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Her Biography Through Your Poetics
Begun by Eileen R. Tabios Completed by Others
Buffalo, New York
THE BLIND CHATELAINE’S KEYS: Her Biography Through Your Poetics by Eileen R. Tabios Copyright © 2008 Published by BlazeVOX [books] All rights reserved. Reprinting of other people's writings are with the permission of the authors. Printed in the United States of America Book design by Geoffrey Gatza. Front cover image is of a sculpture by Donna White. Back cover photo of Caroline Cabading of Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble by Rhett Pascual/Your Exquisite Photos, 2004 First Edition ISBN: 1-934289-92-2 ISBN 13:978-1-934289-92-1 Library of Congress Control Number: 2008932201 BlazeVOX [books] 14 Tremaine Ave Kenmore, NY 14217 Editor@blazevox.org
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Images From A Waking Dream
By Juaniyo Arcellana
Review of Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole (Marsh Hawk Press, New York, 2002) The Philippine Star , November 25, 2002
One might be hard-pressed to review a book like Eileen R. Tabios’ Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole, a collection of prose poems published by the New York-based Marsh Hawk Press, without the risk of intellectualizing too much its chimeric contents. For the most part Tabios herself admits that her compositions are sculpted poems, complementary to a suggestion that they are in a manner poem-paintings, effectively betraying the strong visual stylist the poet is throughout her prose meanderings. But these reproductions may only be difficult on the surface of things, for in the day to day business of living one’s somewhat ordinary life, they come across like images from a waking dream, or better still, excerpts from a short film in progress. It matters little that Tabios was a devout student of the late [Philippine] National Artist Jose Garcia Villa, who in his lifetime held that poetry was different from prose and never the twain shall meet, because in Tabios’ own inexhaustible experiments in the written word all schools and philosophies and deconstructivist axioms can go hang, not that the old master would be turning in his grave because of it. Villa anyway shocked a good number of readers too while he was at it, and what could be a lasting influence on his student was the same dogged persistence to stick to the artist’s vision, like a kind of faith.
Reproductions then is not your conventional book that must be read from beginning to end, for in the spatial order of things the lines can shimmer and roll like distant flashes of lightning in the horizon.
But maybe we are already intellectualizing too much Tabios’ poetry, which is prose only in form but is poetry in all other aspects, not the least of which is its ability to reinvent the language, any language. We see familiar themes of the exile forever searching for the long road home, relationships between elusive and/or evasive lovers, as well the mother-daughter dichotomy and journeys into the soul’s dark night, both actual and metaphorical and in real time approximating 12-bar blues. We’ve mentioned sculpture and Tabios’ natural affinity with the visual if not spatial arts, but if her poems were music, which they are too in any case, then they would be closer to the jazz phrasings of, say, Joni Mitchell in her Hejira phase, forever on the run while the ghost of Jaco Pastorius’ bass colored the background like a shade of magenta. There are references in her poems to the Greeks and the feminists, though her words skirt around the classics or any thong-wearing postmodern woman. At times the language may induce a kind of dizziness in the casual reader, but Reproductions as reproductions go do not require full
concentration to be appreciated; again it is as if we’ve walked into a movie house during the middle of a screening, while perhaps the heroine is about to disrobe or slash her wrists or something, which leaves us gawking and wondering and trying to make heads or tails what all this life and death drama is about. We feel like rambling in our minds as we peruse through the book and read familiar names like Eric Gamalinda, Joey Ayala, guys who we were in the same writers workshop with in the late 1970s, when Tabios herself was somewhere in the US of A, growing up western nonetheless, yet feeling occasionally the tug and pull of the homeland, as inevitable as balut and sinigang and the design of weavers up north from where the poet’s ancestors hail.
Reproductions is quite modern too if you get right down to it, landing right smack in the cyber age where love can be lost and found in a click of a mouse or sent vie e-mail to the inconsolable void.
Some detractors may label Tabios’ work pretentious but that may be just another way of saying it is way ahead of its time and so would understandably make many a new critic uncomfortable. Or that she has a big ego which is true of many a controversial and groundbreaking artist. But only in the sense that Mallarme and Valery and the rest of those weird, turn of the last century French poets were ground-breaking and whose very poetry was a way of life. In her “Lies,” which is just the other side of the truth, the persona imagines having kids, and that one of them would surely grow up to be president of the United States. Then she realizes she is fooling herself and admits that she’ll end up alone, alone, alone. But for her art Tabios too is alone, which in the end could be one and the same not altogether sad thing.
