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, December 24, 2020


 Continuing her wonderful annual tradition, I'm pleased to share Sheila E. Murphy's holiday poem, "Winter Pantoum for 2021"!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020


I just received a copy of a new anthology featuring my works. It's a project that shows indie publishing at its best--you can see by the first 2 pages of its Introduction that I share, and from which I share this powerful excerpt below. PA-LIWANAG is published by the Philippines' Gantala Press and picked up for further publishing support by the U.K.'s Tilted Axis Press. I share my 2 poems ("Scumble-d" and "The First Face Transplant") since I shouldn't share others without their permission--though I will note that I am blessed to discover new poems and poets (I adore "Puki" by Elizabeth Ruth Deyro, a poet from the province of Laguna). Gantala asks:

"When a government wages war against its people -- surely a woman's press can and should do more than just publish books?"

Thus Gantala publishes "the works of women farmers, plantation workers, nurses and migrant workers, and regularly contributes to fundraising efforts in support of factory workers on strike as well as urban poor communities." This book is one of them and I'm honored to be in their company.

Friday, November 20, 2020


Hot damn. I found a rare one: a poem, in this case a poetry project, that elicited the deeply yet happily jealous reaction on my part:


I refer, friends, to arguably the wittiest poetry collection I’ve read this year which is nearly ending:

SONNET(S) by Ulises Carrión

Once again, Ugly Duckling Presse proves itself my favorite poetry publisher by introducing this Mexican poet to me. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY (that's tres, y'all) RECOMMENDED.

I AM SO HAPPY when I see another poet creating with such virtuosity!

Check it out HERE!

Monday, November 16, 2020


I'll be presenting on my forthcoming novel, DOVELION, for the first time this coming Sunday as part of the conversation/performance on "INDIGENOUS FUTURES" with Leny Strobel, Lizae Reyes, and Mila Anguluan. This is part of of the 2020 virtual conference by The Society of Indigenous and Ancestral Wisdom and Healing on "Dancing With Uncertainty." You are invited and click HERE for more information and registration.

I will be blessed by having 
Mila Anguluan open our conversation with a poem-chant. Generously, she gave me permission to reprint her poem-chant below. She will chant the Filipino version (SCROLL DOWN) which I present it here with an English translation as well:



Intan intan... labbet tan intan
Intan intan... labbet tan intan

Halika na uwi na... halika na uwi na...

Halika na uwi na... halika na uwi na...

Why do you do this, Lola? As a child I’d wonder
Why grandmother chanted to call me, even while beside her 

After visiting strange places and it was time to go home Why do you do this, I would repeat
And slowly, she’d look at me, and say gently
Whispering a secret known only to both of us

So that you won’t get lost, my child
So that you won’t go wandering too far

Too far that you’d never return again. 

And then she’d chant and do it all over

Intan intan... labbet tan intan...
Intan intan.... labbet tan intan

Imploring with her voice, singing softly with the wind, distinctly 

Calling... for my fragmented selves in fragmented places
Come home... come home... time to come home...
Come to this body again... come to this mind...

Come to this heart... come back into this inner space
Come... all you wandering selves together

 Come home... and be whole again.

And she’d take hold of my hand

Wrapping my tiny hand, enclosing it in hers
In her strong hand, her nurturing hand and
All at once I’d feel like it was the safest place to be 

Despite the creeping darkness, despite the chilling night. 

Other nights have come: nights of doom, nights of sorrow.

Many other places: places of torment, places of pain 

Many lands traversed, many more to be traveled

Lands that are jagged, cruel, leering, eerie
Oceans that are frothing, seething, smearing

Places where our many selves go
Wandering into...peering into... swallowed into.

Lola, like other ancestors, was babaylan
She whose voice kept calling with the wind, dispelling despair
She whose pungent herbs curling in burning coals would flow into dreams 

And deep sleep where soft smoke soothed the unseen pain
Healed the open wounds, brought together flesh and soul torn apart
So that healed, daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters 

Sons and grandsons, sondaughters and daughtersons

Heir to her power of peace, silence, resilience, song, dance, touch
Animate once more the babaylan legacy of dispelling darkness

Healing pain, praying peace, chanting to all our little selves
Intan intan... labbet tan intan... intan intan... labbet tan intan Come home... come home... time to come back home... Come to this body again... come to this mind...
Come to this heart... come back into this inner space Come... all you wandering selves together

Come home... and be whole again.



