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, June 7, 2023


Eileen R. Tabios' new book BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, I BECOME WAR, has become an SPD Bestseller within a week of its official release date. See more information at




Available on SPD, Amazon, Bookshop, among others. You can also ask your local libraries and/or bookstores to order from SPD.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023


It's been a long time since war didn't exist somewhere. But the biggest war being waged is Human vs. Planet. Let's do better.

Monday, March 27, 2023


You are invited to read my' essay on titling poems, the latest installment in Marsh Hawk Press' "Chapter One" series! 

The essay deliberately references poet-activists Kerima Lorena Tariman (pictured above) and Ericson Acosta because, yes, their murders should never be forgotten. Essay available HERE. Here's an excerpt:

"... much of my job as a poet takes place before I begin any poem. My job is to educate myself on as many topics as possible, engage in a wide variety of experiences, hone my skills at observation, and meditate over the significance of a variety of events—not for writing a poem but by being better in the world through a basking in experience. All this knowledge and experience are filed in my brain as raw material for when I finally write the poem, e.g., the information on Negros Occidental which had marinated in my mind for three decades. In the actual creation of the poem, I trust in having filed enough mental material for the poem to access as it chooses.

Obviously, the more content there is in that mental file, the better the poem is served. I recently noted in an interview that as a poet I believe in education for education’s sake for avoiding cliches and sourcing new metaphors. As an example, for no particular reason besides education, I learned about black holes, specifically that if one is able to witness the phenomenon, one would see objects falling into those holes in falls that seem never to end. The idea of a permanent falling resonated with me and came to be included in several poems."


The article also provides a link to my next book BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, I BECOME WAR. It's not scheduled for release until May, but SPD now has it available for purchase HERE.

Monday, February 6, 2023


Philippine Bookshelf--through @yugto.bookclub on Instagram--is featuring my poem "Epiphany at Monster High" as part of their February Invitations to Poetry. I'll post poem in its entirety below because I don't know how to share it from Instagram to Blogger :)

Epiphany at Monster High

I realize

I like to rescue

discarded by children
who grow old by forgetting 

I dust them, shampoo
their plastic hair
(now a collection of split-ends)
and bathe their bodies
(many scarred by animal teeth)

When I rescue dolls
I revive their ghosts
who now bring me 

their language of longings

(fresh fodder to translate

for making new poems)—
I reciprocate

I clean their clothes
or give them new apparel

For one treasured skirt

I apply my inheritance

of Mom’s needle and thread

Most need new shoes

The ghosts cease crying
and masticating hapless tongues 
behind scarred stiff cheeks 

After sponge baths, smiles surface
from erased grit—most dolls 

are made with upturned lips

for they rationalize their existence

as conduits for joy, for Grace

I discover I like to rescue dolls
to rediscover 

how I love to rescue Love

Thursday, February 2, 2023


I'm pleased to share a unique review of my first novel DOVELION for situating it within "Indigenous Futurism." You can see the review HERE but it pleases me so much that I’m just reprinting below:


Transmotion Review by Denise Low of Baker University

(Accessible online through University of Kent’s open access journals site)


Eileen Tabios. Dovelion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times. AC Books, 2021, 309 pages. ISBN: 978-1-939901-19-4




Eileen R. Tabios' Dovelion is a slipstream work of fiction. It has characters, and a plotline develops, slowly, in the background, like a novel. Some of this work is fictional, some autobiographical. The central site is in an imagined place, Pacifica, which is supposedly connected to the Philippines (where Tabios was born before moving to the United States). But rather than autofiction, the narrative is a work of Indigenous futurism as it shifts among strands of transcolonial experience. "Transcolonial," not postcolonial, is the better term to describe the book's political critique, to suggest how imperial powers have dominated Indigenous peoples like those of the Philippines and how their influence continues and will continue in myriad guises globally. The author is simultaneously a rebel against erasure of Indigenous sovereignty and a visionary who offers new expressions of cultural traditions and personal wholeness. 


