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.

Thursday, December 12, 2019


Miniature books go back centuries and have been created for a wide variety of reasons. Today, I welcome a first into my Miniature Book Library--a book designed as a "preview" of a forthcoming book, in this case James Dickey's Poems 1957-1967. 500 of these 2 x 3 inch books were created for reviewers and booksellers (as well as the author's and publisher's friends). So this preview came out in the late 1960s--how quickly things have changed. Can you imagine someone today expending the resources to create 500 "preview" mini replicas for a forthcoming poetry book? Most poetry books, in case you don't know, don't sell 500 copies. So I'm glad to welcome this miniature book into my library -- a sign, it seems to me, of when a poetry book(s) was more treasured. I'm waiting now for a normatively-sized copy to keep it company.

You can see my Miniature Book Library

Friday, December 6, 2019


I recently sent books to a professor of Asian American Literature who will be teaching some of my poetry. Along with the books, I dashed off the following (very informal, not scholarly) note ... which I then thought to share here as it may be helpful to others. The note is slightly contextualized for AsianAm Lit but I believe can be relevant to other disciplines:


            Thanks for your receptivity to my work. I thought I’d share some notes since I’m sharing several books that may (or may not) be helpful for purpose of “Asian American lit”:

--you have Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole and it shows how I use abstract language to elide the use of English as narrative communication, as a dis at how English was used to colonize the Philippines. My transcolonial take on language is reflected on how I deliberately radicalize the slipperiness of language (for which Poetry’s language is so perfect)—such is seen as well on MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION (which maximizes the role of randomness in creating new poems).

--2019 book Witness in the Convex Mirror reflects a nod to John Ashbery for being called (in some circles) the most important English-language poet of the 20th century) but my attempt (particularly in 2nd half of book) also “browns" his concerns.

--the hay(na)ku books add a new poetry form to English poetry, which was both an aesthetic and political goal.

--I like using methods associated with the visual arts because I’m trying to address poetry in non-traditional ways. SUN STIGMATA reflects my “sculpting” out new poems from the text blocks that had appeared in Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole. This also led to my “Selected Visual Poetry,” THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL (GAN); the title of course also addresses the notion of not just GAN but “AMERICAN.” GAN’s first entry may be of most interest as it reflects how I translate diaspora into “cloudygenous,” a word I invited for a Univ. of Wesleyan anthology of new words related to the anthropocene…

--The Secret Lives of Punctuations brings out to light those items (punctuations) often ignored—a metaphor for … many things. Note the reference to “Vol. 1” though there aren’t (yet) additional volumes to indicate the plentitude of life in the margins. Relatedly, Menage a Trois with the 21st Century seeks to resuscitate a modern life for Gabriela Silang who had sacrificed her life to be the first female general of anti-Spanish colonial forces in the Philippines.

--ECSTATIC MUTATIONS: Experiments in the Poetry Laboratory is an old and out-of-print book published in the Philippines but is useful for relaying my early interests in experimenting with poetry. TANKA, Vol. 1 (relatively new work) indeed shows me revamping the traditional “tanka” form.

--it’s tedious being a martyr so I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED is also a  rapprochement with my reality of being a diasporic Filipina writing in English. It was a lot of fun to marry English and that performance also involved  other poets, including a hairy poet, wearing that over-the-top Princess Di type of bridal gown (once, it was the rage J ) featured on the book cover.

--I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH,… includes reports on performances involving the community. Such acts, along with the hay(na)ku, MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION, and others will reflect—ultimately—my encouragement of “Kapwa” (a Filipino indigenous trait of recognizing one's self in others and vice versa).

--I love doing “Selected Poems” projects on poetry forms as such allows me to show—and interested readers to glean—how I expanded a poetry form’s possibilities: hence, Invent(st)ory on the list poem; Great American Novel on visual poetry, A THORN ROSARY on the prose poem, and even ONE TWO THREE where I did a Selection on the hay(na)ku despite inventing it (it led to the “haybun,” among other things). 147 MILLION ORPHANS is the first and so far only single-author collection of haybun. As a Filipino-PilipinZ writer, I consider it important to be discernible in not just inheriting but expanding the English language.

--The Blind Chatelaine’s Keys and AGAINST MISANTHROPY may be useful for offering poetics essays. Note that quite often I use not my own authored essays but others’ to reflect Kapwa and because I believe it’s my job to create poems but not necessarily tell others how to read/interpret them. These two also reflect my performance-disputations of auto/biography—the difficulty of capturing reality (e.g. through multiple interpretations of my work). This element is noted in the subtitle of THE LIGHT SANG AS IT LEFT YOUR EYES which incorporates the word “our” before the word “autobiography.”

More info on my poetry books are at my website, specifically https://eileenrtabios.com/poetry/

All best,

THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems & New (1998-2010)
INVENT(ST)ORY: Selected Catalog Poems & New 1996-2015
The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets 1996-2019
The Great American Novel: Selected Visual Poetry (2001-2009)
Menage a Trois with the 21st Century
The Secret Lives of Punctuations, Vol. 1
Love in a Time of Belligerence
Witness in the Convex Mirror
Sun Stigmata (Sculpture Poems)
147 Million Orphans
AGAINST MISANTHROPY: A Life in Poetry (2015-1995)
ONE TWO THREE: Selected Hay(na)ku (English/Spanish bilingual edition)
ECSTATIC MUTATIONS: Experiments in the Poetry Library
TANKA, Vol. 1

