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 31, 2014


To know Moi is to know I have released mucho blogs in my time.  Now I can say that the best OPENER (most hits) ever attained by any of my blogs when they were newly-released is BIBLIOTHECA INVISIBILIS!

Who'da thunk?  So much attention to ... what cannot be seen!  Sez something, I believe, about the Zeitgeist!

Check it out with, at the moment, over 30 entries by poets, artists and other interested audience members!

Plus, I've just expanded the Call of Participation to curators and not just individual entries!  We welcome your thoughts!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


I'm always gratified that the hay(na)ku continues to attract practitioners.  I'm late to finding this out but the latest is from Vince Gotera, who'd helped coin the name "hay(na)ku." Vince has invented another variation of the basic tercet form:  the HAY(NA)KU SONNET!   This form is created through four hay(na)ku tercets  plus an ending couplet with three words per line. The closing couplet is actually a hay(na)ku where the one-word line and the two-word line have been concatenated in order to end up with 14 lines. Vince dates his invention to be 14 April 2012, which is when he posted the first hay(na)ku sonnet on his blog, The Man With the Blue Guitar:

Here's an example of this form which first appeared on his blog; “9/11     +12” also was reprinted in The Daily Palette, University of Iowa, 30 December 2013:

9/11        +12

                    a hay(na)ku sonnet 

sparrows fell
from ashen skies.

loomed from
fog of ash.

Twelve years later,
still entangled:

Bin Laden dead.
Hourglass sand

us downslope: ash
inferno downfall empire.


Thanks Vince!  And if you'd like to see more examples of the hay(na)ku, feel free to check out the form's Bibliography!  Not to mention my latest book which is the first book-length collection of one of its variations, the "haybun": 147 MILLION ORPHANS (MMXI-MML) -- am happy to share this link, too, for its new posting of a five-star review by Amazon Hall of Fame reviewer Grady Harp (thank you!).

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Sampaguita is the lovely national flower of the Philippines...Anyway, thank you Sampaguita Girl for citing me in "5 Pinay Writers You Need to Check Out." It's always nice to hear that one's writings touched someone (especially someone I don't know).

Now, you illustrated your piece with a photo of me when I'd just graduated from Barnard College.  I am grayer than that photo nowadays but I appreciate your reminder that, through the Internet, I can remain eternally young (grin):

This photo, of course, was the one pixelated by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen into a cover of one of my books, MENAGE A TROIS WITH THE 21ST CENTURY (naturally I cite it since this is what this blog does: Verbs Books!):

But let me not go on about moiself.  I second Sampaguita Girl's recommendations of the other lovely four Pinay writers: Joi Barrios, Evelina Galang, Jessica Hagedorn and Barbara Jane Reyes.  Check 'em out!

Friday, March 28, 2014


Dutch artist Elisabeth Tonnard is just one of the several wonderful additions to BIBLIOTHECA INVISIBILIS.  Indeed, why don't you check out her THE INVISIBLE BOOK:

Get it?  Heeeee....

Thursday, March 27, 2014


BIBLIOTHECA INVISIBILIS has really taken off (and we still want your participation!).  Participating writers/artists, to date, include Gary Barwin, Tom Beckett, Gregory Betts, John Bloomberg-Rissman, John Cage, Emmy Catedral, Craig Conley, Giles Goodland, Halvard Johnson, Marton Koppany, Angelo R. Lacuesta, Nick Montfort, Jessica Smith, Stephanie Strickland, Jose Garcia Villa, Erin Virgil and Dan Waber.  More are in the pipeline, so visit often!

I cite those names above because the project is not about me.  And, yet, to my surprise I find that I have five entries in it -- five projects that involve the Invisible.  But no wonder I thought of this project -- I was attuned to it in the first place!

My first project inputted into the Library Blog is LET'S REALLY TALK ABOUT YOU. WHAT DO YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT ME?, which I'd concocted when I was first looking to populate the blog with examples of what could fit the Library of the Invisible.  Took two seconds to conceptualize.  

Then, since I began working on the project, I realized I'd already created three other projects that fits the theme of BIBLIOTHECA INVISIBILIS!  There's A BLURB PROJECT: The Secret Lives of Blank Lines (from my 2006 book THE SECRET LIVES OF PUNCTUATIONS, VOL. I). 

Then, there's the invisible-because-it-has-yet-to-be-created book that's supposed to emanate from my BLURBED BOOK PROJECT!  You should click on the link as this was/is one of the most hilarious projects I'd ever conceived!  I've nearly emptied the wine cellar so far trying to write this book.  So far, unsuccessful!  But I've got decades to go ...!

