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, December 31, 2019


Hay(na)ku 15 Poetry Awardee Sheila E. Murphy says it well, says it radiantly, each year.  I marvel at this musical light. If snowflakes could raise voices up to sing...

Monday, December 30, 2019


I’d like to share some books that will never appear in Best-Of, Recommended, Popular, etc Lists: my books. We can discuss (elsewhere) why I avoid these Lists as much as they avoid me, but Moi will allow moiself this exercise:

In 2019, I released only four poetry collections:

The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets 1996-2019 (Marsh Hawk Press, https://eileenrtabios.com/poetry/the-intervention-of-the-haynaku/)

Witness in the Convex Mirror (TinFish Press, https://eileenrtabios.com/poetry/the-ashbery-rif-offs/)

THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL: Selected Visual Poetry 2001-2019 (Paloma Press, https://eileenrtabios.com/poetry/the-great-american-novel-selected-visual-poetry-2001-2019/)

Evocare: Tankas, with Ayo Gutierrez and Bianca Nagac [my Collected Tankas] (GMGA Entertainment Productions, https://eileenrtabios.com/poetry/evocare-tankas/)

I jump in to join authors celebrating what they’ve done in the past year—or the past decade—because I stumbled across the LitHub article that reveals this decade to be ruled by the Best-Selling 50 Shades of Gray and saw Non-Fiction Dominate Fiction—I was amazed by this statistic: in 2010, nearly 80% of top-selling titles were fiction, and by 2019 that percentage dropped to 32%. (Needless to say, never mind re the poetry.)

So even as I glower from the ongoing drumbeats of change in the background, from this same Decade of Deterioration (on so many fronts), I thank the Muses for helping me buck trends—the trend as one of the strangle-holds on creativity:

Behind the Blue Canvas, 2004
SILK EGG: Collected Novels 2009-2009, 2011

The Empty Flagpole (CD with guest artist Mei-mei Berssenbrugge), 2000
Ecstatic Mutations (with short stories and essays), 2001 
Reproductions of The Empty Flagpole, 2002
Enheduanna in the 21st Century, 2002
There, Where the Pages Would End, 2003
Menage a Trois With the 21st Century, 2004
Crucial Bliss Epilogues, 2004
The Estrus Gaze(s), 2005
Songs of the Colon, 2005
Post Bling Bling, 2005
I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved, 2005
The Secret Lives of Punctuations, Vol. I, 2006
Dredging for Atlantis, 2006
It’s Curtains, 2006
SILENCES: The Autobiography of Loss, 2007
The Singer and Others: Flamenco Hay(na)ku, 2007
The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes: Our Autobiography, 2007
Nota Bene Eiswein, 2009
Footnotes to Algebra: Uncollected Poems 1995-2009, 2009
On A Pyre: An Ars Poetica, 2010
Roman Holiday, 2010
Hay(na)ku for Haiti, 2010
THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems and New 1998-2010, 2010
the relational elations           of ORPHANED ALGEBRA (with j/j hastain), 2012
5 Shades of Gray, 2012
THE AWAKENING: A Long Poem Triptych & A Poetics Fragment, 2013
147 Million Orphans (MMXI-MML), 2014
SUN STIGMATA (Sculpture Poems), 2014
I Forgot Light Burns, 2015
Duende in the Alleys, 2015
INVENT(ST)ORY: Selected Catalog Poems & New (1996-2015), 2015
The Connoisseur of Alleys, 2016
The Gilded Age of Kickstarters, 2016
Excavating the Filipino in Me, 2016
I Forgot Ars Poetica, 2016
AMNESIA: Somebody’s Memoir, 2016
THE OPPOSITE OF CLAUSTROPHOBIA: Prime’s Anti-Autobiography, 2017
Post-Ecstasy Mutations, 2017
On Green Lawn, The Scent of White, 2017
To Be An Empire Is To Burn, 2017
If They Hadn’t Worn White Hoods … (with John Bloomberg-Rissman), 2017
What Shivering Monks Comprehend, 2017
YOUR FATHER IS BALD: Selected Hay(na)ku Poems, 2017
IMMIGRANT: Hay(na)ku & Other Poems In A New Land, 2017
Comprehending Mortality (with John Bloomberg-Rissman), 2017
Big City Cante Intermedio, 2017
WINTER ON WALL STREET: A Novella-in-Verse, 2017
Making National Poetry Month Great Again, 2017
MANHATTAN: An Archaeology, 2017
Love In A Time of Belligerence, 2017
TANKA, Vol. I, 2018
HIRAETH: Tercets From The Last Archipelago, 2018
One, Two, Three: Selected Hay(na)ku Poems (Trans. Rebeka Lembo), 2018
THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL: Selected Visual Poetry 2001-2019, 2019
The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets 1996-2019, 2019
Witness in the Convex Mirror, 2019
Evocare: Selected Tankas (with Ayo Gutierrez and Bianca Nagac), 2019

