by Synequeen Alasa-as
The four books of Dominic Anton's "Water" delve into the deep layers of human connection, spirituality, and the true inner-self. Anton deftly illustrates the meanings to which we live, survive, and exist. With every turning page, there is something for the lonely, and the lost, with trials merging in resilience, triumph, and fulfillment. His words carve experiences that range from themes of early childhood and parental guidance, to young adulthood and decision-making, as well as the claiming of an identity. He explores the personal with the historical, and contemporary context of the political injustices carried out in the Middle East.
This book is not for the lighthearted. More so, it is for those who are struggling or need upliftment in the areas of their life.
In this fuming and uncontainable book, “Fire,” Anton takes us beneath the superficial, beneath the world of first impressions, to the core of who we are. The book moves away from reflecting on mere obsessions, or giving power to ideas and materialistic desires that are essentially disposable. Rather, Anton suggests investing in enriching relationships, and positive day-to-day behaviors and attitude, so we could improve our outlook and enhance the interpersonal, thus truly reaching our fullest potential. "Fire" pushes on the boundaries of the areas in our lives, where we may need a bit more spark to kindle understanding of our own selves and the relationships we treasure.
“Don’t ask me
Ask the blood
In my veins”
- Who am I/ Who I am (1)
“How I try to forget,
I’m still stuck,
dragging these chains”
With fresh reminders and a renewal of hope, “Earth” is about trying to gain control over decisions we have power over. Anton sheds light on experiences of growing up with accumulating piles of responsibility, mixed in with a developing curiosity. The jarring and abrupt transition from childhood’s playfulness and carefreeness, to having to grow up and become a decision maker, is highlighted by the poet. "Earth" offers us a depiction of the beauty of growth. This is the beauty of having a purpose, a meaning, an abundance of hope that is able to sustain life itself. Anton seeks to remind us that this is a constant work-in-progress process, and that we need to learn and relearn certain lessons in order to become better versions of ourselves.
“I had more fun.
But now it’s done.
It feels as though,
- I don’t know how to be an adult (70)
“Giving my life meaning,
As all their colors
Fill the room.
- My mind is a garden (84)
With fluidity and clarity, “Water” taps into the internal battle one may be going through. It focuses upon the self-conscious, and gaining control. Anton, through this section of the book, provides affirmation and validation for the fact that we need to keep ourselves aware, and need to keep feeding our souls. Connecting with the inner self is to pinpoint one’s own hurt, misgivings, and hindrances that keep us from succeeding. It made me reflect on where I seek love and ambition, and how I thrive to combat forms of my own insecurities and self-doubt. “Water” is about rebirth, about coming to terms with the unknown, and moving forward.
“The ongoing battle, the flight for validation,
‘till I realize It’s just me in my lonely creation.”
“Such violent waves,
rushed to erase,
your face, I heal with time.”
-Gaining Control (116)
Breathing in and exhaling "Air," I want to take apart the context this book was written in and what it is about, which is the Middle East. The Middle East has a rich history and vibrant cultural heritage, in addition to its prevailing war-torn nations, which have suffered turmoil and devastation for centuries. Aside from focusing on the political unrest in the region, Anton allowed me to reflect on my own privilege, that I may have taken for granted. As a Pinay American and a practicing Christian, I move freely with institutional support to celebrate my heritage and observe religious, national holidays. "Air" carves the way freedom of religion is a constant battleground for those who aren't free in their geopolitical location, or even in the intimacy of familial bonds. The weight to carry our identity and how we claim ourselves can be heavy and burdensome. However, when I think about where I feel free and calm, and feed my soul, is through praying and being at church – a reality and privilege that continues to be tested in the Middle East. Anton reminds us that there is no true justice when God’s loving people continue to be deprived, punished, and executed for being who they are. Injustice in the Middle East is injustice everywhere.
“How do you expect to reach the top of the mountain,
When you are carrying so much baggage?” (165)
“If you have to force yourself on me,
If you have to tell me what to do,
If you punish me for my mistakes,
Can you really call yourself religion.
I appreciate how this book reminds the readers of what makes us who we are, especially by focusing on what we may take for granted. This book is not just a one-time read, but something to revisit again in the future. It is a terrific gift to give to a loved one, or for anyone turning over a new chapter in their life.
1. What inspired you to write “Water" or how did you come about to write it?
The concept for my book happened so fast. I was inspired by some poetry books that I had read and started to collect a lot of the poems that I had written as the basis for the book. I wanted to create a body of work that was an honest reflection of the many aspects of my life, from my own observations of the world around me, relationships with others, mindsets, and spirituality. I chose water for the title simply because my horoscope is a water sign.
2. How would you describe your writing process to this?
After I had come up with the concept of using the four elements as sections for each part of the book, it was only a matter of filling in the blanks. The ideas for the themes each element represented rapidly started to manifest and after two months, the book was written. The concept of using the four elements as sections to structure the book was tedious, as I had to carefully thread each poem in a way to carry out the themes efficiently.
3. Which book/section was the most challenging and which one was easiest?
The theme I had finished the fastest was Fire. During the time of writing the book, there was ongoing political unrest in the Middle East with many refugees struggling to escape sectarian violence, which really ignited the flames of that section. My own challenges with self-growth and the pain of failed relationships wove their way through that section as well. Fire is the first section that represents hurt, rage and pain as a starting point so each section that followed was an attempt to make sense of and heal the wounds of my external and internal worlds.
Water and Air were more challenging to write in the sense that they are both spiritual turning points in the book, so with the concepts of both elements and their writing styles, I had to pay closer attention to shift their energies into a higher place. Water is the most personal section and more elusive than the others. It explores more introverted concepts and it's where I started to detach from the external world, isolate myself and fill grief and depression with vice. The end of the section is the turning point where the process of reincarnation and accepting reality begins, leading to air.
Writing Air was the most challenging. I had to observe my mindset and attain a higher sense of self-awareness in order to relieve myself of destructive thought processes and shift into higher realms of thinking. It explores many philosophical and Buddhist concepts that helped me attain a healthier state of mind and attain peace. I had rewritten and reorganized this section the most in order to have each poem carefully build off of each other to conclude the journey perfectly.
4. What would you like your readers to get out of the book?
The one feeling that I hope readers can attain after finishing the book is a sense of peace and a changed outlook on life. The many themes this book explores I hope can be applied to the readers' lives and used to bring them any solution, sense of closure, or an altered perspective that helps them in any way. I write to heal others and if I can bring someone any form of relief or peace after reading the book, then my goal is accomplished.
"Water" can be purchased here.