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, November 30, 2022

BACKSTORY TO "THE RETURN OF DOVELION"

There's a poem in my novel DOVELION entitled "The Return of DoveLion." I thank Christal Ann Rice Cooper at ART & HUMANITY for interviewing me about the poem for its series "Backstory of the Poem." The series uses copious illustrations so that the article ends up featuring Jose Garcia Villa, my "Murder Death Resurrection" Poetry Generator, Kapwa, my doll-avatars in the writing studio, anonymous readers in Budapest, among other things, as illustrations. I actually had forgotten how many layers there were to the poem (which is also featured). I hope you have time to read it; it's available HERE.




Wednesday, October 5, 2022

READING POETRY BY OVERCOMIING BARRIERS AND DEEPENING ENGAGEMENT

To be officially released this month is Thomas Fink's Reading Poetry with College and University Students (Bloomsbury Academic, 2022). More information at the publisher's BOOK LINK. I am grateful for joining a new category of "FINALLY: I'M IN A BOOK WITH JOHN "No man is an island" DONNE!" Tom Fink, the author, is one of our most trustworthy poetry critics today and I would recommend any of his insights. This book is meant for teachers but I'd think it'd be of interest to poetry lovers, specifically those who give meaningful and deep attention to the art..


COMPLETE LIST OF POETS:

Julia Alvarez
Amiri Baraka
Tom Beckett
Gwendolyn Brooks
Rosario Castellanos
John Donne
Denise Duhamel
Paolo Javier
Yusef Komunyakaa
Timothy Liu
Audre Lorde
Sheila E. Murphy
Trace Peterson
Adélia Prado
A.K. Ramanujan
Adrienne Rich
Evie Shockley
Wisława Szymborska
Eileen R. Tabios
Gail Tremblay
W.B. Yeats


FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Reading Poetry with College and University Students aims to help faculty foster students' intellectual and aesthetic engagement with poems while enabling them to sharpen critical and creative thinking skills. Reading authors across history and the globe--such as Julia Alvarez, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mahmoud Darwish, John Donne, Paolo Javier, Yusef Komunyakaa, Audre Lorde, and Wislawa Szymborska--Thomas Fink zeroes in on how learners can surmount and even enjoy tackling the most difficult aspects of poetry. 

By exploring students' emotional identification with speakers and characters of poems as well as poets themselves, Fink shows how an instructor can motivate students to produce effective and empathic interpretations. Through divergent readings of selected poems, the book addresses the influence of various theoretical paradigms, ranging from ecological, psychological, feminist, and queer theory to deconstructive, postcolonial, and surface reading orientations. Instructors receive practical guidance through these poems, poets, and modes of reading, helping to give learners raw material to reach their own nuanced interpretations and strengthen their emotional, aesthetic, and intellectual acumen.


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

WELCOME, PRISES!

From a "green and lost" French countryside in Morvan Heights, Angle Mort Editions sends the first book printed at their workshop there: PRISES, my second 2022 book and second translated-to-French book. I'm deeply grateful to translator Fanny Garin, editor Celestine de Meeus, and the sharp printmakers of Angle Mort Editions for this superbly refined letterpress edition. More info on book is at at these links:

and

Here are the obligatory and chronological opening photos of my official author copies. Last image features PRISES newly on my writing desk, guarded by my novel's spy-avatars. Merci beaucoup, Univers.








~~

Letterpress printing on Fedrigoni paper for the cover. Risographic print on Olin Rough paper for indoor use. Printed and assembled by the editors at the Presses du Pré. A fabulous video on making PRISES is available at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=800165401395239







Sunday, July 3, 2022

ON DOVELION, NOVEL-WRITING, AND, AS EVER, POETRY

I'm grateful that my first novel DOVELION (AC Books, New York, 2021) continues to receive attention more than a year after its release. Here are three examples:

DOVELION's book page presents links to reviews and reader-engagements. The latest review that came out today is by Allen Gaborro at The FilAm where he concludes

“DoveLion” does however have a saving grace other than the treasure of its poetry. The book indelibly illustrates the fertile spiritual and emotional struggle and affecting introspection taking place in its text. That’s something that the best of plots cannot accomplish on their own. 


I also was recently interviewed by Eulipion Outpost on creative writing, aging, Asian drama bingeing, and dolls. The article is illustrated one of two writing desks in my writing studio:



Finally, I'm glad to say that DOVELION has just finished being translated into Filipino by noted novelist-scholar-poet-editor Danton Remoto. I hope to share good news about it more in the future!




