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, September 26, 2018

Sunday, September 23, 2018


I'm delighted to release the September issue of Galatea Resurrects! You can see it HERE. I'll also paste below the Contents for convenience:

Listening to Red by Dona Mayoora
Engaged by Karl Kempton (9/23)

HAY(NA)KU 15 edited by Eileen R. Tabios
Reviewed by Veronica Montes (9/22)

Reviewed by Neil Leadbeater (9/21)

Scaffolding by Elena Rivera
Reviewed by Thom Donovan (9/20)

Engaged by D. Nurkse (9/19)

Featured Poet: E. San Juan, Jr.

The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry edited by Gerald Moore and Ulli Beier and SELECTED POEMS by Cirilo F. Bautista
Reviewed by Aloysiusi Polintan (9/17)

declivities by Irene Koronas

Engaged by Eileen Tabios (9/16)

Fawning by Edric Mesmer
Reviewed by Marten Clibbens (9/15)

REHEARSAL by Irene Willis
Engaged by Eileen Tabios (9/14)

IN COMPANY: AN ANTHOLOGY OF NEW MEXICO POETS AFTER 1960 edited by Lee Bartlett, V.B. Price and Dianne Edenfield Edwards
Engaged by jim leftwich (9/13)

Saturday, September 22, 2018


"Modified Baybayin" by Rea Lynn de Guzman

I write on visual art not just because I love art but because art-writing flexes a different muscle and I'm trying to get at something impossible to say (which is why I'm a poet in the first place). Visual art offers the convenience of being visible so that whatever I say can be checked against that visibility. AND I also write as much as possible (and it's impossible) from an unmediated point of view -- based solely on what I see versus what I hear, to paraphrase that saying about blind collectors (cough). Anyway, for my latest blather on various artworks by Jean VenguaRea Lynn de GuzmanMatt Manalo, and VC Igarta, you are invited HERE.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


I'm grateful to Neil Leadbeater for reviewing TANKA, Vol. I, for The FilAm. You can see the entire review HERE, but here's an excerpt:
This sequence of poems works on at least two levels. On one level as a means to describe our creative thought processes and on another as a metaphor for memory and forgetfulness. 
How much do we really remember of our life? The answer is very little…perhaps less than .001 percent. This is less than a small fraction. Tabios employs the literary device of sous rature to illustrate how certain facts are completely forgotten so that very little (just the words placed in bold type) remain. The resulting tankas are fragments of larger episodes—episodes that have been largely forgotten but for a few key words that are embodied in the tanka. The effect is like that of filleting a fish down to the bare bones. In this context, the tanka, as a form of précis, may act as an aide memoire to help resurrect a little more of the picture they are meant to describe but even if they do, that picture will be disarmingly inaccurate because it will be colored by all sorts of prejudices that have crept in ever since.  
Referencing red, yellow and green, Tabios reveals that color and the associations that it brings can be a whole story in itself. There are throwbacks to childhood, the mention of a mother, grandmother and grandfather, references to puberty and ageing. At one point the maple is “wide, vivid, promiscuous” and at another it is disintegrating into dust. The term “excavation” used in the final sequence calls to mind the science of archaeology as a means of examining the past through the presence of physical remains. Here, all that remains is the bold text. These are the colors of red and gold that only come in the autumn when sufficient time has elapsed for memories to exist, loom large and then fade into near oblivion. “Childhood is ineffable” says Tabios. At the end of the day, it becomes so elusive, it is not able to be described. 
In this collection, inspired by a tanka written by Sheila Murphy in which the first line mentions maple leaves, Tabios builds on and reinvents the form in her own distinctive way. It is a form in which the maple leaf is viewed in several different contexts: in the garden, in the memory, preserved in salt and pressed between the pages of a book. In her hands it crosses continents and becomes something universal that we can all identify with at certain moments in our lives.
Thanks to Simulacrum Press for publishing my TANKA!

Sunday, September 9, 2018


We actually sang "Happy Birthday" to the hay(na)ku! This was not your typical poetry reading or book launch but a literary quinceanera!

Thank you. I am so grateful to those who helped plan and formed the Hay(na)ku Birthday Celebration Sept. 8 at the San Francisco Public Library – from the crowd of attendees to those who helped bring the food and books because I live out of town, the dancers, the sponsors, the readers…Salamat Abraham Ignacio, Edwin Lozada, emcee Abigail Licad, baker and mom-to-dancers Melinda Luisa de Jesus, dancers Malaya and Stinson, and readers listed below.