Filipino Version

Intan intan... labbet tan intan
Intan intan... labbet tan intan

Halika na uwi na... halika na uwi na... 

Halika na uwi na... halika na uwi na...

Kaam ta kunukunnay ya kwammu? 

Bakit nyo po ginagawa ito, Lola? 

Sa paslit na isip hinanap ko
Pang unawa mula sa mata niyang 

Nakatunghay sa kay layong dako 

Lugar ng di malirip na panaginip.

Dahan dahan, ako’y kanyang mamasdan 

Sulyap na banayad, paru paro’y dumapo 

Para hindi ka mawalay, mahal na Apo
Para hindi ka humayo at lumayo nang husto 

Para ika’y makabalik nang ganap at buo 

Walang pagtugis sa mapanlinlang na anino

At muli’y kanyang aawitin ang dalangin 

Panalangin ng pagsuyo sa hangin
Intan intan... labbet tan intan

Intan intan... labbet tan intan

Halika na uwi na... halika na uwi na... 

Halika na uwi na... halika na uwi na...

Tawag niya ay paghibik sa sariling 

kung saan saang sulok tumalsik 

Samut sari, sari saring mga sarili 

Sariling hInagupit at hinaplit

Sa sinilangan at dinayong bayan
Ng Agilang may kukong mandaragit!

Sinong mag aakalang sa lunsod man
O kagubatan, walang mapuntahan
ang sariling kinutya, pinaglaruan
Ng mga imbi, ng mga gahaman
Impit ang paghiyaw sa kadiliman
Nasaan ang liwanag, nasaan ang kalooban?

Si Lola at iba pang mga lola, silang Babaylan 

Tagapamagitan, tagahilom, tagapagdiwang
Tagatawag sa mga sariling nangangalay
Mga sariling nawawalay, bumabalik sa halik
Ng babaylang awit, mapayapang dasal, mahinahong huni 

Muli, buo ang kalooban, ganap ang kalinawagan!

Muli, at muli, buuin ang sarili, awitin dasal ng babaylan 

Intan intan... labbet tan intan

Intan intan... labbet tan intan
Halika na uwi na... halika na uwi na...

At narito ka na nga, sa sariling iyong tahanan 

Kapwa ng kaganapan, kapwa ng kabuuan!

Saturday, October 31, 2020


Well, a book I released but deliberately didn't try to market, INCULPATORY EVIDENCE nonetheless receives attention--and I can only be grateful.

Deep gratitude to Neil Leadbeater for a review at North of Oxford. You can see review HERE but here's an excerpt:

The subject matter in this volume goes wider than Covid 19: ‘Regret’ focusses on the environment, ‘Triggered’ on hunger, ‘Not My First Mask’ on xenophobia and racism and ‘What I Normally Would Not Buy’ on panic buying, consumerism and survival. This is not just physical survival but also survival from domestic abuse. 

Tabios uses food in this collection as a metaphor for survival. Food, in its various forms, appears in at least seven of the ten poems. We cannot survive without it. Witness the panic buying that took place as soon as news of the outbreak spread. Maslow was right when he included it within his hierarchy of basic human needs (although he seems to have overlooked toilet paper altogether).

As well, I and Rosalinda Ruiz Scarfuto--who'd also come out with her own Covid-19-related book (she survived the coronavirus)--engage in a discussion about our projects which is featured at Otoliths. You can see our conversation, "Evidence and Survival," at the link but here's an excerpt:

Ecopoetics is useless unless one is actually doing something about it in addition (perhaps) to writing about it. One recycles, one minimizes one’s footprint on earth, one supports initiatives that diminish our (ab)use of natural resources, one educates, and so on. As regards the latter, my poem “Regret” is an example by raising how, out of concern of viral transmission, the use of plastic bags has risen during the coronavirus and “plastic bags// adrift in the ocean require/ up to 20 years to decompose.”