On POST BLING BLING
By Andrea Baker
Engagement with POST BLING BLING (Moria Poetry, Chicago, 2005) Spoke to the World on the Phone Blog by Andrea Baker, Dec. 18 & 19, 2006
Dec. 18, 2006 Christmas is stressing me out. It feels like a heavy tax. Business is stressful. Getting ready to leave is stressful. We bumped up our car today. And I just don't agree with so much of society and that's so present with me this time of year. And buying perfect gifts is hard. It's so easy to make people feel misunderstood with gifts. I hate consumer values. Realistate grubbers are tearing down my neighborhood all around me. Walter and I testified in a court case recently. The transcripts came back and the reporter put "punched" when he said "pinched." BUT I've just opened Eileen Tabios' POST BLING BLING and it feels like a pressure release valve for all my woe: This is the second poem: WELCOME TO THE LUXURY HYBRID It's not just the debut of a new car, but of a new category. Lexus engineers have combined the attribute of a luxury sedan with the remarkable fuel economy and low emissions that only hybrid technology can provide. The result is a vehicle that offers you the best of both, without asking you to sacrifice anything. A V6 engine delivers the power of a V8 while producing only a fraction of the emissions associated with a standard SUV. Yet this hybrid is also every inch a Lexus, sparing nothing in the way of your comforts and conveniences. Making it what may indeed be the first vehicle of its kind. One that treats you, and the world you live in, with equal respect. There are certain moods when I won't connect to this writing but one of my favorite things about poetry is allowing myself to be such a fickle reader. For right now nothing could beat a little hard liquor and POST BLING BLING. I love the line breaks in that poem–I don't know why but feel them as outrageously successful. Dec. 19, 2006 I do want to talk. Was glued to POST BLING BLING this morning. It's really brilliant. The second 1/2 is a list-serv conversation about "balikbayan boxes"–the boxes of American consumer crap that Filipinos are expected to
send home. How politically complicated. This book would be a perfect prexmas gift for any stressed and demoralized shopper. The first 1/2 of the book (the two halves work together brilliantly) remind me of the boy in Equus (an all-time favorite play–and I'll settle for the movie)... Don't recall his name right now. But– he's blinded some horses and is in an institution. He won't talk but sings advertising jingles. Which reminds me of the mindless way there is xmas music everywhere I go and I take it in without noticing it and then find myself singing it to myself as I walk around the house, which is creepy. Also, by reacting against all the xmas stuff I'm more engaged with it than I would be if I reacted less–but that would also be complacency. This seems to be the type of complacency that grows as people get older. Equus was the only word with two 'U's. My playwrighting class got very mad at me because I was thrilled about dissecting it beat by beat. The psychiatrist used to just annoy me–I could only see that boy but my playwrighting teacher said she identified with the judge. I now identify most with the psychiatrist. It's very good art that can sustain and change for you with time.
Eileen Tabios and the upturning of codified needs
By Anny Ballardini
Review of I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved (Marsh Hawk Press, New York, 2005) Jacket Magazine, 2008, Eds. John Tranter and Pam Brown
To bring the poem into the world is to bring the world into the poem –from Conjuration #3, Eileen Tabios
In his "Discourse in the novel" Mikhail M. Bakhtin writes: "The poet must assume a complete single-personed hegemony over his own language, he must assume equal responsibility for each one of its aspects and subordinate them to his own, and only his own, intentions. Each word must express the poet's meaning directly and without mediation: there must be no distance between the poet and his word. [...] To achieve this, the poet strips the word of others' intentions, he uses only such words and forms (and only in such a way) that they lose their link with concrete intentional levels of language and their connection with specific contexts." Bakhtin's description of the poet approaches Eileen Tabios's active involvement. I Take Thee, English, for My Beloved (2005) is a phantasmagoric journey of 504 pages into one of the most interesting embodiments of contemporary poetry. Tabios' uprooting literary strength finds an unusual background. Born in Ilocos Sur, Philippines, her family moves to the United States when she is ten. With an M.B.A. in economics and international business, after having worked as an economist, a journalist, a stock market analyst, and