My Romance (art essays with poems), 2002 
The Blind Chatelaine’s Keys (biography with haybun), 2008 
AGAINST MISANTHROPY: A Life in Poetry (2015-1995), 2015
#EileenWritesNovel, 2017


Thursday, December 12, 2019


Miniature books go back centuries and have been created for a wide variety of reasons. Today, I welcome a first into my Miniature Book Library--a book designed as a "preview" of a forthcoming book, in this case James Dickey's Poems 1957-1967. 500 of these 2 x 3 inch books were created for reviewers and booksellers (as well as the author's and publisher's friends). So this preview came out in the late 1960s--how quickly things have changed. Can you imagine someone today expending the resources to create 500 "preview" mini replicas for a forthcoming poetry book? Most poetry books, in case you don't know, don't sell 500 copies. So I'm glad to welcome this miniature book into my library -- a sign, it seems to me, of when a poetry book(s) was more treasured. I'm waiting now for a normatively-sized copy to keep it company.

You can see my Miniature Book Library

Friday, December 6, 2019


I recently sent books to a professor of Asian American Literature who will be teaching some of my poetry. Along with the books, I dashed off the following (very informal, not scholarly) note ... which I then thought to share here as it may be helpful to others. The note is slightly contextualized for AsianAm Lit but I believe can be relevant to other disciplines:


            Thanks for your receptivity to my work. I thought I’d share some notes since I’m sharing several books that may (or may not) be helpful for purpose of “Asian American lit”:

--you have Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole and it shows how I use abstract language to elide the use of English as narrative communication, as a dis at how English was used to colonize the Philippines. My transcolonial take on language is reflected on how I deliberately radicalize the slipperiness of language (for which Poetry’s language is so perfect)—such is seen as well on MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION (which maximizes the role of randomness in creating new poems).

--2019 book Witness in the Convex Mirror reflects a nod to John Ashbery for being called (in some circles) the most important English-language poet of the 20th century) but my attempt (particularly in 2nd half of book) also “browns" his concerns.

--the hay(na)ku books add a new poetry form to English poetry, which was both an aesthetic and political goal.

--I like using methods associated with the visual arts because I’m trying to address poetry in non-traditional ways. SUN STIGMATA reflects my “sculpting” out new poems from the text blocks that had appeared in Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole. This also led to my “Selected Visual Poetry,” THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL (GAN); the title of course also addresses the notion of not just GAN but “AMERICAN.” GAN’s first entry may be of most interest as it reflects how I translate diaspora into “cloudygenous,” a word I invited for a Univ. of Wesleyan anthology of new words related to the anthropocene…

--The Secret Lives of Punctuations brings out to light those items (punctuations) often ignored—a metaphor for … many things. Note the reference to “Vol. 1” though there aren’t (yet) additional volumes to indicate the plentitude of life in the margins. Relatedly, Menage a Trois with the 21st Century seeks to resuscitate a modern life for Gabriela Silang who had sacrificed her life to be the first female general of anti-Spanish colonial forces in the Philippines.

