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.

Saturday, January 5, 2019


Someone asked me about writing about/in response to a parent's death. I replied, then thought to share my thoughts:
For me, I wrote an entire book concurrent with my time at my Dad’s death bed. And yet I am speechless over my Mom’s death. So perhaps I would note two words: urgency and constraint. While I actually was 2nd-guessing whether I should be using my Dad’s death as “material,” I felt helpless against the urgency that made me write – like, I had to write the grief out of me (as if that was possible). Then, as it turned out, that book, THE LIGHT SANG AS IT LEFT YOUR EYES, became one of my more successful ones even as paradoxically it was my rawest writing to date. Some of the most meaningful responses to my work are in response to that book – specifically how it helped other readers with their parents’ passage. So feel out the urgency/necessity of writing as an ethic, if you will, on writing about something like your Dad’s passing.   
As for constraint, especially if you took notes, it may be helpful to create a constraint as an organizing element for those noted thoughts. My favorite poem by Barbara Jane Reyes is one she wrote re her father’s death … and its organization presents a 24-hour day unfolding and she uses time of day to begin writing (not saying Barbara consciously used constraint-based methodology but I see the poem as a successful example of what I suggest—to come up with a (more objective) organizing principle that would help harness what I’m sure must be very emotional thoughts that you’ve noted. You can see Barbara’s poem  at https://aaww.org/the-day-barbara-jane-reyes/ 
As for writing about my Mom, it’s been about 7 years. And I can’t. And that’s okay.

A parent's death is tough. I share in case these thoughts are useful to someone ...

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