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Deep gratitude to Harbor Review, editor Allison Blevins and reviewer Jeanna Paden for this new review of WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR. You can go HERE for entire review but here's an excerpt:

In poems like “Email to a Young Poet of Color,” “The Now of Heaven,” and “Eco Echo,” Tabios doesn’t shy away from blunt reactions to the political and environmental struggles we face. She writes, “As if the ill-educated parent / will not bear ill-educated children. As if billionaires would / still contribute to charities without tax-deductions.” The collection is strikingly frank. “The Optimists Ciphertext” quips, “Clarity, as lives of quiet / desperation imply, is untrustworthy.” Readers follow the speaker as she searches for something more reliable than clarity. The poems focus in and out on current culture from a precise but unforgiving angle.  
Overall, the collection reads like a social proclamation, one many will champion, though others might read as deliberately deadpan. Fans of Ashbery’s Portrait will likely enjoy the echoes of his work paired with Tabios’s take on the vantage of the convex mirror. In short, Witness in the Convex Mirror offers a biographical approach to poetry from a successful and well-published poet. 
By the way, WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR is available through this very worthwhile fundraiser at Brew & Forge. Go HERE to get a copy while supporting a great cause!

Monday, December 2, 2019


When I committed 2019 to finishing--and then trying to find publication for--my first long-form novel, I knew I'd have to set aside a lot of my usual commitments for the year. Hence, I put Galatea Resurrects on a temporary (now permanent) sabbatical, I recognized I'd write few new poems, and so on. I can't recall who said it -- perhaps Joyce Carol Oates? -- but I knew this saying is true: The most harmful thing to writing or writing a novel is not time but distractions. But before I continue, an aside :)

My novel is entitled DOVELION: A Fairy Tale For Our Times. I've been cagey about releasing details about it but its title, anyway, was outed ... because it's a Finalist in Eyelands' Book Award for Unpublished Novels!

Eyelands' recognition (whether or not I'll get the top award) is meaningful for, among other things, validating my commitment to it. But as I was saying, I had anticipated that the novel would be voracious and so I committed 2019 to it. Now that we're in December, I can share some of its effects--for instance, I published/released online only 26 poems in 2019 (versus 92 poems in 2018). And I wrote zero blurbs, reviewed zero poetry titles and was only able to review 3 novels, 2 memoirs, one novelist, and one artwork. Because they successfully distracted me from my novel, I nod to them. Here are the works I reviewed this year -- links will be to their reviews:

Reviewed Novels:
INSURRECTO by Gina Apostol
THE BETRAYED by Reine Arcache Melvin
SUBVERSIVO, INC. by Jose Elvin Bueno

Reviewed Artwork:
"Hawak/Hold," a drawing by Katrina Bello

Reviewed Memoirs:
GLIMPSES by Leny M. Strobel ("review" viz doing an Introduction)
THE BODY PAPERS by Grace Talusan

"Reviewed" Author
Ninotchka Rosca

Because we're talking about so few (for me) reviews, it pleases me to share the works' images and/or book covers:

 "Hawak/Hold" by Katrina Bello

I say Congratulations to these authors as your creations were so compelling that they distracted me from my own novel! But then, I also thank you for creating such fabulous work! I absolutely loved engaging with your writings and creations.


Thanks to Erica Goss for the idea of looking at the book covers of those one reviewed during the year; thanks as well for her including one of my books, ONE TWO THREE: Selected Hay(na)ku, among those she reviewed! Her post is available HERE.


I'm deeply grateful to Joey Madia for this new review of my new Marsh Hawk book, The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku ... which also just appeared on SPD Books' Recommended List! Here's an excerpt of the review which you can see HERE:
"One gets that sense that, as free-ranging and transdisciplinary as Tabios is (and she must be to generate so much fresh and innovative text), that she is equally as intimate with these self-same subjects. One can feel the arc of the original inspiration, the spiritual depth-diving with which she engages said subjects to such an extent that the silver thread that holds them is taut enough to pluck and hear the tone as though it were the Music of the Spheres manifestly made. 
So make no mistake—Tabios is not innovating and recycling to mask a lack of writing power. Take this tercet, from “listening to what woke me”: 
in the city, as summer evaporates off the streets 
the stilled, sharp blades of a three-pronged fan 
behind the curve of its grated metal mask (27)
Hear the music?
A Release and Holiday Special Offer HERE.

Sunday, December 1, 2019


I'm honored to participate in Brew & Forge's 6th annual fundraising for grassroots community organizations. This year, proceeds raised will go to support the Black Mesa Water Coalition which fights climate destruction and builds restorative economies in Navajo and Hopi communities. I'm participating through offering a signed copy of WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR but as the book will come directly from me, I'll be tossing in other goodies for your $20 donation to this fundraiser. Check these and other fabulous goodies at

We WITNESS the world and wish to aid it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


I genuinely love the Holiday season. So I’m pleased to share pictures below of the first snailmail that arrived in response to my offer to exchange Holiday cards—any holiday, as long as the card includes a poem. This came from Leny Strobel—what a lovely offering of “Qi Gong Hay(na)ku.” THANK YOU, Leny!

And if you wish to trade, here’s my original Notice:
HOLIDAY GREETINGS. I'm looking to trade holiday greetings by exchanging cards--holiday is not limited to Christmas. But cards must include a poem (handwritten fine), whether yours or someone else's. Here's my address. If you send me one, I'll send you something too. 
Eileen Tabios
P.O. Box 361
Saint Helena, CA 94574
Here is Leny's very smart hay(na)ku blossoms:

(Click on images to enlarge)