Then, there's THE SECRET, aka, THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS.  Too bad that book's text is invisible as I'm sure we'd all love to know ... the secret to happiness!

And, speaking of Footnote Poems, here's what they looked like published on the book -- basically a near-empty blank page except for brief footnotes edging the bottom of each page:

By leaving the page mostly blank, the foonotes are designed to encourage the reader to inscribe on them.  The reader(s) would inscribe text (poems, stories, whatever) which presumably contain material that would be aptly footnoted by the printed footnote-poem on the bottom of the page.  The late poet/writer Rochelle Ratner had used my Footnote Poems in a writing workshop she led at a senior citizens' center somewhere in New York.

One Footnote Poem series, "Footnotes to 'The Virgin's Knot' by Holly Payne" is comprised of footnotes including the ten below:

[1] He realized her sadness when the weaver formed holes shaped as falling tears.
[2] The retired sheepdog’s lullabye: a virgin weaving a new row of knots.
[3] She cannot remember a time when her fingers were free of wooden splinters.
[4] In exchange for electricity, they accepted a colonizer’s alphabet.
[5] A professional commits space to memory.
[6] Ah! To understand hands like Fazil Husmu Daglarca!
[7] In her eyes burn the fires of numerous tribes, as well as the redness derived from limbs dropped to the ground by steel.
[8] She defined ambition as the helpless compulsion to write songs for women who will never wear headscarves.
[9] The thin mattress smelled of lemon and wild rose.
[10] The bride wore a red veil, which alerted him to the tears she painted with kohl against her inner thighs.

I share the above because I'd like to share Aileen Ibardaloza's reactions to the footnotes.  The number beside each title below corresponds to the numbered footnotes above.  Thanks Aileen!

After Eileen Tabios’ “Footnotes to ‘The Virgin’s Knot’ by Holly Payne”
By Aileen Ibardaloza

The Bridegroom[1]

my dear
and unhappy wife,”

wrote (for
he married her

died the
same day). Dulce

pity your
bared, bleeding feet.

The Bridegroom II

walked the
aisle with the

of her
love’s letters sewn

the hem
of her gown.

The Dowry[2]

The father placed his bid and waited. If it is accepted, then he wins his daughter’s dowry a magical rug woven by a virgin, “the knots so strong they could hold the dead”, or a virgin bride. The father believed in his heart that this rug, unlike any other, could answer prayers (such as male offspring for his daughter, prosperity for his future son-in-law). He continued to feed the tespih through his fingers for to be a worthy supplicant is to exalt, and to exalt is to possess humility in repetition.

A prayer for a virgin’s heart for a virgin’s knot.

The shadow of the minaret stretches as the father prepares to lead the call to prayer.

 The Knot[3]

Hattusa fell in the 12th century BC.

The “Sea Peoples” of Danube flourished in Asia Minor.

Phrygia ruled west central Anatolia until 7th century BC.

Gordius, a Phrygian king, tied a knot with no free ends.

Untie the knot and rule all of Asia, according to prophecy.

Alexander cut the knot with a sword in 334 BC.

Behold, a twist: Cynane unties the unknotted loop, which is to say, the misfortune of topologies is invariance, the absence of notion.

 The Book of Vows[4]

Delicate and familiar is
the secret language

of hands. There is, for
instance, the piña, (un)spoken

by the weavers
of Aklan. Nu shu, 

by the wives of ancient
China. Chope, 

by the grandmothers
of Punjab. Nakis,

by the women of Anatolia.
Soft, wispy, red and endless,

is the sum of their symbols.
The quivered touch, stitch

by stitch, meant, simply,
this: I live, unimagined.

The Matchmaker[5]

matchmaker in
forty days remember

make my
child a match.

his knots,
spread his robe,

his arm.
Seat her, greet

find a
jester. Unveil her.

 The Proposal[6]

“Do you love me?” he asked.
And how could she have said no,

here, where the olive trees grow.
He spoke of love like sea and sky

colliding, like bodies turning to water,
the dust foregone. There is only water,

and what floats on it, love by love,
between Rome and Carthage.

And him on it. And her. Of course,
it happened a long time ago. Who remembers

the mass of green? what evokes
in the wind? But he creates her over

and over, as she closes her eyes,
over and over, to the horizons.

 The Banquet[7]

My old same hides
her face behind a  fan

as she gazes at her
plate filled with Dragon  shrimp

and Phoenix feet, at
her cup filled with

joyful wine, at her feet
in lotus shoes. I reach

for a plum, ever
slighter than a peach,

and regard the
tao of laotongs.

 The Ceremony[8]

And when she saw him, she took her veil and covered herself, for such an act is not only proper, but also necessary in marking her bounds.