finally as a banker for a decade, in 1996 she decides to move to a castle in California to dedicate her life to poetry. She founded and edits the poetry review Galatea Resurrects, and is the founder of Meritage Press, a multidisciplinary literary and arts press based in St. Helena, Ca. Her publications are numerous and she has many imminent projects to which she is at present committed. Her dedication to art, artistic actions, joi de vivre, untiring creative presence make her one of the most interesting and well known poets on the net, and internationally. A critical approach to a collection like I Take Thee, English, for My Beloved could entice a critic into a labyrinth without escape. An Aristotelian taxonomic method might initially be adopted to find leading patterns, but it is soon to be discarded out of necessity. Any symbol, allusion, sign, style, tone by which the reader thinks he has recognized a safe sequence in terms of interpretation, will be soon overthrown. Tabios' words and continuous twists catch the reader with their luring beauty to flee as soon as they have reached him. She slides elegantly in and out of stylistic rules with breathtaking acrobatic moves. Her compositions are a feast for the "poetic intellect" as defined by our distant Coleridge where the development of his "Imagination" has topped to: Ebony eyes
stunned sunlight, stunned light
(from The Piano Keys)
The equilibrist of opposites enters and exits plastic sceneries from unexpected perspectives: Sunrays coating gray rocks offer a sheen, pretty but false as a repentance also in hiding for what is rational is not what serves the day: right = negative X (wrong)
(from [R-Factors] for Jukka-Pekka Kervinen)
A passionate "love-hate" bondage with the English language develops in nuances that reach both extremes: passionate eroticism and annihilation by alternating supplications and requests, the indescribable need to forge the "lover" as much as the need of forging oneself to the expectations of the lover, within moral, intellectual, emotional rules the "I" has set as the parameters of a relationship, with guilty feelings, tensions out of the entwining, clashing, crashing of feelings. what I meant to say. What I mean to say is have I truthfully truthfully loved you?
(from PERSPECTIVES BEFORE EARTH FALLS)
[...] nothing less than osmosis and agonizing over the compromise.
(from A COAGULATION OF PIXELS)
Tabios keeps on surprising in a whirl of unannounced and unanticipated associations, courageous in her faith, delimited as in Ex-Faith, with vocatives in Italics, rhetorical questions, objects taken from the nearest proximity, as much as the use of a most tropical-exotic language: "jasmine; jacaranda; vines; mango; amethyst; ginger; orange rinds; Sri Lankan grass; corral pink sapphires; garnet; carmine; crimson; Vases overflow with magenta; –a flamenco dancer stamps her feet and red velvet skirt whirlsmuscled thighs glistening
(from On Looking Back at the Unborn)
the sweetness of the Filipino kayumangi color
(from "Poems Form/From The Six Directions" interview by Nick Carbo)
melons, harvesting melons, eating melons: canary, cantaloupe, honeydew..."
(from Honeydew, Chapter eighty; III. The Definitive History of Fallen Angels: An Autobiography).
What unifies the present collection, what is the idea behind the red cover of the book with Eileen Tabios and her husband at their wedding in an oval picture framed by the alphabet? It is the marriage of the poet with the English language and the list of Contents can sketch an outline of the structure that far from being comprehensive can at least convey in broad lines the complexity of the present tome. Divided into five main blocks, a series of distinct sub-sections are used to complete and integrate the guiding segment of investigation: I. ENGLISH: THE COURTSHIP LUCIFER'S ATTEMPTS AT NARRATIVE (Followed by a longer section of poems:) YES, I DO CRUCIAL BLISS DEFINITIONS (concrete images, thick tough language, prose poems. "Play and write stringently-want that. Want.") CLYFFORD STILL STUDIES (Eileen Tabios' quotation is taken from Wandering by Arthur Rimbaud: "I made up rhymes in dark and scary places, /And like a lyre I plucked the tired laces /Of my worn-out shoes, one foot beneath my heart.") CONJURATIONS OBVIATING THE PROSCENIUM'S EDGE (I) (the surreal staging of Eileen with her double /"But Seriously, When I Was Jasper Johns' Filipino Lover...") HAY(NA)KU: OBVIATING THE PROSCENIUM'S EDGE(II) (Eileen Tabios is the inventor of the Hay(na)ku: in this section, several Hay(na)kus are collected, and the Official History of Hay(na)ku; born on June 10, 2003, is described. The new poetic composition that wants stanzas of three lines: the first of one word, the second of two, the third of three, was inaugurated on Philippine Independence Day at the Pinoy Haiku, on June 12 of the same year. The present section is used by Tabios to glimpse at Philippines' history. Mention is given to their first independence from Spain in 1898, followed soon after by the United States invasion. "Despite the material improvement brought about by the American Government, they still considered themselves unjustly deprived of their right to manage their own affairs; and when the first Philippine Assembly met in 1901, it made the solemn declaration that American rule in