--ECSTATIC MUTATIONS: Experiments in the Poetry Laboratory is an old and out-of-print book published in the Philippines but is useful for relaying my early interests in experimenting with poetry. TANKA, Vol. 1 (relatively new work) indeed shows me revamping the traditional “tanka” form.

--it’s tedious being a martyr so I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED is also a  rapprochement with my reality of being a diasporic Filipina writing in English. It was a lot of fun to marry English and that performance also involved  other poets, including a hairy poet, wearing that over-the-top Princess Di type of bridal gown (once, it was the rage J ) featured on the book cover.

--I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH,… includes reports on performances involving the community. Such acts, along with the hay(na)ku, MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION, and others will reflect—ultimately—my encouragement of “Kapwa” (a Filipino indigenous trait of recognizing one's self in others and vice versa).

--I love doing “Selected Poems” projects on poetry forms as such allows me to show—and interested readers to glean—how I expanded a poetry form’s possibilities: hence, Invent(st)ory on the list poem; Great American Novel on visual poetry, A THORN ROSARY on the prose poem, and even ONE TWO THREE where I did a Selection on the hay(na)ku despite inventing it (it led to the “haybun,” among other things). 147 MILLION ORPHANS is the first and so far only single-author collection of haybun. As a Filipino-PilipinZ writer, I consider it important to be discernible in not just inheriting but expanding the English language.

--The Blind Chatelaine’s Keys and AGAINST MISANTHROPY may be useful for offering poetics essays. Note that quite often I use not my own authored essays but others’ to reflect Kapwa and because I believe it’s my job to create poems but not necessarily tell others how to read/interpret them. These two also reflect my performance-disputations of auto/biography—the difficulty of capturing reality (e.g. through multiple interpretations of my work). This element is noted in the subtitle of THE LIGHT SANG AS IT LEFT YOUR EYES which incorporates the word “our” before the word “autobiography.”

More info on my poetry books are at my website, specifically https://eileenrtabios.com/poetry/

All best,

THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems & New (1998-2010)
INVENT(ST)ORY: Selected Catalog Poems & New 1996-2015
The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets 1996-2019
The Great American Novel: Selected Visual Poetry (2001-2009)
Menage a Trois with the 21st Century
The Secret Lives of Punctuations, Vol. 1
Love in a Time of Belligerence
Witness in the Convex Mirror
Sun Stigmata (Sculpture Poems)
147 Million Orphans
AGAINST MISANTHROPY: A Life in Poetry (2015-1995)
ONE TWO THREE: Selected Hay(na)ku (English/Spanish bilingual edition)
ECSTATIC MUTATIONS: Experiments in the Poetry Library
TANKA, Vol. 1

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Deep gratitude to Harbor Review, editor Allison Blevins and reviewer Jeanna Paden for this new review of WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR. You can go HERE for entire review but here's an excerpt:

In poems like “Email to a Young Poet of Color,” “The Now of Heaven,” and “Eco Echo,” Tabios doesn’t shy away from blunt reactions to the political and environmental struggles we face. She writes, “As if the ill-educated parent / will not bear ill-educated children. As if billionaires would / still contribute to charities without tax-deductions.” The collection is strikingly frank. “The Optimists Ciphertext” quips, “Clarity, as lives of quiet / desperation imply, is untrustworthy.” Readers follow the speaker as she searches for something more reliable than clarity. The poems focus in and out on current culture from a precise but unforgiving angle.  
Overall, the collection reads like a social proclamation, one many will champion, though others might read as deliberately deadpan. Fans of Ashbery’s Portrait will likely enjoy the echoes of his work paired with Tabios’s take on the vantage of the convex mirror. In short, Witness in the Convex Mirror offers a biographical approach to poetry from a successful and well-published poet. 
By the way, WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR is available through this very worthwhile fundraiser at Brew & Forge. Go HERE to get a copy while supporting a great cause!