Indigenous futurisms writers generate literary and other artifacts that revise western European literatures. With her textual inventions, Tabios disrupts the expectations of English-language genres. Poetry, geography, political science, dialogue, prose poetry, culinary arts, visual art critique—all wend their way through the sequential and gradual unmasking of the characters in Dovelion. This is Tabios' method of character development. There is a through-line present in the novel-like book: a Marcos-like dictator and his family terrorize the populace and exploit the environment, until overthrown. Two lovers are children of enemies. The woman's pregnancy results in a child and then grandchildren who commingle bloodlines of the feuding families. Events occur and recur in the narrative fabric, like revisited memories. 


Tabios' body of work includes other experiments with form, including invention of the tercet form hay(na)ku. Several of these are embedded within the work: "When I bleed / I camouflage / tears" and "When I weep / I camouflage / blood" (71-2). Each diary-like section begins with a day and month, but no year. The dates are not sequential, but instead seem random. Tabios created a random language generator for her projectMurder Death Resurrection: A Poetry Generator (2018), so the nonlinear system for dates in Dovelion is consistent with the author's modus operandi. Jumbled dates suggest entry into an alternative time, where linear sequence is irrelevant. Like oral tradition stories, the same incidents repeat with varying emphases. Point-of-view shifts among characters. Thus, Dovelion's underlying scaffolding is a three-dimensional clothesline upon which to hang moments of all shapes and sizes.


All entries begin with the fairy-tale phrase "Once upon a time." The chapter entitled "12 April" illustrates one of the unexpected directions of the prose; it begins with reflections on the love affair and proceeds to a quotation from "the poet Eileen R. Tabios," who is, the narrator avers, "a strong influence on my work" (60). The book's narrator and author separate here and elsewhere and re-engage, as Tabios interrogates the act of authorship. 


Sequential chapters, one through twenty-five, order the book, an overlay on the randomly dated subsections. And Tabios further divides the book into three overarching sections that create another mapping: "There Was Is," "There Became Is," and "There Will Be Is." English verb tenses collapse into a single tense of presence. Time is a recurring concern of the book.


Decolonization through restructuring of language and genre is one dimension of Dovelion. Another is revitalization of Indigenous values. Tabios writes about her book Murder, Death and Resurrection: A Poetry Generator


I also wanted to deepen my interrogation (and disruption) of English which had facilitated twentieth-century US colonialism in my birthland, the Philippines. . . . I wanted to develop a consciously closer link to the Filipino indigenous value of "Kapwa." "Kapwa" refers to "shared self" or "shared identity" whereby everyone and everything is connected." (Jacket2, June 2, 2019)


Dovelion defines, explicates, reveals, and dramatizes the timeless value of "kapwa." A "nanny" first explains the term in the book as "despite diversity, One is All and All is One" (57). In another embedded quotation from the author's own writings, she explains a poetics that expands on the meaning of kapwa: 


The human, by being rooted onto the planet but also touching the sky, is connected to everything in the universe and across all time, including that the human is rooted to the past and future—indeed, there is no unfolding of time. In that moment, all of existence—past, present, and future—has coalesced into a singular moment, a single gem with an infinite expanse. (DoveLion 60, originally published in The Awakening, 2013)


The author also explains kapwa in terms of the science of physics, explaining that "it's not only a cultural belief. Various physicists have long proposed time is not linear. Some call time a dimension of spacetime and, thus, [time] does not pass because spacetime doesn't" (156). The theory is a praxis. The restoration of the intact, healthy culture is predicted by its onetime existence in the past. The Filipino child's tale "An emerald island sits upon a blue sapphire ocean and both glow under the beam of a 24-carat sun" is a continuous refrain throughout the narration and a continuous expectation.


Islands are a motif in Dovelion, from the invented island country of Pacifica to the Philippines to a "large grey building" where the two lovers meet in isolation. Each individual is a discrete "island" of individuality, which links to others through sex, children, and social relationships. Kapwa links each person. Unspoken is the John Donne poem, "No man is an island," but it is present nonetheless as all writings in all time exist simultaneously in Kapwa time.