the Philippines remained unsanctioned by the people whose great desire, as ever, was their complete political emancipation.") BLACK HOLE BEATITUDES EPILOGUE POEMS II. POEMS FORM/FROM THE SIX DIRECTIONS SCULPTED POEMS III. AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Ten chapters with Footnotes; starting from Chapter Eleven to Chapter Ninety-nine only the Footnotes are reproduced; finally Chapter One Hundred is a prose poem that retraces the story from the beginning.) IV. THERE, WHERE THE PAGES WOULD END (Footnotes to "Paroles" by Jacques Prevert, translation by Harriet Zinnes; Footnotes to "Forces of Imagination" by Barbara Guest; Selected Footnotes to "Opera" by Barry Schwabsky; Footnotes to "Volume V of The Diary of Samuel Pepys, M.A., F.R.S."; Footnotes to "The Virgin's Knot" by Holly Payne.) V. ONE POEM, ONE READING (review by Ron Silliman of one poem by Eileen Tabios: "Helen" and his extremely positive evaluation of her work.) SELECTED NOTES TO POEMS (an interesting reading by itself) ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ABOUT THE AUTHOR In II. POEMS FORM/FROM THE SIX DIRECTIONS, Eileen Tabios introduces her "Marriage to "Mr/s Poetry" with the description of her performance/exhibition of "Poem Tree" held in March, August and September, 2002, at Sonoma State University; Berkeley; and in San Francisco. Photos of Eileen Tabios' original marriage are mixed with the ones of the happenings. We see the poet and students, or friends, wearing Eileen's bridal dress. The supporting notion of the various actions, as Tabios states, is "modeled after a rite in Filipino and Latino weddings wherein guests pin money on the bride's and groom's outfits. The ritual symbolizes how guests offer financial aid to the couple beginning a new life together. For 'Poem Tree,' poems are pinned onto the dress to symbolize how poetry, too, feeds the world." It is the same Poet to give directions: "For me, living as a poet requires maximizing awareness of the world [...]. I refer to my hope that my poems
create spaces for experiences that readers find meaningful, if not pleasurable." Within the same context Tabios adds: "Poetry is not words but what lies between words, between the lines." An interview by poet Nick Carbo with the poet follows; then the transcription of an E-mail by Eileen Tabios to Paolo Javier to introduce her first poem-sculpture, and finally the section dedicated to the SCULPTED POEMS. From an interview that appeared on Readme, by Purvi Shah, Tabios explains: "Some might call my approach a brand of surrealism but I use the phrase 'subverting the dictionary' for political reasons related to the use of English as an imperialist tool in the Philippines..." The variety of poetic forms, the different styles, the use of prose, interviews, E-mails, the writing of a fiction story by chapters and footnotes, pages and pages of intuitions and comments to other Author's poetry collections, the insertion of Ron Silliman's review, the same formatting of the book, subvert not only the dictionary but the same idea of a book. There where Roland Barthes talked of the 'Death of the Author,' and Michel Foucault asked the question: "What matter who's speaking?" after having buried the Author under a series of definitions and questions, Eileen Tabios stands out in her being alive, here, unique, and present. Speaking ab absurdo, the inherent abstraction inserted in surreal contexts creates stability and consistency. The tension that obliges the reader under a continuous strain establishes the parameters of intelligence. If patterns are to be found, her Filipino indigenous culture-and in detail an opening to all suffering peoples, together with the piercing observation of facts, situations, events, can be highlighted as leading threads. Ole, Lucentum City of light Algerians cluster on the quay amidst suitcases stuffed with carpets and breakfast cereals waiting for the boat to Oran
If I write a poem about you Manila, will your politicians respond with more civility than a man who never learned post-coital manners? Manila, I am asking,
for open eyes. I am pleading like a woman in your bed, Your songs need not always break like green soda bottles emptied then resurrected as boundaries of thorns frozen atop unyielding fences. Manila, your poets are writing to escape.
