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, March 4, 2015


My thanks to Michael Leong and Ken Chen/Asian American Writers Workshop for featuring me and 8 other "ekphrastic poets" for "Lines of Sight: Visual Art in Asian American Poetry."    The company is outstanding. As Ken posted in FB, "Images by Kiki Smith, Diane Arbus, Bruce Nauman and others, are paired with poems by John Yau, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Jennifer HayashidaEileen TabiosShin Yu PaiDebbie Kuan, Christine Wong Yap, Walter K. Lew, and O Chung.Michael wrote a fabulous introduction -- here's an excerpt (which references a review-essay on ekphrasis I had written for Jacket):
When engaging with the tradition of ekphrastic poetry, these poets frequently strive to go beyond, to quote Leo Spitzer’s classic definition, “the reproduction, through the medium of words, of sensuously perceptible objets d’art.” A case in point would be Eileen Tabios’ “Athena’s Diptych,” which, rather than reproducing a specific artwork, inventively “reproduces” the painterly technique of scumbling in a linguistic medium. In a 2003 review-essay called “Redeeming my Faith in Ekphrasis,” Tabios says, “I came to prefer [. . .] writing poems that, while inspired by and perhaps even seeking to mirror a visual image, actually came to embody something different.” Likewise, in his introduction to Viva la Difference: Poetry Inspired by the Painting of Peter Saul John Yau outlines the project’s allegiance to non-normative and anti-mainstream ekphrasis: “Our intention was different [. . .] Our intention was not to be impressionist or to tell a story. Those are well-known solutions, and, frankly we wanted something else.” 

For this folio, Michael chose poems (in the chained hay(na)ku form) from a nine-year-old book, DREDGING FOR ATLANTIS. How heartening!  And wonderful to see the poem living its life beyond the poet's intention...  Thank you, Michael.

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