Monday, May 30, 2022

HOW TO BE A POET-NOVELIST viz MARSH HAWK REVIEW

Marsh Hawk Review consistently presents contemporary poets who are worth reading in part for how they expand the poetic terrain. For its just-released Spring 2022 issue, deep gratitude to editor Daniel Morris and prose editor Burt Kimmelman for including me in both the poetry and prose sections. Both of my contributions reflect my development as a poet-novelist. My poem (P. 47) is an experimental haibun that was written while writing my third novel. My prose contribution is an essay on “How a Poet Writes a Novel” (P. 58). I hope you check them out, along with other outstanding words and poets in the issue. Available at this link: https://marshhawkpress.org/the-marsh-hawk-press-review/

From “How a Poet Writes a Novel”, its opening sentence:

“What if, instead of having an idea for a story, you decide to let the world write your novel?”

 

The novel, of course, is my first novel which was released last year, DOVELION (AC Books, N.Y.).








Sunday, April 24, 2022

FUNDRAISER FOR UKRAINE THROUGH MINIATURE BOOKS

A Miniature Book-Based Fundraiser for the Ukrainian People

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a humanitarian crisis and created over four million refugees who’ve crossed borders into neighboring countries. This fundraiser is created to support continued contributions to those in need. Poems-for-all out of San Diego has created a Ukraine Series that involves poets writing in support of Ukraine. As one of those poets, I will send a signed copy of my miniature book, SUNFLOWERS BECAME GRAY, BUT, along with related ephemera—bookmarks or another mini book from a variety of authors in the series.

 

Donations can be of any amount and made to any recipient of the donor’s choice. Donations must be made as of April 23, 2022 or later. Simply email me a confirmation of your donation, whether it’s a donation receipt or other proof of donation (e.g. emails) and I will send you a copy of my book plus ephemera. Email me at galateaten@gmail.com

 


There are many organizations and ways to donate. I post a few suggestions below for convenience, including World Central Kitchen whose initial kitchens serving refugees were shelled by Russian missiles—they have regrouped, though, and continue to help the refugees:

 

1)  World Central Kitchen: https://wck.org/?fbclid=IwAR1Ku2ZlqKiIuo45w2h4mQ4GfTuHYZ9laZHSboi40CoP_fCQ0Chgyny8bCE

and

https://www.facebook.com/WorldCentralKitchen/

 

2) Doctors Without Bordershttps://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

 

3) Variety of grass-roots initiatives, e.g. booking an AirBNB to Ukrainians even though their homes no longer exist in bombed  cities; booking is just a means to get funds direct to them. As well, Greater Good Charities for aiding pet animals adversely affected.

 

This modest fundraiser has a bonus. For the first three folks alerting me (email me) to donations of $50 or more, you can get a 2 x 2.7 inch miniature book from the Del Prado Miniature Classics Library. This wonderful series of leather-backed hardcovers was originally published in Spain and is now out of print. Three titles are available for this fundraiser:

 

SELECTED POETRY by Emily Dickinson

THE METAMORPHOSIS by Franz Kafka

THE SONNETS TO ORPHEUS / SELECTED POEMS by Rainer Maria Rilka



For more information & sending donation confirmations, 

email Eileen Tabios at galateaten@gmail.com 

 

Donate & receive the mini book to see entire poem!


Some ephemera to be included, e.g. bookmarks. Another miniature book also may be included, written by PFA Ukraine participating poets Jack Crimmins, Michael Augustin, Andy Murray, William Heyen, Sujaya Bhatt, Melissa Eleftherion, Alessandra Bava, Hugh McMillan, and Andrea Zawinski.







Thursday, February 10, 2022

DOVELION, REVIEWED at UP THE STAIRCASE!


Deep gratitude to poet-essayist Elsa Valmidiano's new review of DOVELION: A Fairy Tale for Our Times. I'm reprinting entire review here from journal Up The Staircase as there seems to be an access problem with those who use Norton as their internet security (you can try to see review HERE):


The Battle Against Total Erasure: Review by Elsa Valmidiano.


From acclaimed poet, Eileen R. Tabios, comes her epic first novel, DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times, from AC Books, April 2021, a novel of erotic encounters, political intrigue, meta literary references, and ancestral/indigenous exhumation.

The fictional setting of Pacifica, many might argue, is a caricature of the Philippines itself, recovering from a Marcos-esque regime, or really any country that is still reeling from dictatorship trauma. This could very well include so many countries across the world, where present day’s Jair Messias Bolsonaro comes to mind and his aggressive moves to open up the Amazon rainforest to commercial development, threatening the current homes of Amazonian tribes, just as Ferdinand Marcos from 1972 to 1986 displaced 300,000 Moro people in Mindanao through a combination of “hamletting” and community takeovers, while refining extrajudicial killings against indigenous communities to help foreign mining corporations secure a foothold on their lands. Hamletting is the clearing of an area of an alleged rebel presence and maintaining a military presence to keep them out. Tabios paints such a caricature of Pacifica’s dictator, eerily reminiscent of the former dictator of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos himself. As one can additionally see today, despotic power is still evident during Rodrigo Duterte’s reign against the indigenous Lumad. And so the modern fairy tale, or shall we call it modern day history, goes on and on.

