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.

Monday, March 18, 2019



This is a Call for Poets for participation in Meritage Press' latest' project:

Secrets Among Poets

You email (meritagepress at gmail dot com) me a secret. I write it in a book that will not be read by anyone but me as I create your book. Your book will only be shelved in my Tiny Books Library!

And of course I won't reveal your secrets!

[Caveat: Your book may be read by others after we are all dead because I don't burn books.] 

Please include a short-ish poem with your secret. (Though I won't reveal your secret, if you wish me to post an image of your poem in the book, I can do so.)

Deadline: April 30, 2019

If chosen and published, you will receive a poetry book in exchange.

The Physical Book Objects:
Your secret and accompanying poem will be inscribed by me -- and possibly illustrated with one of my drawings -- in one of these tiny blank books originally made in Nepal (for as long as supplies last):

For more information: contact me at meritagepress at gmail dot com

Monday, March 11, 2019


I’m really proud of this sculpture-illustrated poetics/aesthetics essay … which is why it’s the opening piece in my vizpo book THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL—a lot of my poetry/art concerns just jelled in my project “Pilipinz Cloudygenous.” I hope you check it out at Verity LA where it’s presented as part of its “Discoursing Diaspora” series. I thank the great thinkers of Verity LA, and was also moved to hear that my work was accepted by the gifted Ramon Loyola before he prematurely passed (Condolences to his family).

Here’s an excerpt from my essay (you can see the whole thing HERE):
“You leave the land of your ancestors and your birth. In the 20th and 21st century, you need not retain that land simply through memory. Starting last century, you can access images of and from that land through the internet. But you don’t feel, when touching your computer screen, the dirt with which you once made mud with a beloved Apong, Grandmother, to create toys of tiny pots and plates. You don’t feel, when touching your computer screen, the sweet scent of Apong’s breath as she bends over your small fingers fumbling to shape a small plate.  You don’t feel, when touching your computer screen, her gentle kiss on your brow as she places small pieces of a ripped leaf on your plate as ‘dinengdeng’ or Ilocano vegetable stew… “My project ‘PILIPINZ CLOUDYGENOUS’ interrogates Filipino identity as affected by virtual reality. Part of my interrogation is a series of mobile sculptures. By hanging (from a ceiling), the mobiles float in space — a space that I consider a metaphor for (internet) cloud. The mobile which I present here intends to symbolize the Filipino diaspora. It hangs from a Star of David so as to reference humanity’s oldest diaspora (The Jews of Iraq)...”
Also, in one of the illustrations, you can see one of Jenifer Wofford's images from her brilliant Nurses series--I think it befits the diaspora theme and, indeed, the mobile sculpture hangs in my home next to her work:


I'm so happy at the release of this 2-volume anthology! It was initially conceived to be a feature at Galatea Resurrects but I was happy to let it go as it became too big for its britches, and even happier that Moria Books picked it up. It has to be "big" as its theme, per its title, is THE END OF THE WORLD!
Poet-publisher Bill Allegrezza notes it could have been picked up by a university press. But, befitting the times (and everyone's budget), Moria's combination of a print copy but free online pdf read is the perfect space for such a huge project! I hope you check it out HERE (scroll to bottom of link)!
Happy to be part of it, and grateful to the hard-working editors as well as Moria. Here are the two volumes' covers:

Thursday, March 7, 2019


I'm so happy to share news of my latest book -- it's something I was moved to do when someone (rather someones) told me John Ashbery is the greatest U.S.-American poet. So, as someone who's long interrogated U.S. American English, I naturally had to address Ashbery (it helps that I actually admire his poetry). But it's a "tense act of homage," indeed. Anyway, I hope you check it out -- pre-publication sale just opened (info HERE). Below are the publisher's book description, a sample poem, and some blurbs. If you wish a review or exam copy, let me know:

