: works which, at present, are still at the edge of listening, in danger of being silenced, yet desiring to be heard.
In 2011, Vincenz Serrano received his PhD in Creative Writing and English and American Studies from the University of Manchester; at present, he works in the Department of English at Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines), where he teaches courses in poetry and creative writing, coordinates the AB Literature (English) programme, and serves as Senior Associate Editor of Kritika Kultura. The Collapse of What Separates Us (High Chair, 2010) is his first book of poems; his work has also appeared in New Poetries V (Carcanet, 2011). In 2009, he won first prize for poetry in the Don Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature, considered one of the most prestigious literary honours in the Philippines.