Tabios does not allow decolonization principles to devolve into rhetoric without action. Rather, she previews a future where enemies reconnect in alliances against dictatorships. She shows how the restoration of a continuous concept of time corrects the fallacy of linear time, where the past falls off the left-hand edge of the page and can be ignored (like nineteenth-century US treaties with Indigenous nations). Tabios offers options. She recognizes June 12, the day the Philippines overthrew Spanish rule, through an imaginary website June12.com. She restores Indigenous values in new form. Dovelion is a blueprint for further investigations into a future where Indigenous knowledge structures the narratives.


Denise Low, Baker University


Works Cited:


Tabios, Eileen. The Awakening: A Long Poem Triptych & A Poetics Fragment. Theenk Books, 2013.


–––. "Murder Death Resurrection: Another Way for Poetry." Jacket 2. June 2, 2019. Murder death resurrection | Jacket2.


–––. Murder Death Resurrection: A Poetry Generator, Dos Madres, 2018.

Saturday, January 28, 2023


I'm part of a group of translators that present the first English verse translation of Dionysiaca (Tales of Dionysus) by Nonnus of Panopolis that will be a highlight of my literary life. More information is available at the University of Michigan Press website, but I repeat below:

Tales of Dionysus is the first English verse translation of one of the most extraordinary poems of the Greek literary tradition, the Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis. By any standard, the Dionysiaca is a formidable work. It is by far the longest poem surviving from the classical world, a massive mythological epic stretching to over 20,000 lines, written in the tradition of Homer, using Homer’s verse, Homer’s language, his narrative turns and motifs, and invoking his ancient Muses. But it is also the last ancient epic to follow a Homeric model, composed so late in fact that it stands as close in time to the Renaissance as it does to archaic Greece. Like its titular hero, Dionysus, with his fluidity of forms, names, and divine incarnations, the poem itself is continually shifting shape. Out of its formal epic frame spills a tumult of ancient literary types: tragedy, elegy, didactic, panegyric, pastoral idyll, and the novel are all parts of this gigantic enterprise, each genre coming to the fore one after the other.

Tales of Dionysus brings together forty-two translators from a wide range of backgrounds, with different experiences and different potential relationships to the text of Nonnus’ poem. All work in their own styles and with their own individual approaches to the poem, to translation, and to poetic form. This variety turns Tales of Dionysus into a showcase of the multiple possibilities open to classical translation in the contemporary world.

[Editor] William Levitan is Professor of Classics Emeritus at Grand Valley State University.

[Editor] Stanley Lombardo is Professor Emeritus of Classics at The University of Kansas.

Poet and translator Peter Valente has just written a review and I'm blessed to present it below:

A Review of The Tales of Dionysus

By Peter Valente


I just finished reading the group translation of the Dionysiaca (Tales of Dionysus) by Nonnus of Panopolis, who was born in Upper Egypt and flourished in the 5th century CE. It is an extraordinary, lavish, theatrical and baroque poem. Dionysus was born of a mortal and a god: princess Semele was impregnated by Zeus, but encouraged by Hera, Semele desired to see Zeus face to face; as a result, she is burned alive; but before she is simply a pile of ashes, Zeus takes the “unfinished foetus” from her womb; He then slits an opening in his thigh, which acts as a womb, and completes the term of Dionysus’ birth. So, Dionysus is “matripaternal” in Douglas Parker’s translation. He is the androgynous god of sex, wine and ecstatic madness. He travels the countryside, with his nymphs, satires and mortal women known as Bacchants or Maenads. These were the women who gave up their families and positions in order to follow Bacchus, and who surrendered themselves fully to an animalist, primitive state. Armed with thyrsi, giant fennel staves, these women were sexually aggressive and, when sufficiently roused, liable to rip apart and eat anything that crossed their paths, from lions to their own sons. If the inhabitants of a city failed to worship and give appropriate respect to Dionysus he would come to your town, lure the women away as Maenads, and if necessary, turn them loose on the men. This feminine presence is strong in the Dionysiaca.

The Dionysiaca is the longest surviving epic poem that follows the Homeric model: it is written in dactylic hexameter like the Iliad and contains a battle between Dionysus and the King of India, Deriades. But Dionysus has no real reason to be fighting against the Indians, except perhaps for his arrogance and his desire to spread the pleasures of intoxication throughout the arable world.