He then brought her into his tent, and she became his wife.

And he loved her.

 The Honeymoon[9]

The fecundity of mattresses derives from what lies on top. In a word, weight.

“You can get married in Gibraltar near Spain” then “Come to John and Yoko's honeymoon: a bed-in” (room 702 Amsterdam Hotel). Wear pyjamas (or a bag), talk in bed for a week, try “to get some peace”.

What do you see here? Long black hair redolent with lemon balm. In a word, need.

 The Bride[10]

How lovely, splendidly wrapped
in the red

and golden yellow bagh
of the trousseau.

In Gurmukhi script is
a name. One

bride is covered, the
other one concealed.

First, she ate her
sweetmeats, then she

placed the first stitch.
Longing is homespun,

a name, embroidered golden
yellow on red.


The Invisible Made Manifest!  What FUN!  Again, you are invited to BIBLIOTHECA INVISIBILIS!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


(Inside the Invisible Library. On table, a glass bowl containing nothing)

You are invited to BIBLIOTHECA INVISIBILIS, my latest insomnia-induced project.  Basically, with the help of Curator and Librarian Emeritus, U.C. Riverside, John Bloomberg-Rissman, I've organized a Library of Books and Other Media that conceptualizes the invisible. You are invited to participate by sharing your work(s) that presents the Invisible (including but not limited to invisible or erased text).

The Call for Participation is HERE.  There is no particular deadline; the Library blog will be updated as information is sent in.  Let me replicate the Call here for convenience and because I truly hope YOU will participate:

Your works can exist (and if there's a link I'm happy to link to it), or be imaginary.  The key is to share the work with (some of) its underlying conceptualization.  
If you would like to participate, please send the following:
1) Title or name of work
2) Write-up on the work's concept 
3) An illustration (e.g. book cover, interior text, or whatever you deem appropriate) 
4) Bio and Author photo 
Send information to, or ask questions of, me at Nalanda10@aol.com
Eileen R. Tabios 
Library Director, Bibliotheca Invisibilis

As it turns out, the project already has garnered interest from notable poets and artists from around the world!  The Library not just includes books but Other Media.  Here are three examples:

"The Emperor's New Sonnet" by Jose Garcia Villa

"variations of resistance" by Emmy Catedral

        by Gary Barwin

(click on image to enlarge)

Please enter the Library!  And visit frequently!  Its Catalog will be updated over time as new material is discovered!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Well.  This morning, I ended a week of Netflix-bingeing, finishing the last of five years worth of "Alias."  Amazing what happens when an obsessive distraction ends--I finished another chapter in MY RUSSIAN NOVEL.  More importantly, I can finish putting together this week the manuscript for my next book, SUN STIGMATA (Sculpture Poems) which is forthcoming this Fall from Marsh Hawk Press.  Gotta get that to book designer next week!  Here's an appetizer, some blurbs about what will be (I think) my 21st poetry collection:

"Eileen Tabios's poems twist like silk scarves caught in the wind, offering ardent calligraphies and sly subversions of the passions, so many ways of naming lucidity." 
Andrew Joron

In her new collection, Sun Stigmata, Eileen Tabios has sculpted poems of light and shadow by using the blade of time to cut through stone. What is revealed as “through a ripped hole in space,” is rendered “as unforgiving as a sniper’s eye…” With lapidary precision, Tabios links the personal to the eternal while deepening what is essentially human: “…did the Greeks attain/ Purity? / Did I earn the moments/I made my mother cry…’ Whether she is probing Rimbaud in the act of assigning colors to vowels, or recalling a lost generation of women in Manila “hugging ashed corners of hopeless streets,” the voice is urgent and oracular, riding the radar between orders, implicit and explicit, in time and space. “The most implacable border/ can be the invisible/so that nothing is hidden from sight.” Sun Stigmata reminds us of what art can do when it rises to the level of Mystery in which the initiates are transformed: the stigmata incarnated on these pages bleed spirit and awaken soul.  

Paul Pines


SUN.  STIGMATA.  One version requires picturing a lined page.  Lines can be text or literal lines, as on the ubiquitous legal notepad.  Stigmata might be those lines, by cracking the field of the page.  Sun?  Might be the yellowness of the notepaper.  Entonces, we come to SUN STIGMATA's cover image, made from pages from a legal notepad, thus elevating the mundane to the sublime as Art can do.  Courtesy of stellar New York-based artist Emmy Catedral:

Detail from “Marginalia” (2005) by Emmy Catedral, 
exhibited in “Geography of Now,” Pancake Studio, New York, N.Y. (2005)

I thank these poets and artists for supporting SUN STIGMATA.  Maraming Salamat!