Eileen R. Tabios is a poet working in multiple genres and in-between. She also loves books by writing, reading, publishing, critiquing, romancing and advocating for them. This blog will feature her bibliophilic activities with posts on current book engagements and links to her books and projects related to books.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020


Yes, I pulled it off! I not only finished (finally!) my first long-form novel but it will be published. More details forthcoming on its publication in early 2021, but meanwhile I'm trying to relish having found a publisher for it. I've been tinkering with various ways to promote it. Would any of these pique your attention? :)

Anyway, I'm sure some are too wordy. But tinkering tinkering ... I've never marketed a novel before :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020


I'm pleased to announce a new poetry collection birthed by Covid-19 -- I supposed almost anything can be a Muse. Anyway, this is interesting because it's also a bilingual edition with my English poems translated into Thai. A translation essay is included, too, which hopefully is educational. Here's more information about it:

Publishers: Laughing/Ouch/Cube/Productions (California) and i.e. press (New York)
ISBN: 978-1-934299-16-6
Pages: 58
Release Date: Summer 2020
Distributors: Laughing Ouch Cube Productions (johnkathybr at gmail dot com) and its Lulu Account
Price: $15.00

This wouldn't have been my ideal way to be a "Cover Girl." Nonetheless, you are invited to GO HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, August 1, 2020


I’m delighted, of course, to see PAGPAG: The Dictator's Aftermath in the Diaspora start its journey around the world. These photos come from China during the farewell talk of Sze Ping Lo as he stepped down as CEO of WWF China. His lecture included two slides that referred to Red Constantino's remarks during PAGPAG’s book launch. The first image presents an excerpt from my book accompanied by a close up detail of one of the Constantino Murals, which was commissioned in 2007 to commemorate the lives of two ordinary Filipinos who, because they answered their people's call, rose to become giants. One was Macario Sakay, and the other, in the photo with my quote, is Lean Alejandro. From PAGPAG, my quote

“The optimism in my memory is a taste of rust, jarring against what I observed the country had become. The optimism is an ache that will not go away. It is a ghost haunting.”

(That little red book is Araling Panlipunan (used in Philippine civics classes).)

The second image presents my favorite part of Red’s PAGPAG remarks (reprinted in ABS-CBN) which I think is much needed for the times:

"To survive and thrive in the near future, we will need everyone. And we will need to revisit the past constantly, not as a bludgeon to smash our enemies with but as a constant companion in our effort to distill meaning in our fleeting lives. Because everything will count and because the written word will always -- always -- be our strongest and most reliable ally."

Thursday, July 30, 2020


Delighted to receive my contributor's copy of an intriguing and timely anthology, READ WATER edited by Hari Alluri, Garrett Bryant and Amanda Fuller. I'm grateful, not just for their inclusions of my 2 poems "The Great Grief" and "Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: Anthropocene" but also, for their inclusion of my poetics essay that allows me to posit I became like water a la Bruce Lee. As someone who briefly studied Kali and barely avoided bruising my own shins during its own stick-fighting, I am amused to invoke the martial arts. Anyway, thanks to the poets and I recommend checking it out HERE. I include Table of Contents below -- also grateful to be in such fine company:

Monday, July 27, 2020


I was blessed this weekend to be a guest poet on a webinar series put together by Dr. Jeannie Celestial and sponsored by Balay Kreative. The above image is from the lovely maganda magazine who generously hailed my presence on Instagram. At the webinar, I presented and encouraged the writing of hay(na)ku. I was so pleased--and awed--at how everyone seemed a natural in the form! Many in the audience apparently were teachers and so I don't know how much related to how they easily took up the form (certainly, it was a means for me, too, to encourage hay(na)ku as a teaching tool, having been used in classes and workshops from the elementary to the college levels).

Anyway, I wanted to share some of the hay(na)ku written during the series. The first is a "haybun" (combination of prose and a hay(na)ku) that I wrote on their prompt "My mountain is ___." I then transformed the meditation into a single hay(na)ku tercet:


My mountain may be where I’ve built a house: Galatea in St. Helena, California. “Galatea,” “St. Helena,” “California”—none of these names are accurate, for my mountain is really the land of its original people, the Wappo. And what the Wappo may have called my mountain that is not mine is unknown. But I find comfort in this not-knowing. Because my true mountain comes from the time when we humans form our gods—that time known as childhood. As a child, I grew up on a mountain in Baguio City, Philippines. I know that mountain no longer exists as it was snuffed out of its existence by pollution and overpopulation. Where once stood pine trees are now houses on top of each other to cover every inch of its once natural slope. Galatea, California, Baguio—it’s irrelevant now. All of my mountains share the same crumbling profile of Loss.

I turned my prose meditation into this hay(na)ku:

Become valleys
Lost in memory

I was not privy to the participants' meditations but I did see some of their mountain-related hay(na)ku and want to share this written by Vex Kaztro as it so pleased me:

My mountain does
not climb

Vex Kaztro is a natural at the form! Here's another one she wrote:

make me
a hardened vessel 

Another participant, Camille Santana, also wrote a mountain-related hay(na)ku:

Bare feet—
I am here 

I think they're all fabulous. May the hay(na)ku come to be as natural to them and their communities as breath itself.

