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, October 3, 2018


Beginning the production phase to my next book, WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR, made me think about the Selected Notes to the Poems section in the book. This is the collection of poems where each of its first 1-2 lines are from John Ashbery's poem "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror." I decided to share them here as possible enticement for you to check out WITNESS ... when it's released by the fantastic Tinfish Press as part of its three-part "Pacific Response" to John Ashbery's work.  Sometimes--or at least for me--the Notes to a book reveal an extra layer to the work: So FYI:

Selected Notes to the Poems:

65% Surveyed Vote Against Banning Football
The poem’s title is after Debate.org’s question “Should the NFL be banned?” (http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-the-nfl-be-banned). The poem quotes from Matthew Thorburn’s poem “Dear Almost.”

A Unique Urgency
The reference to Christina Peri Rossi reflects the inspiration provided by her book, STATE OF EXILE (City Lights Books, San Francisco, 2008)

Bark’s Forthcoming Fact
Written after and during extrajudicial killings during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs.

Beautiful Lovers
Written after Marina Abramovic’s TED Talk, “An Art Made of Trust, Vulnerability and Connection.”

Bibliograpy: “OUR SEXUAL FUTURE WITH ROBOTS: A Foundation For Responsible Robotics Consultation Report” Prepared by Noel Sharkey, Aimee van Wynsberghe, Scott Robbins and Eleanor Hancock; “Up close and personal with rubber sex dolls in Japan” by Alastair Himmer and Behrouz Mehri, AFP Correspondent, July 19, 2017; “Silicone Sally: Japanese men find true love with sex dolls” Channel NewsAsia, June 30, 2017; and “Bizzarria” in Wikipedia.

Broken Sunlight
The indented quote is from a Facebook post by Maria Damon, May 15, 2017, quoted with permission.

Caron Poivre
Caron Poivre is cited in “The World’s Most Expensive Perfumes” by Cory Barclay, The Richest, Aug. 26, 2014

False Meteors
Written after “How The Oceans Became Choked With Plastic” by Dominique Mosbergen, The Huffington Post, April 27, 2017.

For the Dreamers
Bibliography: “White Christmas” written by Irving Berlin and the “Top 22 Benefits of Trees,” TreePeople.org

Genocide’s Point of Diminishing Returns
The incident in the poem paraphrases from John Cusack’s and Arundhati Roy’s “Things That Can and Cannot Be Said,” Truthout.org, Nov. 16, 2015.

Graceless Days
Bibliography: “Mother Earth Water Walk” (http://www.motherearthwaterwalk.com), “Plants That Clean Water” at (http://www.kellogggarden.com/water-conservation/plants-that-clean-water/)
and a Christine Balmes post on Facebook (Aug. 4, 2017) from which the poem quotes with her permission.

Grasping Radiance
Written by reading through an earlier poem, “Hotel Narrative (06 APR 1996).”

Written after “My Family’s Slave” by Alex Tizon, The Atlantic, June 2017.

Marhaba Shayrat
“Marhaba” is “Hello” in Arabic; Shayrat was the Syrian area bombed by the U.S. in April 2017.

Written after “Up close and personal with rubber sex dolls in Japan” by Alastair Himmer and Behrouz Mehri, AFP Correspondent, July 19, 2017.

The referenced photograph is “She was the song of my dark hour” by Paul Tañedo.

Rape Wardrobe
Written after the art installation “What Were You Wearing?” at University of Kansas, Sept. 5-15, 2017, and the article “’What Were You Wearing? exhibit takes aim at age-old sexual violence myth” by Heidi Stevens, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 14, 2017.

Red Pistil, White Lily
The second-to-last line of the first stanza, “You’re the one who knows better,” begins the rest of the poem which is quoted from an earlier poem entitled “Bread.”

“It ought to be a song” quotes Andy Bassich in “Life Below Zero,” Season 4, Episode 15.

Tense Past Tense
After the first line, the rest of the poem consists of the second and third stanzas of an earlier poem entitled “Metaphor.”

Though She Should Have Known Better Than To Play An Asian Superpower, This Poem Is For Scarlet Johannsen
Written after the controversy over Scarlett Johansson’s playing a character with Japanese roots in the movie Ghost in the Shell (her last name is deliberately misspelled in the poem’s title) and “New Study finds that men are often their own favorite experts on any given subject” by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, Aug. 1, 2016.

Translating Summer
The quoted phrase is from The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball (Scribner, New York, 2010).

Uppity Ilokano on Louboutin Vulvas
The Ilokano “Nagadu ti ammok” translates to “I know plenty.” Bibliography: Wikipedia on the vulva and “Sole Mate” by Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, March 28, 2011.

Ilokano-to-English translations:
wag wag - used clothes
tuk tok - head; top of head
pis pis - side of forehead
ping ping - cheek
aklo aklo - back of knee
ukel ukel - balls
kuko - nails
neng neg - not too smart; knucklehead
ngel ngel - not too smart
lag lag - stupid; dumb
los los - roll up pants/sleeves
les les - roll up pants/sleeves
anting anting - amulet
ut ot - pain
kut kot - dig
kud kod - scratch
kab kab - dead skin
gul gol - to shampoo (hair)
bul bol - pubic hair
ri ri - trouble; argument
rut rot - torn rags
ulo ulo - without head
ipo ipo - tornado
suso - nail
suso - breast
sel sel - insert; push in
bit bit - to carry
dut dot - feather
mul mol - thumbsuck
ngut ngot - scraping flesh off a bone; dog chewing a bone
but bot - hole in a fabric (of clothes or furniture)
ngal ngal - chew food
sub sob - snout of a pig
sing sing - ring
rung rong - cigarette butt
araw araw - everyday
kare kare - pilipino dish
gung gong - knucklehead
abal abal - a type of beetle that comes out during the rainy season; edible beetle

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