Friday, October 30, 2020


I used to know (or know of) everyone who wrote hay(na)ku. That's no longer the case, which I love. And I love continuing to discover people I don't know who take up the form. Here are two examples: Vex Kaztro whose hay(na)ku showed up in an online course taken/monitored by a friend, and 9th grader (!) Leana Gyle M. Leviste whose poem showed up in an anthology (Scentsibility) in which I also appear. I share them below (click on images to enlarge):



I'm grateful to see these.

Thursday, October 29, 2020


I recently read F LETTER: NEW RUSSIAN FEMINIST POETRY, Editors Galina Rymbu, Eugene Ostashevsky, and Ainsley Morse (Isolarii, 2020). Here's a response:

I don't often feel honored by receiving books out of the blue, but I am in receiving this important anthology, F LETTER: NEW RUSSIAN FEMINIST POETRY. The book assembles feminist poets who have "palpably changed the Russia language over the last decade. Against the backdrop of state violence and oppression, this is electric dissent in pursuit of a democratic, egalitarian future. A lexicon for revolution worldwide." Thank you editors for trusting I would be receptive to your work, and I am.

There's a Foreword by Eileen Myles that's available online: https://isolarii.com The book's Introduction by Galina Rymbu is not online but is educational and evokes, for me, the activities of the feminist Philippine press Gantala--I mention that here since it's sometimes important to know that as one pushes at the margins that define the literary (or any) landscape, one is not alone. I recommend you go to the link and order. This is a unique and valuable introduction.

Last but not least, I am appreciating the powerful and, logically if sadly, devastating poems. The Myles introduction also features examples of some gorgeous lines.

Btw, it behooves moi to note the almost miniature size of this book. It's 2.75 x 4.25 inches. I'm going to shelve it in the Miniature Book Library though it's 0.25 inches over--because how this book doesn't follow the (measurement) rule is just form fitting content, is appropriate for what it is: a revulsion and a revolt.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020


 Prior to my prior post, some of you apparently didn't know I evacuated from the recent Glass Fire. Here's an essay I wrote about that near-death experience--essay is presented by Zocalo Public Square. Scariest experience ever in my life...

Tuesday, October 27, 2020


As an evacuee from California's Glass Fire wildfires, which is to say, as an evacuee—a state of being I am forced to explore, and I do resent being forced even as I recognize its generosity as a fertilizer-Muse—I've not been reading much. But Ugly Duckling Presse lifts me out of that lethargy with its recent releases of essay collections. First to be read is Aditi Machado's The End. Brilliant. And a testament as to why UDP is at the top of my favorite poetry presse. From Machado:


"'No precision that isn't imprecision' haunts my practice. The whole thing drips with time."


There’s more meat than what I excerpt here (e.g. on-point comparison between Rilke and Wright re endings and more). I recommend you check it out!


Friday, October 9, 2020


Grateful to Denise Low for interviewing me about my new short story collection PAGPAG. In the same feature, Neil Leadbeater provides a review, for which I'm also thankful. Here are excerpts below, but you can see both interview and review HERE.

        These stories (except for one I added to cohere the collection) were published from 1995-2000; they represent me as a newbie creative writer, and I do not write the way I wrote back then. But I decided to re-issue them as a book in protest against the cruel policies of current Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte as well as his complicity in rehabilitating the reputation of the family of Martial Law dictator Ferdinand Marcos. I thought it important to remind people that Martial Law occurred, was damaging, and offers a legacy wherein junior-Marcos-type politicians undeservedly thrive to the detriment of the Filipino people they are supposed to serve.

from Interview with Denise Low 

Throughout this collection, poverty is described in all its forms and not just in terms of a lack of money. It is also seen with reference to a lack of opportunity and, more importantly, a lack of being able to make one’s voice heard and a lack of being able to do anything about it. There are old men and women sleeping on hard surfaces, small farmers forced out of business, companies stripped of their assets and a displaced population from Calauit who end up dying of starvation....

