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.

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!

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