TinFish Press Description
When John Ashbery died in September, 2017, all the obituaries noted that he had been a member of the New York School of poets, that his roots were in western New York and that, despite living for a decade in Paris, his career had unfolded over many decades in the City. Ashbery was, indeed, something of a local poet, constantly using references from the places he had lived. Lost in the very local memorials, however, was the fact that Ashbery’s work also influenced writers in the Pacific, including writers of color. Eileen Tabios has taken up Ashbery’s influence and engaged in a project of “the browning of John Ashbery,” as she told Tinfish’s editor once. Using one or two lines at a time from Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” (1976), Tabios inhabits Ashbery’s mode, while moving our focus of attention many thousands of miles west of New York City. Tabios, who grew up in the Philippines, studied and worked in New York City, and has lived in California for many years, appropriates Ashbery to her own ends. These include cultural appropriation, genocide, militarism, sexual and racial violence, art history, and many other interests she shared—or did not share—with the older white male poet. Witness in the Convex Mirror is a tense act of homage, one that draws Ashbery away from the region that is most comfortable with him, and into a place where the discomfort is palpable, but extremely generative.

Military Philosophy

On a pedestal of vacuum, a ping-pong ball
secure on its jet of water: make your path
a circle and, Grasshopper, you shall never
be lost. Rain ceased, but so much water
still flows on the streets, releasing concrete
from their steel bindings. To be suspended
in confusion is to be protected. For one may
colonize the confused, but not necessarily
recruit their loyalty. Confusion, loyalty—both
are constructs that cancel each other. Learn
from me, General Grasshopper: you want
them fully comprehending when you invade.
You don’t want them so confused they might
think you and your soldiers to be mere ghosts

“You don’t write poems like he does,” the speaker says in Eileen Tabios’ poem  “Tense Past Tense.”  We, the readers, immediately notice the vertigo, the  joie de vivre  of a playful but incisive sense of the text.   She does not write like Stephane Mallarme but   you can hear the sounds of his dice rolling in the poems. She does not write like John Ashbery and yet the complexity and opacity tumbles in tune to the music of those sentences. WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR is Eileen Tabios’  modus opus  and it should find a place in every public or private library.
— Nick Carbó, author of Secret Asian Man and editor of Returning the Borrowed Tongue

To read Eileen R. Tabios’ WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR is “to Ashbery,” which,  to paraphrase John Ashbery—arguably the greatest American poet of the 20th century—means to “imitate the way knowledge comes, by fits and starts and by indirection.” Ms. Tabios begins each poem with 1-2 lines from Mr. Ashbery’s oeuvre, before pivoting to Asia and Asian themes: “It happened while you were inside, asleep. / The penguins now grieve over the escalation / of silt in their bath. A mother begs a child, / “Let go. I won’t survive, but you can!” But…” In her new book, Ms. Tabios addresses super typhoons and modern-day slavery, and homonyms and reduplicative words such as wagwag and pagpag, with aplomb and intense imagination, permanently and expertly connecting these with the hermetic nature in John Ashbery’s poetry. Read these poems as through a fish eye mirror, where the field of view is ever more expansive, and objects are always closer than they appear.
— Aileen Ibardaloza Cassinetto, San Mateo Poet Laureate and author of The Pink House of Purple Yam Preserves & Other Poems

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


Over the past decade, poet and Stride Editor Rupert Lowdell has generously used 1000 VIEWS OF GIRL SINGING in his creative writing course at Falmouth University. 1000 VIEWS … is an anthology of poems and art responding to one of my poems which, in turn, had responded to a Jose Garcia Villa poem. More recently, Rupert’s began new work inspired by my and Jose Garcia Villa’s poems. You can see it at Zeitgeist Spam. Always good to see books continue to be read. It’s been 10 years since 1000 VIEWS … 

Thanks to publisher Leafe Press and Alan Baker, and, of course, editor John Bloomberg-Rissman!

Sunday, February 17, 2019


I'm grateful to Grady Harp for engaging with THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL and reviewing it for the San Francisco Review of Books!  You can see the review HERE, but here's its excerpted beginning:
Eileen R. Tabios is one of the more adventuresome and truly creative poets before the public today. She is absolutely able to write poems in the usual styles and make her works resonate with every reader. But she always is searching for ways to push the use of words into formats or situation that challenge the brain as well as heart. She makes us think: she makes us work. And she is able in this book to entertain.