There is plenty of variety too, ranging from the politically charged “Force Majeure” and “Redeeming Memory” to the politically correct “Homeland” and the comic “Pork” and “Tapey.” Ghosts are present in at least three of these stories, but there is a sense in which they haunt every one of them as Tabios confronts her past.

from review by Neil Leadbeater


Tuesday, September 1, 2020


Yes, I pulled it off! I not only finished (finally!) my first long-form novel but it will be published. More details forthcoming on its publication in early 2021, but meanwhile I'm trying to relish having found a publisher for it. I've been tinkering with various ways to promote it. Would any of these pique your attention? :)

Anyway, I'm sure some are too wordy. But tinkering tinkering ... I've never marketed a novel before :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020


I'm pleased to announce a new poetry collection birthed by Covid-19 -- I supposed almost anything can be a Muse. Anyway, this is interesting because it's also a bilingual edition with my English poems translated into Thai. A translation essay is included, too, which hopefully is educational. Here's more information about it:

Publishers: Laughing/Ouch/Cube/Productions (California) and i.e. press (New York)
ISBN: 978-1-934299-16-6
Pages: 58
Release Date: Summer 2020
Distributors: Laughing Ouch Cube Productions (johnkathybr at gmail dot com) and its Lulu Account
Price: $15.00

This wouldn't have been my ideal way to be a "Cover Girl." Nonetheless, you are invited to GO HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, August 1, 2020


I’m delighted, of course, to see PAGPAG: The Dictator's Aftermath in the Diaspora start its journey around the world. These photos come from China during the farewell talk of Sze Ping Lo as he stepped down as CEO of WWF China. His lecture included two slides that referred to Red Constantino's remarks during PAGPAG’s book launch. The first image presents an excerpt from my book accompanied by a close up detail of one of the Constantino Murals, which was commissioned in 2007 to commemorate the lives of two ordinary Filipinos who, because they answered their people's call, rose to become giants. One was Macario Sakay, and the other, in the photo with my quote, is Lean Alejandro. From PAGPAG, my quote

“The optimism in my memory is a taste of rust, jarring against what I observed the country had become. The optimism is an ache that will not go away. It is a ghost haunting.”

(That little red book is Araling Panlipunan (used in Philippine civics classes).)

The second image presents my favorite part of Red’s PAGPAG remarks (reprinted in ABS-CBN) which I think is much needed for the times:

"To survive and thrive in the near future, we will need everyone. And we will need to revisit the past constantly, not as a bludgeon to smash our enemies with but as a constant companion in our effort to distill meaning in our fleeting lives. Because everything will count and because the written word will always -- always -- be our strongest and most reliable ally."

Thursday, July 30, 2020


Delighted to receive my contributor's copy of an intriguing and timely anthology, READ WATER edited by Hari Alluri, Garrett Bryant and Amanda Fuller. I'm grateful, not just for their inclusions of my 2 poems "The Great Grief" and "Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: Anthropocene" but also, for their inclusion of my poetics essay that allows me to posit I became like water a la Bruce Lee. As someone who briefly studied Kali and barely avoided bruising my own shins during its own stick-fighting, I am amused to invoke the martial arts. Anyway, thanks to the poets and I recommend checking it out HERE. I include Table of Contents below -- also grateful to be in such fine company:

Monday, July 27, 2020


I was blessed this weekend to be a guest poet on a webinar series put together by Dr. Jeannie Celestial and sponsored by Balay Kreative. The above image is from the lovely maganda magazine who generously hailed my presence on Instagram. At the webinar, I presented and encouraged the writing of hay(na)ku. I was so pleased--and awed--at how everyone seemed a natural in the form! Many in the audience apparently were teachers and so I don't know how much related to how they easily took up the form (certainly, it was a means for me, too, to encourage hay(na)ku as a teaching tool, having been used in classes and workshops from the elementary to the college levels).

