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.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


I appreciate this article, "Avant-Latino Poetry" on JACKET2 by David A. Colon.  What amused me about it is that if you take its first three paragraphs and just replace "Latino" with "Filipino" or "Pinoy," you'd have the beginnings of a legitimate "Avant-Pinoy Poetry" article.  Like so--if the writer doubles the referenced "seven or eight" years that begins the third paragraph on the Latino article:

When Vladimir Mayakovsky memorably proclaimed that “without revolutionary form, there is no revolutionary art,” and Renato Poggioli wrote that “the avant-garde image originally remained subordinate, even within the sphere of art, to the ideals of a radicalism which was not cultural but political,”[1] and Marjorie Perloff (now famously) asked “what if, despite the predominance of tepid and unambitious Establishment poetry, there were a powerful avant-garde that takes up, once again, the experimentation of the early twentieth century?,”[2] they weren’t talking about the current work of a new cohort of Filipino/a poets who transect extrusions of renegotiated identity consciousness within extremities of conceptual aesthetics. 
But, in retrospect, they kind of could have been. 
Developments within the past near two decades have vastly exceeded the extent of experimental inquiry that had ever existed before in US Filipino/a poetry. What by now can be legitimately regarded as an emergent generation of younger Filipino/a poets is taking to task the inheritance of academic Filipino/a identity and, by gaming its language, rendering this tensile form more pliant in order to better fit the identity of the layered, contested, and changing Filipino/a subject in the contemporary world. These poets, by exploring the limits of poetry as well as Filipino/a identity through a diversity of aesthetic and cultural incursions in their writing, articulate a new Filipino/a poetry that in turn proposes a new view of Filipino/a identity, one that grants more agency to diverse potentialities than to conformist restrictions imposed from the past: a condition I regard as the avant-Pinoy.

So seven to eight years later, a Latino writes about his community poetry in this way.  Nearly two decades later, where's the Pinoy writing about his/her/xir community's poetry in this manner?  I guess we too busy cooking, eating or, avant-wise, deconstructing that adobo?


  1. I feel I need to draw out that thought a bit more. Not "oh yes, we have been too busy cooking, eating or, avant-wise, deconstructing adobo," but I'm thinking that maybe too many of us have been too dependent on going along with the status-quo, and not curious enough, not inquiring enough--maybe not even angry enough--to delve into areas that are nontraditional, unfamiliar and/or difficult. I take your comment in this post as a welcome kick in the arse.

  2. Well, perhaps intended as an elbow nudge ... though if a reader takes it as a welcome kick, I don't mind. Still, you've done more than most, Jean. (In any event, it's a comment not intended at anyone in particular though if a reader feels it so directed...) And I think our landscape is so complicated that ... notwithstanding my food-related comment, there's something to Al Robles' statement to me when we first met: we Pinoy poets don't eat together enough (even as we do love to eat!)...