Wine emerged in the world for the first time following the death of Ampelos, one of Dionysus’ lovers. He was killed by a bull and from his blood grew the grape and the vine. With this new “drug” Dionysus became the god of magical intoxication. Nonnus writes: “So, Dionysus claimed again his / purpose, restored nature’s / throbbing pulse – he the god of / ravishment, of juicy jizm, / of glistening life-pumping pearls, / of ecstatic joyance.” Furthermore, “Those bees [responsible for honey] made art, but art is not / a trouble-killing brew.” And Dionysus is able to defeat the Indians using, along with his thyrsus, and his ability to transform himself, leaves and vines. In one scene, he simply uses a leaf and grazes the breastplate of an Indian soldier and it cracks and falls to the floor in pieces! In another scene, “as the king tried to stab him, / he shapeshifted into a multitude of forms” including a lion, a wild boar, a panther, a waterfall, and fire. Or he will use the vine to entangle an Indian warrior. Dionysus encourages his men to defeat the Indian king by saying:


Entangle that bold one

(you know his name but I’ll say it, Deriades) entwined

In windings of vine and clusters of

Sweet fruit hanging off him,

And soften his bronze-clad 

Shoulders with a fawnskin….


He continues: “And after a lifetime of war, bloody clangor / let him at last be taught how to dance. / and through the dark night relieve the bodily rhythms, / grate, toss his hair, stomp the grapes.” Dionysus uses ecstatic dance to give pleasure to his followers: Nonnus writes, “I follow Lord Bacchus, not sober Apollo, / whose sad Cretan dirges are unknown to me, / those weepy laments for his lover Atymnius.” During one ecstatic dance rite, with the sounds of cymbals, tambourines, and hornpipes of Pan echoing the air, even bears begin to dance, as well as snakes, and perfume is released in a garden bursting with many-colored flowers. All of nature is alive. An Indian warrior witnessing this scene is terrified. Even the roar of Dionysus and the Bacchants is sometimes enough to kill many men. A warrior tells King Derieades: “What miracle, Deriades, is this? / My warriors hit the dust, and how felled / by thyruses and leaves of no account.” Indeed, this war is between “vegetable love” and the “überman” Deriades! Dionysus and his Bacchants are like flower children, confronting the police by holding up a daisy. We are as far away from the world of Iliad as possible. In one sense, what Nonnis is doing in this epic poem is feminizing the epic poems of Homer, Statius and Lucan: Eileen R. Tabios writes in her collaboration with Denise Low on Book 28: “Manhood when defined / as dying into a stance / ‘poised to throw a lance’ / begets poetry, but who / needs such impotent beauty.” The maenads want to free “themselves from / their manly dispositions” and become women again. Is the Dionysiaca in fact a kind of an anti-war poem?

Indeed, the Dionysiaca presents strong female characters who will protect their virginity at all costs. For example, the Bacchant, Chacamede drives the Indian warrior Morrheus crazy with lust and in a fit of madness he says: “But when I see Chalcomede near me, / my spear goes limp, / I’m not afraid of Dionysus, but I / cower before a woman.” She is beautiful but dangerous. She enters the battle and throws a boulder at Morrheus. This leads an Indian warrior to remark: “The Bacchants / have no need for cold steel” and also that “These women rip coats of mail apart with their fingernails.” These Bacchants refuse to be subject to men and domesticated by them, to obey, for example, Lycurgus, king of Arabia who desires to bind his slaves, “in forced marriage to each row / of girl-crazy Dionysus’ followers and not seek a dowry, proper custom for those taken by the spear.” 

But the ecstatic intoxication and dance have a dark and sinister aspect and can lead to violence and rape. The nymph Nicea rejects Hymnus in order to preserve her virginity but is then, while asleep, raped by Dionysus. The farmer and his men, during a scene late in the poem, are given cups of wine until they are intoxicated and in a frenzy the men murder the farmer. Books 44 to 46 relate the story of Euripides’ Bacchae; in the play, Pentheus is murdered by his own mother, Agave, because during an ecstatic frenzy she mistook him for a lion. And finally, the mountain nymph, Aura, is raped by Dionysus while she is in a drunken sleep. When she discovers that she has been violated, her rage causes her to go on a murderous rampage, killing farmers, shepherds, and eventually, one of her own sons who she eats. Sparagmos is an act of rending, tearing apart, or mangling usually understood in a Dionysian context. During a Bacchic rite an animal, or even a human being, is sacrificed by being dismembered. Sparagmos was often followed by omophagia (the eating of the raw flesh of the one dismembered). It is associated with the Maenads or Bacchantes and the Dionysian Mysteries. There is a scene, near the end of the Dionysica, where Bacchants in a wild frenzy tear apart and disembowel animals. After this extremely bloody series of acts, Nonnus describes these very same Maenads suckling little children. The Bacchants can be both violent and gentle.