Sunday, February 10, 2019


So grateful to Datableed, and editors Juha and Eleanor, for publishing images of my hay(na)ku sculptures involving the circle and the line. You’ll notice that the shadowboxes are made of cartons (they usually carry my cases of dog food). That I recycled them into sculptures reflect the inspiration of Mel Vera Cruz’s artworks that recyle cardboard and cardboard boxes (relatedly, his 2017 such series will be North Fork Arts ProjectsMarch exhibition!). I’ve long wanted to make shadowbox art from a lot of emptied wine cases, some of which are quite fancy wood with etched images. But I kept that as an idea for years until I thought about the more mundane—more honest—utilitarian cardboard box. Thanks Mel for the inspiration!
This issue also features the works of -- and I'm so honored by the company -- Jasmine Gibson, Laura Elliott, Travis Lau, Kat Sinclair, Daniel Spicer, Azad Ashim Sharma, Karen Sandhu, Ava Hofmann, Carol Watts, Nasim Luczaj, Peter Myers, Christina Chalmers, al anderson, Fred Spoliar, Jazmine Linklater, L Kiew, Flo Reynolds, Tam Blaxter, Tom Betteridge, Lucia Sellars, Konstantin Rega, Kashif Sharma-Patel, Maria Damon & Alan Sondheim, Lisa Samuels, Alison Rumfitt, Nathan Walker, Lotte L.S, Kyle Booten, Aodán McCardle, Sara Matson, Allen Fisher, Katie Schaag, Eileen R. Tabios, David Greaves, hiromi suzuki, David Grundy, Jeff Hilson, TR Brady, and Katy Lewis Hood. 


Elsewhere, Claude Nguyen continues to create visual  hay(na)ku magic! I particularly love this radiant work entitled "space debris":

Thursday, February 7, 2019


I'm grateful to decolonialism scholar Leny M. Strobel for engaging with THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL (she initially thought she was going to read a novel instead of peruse a collection of visual poetry--laugh) and then providing it with its first review!  You can see her review HERE, but here's an excerpt:
Boundless creativity can be unleashed when one is not attached to limiting beliefs. 
Ergo, Eileen invents the words “Pilipinz” and “cloudygenous” to write about the paradox of being a settler and a diasporic person at the same time. Those of us who have been displaced from a homeland may be interminably pining for “Home” so, in the place where we are settlers on indigenous lands, we create home on the (i)Cloud and we sustain our virtual connections to the homeland using facebook chat, zoom, whatsapp, instagram., etc. What are the implications of technology as the mediator of our deepest desires and longings? You will have to read the book to see how these dilemmas express themselves in a Eileen’s visual poetry (14–20). 
“…my (poetry) words attempt to transcend dictionary definitions…As a poet, I attempt not to work only within what I inherit because what’s inherited is fucked up, of which colonial history is only one fact. English was the colonizer of my birthland, the Philippines. English, but not Poetry.” (25)

As well, recently I was interviewed by Cristina Querrer for her YOURARTSYGIRL's new podcast series. Our interview notes indicated that we'd partly focus on THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. Guess what we didn't touch on at all!  Yep. But we did discuss everything else: writerly beginnings, collaborations with both writers and artists in other genre, colonialism and English, the start of the hay(na)ku, my art gallery North Fork Arts Project, my website’s file cabinet aesthetic, process process process… everything and way more than you might want to know about me.

You can listen to me HERE. Also available on Spotify if you're going to be stuck in traffic. And coming soon on ITunes!

P.S. Actually, I still have the pre-recording interview notes. As the blog is also a file cabinet, I'll post them here--questions are from Cristina:

Can you give me a bio of yourself and tidbits you'd like to me to mention concerning yourself and your work?

