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.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


I'm moved that THE CONNOISSEUR OF ALLEYS moved a reader to write his own poem.  Thank you for this:

By Michael Gullickson

I forgot memory
contains an underbrush
that snags words
and photographs
pictures that were
never taken
leaving St. Thomas
leaving Sequoia
leaving places
I'd never been
I forgot until just then
the ache of how that feels.

I forgot the ruins
of the bomb scarred city-
my own Hiroshima
complete with the shadows
burnt into the sidewalks
until I walked through
broken brick & scattered glass.
I forgot how that felt
a certain kindness-
sometimes forgetting is best.

I forgot why I told you that.

Thanks Mike!! Here's a little about him:

Mike Gullickson is the co-editor and publisher of The Enigmatist and Blue Hole. Mike has a poem on display with San Antonio’s VIA Metropolitan Transit. He and his wife Joyce Gullickson are founders of the Georgetown Poetry Festival.


And I'm moved that my selected list poem project, INVENT(ST)ORY, moved Neal Leadbeater to review it. You can see the entire review HERE but here's an excerpt:
This substantial volume of work brings together selections from several previous publications written over the last twenty years together with some new and uncollected work. A fine introduction by Thomas Fink, who made the selection, places the work in context and provides a useful and informative guide to readers who may be encountering the work of this poet for the first time. 

For a while now, Tabios has been interested in the concept of the list poem – that is to say, poems composed of lists. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her sequence of poems about the content of the Balikbayan Box (taken from her book Post Bling Bling, 2005) and the poem sequence called Garbage: A True Story. The former reveals her very real engagement with problems and perspectives relating to cultural identity and expatriatism and the latter with environmental issues and the problems of living in a throw-away society. In other words, these are not just lists recorded for the sake of it, but revealing commentaries on subjects that go far deeper than the surface text. Tabios‘ engagement with the public is of particular interest in these two sequences. E-mails received from individuals responding to her texts and calls for information form an integral part of her work and lend a degree of objectivity and authenticity to the overall content.


And I'm also moved that my 14-year-old book, and first U.S.-published book, REPRODUCTIONS OF THE EMPTY FLAGPOLE, moved Romanian-based critic Monica Manolachi to review it in part by calling me a new name (so to speak): "vexillologist"!  Woot.  You can see the entire review HERE but here's an excerpt:

The study of flags, vexillology is a fusion of the Latin word vexillum (flag) and the Greek suffix –logia (study). Vexillologists deal with all sorts of flags and they often meet to discuss their meanings. When the flags happen to be unidentified and fictional, they may be found in short stories, novels or comic strips. If the flagpole is empty and the vexillologist says “I am addicted to what I do not know” or “I symbolize nothing” or “I am unsure with metaphors—I allow them to bleed from my pen,” then we are talking about a poet disguised as vexillologist. In Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole (2002), Eileen R. Tabios dwells on the possibilities offered by the combination of poetry and prose, reflects on belonging to various forms of in-betweenness and imagines unusually liberating flags for the states she explores. 

The motif of “the empty flagpole” can be read in different ways throughout the book. As a vertical line, it is a sign that simultaneously divides and unites, and it stands for the attempt to find laws in what is apparently turbulent and disconcerting: “To escape chaos, the Greeks created art with abstractions. It is a familiar approach, having long used geometry to deny myself caresses.” Tabios’s collection is also political. As a Filipino-American poet, born in Ilocos Sur, she explores the intersection of double belonging, by grafting cultural, ethnic and personal memory onto her American and transnational experience: “What does it say about me when I ask for asylum in places where people wish to leave? I try to find meaning in flags. But they repel me when buffeted by an incidental breeze.” The motif also implies the difficulty of separating poetry from prose and the desire to employ the aesthetic complexity of both, in order to express the struggle of finding meaning. For Tabios, the middle ground can be where the rhythmic cadences of free verse, with their lyrical repetitions, images and sounds, meet what seems to resemble a narrative, but which expresses a mood, emotion or feeling rather than strictly the thread of a story. The facts are only pretexts for further subjective visions, both sensual and intellectual.

THANK YOU, Universe.

P.S.  The book covers weren't planned together and the books span over 14 years -- but it's interesting to see how, really, blue is my favorite color...

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