It is said by scholars that one of the important aspects of the Dionysiaca is the alternate myths that Nonnus describes that would be otherwise lost. One concerns the myth of Aphrodite. In many epics and poems of the ancient world, Aphrodite is said to emerge from the sea at Cypris. But Nonnus writes: “The Cypriots claim that the goddess / made first landfall there, and / they point to her footprints. They’re liars.” In fact, according to Nonnus, Aphrodite first landed in Beirut, a land “coeval with Time.” When Harmonia reads from the “oracular tablets” where “each one is named for a planet” she refers to Aphrodite in the following manner: “Tablet number three is rose-colored / and named after you, for it bears the stamp of your Eastern Star.” Furthermore, for arranging the marriage of Zeus and Hera, Aphrodite is given, by Zeus, the gift of choosing which city she could “hand over the precepts of Justice.” Harmonia consults the oracle, and reads that the oldest city, Beirut is chosen. The oracle speaks of the reign of Augustus…and a later period of violence and destruction and continues: “until Beirut, the muse of gentler living, dispenses justice on the land and upon the salt ocean, / fortifying towns with a wall that cannot be shaken, / the wall of Law, one city for all the world’s cities.” Of course, Dionysus was born on Mt Nysa, which was identified with eastern holy mountains in Phoenicia, Egypt, Arabia, and India. Giovanni Hojeije writes, in “Dionysus and the East: The Importance of Theatre and the God of Tragedy,”

From Tyre to the Northern areas in Lebanon, to Anatolia or Libya, sculptures and mosaics, both in public sites and household shrines, are extensively found. The importance of Dionysus, especially in the Levantine region, is so evident that he has a considerable portion in the biggest Roman Temple — the Temple of Bacchus and Jupiter, in Baalbek — dedicated to his worship in Roman Phoenicia.


So, as surprising as it seems that Aphrodite first landed in Beirut, the historical evidence seems to back up the claim and, of course Aphrodite was a goddess important to Dionysus. But in the Dionysiaca, Bacchus is ultimately unable to win the love of Beroe, Aphrodite’s daughter; instead, Poseidon is victorious. Dionysus is promised by Eros “Ariadne of the Minos Clan” and so leaves the East: “Then, departing the rich river / and the Phrygian plain, that land of easy living, / he established his vine on the northern plain / and passed from Asia’s villages to Europe’s cities.” He will then have to fight Perseus, a battle that Hermes stops and later the Giants whom Dionysus defeats. The poem concludes with his rising to the realm of the gods: “the vine god ascended to his ancestral heaven / and at table with the father who had given him birth, / after all the mortals’ banquets, after all the wine poured out, / he drank celestial nectar from nobler goblets, / and sat with his brothers, / Leto’s son Apollo, / and Hermes, son of Maia.”

The Dionysiaca does not present a world of strong men, with complex emotions. Dionysus is not Achilles, or Odysseus, or Agamemnon. Or rather he is each of them, but in drag. Many of the battle scenes appear stylized and theatrical. The Dionysiaca is exaggerated, effeminate, even bombastic. Finally, it is a camp masterpiece. It is the Iliad in drag. It is excessive, wild, vivid, hallucinatory and fantastical. Just a couple of examples of some marvelous descriptions. This is the ecstatic music that accompanies the dance:


There was the dance. Throughout the hall

accomplished lyrists played, and aromatic breezes blew,

and wafted up and down the city’s pleasant-smelling streets.

Free-flowing streams of wine intoxicated the whole house.