Monday, December 2, 2019


I might as well share my favorite author discovery last decade, as I'm only on Volume 4 which means I'll have to continue reading his MY STRUGGLE series through to the current decade:


When I committed 2019 to finishing--and then trying to find publication for--my first long-form novel, I knew I'd have to set aside a lot of my usual commitments for the year. Hence, I put Galatea Resurrects on a temporary (now permanent) sabbatical, I recognized I'd write few new poems, and so on. I can't recall who said it -- perhaps Joyce Carol Oates? -- but I knew this saying is true: The most harmful thing to writing or writing a novel is not time but distractions. But before I continue, an aside :)

My novel is entitled DOVELION: A Fairy Tale For Our Times. I've been cagey about releasing details about it but its title, anyway, was outed ... because it's a Finalist in Eyelands' Book Award for Unpublished Novels!

Eyelands' recognition (whether or not I'll get the top award) is meaningful for, among other things, validating my commitment to it. But as I was saying, I had anticipated that the novel would be voracious and so I committed 2019 to it. Now that we're in December, I can share some of its effects--for instance, I published/released online only 26 poems in 2019 (versus 92 poems in 2018). And I wrote zero blurbs, reviewed zero poetry titles and was only able to review 3 novels, 2 memoirs, one novelist, and one artwork. Because they successfully distracted me from my novel, I nod to them. Here are the works I reviewed this year -- links will be to their reviews:

Reviewed Novels:
INSURRECTO by Gina Apostol
THE BETRAYED by Reine Arcache Melvin
SUBVERSIVO, INC. by Jose Elvin Bueno

Reviewed Artwork:
"Hawak/Hold," a drawing by Katrina Bello

Reviewed Memoirs:
GLIMPSES by Leny M. Strobel ("review" viz doing an Introduction)
THE BODY PAPERS by Grace Talusan

"Reviewed" Author
Ninotchka Rosca

Because we're talking about so few (for me) reviews, it pleases me to share the works' images and/or book covers:

 "Hawak/Hold" by Katrina Bello

I say Congratulations to these authors as your creations were so compelling that they distracted me from my own novel! But then, I also thank you for creating such fabulous work! I absolutely loved engaging with your writings and creations.


Thanks to Erica Goss for the idea of looking at the book covers of those one reviewed during the year; thanks as well for her including one of my books, ONE TWO THREE: Selected Hay(na)ku, among those she reviewed! Her post is available HERE.


I'm deeply grateful to Joey Madia for this new review of my new Marsh Hawk book, The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku ... which also just appeared on SPD Books' Recommended List! Here's an excerpt of the review which you can see HERE:
"One gets that sense that, as free-ranging and transdisciplinary as Tabios is (and she must be to generate so much fresh and innovative text), that she is equally as intimate with these self-same subjects. One can feel the arc of the original inspiration, the spiritual depth-diving with which she engages said subjects to such an extent that the silver thread that holds them is taut enough to pluck and hear the tone as though it were the Music of the Spheres manifestly made. 
So make no mistake—Tabios is not innovating and recycling to mask a lack of writing power. Take this tercet, from “listening to what woke me”: 
in the city, as summer evaporates off the streets 
the stilled, sharp blades of a three-pronged fan 
behind the curve of its grated metal mask (27)
Hear the music?
A Release and Holiday Special Offer HERE.

Sunday, December 1, 2019


I'm honored to participate in Brew & Forge's 6th annual fundraising for grassroots community organizations. This year, proceeds raised will go to support the Black Mesa Water Coalition which fights climate destruction and builds restorative economies in Navajo and Hopi communities. I'm participating through offering a signed copy of WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR but as the book will come directly from me, I'll be tossing in other goodies for your $20 donation to this fundraiser. Check these and other fabulous goodies at

We WITNESS the world and wish to aid it.