Anyway, I wanted to share some of the hay(na)ku written during the series. The first is a "haybun" (combination of prose and a hay(na)ku) that I wrote on their prompt "My mountain is ___." I then transformed the meditation into a single hay(na)ku tercet:


My mountain may be where I’ve built a house: Galatea in St. Helena, California. “Galatea,” “St. Helena,” “California”—none of these names are accurate, for my mountain is really the land of its original people, the Wappo. And what the Wappo may have called my mountain that is not mine is unknown. But I find comfort in this not-knowing. Because my true mountain comes from the time when we humans form our gods—that time known as childhood. As a child, I grew up on a mountain in Baguio City, Philippines. I know that mountain no longer exists as it was snuffed out of its existence by pollution and overpopulation. Where once stood pine trees are now houses on top of each other to cover every inch of its once natural slope. Galatea, California, Baguio—it’s irrelevant now. All of my mountains share the same crumbling profile of Loss.

I turned my prose meditation into this hay(na)ku:

Become valleys
Lost in memory

I was not privy to the participants' meditations but I did see some of their mountain-related hay(na)ku and want to share this written by Vex Kaztro as it so pleased me:

My mountain does
not climb

Vex Kaztro is a natural at the form! Here's another one she wrote:

make me
a hardened vessel 

Another participant, Camille Santana, also wrote a mountain-related hay(na)ku:

Bare feet—
I am here 

I think they're all fabulous. May the hay(na)ku come to be as natural to them and their communities as breath itself.

It is a delight to share with all of them a copy of my bilingual (English/Spanish) hay(na)ku collection with translator Rebeka Lembo: ONE, TWO, THREE!

Sunday, July 19, 2020


“In The Dictator’s Aftermath: Conversation and Book Launch for PAGPAG: The Dictator's Aftermath in the Diaspora by Eileen R. Tabios”

These excerpts don’t do justice to what everyone shared. It gets more immense—darker and deeper, too—amidst—or despite—the laughter. The conversation is timely, wide-ranging and I invite you to watch this video. I wrote the book but it’s not about me; it’s on Empire, memory, colonialism and its postness, fascism and the use of humor to take it down, race, history, the frailties of the human condition, indigeneity, the flux of language, Brecht, Bahktin & Benjamin, and then hunger on too many levels, and so on and so much more. AND we name the names of those “salvaged.” Some excerpts:

As we grapple with ways to fight media repression and the Anti-Terror Bill in the Philippines, Eileen Tabios presents us with PAGPAG. … the book is a joy to read because it makes us laugh, for if there is one thing I remember about being an activist during Martial Law, …it is that we used laughter. We mocked those in power, and drawing from Mikhail Bakhtin’s discussion of the carnivalesque, this laughter was necessary in the “de-crowning” of the dictator. Moreover, the book also reminded me of family and friends who managed to joke even during dark times, of political work made lighter by shared laughter, and how, amidst fear of detention, we made up funny songs…
—Joi Barrios

The many definitions of “pagpag” includes how Ferdinand Marcos’ son asked Cambridge Analytica to “rebrand” his family’s image… to [visual pagpag] of slapping one’s cheeks to prevent one from becoming numb to all the murders. “In the Bible, Jesus says ‘if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and *shake the dust off* your feet as a testimony against them’.”
—Father Albert Alejo

Pagpag-making, in this sense, for all its contradictory significations, like Eileen’s skillful reworking of painful and grievous memories of the Marcos regime into stories of alternative meaning, delight, and pleasure, may be seen as gesturing toward that kind of capacity for beauty and life-making in the direst of circumstances—I would say perhaps a skill those of us still ensconced in the comfort of our privilege could well learn from.
—S. Lily Mendoza

I teach “Race and Humor” at Stonybrook. The theory of humor that I love to share with students is the theory of inversion, the reversal of power. We laugh when the cruelties of the world are exposed. We laugh when the powerful are made fun of, and they’re taken down by joke … in this case by a story. Fascists hate humor because humor threatens their order, the order that they want which is that they’re on top. Humor brings them down to the level of the people.
—Nerissa Balce