(from Manila Rains)
In the background as a never-ending leitmotif, her respect towards her surroundings lived through her fragility, her (or a fictitious female's) naked body to trace emotions, impressions, in the transformation of "a flower into an archetype", "as a painting /on cracked canvas /of a fragmented grid." Irony, self-irony, double distances, zooming in, an idiomatic language in the Derridean context quoted by the Author in Season of Durian. An incessant mapping that distinguishes itself from Baudrillard's criticized mapping of our world because of the poetic imprint given to words as carriers of the numerous signs, the same single sign invested of different meanings according to the multiplicity of contexts they describe. Once the image is perfect It is no longer there.
(from Ars Pictura)
By complying with the same rules and at the same time fleeing from any framing context the multi-sided quickness of the Author's personality finds its reason of being in quick scherzos, in sharp descriptions that stretch from minimalism to baroque, to the depiction of utter beauty or of fractures; in scenes imbued by lyricism or carnal passion, or stilled in an ecstatic purity filtered by thought, "To accept everything, everything, everything", "Let us lose the language of scars- [...]." Eileen Tabios succeeds in what Cezanne did, he "painted rocks instead of images", with her "Burgundy veins [that] ripple through marble surfaces", "untoward, she has grown accustomed to breathing through her drowning." Tabios becomes pitilessly meditative on the compassionate forgiveness of blindness, as her all-seeing vision enters fringes to cleanse out radically semi-benevolent /malevolent misunderstandings meant to hide what does not have to be seen behind or in front of the brilliant façade, "but for you there is not even the light /which matters /for light always contains some sort of Redemption." "which is also an attempt to soften the armor that your beleaguered flesh has become- I suggest 'armor' as I am reminded of Wilhelm Reich's theory that psychological traumas imprint themselves on the body in the form of muscular tension that, if unrelieved, hardens into armor-" Finally, as Bakhtin would have wanted, a dialogue to understand the speaker:
Question: what causes you to stop and stare? Answer: when a word (say, "ethereal") becomes defined by spiritual awkwardness
(from THE FOG LIFTS)
NEELA's LitPicks: New Books For You to Read
By Neela Banerjee
Review of Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole (Marsh Hawk Press, New York, 2002) ASIAN WEEK , 2003
Unlike most poetry books that are light as feathers, their words and images floating off the page, this one is substantial in every way imaginable. Thick with imagery, subject matter, geography and precise and inspired syntax, Eileen Tabios' work reminds me of going for a swim in the ocean–a complete envelopment in the currents of poetry. There is beauty, as in "Adultery": "In the scent of wet earth, the hold of dark leaves clinging to my ankles, the sound of fireflies mating, the thin sliver of a distant moon, there had been no premonition for such blinding light." But her prose forms also tackle the grim and boding, as in "My Saison Between Baudelaire and Morrison": "The blood still seeps through the darkened continent you left without succor. The blood still spills. A century later I must reconcile with your grandchildren. They never spill viscous tears. Nor do they satiate. But I lose myself in their indigent beds, lick the drawn shadows beneath their eyes, to goad your hand into mine." Tabios' prolific meditations on writing, living and loving in modern times solidifies her role as one of the foremost Filipino American poets of the 21st century. A great read for anyone interested in prose-poetry experimentation.
