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, June 25, 2020


Reading Yusef Kumonyakaa's Introduction to Ai's THE COLLECTED POEMS made me pause to consider: I rarely derive pleasure from reading such introductions to poetry. The introductions may be educational, well-considered, erudite, etc but, for me, they've not usually generated pleasure. So, perhaps for the first time, I finally found myself relishing--wallowing--in this form.

But it's not just because Kumonyakaa is writing prose well here--an achievement by itself (I just finished an hour before writing this post a conversation with another poet about how it's rare that poets can write prose well). I suspect his Introduction is generating so much pleasure because the poems, themselves, are meatily-pleasurable. It's quite respectful--though logical if one knows the charisma of Ai's poems--for Kumonyakaa to allow the poems to lead and hold their sway (many critics writing about poetry fail to achieve the balance of presenting their response versus the existence of the poems themselves).

Thus, it's a pleasure to say--I not only recommend Ai's poems in this book, but even the Introduction to it. If it's not the first time, it's the first time in a looooong time that I've ever said that about such an introduction.

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