Dr. Edith L. Tiempo: National Artist for Literature

National Artist for Literature Dr. Edith L. Tiempo passed away on August 21, 2011 of a myocardial infarction, at the age of 92 years.

Edith L. Tiempo, poet, fictionist, teacher and literary critic was one of the finest Filipino writers in English whose works are characterized by a remarkable fusion of style and substance, of craftsmanship and insight. She was born on April 22, 1919 in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. Her poems are intricate verbal transfigurations of significant experiences as revealed, in two of her much anthologized pieces, “The Little Marmoset” and “Bonsai”. As fictionist, Tiempo was as morally profound. Her language has been marked as “descriptive but unburdened by scrupulous detailing.” She was an influential tradition in Philippine literature in English. Together with her late husband, Edilberto K. Tiempo, she founded and directed the Silliman National Writers Workshop in Dumaguete City, which has produced some of the country’s best writers.

Tiempo’s published works include the novel A Blade of Fern (1978), The Native Coast (1979), and The Alien Corn (1992); the poetry collections, The Tracks of Babylon and Other Poems (1966), and The Charmer’s Box and Other Poems(1993); and the short story collection Abide, Joshua, and Other Stories (1964).*

The Aquino administration expressed its grief over the death of Dr. Tiempo, as well as of Mrs. Kerima Polotan Tuvera, a renowned fictionist and essayist who died of a stroke on the evening of August 19.

In a statement released on the day of Dr. Tiempo’s death, President Aquino’s Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said it was a sad weekend for the Philippine literary community, citing the great influence the two eminent writers have had over generations of Filipino literary practitioners. “The Aquino administration is united in grief with a country that mourns their passing,” he said.

*From Dr. Tiempo’s biographical note on the NCCA website/Photo Credit: Ian Rosales Casocot

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