On Dredging For Atlantis
By Tom Beckett
Engagement with Dredging For Atlantis (Otoliths, 2006) SOLUBLE CENSUS, December 17, 2006
Dredging for Atlantis is organized as three sections: I. Dredging for Atlantis, II. Excerpts from "Somewhat of a Childhood" and III. Athena's Diptych. Each section has, the author tells us, been "scumbled" or skimmed into existence from already existing texts. Section I. derives from the Lost Lunar Baedeker of Mina Loy, Section II. from A Tuscan Childhood by Kintor Beevor, and Section III. from John Banville's Athena. There is, of course, one exception and that is "Scumble-d" (the poem which begins the first section of the book) which "sources its underlying inspiration as Derek Walcott's The Bounty" (per the author's "Notes On Dredging for Atlantis"). Let's look at that poem, why don't we:
SCUMBLE-D I cannot remember the name of that seacoast city but it trembled .................it is near XYZ a town with hyphens Now, so many deaths .................the only art left– the preparation of grace Appropriation in writing and the arts can be controversial. Where is the line to be drawn between taking inspiration from another's text and plagiarizing–stealing from it? For me, it's a boring conversation. I don't obsess about property rights. Art doesn't result from observing proprieties. Art results from learning to magnetize oneself, art results from becoming an attractive nuisance. Eileen Tabios is just such a force field. As my Kansan friend, Jim McCrary, has recently noted on his blog Smelt Money, she's a trouble maker. A trouble maker intent upon preparing the way for grace. Section I., Dredging for Atlantis, consists of 31 short vibrant poems, plus an author's note on method. One of my favorite poems from this section is "Funny Brass": Funny Brass Dawn (like my puppy) penetrates eyelash drapes
Man becomes woman by losing aloofness "Monotone" transforms to "moonstone"
Go forth and prettily miscalculate
A very lucid poem, don't you think. Transformation is the name of its game and the engine which drives this section in general. Here's another example: Impish Music Adolescent eros a consistent source for radium of the Word Section II., Excerpts from "Somewhat of a Childhood," consists of 4 poems written as reverse hay(na)ku sequences. These poems are in a different register altogether from Section I. They're anecdotal, atmospheric, even aromatic, evocations of Italy. I enjoyed reading them but have little to say about them, except that there was one little dissonance in the 1st poem ("The Bread of Florence") which proceeds from what I believe to be a rather wonderful typo. Allow me to quote the relevant section: Then to save a long climb, a basket on a chord would fall, the bread placed in it, and be hauled up, hand over hand. It's that chord, in place of "cord", that sticks with me from this section. It manages to evoke a lingering sound from a basket's descent where no sound in all probability would be. I guess it helps me to visualize a crisp snap of the rope as the basket brakes in the air. I'm not sure why that's so affecting, but it is. Perhaps it's because it's the only aspect of the poem which is not totally transparent.
Athena's Diptych, the volume's final section, is also written in reverse hay(na)kus. Its final poem, "Athena", speaks to its author's method. Here are its opening stanzas:
What's deemed necessary changes. Hear me listening in another decade, editing last and first lines. A different Singer croons from behind an impassive speaker. I listen, cross out more lines. The poem cannot be pure. Sound never travels unimpeded by anonymous butterflies. Writing it down merely freezes flight– Well, that was a quick run through of first impressions of this fine little book. What unites its three sections is the methodology of scumbling, which seems to have been practiced somewhat differently from section to section. For me, the first, title section, is the most exciting because it has more formal variety and more aphoristic punch than the sections which follow. Interesting to contemplate the variety of outcomes a method may embrace.
On The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes: Our Autobiography; I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved; and Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole
By Allen Bramhall
Engaging The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes: Our Autobiography (Marsh Hawk Press, New York, 2007) Engaging I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved (Marsh Hawk Press, New York, 2005) Engaging Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole (Marsh Hawk Press, New York, 2002) Tributary Blog by Allen Bramhall, Sept. 4, 2007, Aug. 19, 2005 & Aug. 5, 2005
Sept. 4, 2007 just received The Light Sang as it Left Your Eyes by Eileen Tabios (Marsh Hawk 2007). it is compellingly subtitled 'Our Autobiography'. the cover consists of Warholian reverberations of 2 images: Eileen and her father. one infers that the our of the subtitle refers to father and child. which, surely, it does; it's a lovely embrace. Eileen goes it further, tho, by linking herself to the daughter of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, who shares Eileen's birthday. just to add a neat Guy Davenport-like coincidence, the birthday is September 11. all this I gleaned from my first scantest scan. I intend no review at this time, and am limited just now as Beth is currently in the process of reading the book (she cooked, hence I washed dishes, hence she had 1st dibs). (what's a dib, btw, and is a plurality thereof really somehow better?). I am inspired to write a few Tabiosian words, generalities upon the phenomenon. Eileen has invented, I here declare, a new genre, which might be called Gallimaufry, or, perhaps, And The Kitchen