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.

Thursday, March 28, 2019


The Strip Hay(na)ku Project.  A collaborative experiment in sequential graphic poetics

Edited by Ernesto Priego

With contributions by John Bloomberg-Rissman, Sam Bloomberg-Rissman, Amy Bernier, lola bola (Jane Ogilvie), Horacio Castillo, Ira Franco, Ernesto Priego, and Ginger Stickney.

Foreword by Eileen R. Tabios
Introduction by Ernesto Priego

ISBN 978-1-934299-13-5
Release Date: April 2019
Page Count: 48 pages, full colour.
Price: US$14.00 or equivalent 
For more information: meritagepress@gmail.com

Meritage Press and Laughing/Ouch/Cube/Publications are pleased to announce the release of The Strip Hay(na)ku Project, a collection of hay(na)ku poems in comic strip form, edited and co-created by Ernesto Priego with contributors John Bloomberg-Rissman, Sam Bloomberg-Rissman, Amy Bernier, lola bola (Jane Ogilvie), Horacio Castillo, Ira Franco, Ernesto Priego, and Ginger Stickney.

"Hay naku" is a common Filipino expression covering a variety of contexts—like the word "Oh." The "hay(na)ku" is a 21st century poetic form invented by Eileen R. Tabios. It is a six-word tercet with the first line being one word, the second line being two words, and the third line being three words. Poets around the world have used the form and have created text and visual variations of the form, including the “chained hay(na)ku” which strings together more than one tercet as well as the reverse hay(na)ku where the word count is reversed. Ernesto Priego started co-creating "strip hay(na)ku" poems in 2008, inspired by examples of Slovenian "strip haiku".

About The Strip Hay(na)ku Project:
"Hay(na)ku, a 21st century fixed verse form, has inherited haiku-sensibility (with its caesuras or paradigm shifts) and added to it a new kind of game, with 1, 2, and 3 words, perfect for the special needs of alphabetical writings. The inventive collaborators of this book successfully transplanted hay(na)ku – not only its basic form but its spirit as well – into the field of visual writing, and what we get is new and exciting. The book contains real comic strips but almost as soon as I started reading/watching the panels I had the strong impression that instead of the usual multitude of voices, speakers, actors etc. we have only two "heroes", so to speak, inside and outside, and even they are not so different, to say the least. There is no comic strip without a story, and this time we are told and shown (but the texts and images don’t explain each other, their connection is inspiringly dissociative), how those heroes or perspectives keep changing places. It happens gently, almost invisibly…"
-Márton Koppány

Ernesto Priego is a lecturer at the Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design, City, University of London. He is the founder and editor in chief of The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. He co-curated, with Ivy Alvarez, John Bloomberg-Rissman and Eileen R. Tabios, The Chained Hay(na)ku Project (Meritage Press and xPress(ed) 2010). He is also the author of Not Even Dogs. Hay(na)ku Poems (Meritage Press, 2006); the amazing adventures of Gravity & Grace (Otoliths 2008); The Present Day. The Mañana Poems (Leafe Press 2010); Ahí donde no estás. De nombres propios y otros fantasmas (Instituto Veracruzano de Cultura 2013); and, with Simon Grennan and Peter Wilkins, the non-fiction comic Parables of Care. Creative Responses to Dementia Care (City, University of London, University of Chester and Douglas College, 2017). He posts things online whenever he is able to at his blog, epriego.blog, and on Twitter @ernestopriego.

Eileen R. Tabios has released over 50 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace. Her books include a form-based "Selected Poems" series: The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets 1996-2019; THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL: Selected Visual Poetry (2001-2009); INVENT(ST)ORY: Selected Catalog Poems & new 1996-2015, and THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems and New 1998-2010. Recent poetry collections include HIRAETH: Tercets From the Last Archipelago, MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION: A Poetry Generator, TANKA: Vol. 1, and ONE TWO THREE: Selected Hay(na)ku Poems which is a bilingual English-Spanish edition with translator Rebeka Lembo. Forthcoming is WITNESS IN A CONVEX MIRROR which will inaugurate Tinfish Press’s ”Pacific response to John Ashbery.” She also invented the poetry form “hay(na)ku” whose 15-year anniversary in 2018 is celebrated at the San Francisco and Saint Helena Public Libraries. More information about her works is available at http://eileenrtabios.com.

Monday, March 18, 2019



This is a Call for Poets for participation in Meritage Press' latest' project:

Secrets Among Poets

You email (meritagepress at gmail dot com) me a secret. I write it in a book that will not be read by anyone but me as I create your book. Your book will only be shelved in my Tiny Books Library!

And of course I won't reveal your secrets!

[Caveat: Your book may be read by others after we are all dead because I don't burn books.] 

Please include a short-ish poem with your secret. (Though I won't reveal your secret, if you wish me to post an image of your poem in the book, I can do so.)

Deadline: April 30, 2019

If chosen and published, you will receive a poetry book in exchange.

The Physical Book Objects:
Your secret and accompanying poem will be inscribed by me -- and possibly illustrated with one of my drawings -- in one of these tiny blank books originally made in Nepal (for as long as supplies last):

For more information: contact me at meritagepress at gmail dot com

Monday, March 11, 2019


I’m really proud of this sculpture-illustrated poetics/aesthetics essay … which is why it’s the opening piece in my vizpo book THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL—a lot of my poetry/art concerns just jelled in my project “Pilipinz Cloudygenous.” I hope you check it out at Verity LA where it’s presented as part of its “Discoursing Diaspora” series. I thank the great thinkers of Verity LA, and was also moved to hear that my work was accepted by the gifted Ramon Loyola before he prematurely passed (Condolences to his family).