It is a delight to share with all of them a copy of my bilingual (English/Spanish) hay(na)ku collection with translator Rebeka Lembo: ONE, TWO, THREE!

Sunday, July 19, 2020


“In The Dictator’s Aftermath: Conversation and Book Launch for PAGPAG: The Dictator's Aftermath in the Diaspora by Eileen R. Tabios”

These excerpts don’t do justice to what everyone shared. It gets more immense—darker and deeper, too—amidst—or despite—the laughter. The conversation is timely, wide-ranging and I invite you to watch this video. I wrote the book but it’s not about me; it’s on Empire, memory, colonialism and its postness, fascism and the use of humor to take it down, race, history, the frailties of the human condition, indigeneity, the flux of language, Brecht, Bahktin & Benjamin, and then hunger on too many levels, and so on and so much more. AND we name the names of those “salvaged.” Some excerpts:

As we grapple with ways to fight media repression and the Anti-Terror Bill in the Philippines, Eileen Tabios presents us with PAGPAG. … the book is a joy to read because it makes us laugh, for if there is one thing I remember about being an activist during Martial Law, …it is that we used laughter. We mocked those in power, and drawing from Mikhail Bakhtin’s discussion of the carnivalesque, this laughter was necessary in the “de-crowning” of the dictator. Moreover, the book also reminded me of family and friends who managed to joke even during dark times, of political work made lighter by shared laughter, and how, amidst fear of detention, we made up funny songs…
—Joi Barrios

The many definitions of “pagpag” includes how Ferdinand Marcos’ son asked Cambridge Analytica to “rebrand” his family’s image… to [visual pagpag] of slapping one’s cheeks to prevent one from becoming numb to all the murders. “In the Bible, Jesus says ‘if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and *shake the dust off* your feet as a testimony against them’.”
—Father Albert Alejo

Pagpag-making, in this sense, for all its contradictory significations, like Eileen’s skillful reworking of painful and grievous memories of the Marcos regime into stories of alternative meaning, delight, and pleasure, may be seen as gesturing toward that kind of capacity for beauty and life-making in the direst of circumstances—I would say perhaps a skill those of us still ensconced in the comfort of our privilege could well learn from.
—S. Lily Mendoza

I teach “Race and Humor” at Stonybrook. The theory of humor that I love to share with students is the theory of inversion, the reversal of power. We laugh when the cruelties of the world are exposed. We laugh when the powerful are made fun of, and they’re taken down by joke … in this case by a story. Fascists hate humor because humor threatens their order, the order that they want which is that they’re on top. Humor brings them down to the level of the people.
—Nerissa Balce

…[PAGPAG] gives us a glimpse of not only of where we came up short, but also why today too many lessons are learned the hard way. In one of Pagpag's pieces, Eileen Tabios points in the story “A Ghost Haunting” to one of several reasons why many are wrestling with a deep sense of unarticulated anomie: "The optimism in my memory is a taste of rust, jarring against what I observed the country had become. The optimism is an ache that will not go away. It is a ghost haunting." // She is describing the Philippines but it can just as well be the United States. Or Brazil. Or India. Think of the fireflies reminding us of the rubble of institutions crumbling from the combined force of neglect and official venality.
—Renato Redentor Constantino

I only decided last year to collect the stories into a book after observing the human rights atrocities caused by Duterte’s regime. I thought then that even as my stories are fiction, my book PAGPAG might serve to remind how actions have such prolonged effects. The book’s idea of presenting fictionalized children of anti-Marcos activists, now grown-up and coping with their legacies, is also a metaphorical call for bettering our actions as actions do become legacies and can have impact for generations afterward.
—Eileen R. Tabios

Information about the Book Launch Participants available HERE.

Thursday, July 9, 2020


A writer asked if I would turn MAKING THE NOVEL into a print book. I said, "Perhaps, but I have to see how the project goes and we’re still in its early days." I do appreciate the enthusiasm underlying the question, of course!  But because it’s still in its early days, I’m also still refining the project concept and, today, decided to add a fourth category (the asterisked one below) so that the project would be comprised of





MAKING THE NOVEL is really intended to reveal more about the arduity of working in this long form. I initially thought that EXCERPTS FROM UNPUBLISHED NOVELS would encompass the new category of EXCERPTS DELETED WHILE WRITING UNPUBLISHED NOVELS. But my own experience indicates this is not the case, that is, while writing my first draft I also cut out excerpts even before the first draft was finished. So I decided to create a category for those deleted excerpts too.

So if you are writing/have written an unpublished novel, and you’ve already cut out some parts of that, this category is for you. Please share! I don’t want this project to be about my work so I’m limiting my participation but an example for this category could be a prologue I’d written for my first novel which I later deleted (as I decided the novel didn’t require a prologue).

Please continue spreading the word about this project. As a published novelist recently emailed, “I don’t think people realize just how much a story changes even after acquisition from a publisher.” And of course the story changed a lot more even before said acquisition. I think it’s helpful to make the process as transparent as possible.

I also reorganized the order of the excerpts to adjust the inclusion of this new category; I think this structure is better for showing the novel’s challenges.

Of course, do let me know if you or others you know may have contributions to these categories.