Sink. I chose those terms for their sense of inclusion and variety. like her previous brick, I Take Thee, English, for My Beloved (Marsh Hawk), Eileen utilizes stylistic variety: prose, hay(na)ku, collaboration, etc. I like how process is so close to the surface. and she does not divorce her blog writing and connections from her poetry. which, too, proposes process as a central energy of the work. that how the poem and book arrived to its life is as important as what its life 'is'. this is consistent with the poets who interest me. I don't mean in the sense of I went to Yaddo and breathed the free air sort of processual undertaking. I mean Eileen lets ideas happen, gives them free rein in the composition. Eileen's gestures around 'the subject' form a space that is the subject. all this is evident by early fresh glances. I look forward to digging in in earnest. Friday, August 19, 2005 I just received the latest book by Eileen Tabios, I Take Thee, English, for My Beloved, from Marsh Hawk. of course I've yet to do more than scan it, which is always a great pleasure with new books. new recordings likewise. the book's big, a a sturdy handful reminiscent of the tomes you lugged to civics class. it makes quite a statement, not just because of its size, a full 500 pages, but of the many works it includes. Eileen has chosen inclusivity as a ruling idea here. at least 5 separate possible books nestle within these pages, different series of works. how they go together, I've yet to discover, but I am confident that the whirlwind that Tabios is will make it all cohere. the image of a whirlwind works well in this context, for one sees a tornadic gathering and focus to her spin, as opposed to centripetal fling. excuse the metaphoric motionings on my part. Eileen includes in this work an interview
conducted by Nick Carbo, a lengthy epistle addressed to Pablo Javier, an entry from Ron Silliman's blog concerning a work of hers, as well as "The Official History of the Hay(na)ku", the poetic form she created and which has become quite popular. plus poems, memoirs, lots of stuff from what I can see. Robert Duncan's later work comes to mind, as he let the various projects he was working on intertwine. like Duncan, Eileen's work is markedly various. once again, I give only the most preliminary of comments, but I must notice my excitement at the prospect here. Eileen, as is obvious, is a writer of great energy and dedication. to feel those 2 elements so definitively to the fore champions one's own writing. do you see? it goes with Jordan Davis projecting a million poems written, or Alan Sondheim bubbling over, or just me piling up a lot of work. it's the willingness to remain largely undistracted. OR to utilize those distractions. Eileen Tabios is a force with which it is a pleasure to contend. August 10, 2005 I mentioned address re Eileen Tabios. that is a specific of importance to me. Eileen addresses the reader, herself, loves, and these mentor lights (to use a nice fluffy term I just made up) in her writing. to instill, I believe, an active exchange. there is a YOU out there, inescapable. I use 2nd person a bit, and 1st person plural alot, in my writing, as witness to the directive in the writing act. also, I know, just to get the wallowing I out of the way, even just briefly. language, hah, what a concept! there's a way around the rocks in the path, or at least so it seems. wand'ring lonely as a cloud may not be as off the mark as could be. I've been thru the isolation, a good 15 years of writing outside any social writerly nexus. that's tough row-hoeing, and I do not recommend it, yet it forced me toward. toward what? well, that is the question, isn't it? August 9, 2005 I've been reading Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole by Eileen Tabios. a good sign with any poetry book for me, that the reading makes me want to write. not a competitive thing; rather, the reading opens up something for me. this book has made me want to join that energy to mine. the book also makes me want to write about it, e'en tho I've not read a great deal of it. I like rushing my reflections, like smearing the first layer of dirt off a dusty window. I see a lot of address in Eileen's work, and that includes in her blog, which I think I can say everybody has noticed, about her blog, that is (community as working structure of acceptance rather than the name of the angry dilettante (famous examples supplied on request)). she enters, endures, and gives forth. I find the writing adventuresome. this book is pretty chunky, to the tune of 120 something: well and good! her latest book, I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved is 500+ pages. for me, that is a hell of a selling point. I love big books!!! I recently wrote of Tom Beckett's minimilist proclivity, which I admire tho so foreign to my own floodgate pleasure of writing it all out. and my teacher, closest to a living mentor that I ever came to, Robert Grenier, tended toward smaller and smaller. even Eileen herself, with her hay(na)ku, shows willingness to pare to minimum. but I have a taste for expanse, not that it's a matter of choosing sides. and Eileen cranks it. I think maybe-ish of Bernadette Mayer, who spurs her writing energy forward in a particular trust of experiment. for that matter, Virginia Woolf's novels, each one a clearly defined what if I?. I don't know
where I stand in the Official Standing of Experimenters, but I am at least conscious that something ought to keep moving. I mean you know, there's enough writers who think, what if I do this again and again, world without end?. I picture Eileen running to different wells, the attention of discovering furthermore. so here's just the mere alert of having read some of her book.
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