…[PAGPAG] gives us a glimpse of not only of where we came up short, but also why today too many lessons are learned the hard way. In one of Pagpag's pieces, Eileen Tabios points in the story “A Ghost Haunting” to one of several reasons why many are wrestling with a deep sense of unarticulated anomie: "The optimism in my memory is a taste of rust, jarring against what I observed the country had become. The optimism is an ache that will not go away. It is a ghost haunting." // She is describing the Philippines but it can just as well be the United States. Or Brazil. Or India. Think of the fireflies reminding us of the rubble of institutions crumbling from the combined force of neglect and official venality.
—Renato Redentor Constantino

I only decided last year to collect the stories into a book after observing the human rights atrocities caused by Duterte’s regime. I thought then that even as my stories are fiction, my book PAGPAG might serve to remind how actions have such prolonged effects. The book’s idea of presenting fictionalized children of anti-Marcos activists, now grown-up and coping with their legacies, is also a metaphorical call for bettering our actions as actions do become legacies and can have impact for generations afterward.
—Eileen R. Tabios

Information about the Book Launch Participants available HERE.

Thursday, July 9, 2020


A writer asked if I would turn MAKING THE NOVEL into a print book. I said, "Perhaps, but I have to see how the project goes and we’re still in its early days." I do appreciate the enthusiasm underlying the question, of course!  But because it’s still in its early days, I’m also still refining the project concept and, today, decided to add a fourth category (the asterisked one below) so that the project would be comprised of





MAKING THE NOVEL is really intended to reveal more about the arduity of working in this long form. I initially thought that EXCERPTS FROM UNPUBLISHED NOVELS would encompass the new category of EXCERPTS DELETED WHILE WRITING UNPUBLISHED NOVELS. But my own experience indicates this is not the case, that is, while writing my first draft I also cut out excerpts even before the first draft was finished. So I decided to create a category for those deleted excerpts too.

So if you are writing/have written an unpublished novel, and you’ve already cut out some parts of that, this category is for you. Please share! I don’t want this project to be about my work so I’m limiting my participation but an example for this category could be a prologue I’d written for my first novel which I later deleted (as I decided the novel didn’t require a prologue).

Please continue spreading the word about this project. As a published novelist recently emailed, “I don’t think people realize just how much a story changes even after acquisition from a publisher.” And of course the story changed a lot more even before said acquisition. I think it’s helpful to make the process as transparent as possible.

I also reorganized the order of the excerpts to adjust the inclusion of this new category; I think this structure is better for showing the novel’s challenges.

Of course, do let me know if you or others you know may have contributions to these categories. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


You are invited to see the latest novelists added to MAKING THE NOVEL.

For convenience, I replicate the updated Table of Contents below:


The MAKING THE NOVEL project is divided into three parts:




We are grateful to the novelists, published and unpublished, for participating. Click on names below to go to the writers' contributions. For convenience, I place an asterisk by each newly-added author's name with each update:

A Project Introduction & Submissions Information
Eileen R. Tabios

John Bloomberg-Rissman*
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
Lynn Crawford
Heather L. Davis
Martha King
Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor*
Monica Macansantos
Mary Mackey (2)*
Sandy McIntosh
Jose Padua
Tony Robles
Linda Ty-Casper*

John Bloomberg-Rissman (2).
Timothy Bradford
M. Evelina Galang
Cristina Querrer
More To Come

Sesshu Foster
Mary Mackey
Reine Arcache Melvin*
Jason Tanamor*

Eric Gamalinda
Renee Macalino Rutledge
More To Come

EXCERPTS FROM "FAILED NOVELS" (as defined by their writers)
Ken Edwards
Brian Marley
Eileen R. Tabios
More To Come



Submission Information: If you are interested in sharing an excerpt or deleted excerpt from your novel, go HERE for information.
Contact: email Eileen R. Tabios, at nalandaten at gmail dot com

Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed. – Ray Bradbury

When I complete a novel I set it aside, and begin work on short stories, and eventually another long work. When I complete that novel I return to the earlier novel and rewrite much of it. In the meantime the second novel lies in a desk drawer. – Joyce Carol Oates

The things that the novel does not say are necessarily more numerous than those it does say and only a special halo around what is written can give the illusion that you are reading also what is not written. – Italo Calvino

"When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done." — Stephen King