I am so grateful for Neil Leadbeater's comprehensive and caring review of LOVE IN A TIME OF BELLIGERENCE in Contemporary Literary Review India. The review is now available online, reprinted in The Halo-Halo Review. Here's an excerpt:
"When Tabios looks into the mirror, she does not just see herself. There is nothing narcissistic or egotistical about this volume. Instead, she sees certain aspects of human nature and our fallen world, areas that we would rather not see. Her poems speak out against sexual violence, cruelty, injustice and slavery. They speak of disengagement, deception, drug abuse, pollution and promiscuity. These are complex poems that are all the richer for the way in which they operate on different levels. In Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: Betrayal with Brand Names, for example, Tabios weaves a story of human betrayal and illustrates it with reference to advertisements that deceive us with their branding.
"On one level there are poems that address the plight of refugees and on another there is a poem that zooms in on a specific individual, the plight of Charlie Gard.
This poem simply grieves over Charlie
Gard, indisputably human though he could
not hear, see, swallow…
…Charlie suffered from
mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome
But something is missing in all of us
an absence that clarifies our humanity as
we despair, as we are unable not to hope
and as we refuse to cease searching
for redemption, accustomed as we have
become, to night collapsing before day.
"The ability to shift from the universal to the particular and back again is one of the many strengths of this collection.
"Some of the poems in this sequence take on a philosophical flavour. A question one could ask of the whole book revolves around whether art is a true reflection of life or a means of creating another type of image that is one step removed. Images that give off reflection or act as a means of seeing things are strategically placed throughout the text: telescopes, mirrors, stained glass windows, metal surfaces, eyes, bullet holes through plasterboard. All of these offer up distorted images: the reader is invited to look through the wrong end of the telescope, the mirrors are convex, the stained glass relies upon the sun’s rays for illumination, the “gibbous” eyes are swollen or pouched, the bullet hole only permits a narrow vista and does not give the full picture and the metal, however shiny its surface, is only capable of offering a dim reflection."____
You can see entire review HERE.