Here’s a somewhat canned bio:

Eileen R. Tabios has released over 50 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace. Her books include a form-based “Selected Poems” series, The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets 1996-2019, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL: Selected Visual Poetry (2001-2019), INVENT(ST)ORY: Selected Catalog Poems & New 1996-2015, and THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems & New 1998-2010. Her award-winning body of work includes invention of the hay(na)ku poetic form (whose 15-year anniversary was celebrated in 2018 at the San Francisco and Saint Helena Public Libraries in California) as well as a first poetry book, BEYOND LIFE SENTENCES (1998), which received the Philippines’ National Book Award for Poetry. Translated into nine languages, she also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 15 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays, as well as exhibited visual art in the United States, Asia and Serbia. Her writing and editing works have received recognition through awards, grants and residencies. More information is available at http://eileenrtabios.com

In terms of tidbits to mention, it may be worth noting that I am the only poet (as far as I know) who’s doing Selected Poems projects based on poetry form. I prefer this approach for two reasons:

1) The traditional way of doing Selecteds is “Best of” or Most Favored” poems as the perspective. That’s not particularly challenging for me. I also know subjectivity: what one person favors or considers “best” could be disputed by another person’s taste.

2) Doing Selected Poems based on poetry form allows me and the readers to see if I’ve done anything to expand the possibilities of that form. So I’ve done this now for the prose poem, the catalog or list poem, visual poetry, and tercets. Within the tercets form, I’ve also done a Selected Hay(na)ku to show how I’ve further expanded the possibilities of a form even after  I invented it.

1) I know on Facebook, you post your daily check lists of what creative projects and tasks you've accomplished, do you find this helpful?  If so, why?

I’m doing the daily checklist only for my novel-in-progress (not all of my creative projects). I did daily checklists everyday in 2016 when I wrote the first draft—my first successful first draft of a long-form novel. Starting in 2019, I begin editing the novel and that’s what I’m posting daily about. I do this for several reasons—all related to how the novel is (for me) such a big and unwieldy task:

a) I’ve long noticed how lists really help me manage tasks

b) I post it publicly—and use Facebook for the public forum—to keep me honest about putting in the editing work. I believe editing the novel is just as time-consuming as writing the novel’s first draft so I need the infrastructure to make sure I put in the time. Already, I’ve caught myself thinking about certain posts: Wow, you put in less than an hour that day…or you should put in more time, etc.  Netflix-bingeing is a big danger to my novel J 

By the way, though I haven’t finished the novel itself, my 2016 daily notes became its own book—writing about writing the book! Love the meta of it all. That book, entitled appropriate #EileenWritesNovel was published as a special issue by Otoliths. It’s a favorite project because it’s illustrated by selfies taken of me during the writing process … and I usually loathe selfies.

2) You do a lot of reviews, promote other artists and writers as well as your own works, does that hinder or boost your creative process and creative projects?

Reviewing is a logical offshoot of another task that all good writers should do: READ.

Reading as a writer provides many benefits for one’s own creative work, and is, IMHO, a different type of reading than the reading done by non-writers. For a writer, reading is a responsibility—you do so to know your craft, to know how writing can unfold in different ways than you might conjure, to avoid treading in clichés in your own work, etc.  It’s amazing to me to see how poets don’t read widely. More than once, I’ve read prize-winning books and concluded, That approach was already done by this other poet, and done better. This may mean something about the reading habits of the prize judges, too (haha).

As for promoting other writers and artists, I need to clarify one important detail. I promote the art and the writing. To do so, I end up promoting their authors or makers.  But it’s the actual art I’m promoting, not the ones who did it – which, by the way, is a complicated balancing act when dealing with “community” perspective.  There are exceptions—usually when I’m focusing on non-individual based perspectives. Like, I promote Filipino writers and artists in general. But in terms of individual achievements, my focus is on the work itself—whether it succeeded—not who created it.

This is important to understand in a context where folks sometimes automatically promote their friends. I can understand that impetus: a friend is someone who’s got your back no matter what. But if I have promoted YOU in the past, know that it’s because I sincerely admire your work and not because I like you. 

You can see this, btw, in how I do reviews. I don’t assign myself books to review. I just read as widely as I can and the books which end up moving me to review them are the ones I review.

3) What are you working on now?

I just released my Selected Visual Poetry book entitled THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL so I suppose I need to spread the word about it. Info about it is at https://palomapress.net/2019/01/18/the-great-american-novel/  Note that Paloma Press is offering a pre-order special rate prior to February 14 which is its official release date. It’s already available too on Amazon.  I’m also in the editing/production phase of two more poetry books due out later this year. And, of course, daily, I am editing my novel.

4) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

My mother tells me I knew at age five when I was folding together pieces of paper to make “books”. (Mom writes about it at http://www.oovrag.com/oovnew/daughter-eileen-story-respect/ ) As far as I can remember, I’ve always loved words and always been a reader. But my first attempt at a career with words was through journalism, and I’ve worked for several newspapers and briefly in TV news (I wasn’t enamoured with broadcast journalism as it didn’t have the writing dimension I wanted which I got from print journalism). I never got my act together to write creatively until my early 30s.

5) How do you find inspiration and motivation?

Nowadays, I don’t look to be inspired and motivated. I just do. And my wish-list of Projects-To-Do exceed my capability at the moment. For example, I now have an idea for a second novel … but I can’t or won’t touch that until I’ve finished or gotten the first novel to a certain finished stage.

When I did need a source of inspiration, I usually find it through reading. Reading gives ideas.

6) Does place matter?  Where you live, I mean?  How much does nature and landscape affect you and influence your work?

Place does not matter for my writing—geographical space, that is. Whether it’s been in a small New York apartment or a large house in the country, it’s not been an issue as my focus has been on the screen and the benefits of the internet. As a result, I invented a word, “cloudygenous” which is in the anthology COUNTER DESECRATION (Eds Linda Russo and Marthe Reed) a Wesleyan University press book of writings in the anthropocene. Cloudygenous, a word play, is about being “indigenous” to the cloud of the internet. That’s me, and in that sense place has been significant.

Where place does  matter is through memory—my remembrances of my birth land, the Philippines. That’s a permanent presence within my psyche and affects my work. But the land in that memory no longer exists; i.e. what we have today is a different country from what I remember in my childhood.  Chalk it up to one of the costs of my diaspora.

Lastly, would you prefer to do video or just audio?  I might have a YouTube channel as another venue but funnel the audience through the podcast first.


Friday, January 25, 2019


Mail del dia is the chap E IS FOR EPAL from Paolo Manalo of Jolography fame. I expected to laugh, and I did, at his fabulous wordplay... but when his brief collection must include a poem like “Annus Horribilis,” it just shows the direness of the current regime. The poet doesn’t turn eyes away, forcing humor to come harder and harder.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


I've decided to review more fiction this year, part of the process of trying to finish my own novel. First for the year, my review of Gina Apostol's novel INSURRECTO is now up at The FilAm; here's an excerpt:
One of the most effective ways to enhance the effect of a joke or a witty remark is to underpin it with deep thoughtfulness; multiple layers of significance elongates resonance—it can make unforgettable a joke or other manifestation of humor. Apostol’s humor is so smart it seamlessly and often transitions to meta. For instance, “he laughs as if he has invented the act that will follow and that, soon enough, swallows him.” That’s a statement that can linger or come up unexpectedly as a recall, given its penetration as an observation. 
“Insurrecto’s” story is wide-ranging, thus, contains many dark elements because such is the 20th-21st century history of the Philippines. Apostol’s sense of humor helps us bear the darker aspects even as it highlights the darkness of such aspects ... 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


“The Limits of Syntax” is one of those poems I wrote and promptly forgot about because I’d written it off the cuff. Stride Magazine first published it in 2017 and then it was a Poem of the Day earlier this month at Central Coast Poetry Shows. You can see the text-poem HERE.  I’m glad it appeared at CCPS as it allowed stellar vispo poet Claude Nguyen to do something with it viz “rhythm and waving.” THANKS so much, Claude! Please go to his blog konkrete poesie to see, though I present image below:

 Curious, I asked Claude for a process note as regards his interpretation and he says (again, thank you!):

"It is a very spontaneous work, in general what touches me for the interpretation is the poetic lightness in front of the heaviness of the world, a force of the flight in some way. It is a very beautiful poem that I see as a clearing in the deep forest."

I’m so grateful that Claude has found a way into my poems. I believe we’ll be seeing more “translations” from him.