As evident in Tabios’ poetic prose, the strategic opening lines do not go unnoticed as she reiterates the echoed lines from paragraph to paragraph, “Once upon a time,” staging an irony as if the events in the novel reveal what is happening now, not far away, but now, so that “Once upon a time” becomes a poetic refrain of a story or song to be repeated and remembered. In its own way, the repetitious lines from her storytelling remind me of Filipino folk songs and ballads I grew up knowing, as if they are memory tools, so that in reading “Once upon a time,” Oral Tradition of our own nuanced ancient storytelling is reflected back at us, not memorialized in spoken word and song this time, but in written text.  

Between the erotic and vulnerable exchanges between protagonists, Elena Theeland and Ernst Blazer, Tabios not only captures the intensity of these would-be enemy-descendants, but poses the question, “How do descendants of enemies forgive, love, and move on?” Philippine history itself reveals this repeating betrayal among brown brothers, such as Diego Silang, a young Ilocano revolutionary leader who dared overthrow Spanish rule in the 1760s, and was killed by his own friend whom colonizing authorities paid to assassinate. And somewhere out there, the descendants of victims and executioners possibly coexist—in the Motherland? in the Diaspora? Could they be close friends, even lovers, and not know it?

Tabios’ love story, if we could call it that between Elena and Ernst, would fall under a Romeo and Juliet motif, but one in which Tabios digs even deeper to reveal the political seeds and upheaval that would have made Ernst completely unforgivable in Elena’s eyes, begging the question: How do we escape the sins, hatred, and bitterness of our fathers, and if so, is it possible to work together to overthrow a totalitarian regime?

Tabios also playfully drops meta literary references like hidden Easter eggs throughout her text, where the title itself, DoveLion, the true name of Pacifica before its dictator changed it, also closely resembles twentieth century Filipino poet, Jose Garcia Villa’s pen name “Doveglion,” a combination of the words “dove,” “eagle,” and “lion,” which he believed was his true persona. In another instance, the main protagonist Elena comments on Tabios as if the story existed entirely apart from the storyteller herself. Tabios also plays on names throughout the novel, such as “Baybay” for “Babaylan,” the honorary title given only to the Philippines’ precolonial matriarchal governing high priestesses.

Even as Tabios paints Elena’s naïve love for Wikipedia for research and information, Tabios does not undervalue the weight of magic, dreams, and ancestral knowledge. It appears that kind of knowledge can be innate before resorting to online research and documentation where room for inaccuracy by an unreliable online contributor is always probable and suspect.

As Elena learns she is indeed Itonguk, a fictional indigenous tribe of Tabios’ fictional Pacifica, the novel takes on an interesting commentary regarding the modern Filipino’s own clouded tracing to their indigenous roots as we wonder what makes us different from the indigenous tribes and are we not a part of them, or at least acknowledge that we once were? Just as Ilocana revolutionary Gabriela Silang was not only Ilocano—her mother was Itneg—the protagonist’s own discovery of her indigenous heritage suddenly makes a difference in Elena’s revolutionary fight for the preservation of who we truly are, not just as interracial colonized modern-day products of our white colonizers and indigenous ancestors who have been ruled by a dictator—brainwashed by a colonial mindset—but that there are significant distinctions to be made between indigenous communities so that we may fully understand our own ancestry as well as build solidarity in our archipelago and Diaspora as a whole.

As Elena addresses the spirit of her Itonguk mother, reclaiming her ancestry, identity, and self in the face of indigenous erasure:

      “I feel you in that space where there’s no past, present or future—there’s only a single all-encompassing moment where you and I are not separated” (276).

​Sans the blood of Spanish and other white invaders like the British and Americans intermingled into our own present-day DNA, it seems Tabios reminds modern-day Filipinos that indigenous blood and magic is who we used to be—or, may I dare say, always are—and that is worth fighting for in not only battling subjugation, but that we do not fall into total erasure and ethnic homogeneity by not knowing exactly our roots.


*****

Elsa Valmidiano is an Ilocana-American essayist and poet whose ancestral roots hail from La Union through her mother and Ilocos Sur through her father. Elsa is the author of We Are No Longer Babaylan, her debut essay collection from New Rivers Press. Her book reviews appear in Poetry Northwest, The Collidescope, and Bridge Eight. Her poetry and prose appear in Cosmonauts Avenue, Anomaly, Cherry Tree, Hairstreak Butterfly Review, among many others. Her work has also been widely anthologized. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College and has performed numerous readings. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. On her website, slicingtomatoes.com, Elsa curates a directory of Pinay visual artists from the Philippines and Diaspora whose work she features alongside her poetry and prose.