Here’s an excerpt from my essay (you can see the whole thing HERE):
“You leave the land of your ancestors and your birth. In the 20th and 21st century, you need not retain that land simply through memory. Starting last century, you can access images of and from that land through the internet. But you don’t feel, when touching your computer screen, the dirt with which you once made mud with a beloved Apong, Grandmother, to create toys of tiny pots and plates. You don’t feel, when touching your computer screen, the sweet scent of Apong’s breath as she bends over your small fingers fumbling to shape a small plate.  You don’t feel, when touching your computer screen, her gentle kiss on your brow as she places small pieces of a ripped leaf on your plate as ‘dinengdeng’ or Ilocano vegetable stew… “My project ‘PILIPINZ CLOUDYGENOUS’ interrogates Filipino identity as affected by virtual reality. Part of my interrogation is a series of mobile sculptures. By hanging (from a ceiling), the mobiles float in space — a space that I consider a metaphor for (internet) cloud. The mobile which I present here intends to symbolize the Filipino diaspora. It hangs from a Star of David so as to reference humanity’s oldest diaspora (The Jews of Iraq)...”
Also, in one of the illustrations, you can see one of Jenifer Wofford's images from her brilliant Nurses series--I think it befits the diaspora theme and, indeed, the mobile sculpture hangs in my home next to her work:


I'm so happy at the release of this 2-volume anthology! It was initially conceived to be a feature at Galatea Resurrects but I was happy to let it go as it became too big for its britches, and even happier that Moria Books picked it up. It has to be "big" as its theme, per its title, is THE END OF THE WORLD!
Poet-publisher Bill Allegrezza notes it could have been picked up by a university press. But, befitting the times (and everyone's budget), Moria's combination of a print copy but free online pdf read is the perfect space for such a huge project! I hope you check it out HERE (scroll to bottom of link)!
Happy to be part of it, and grateful to the hard-working editors as well as Moria. Here are the two volumes' covers:

Thursday, March 7, 2019


I'm so happy to share news of my latest book -- it's something I was moved to do when someone (rather someones) told me John Ashbery is the greatest U.S.-American poet. So, as someone who's long interrogated U.S. American English, I naturally had to address Ashbery (it helps that I actually admire his poetry). But it's a "tense act of homage," indeed. Anyway, I hope you check it out -- pre-publication sale just opened (info HERE). Below are the publisher's book description, a sample poem, and some blurbs. If you wish a review or exam copy, let me know:

TinFish Press Description
When John Ashbery died in September, 2017, all the obituaries noted that he had been a member of the New York School of poets, that his roots were in western New York and that, despite living for a decade in Paris, his career had unfolded over many decades in the City. Ashbery was, indeed, something of a local poet, constantly using references from the places he had lived. Lost in the very local memorials, however, was the fact that Ashbery’s work also influenced writers in the Pacific, including writers of color. Eileen Tabios has taken up Ashbery’s influence and engaged in a project of “the browning of John Ashbery,” as she told Tinfish’s editor once. Using one or two lines at a time from Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” (1976), Tabios inhabits Ashbery’s mode, while moving our focus of attention many thousands of miles west of New York City. Tabios, who grew up in the Philippines, studied and worked in New York City, and has lived in California for many years, appropriates Ashbery to her own ends. These include cultural appropriation, genocide, militarism, sexual and racial violence, art history, and many other interests she shared—or did not share—with the older white male poet. Witness in the Convex Mirror is a tense act of homage, one that draws Ashbery away from the region that is most comfortable with him, and into a place where the discomfort is palpable, but extremely generative.

Military Philosophy

On a pedestal of vacuum, a ping-pong ball
secure on its jet of water: make your path
a circle and, Grasshopper, you shall never
be lost. Rain ceased, but so much water
still flows on the streets, releasing concrete
from their steel bindings. To be suspended
in confusion is to be protected. For one may
colonize the confused, but not necessarily
recruit their loyalty. Confusion, loyalty—both
are constructs that cancel each other. Learn
from me, General Grasshopper: you want
them fully comprehending when you invade.
You don’t want them so confused they might
think you and your soldiers to be mere ghosts

“You don’t write poems like he does,” the speaker says in Eileen Tabios’ poem  “Tense Past Tense.”  We, the readers, immediately notice the vertigo, the  joie de vivre  of a playful but incisive sense of the text.   She does not write like Stephane Mallarme but   you can hear the sounds of his dice rolling in the poems. She does not write like John Ashbery and yet the complexity and opacity tumbles in tune to the music of those sentences. WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR is Eileen Tabios’  modus opus  and it should find a place in every public or private library.
— Nick Carbó, author of Secret Asian Man and editor of Returning the Borrowed Tongue

To read Eileen R. Tabios’ WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR is “to Ashbery,” which,  to paraphrase John Ashbery—arguably the greatest American poet of the 20th century—means to “imitate the way knowledge comes, by fits and starts and by indirection.” Ms. Tabios begins each poem with 1-2 lines from Mr. Ashbery’s oeuvre, before pivoting to Asia and Asian themes: “It happened while you were inside, asleep. / The penguins now grieve over the escalation / of silt in their bath. A mother begs a child, / “Let go. I won’t survive, but you can!” But…” In her new book, Ms. Tabios addresses super typhoons and modern-day slavery, and homonyms and reduplicative words such as wagwag and pagpag, with aplomb and intense imagination, permanently and expertly connecting these with the hermetic nature in John Ashbery’s poetry. Read these poems as through a fish eye mirror, where the field of view is ever more expansive, and objects are always closer than they appear.
— Aileen Ibardaloza Cassinetto, San Mateo Poet Laureate and author of The Pink House of Purple Yam Preserves & Other Poems