There were also special features to the event: Abe Ignacio’s bibingka (to die for!); Melinda Luisa de Jesus’ mirror hay(na)ku sculpture which intrigued the crowd; celebratory champagne Jacquesson & Fils Cuvee Perfection released in 1998 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Philippines’ Independence (it was still good! Thanks Tom!). Anyway, I have no words to articulate the fullness of my heart. Here were the readers – special thanks to the readers who came in for this event from Toronto, Colorado, and San Diego:

Stewart Shaw
Gabby Bautista and Michelle Bautista
Melinda Luisa de Jesus and Malaya Lanikai de Jesús-Tinsman 
Aileen Cassinetto and Paul Cassinetto
Jean Vengua 
Tess Crescini
deb y felio 
Cesar Polvorosa
Carol Dorf
Amy Pabalan
John Bloomberg-Rissman
Sheila Bare 
Glynda Velasco
Sean Labrador y Manzano

Photos below are of the event and two associated exhibitions at the San Francisco Library: a permanent installation of five framed hay(na)ku posters and a 19-Poem exhibition of hay(na)ku, both on the library's third floor. It was fun to see event participants and attendees do "Kodakan" (Filipino slang for taking photos) in front of exhibits, especially the five-year-old Gabby Bautista who is the youngest poet in the HAY(NA)KU 15 anthology.  To Kodakan then! Click on images to enlarge:

 Eileen Tabios gratefully greeting the crowd (grateful for turnout despite huge traffic
constraints due to the Climate Change protest march).

Abraham "Abe" Ignacio, Jr.,  Librarian for the SFPL Filipino-American Center

Eileen and Abe in front of the 19-Poem Hay(na)ku Exhibit

  Edwin Lozada, founder of the Philippine American Writers Association

Michelle Bautista reading the poem of 5-year-old Gabby Bautista, the youngest 
poet in HAY(NA)KU 15 anthology. Gabby is behind the podium as she decided 
she didn't like the poem she published in the anthology, but wrote a new one
for her mom to read as well. 

Gabby's newer and preferred hay(na)ku poem.

Scholar-Poet-Soprano-Baker Melinda Luisa de Jesus sports hair matching her cake.

 Sheila Bare

 Abigail Licad

 Edwin Lozada mans the book table, and sells books!

A marvelous surprise: Abe Ignacio's bibingka--yummy! 

Melinda Luisa de Jesus with her hay(na)ku mirror sculpture. 

The crowd engaging with Melinda's sculpture, including John Bloomberg-Rissman 
who traveled from San Diego to do reading. 

deb y felio traveled from Colorado to read at the event. 

Amy Pabalan doing her first San Francisco reading through the hay(na)ku! 

Stewart Shaw 

Sean Labrador y Manzano 

John Bloomberg-Rissman who traveled from San Diego to do reading

Stinson and Malaya by Abe Ignacio's bibingka (as soon as we finished 
the photograph, we all leapt for a piece!)

 Jacquesson & Fils Perfection Cuvee Special Edition for "Independance Des Philippines"

 Melinda Luisa de Jesus reads the mermaid poem written by 8-year-old Malaya, 
while Malaya holds up her drawing of a mermaid.

 Cesar Polvorosa, Jr. brought his family from Toronto to read at the event.

Carol Dorf

Michelle and Gabby Bautista in front of Melinda's hay(na)ku mirror sculpture.

Glynda Velasco

 Melinda Luisa de Jesus counsels her kids Stinson and Malaya 
who performed the "Binasuan" folk dance to open up the proceedings.

 5-year-old Gabby signs her first book!

9-year-old Malaya signs her first book ... with a cat!

Glynda Velasco by her exhibited poem.


Five Framed Hay(na)ku Posters
--poems by Eileen Tabios, Vince Gotera, Jean Vengua, Abigail Licad, and Aileen Ibardaloza-Cassinetto:

Jean Vengua

Eileen and Abe


Kodakan with Gabby:

5-year-old Gabby gazes at her exhibited poem.

Rhett Pascual "Kodakan" his daughter Gabby.

Thanks again to everyone. If you're interested in seeing more, do check HAY(NA)KU 15 anthology (there currently is a September pre-release Special with discounted price) -- info HERE!