There was a clattering of cymbals, pan-pipes whistling 

melodious across the table, and a clamoring

of double flutes, two-headed drums of oxhide thundering

in double rhythm in the hall; and following the feast,

the din of rattles. 


This is the music of free improvision at its best! Then there is the strange and lavish description of Zeus and Hera’s lovemaking that almost reads like science fiction:


Then he conjured up a pleasure dome of golden cloud,

swirling around them and arching into place;

the parti-colored bow of Iris crowned the whole.

A bed materialized for the lovemaking Zeus

and his ivory-armed bride, concealed in their bower.

Within the bonds of gracious marriage they conjoined,

and Gaea diffused her many fragrances, strewing

the bridal bed with beautiful flowers: the crocus from Cilicia,

wrapped about by leaves of morning glory, like lover

embracing his beloved, in floral monogamy.

Thus earth bestrewed Zeus with saffron, & Hera

with purple blooms. Narcissus overgrew

anemone, as silent emblem of the god’s eager love.

No immortal spied the Divinities in their retreat,

No nearby nymphs, nor watchful sun,

Nor moon’s mild eyes spied the deathless bed,

For walls of cloud enclosed it, and Sleep and Love

Had clouded the eyes of Zeus, in deep slumber now,

Holding his wife in his arms and out like a light.


It is an epic poem that also bristles with Nonnus’ encyclopedic knowledge of mythology. It is said that he might have visited the Library of Alexandria. 

The Dionysiaca has had its critics, and before this book was published, the only translation of the poem was by W.H.D. Rouse for the Loeb editions, published in 1940. The Dionysiaca was often compared to the Iliad and this led to “scorn among professional classicists” which “became at least in the anglophone world, a long-running tradition.” This is not the case in, for example, in France where Francis Vian wrote an eighteen volumes survey of various arguments and evidence regarding the poem. There continue to be studies published in Italy and Germany as well. At last, with the publication of Tales of Dionysus: The Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis edited by William Levitan and Stanley Lombardo, with an introduction by Gordon Braden, this extraordinary work is available for English readers. The poets, without any help from the scholars, understood the value of Nonnus. In his poem, “Exiles” Cavafy writes, “The other day we read some lines by Nonnos: /what imagery, what rhythm, what diction and harmony! /All enthusiasm, how we admired the Panopolitan.” And Stefan George wrote in a eulogy for Mallarmé, in 1898, about their mutual love for the works of Nonnus, “how the hard-born verses of the hot-blooded Egyptian, which hum and hurry along like Maenads, filled us with more delight than those of old Homer.” In terms of the reading and despite its length, the Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis is the most enjoyable epic poem I have ever read.  


Peter Valente is a writer, translator, and filmmaker. He is the author of twelve full length books. His most recent books are a collection of essays on Werner Schroeter, A Credible Utopia (Punctum, 2022), and his translation of Nerval, The Illuminated (Wakefield, 2022). Forthcoming is his translation of Antonin Artaud, The True Story of Jesus-Christ (Infinity Land Press, 2022), a collection of essays on Artaud, Obliteration of the World: A Guide to the Occult Belief System of Antonin Artaud (Infinity Land Press, 2022), and his translation of Nicolas Pages by Guillaume Dustan (Semiotext(e), 2023).

Sunday, January 22, 2023


The hay(na)ku continues to be a jetsetter! Poet-artist-performer Dijana Petkova recently brought something new to Macedonian audiences with her project "Dragon Tamer" that presents Dijana's hay(na)ku variation called "hai[bun]aku"! The book Dragon Tamer was launched with a performance involving theater techniques at Skopje's House of Culture. Info and pics below!

[click on images to enlarge]


KNEEL SAID THE NIGHT by Margo Berdeshevsky

(Sundress Publications, 2023)


“If ever I raised a daughter in this now—would I name her time bomb and wait?” That powerful line (reflecting the Zeitgeist from any time period in human history) from her poem “Stand,” emphasizes how Margo Berdeshevsky is a poet whose writings deserve attention. Reading her new book, KNEEL SAID THE NIGHT, made me recall a question I posed shortly after turning 60, “Does everything you write now inevitably become memoir?” Then I mocked myself, “But that’s always been the case, though perhaps you can’t know that without the aging that can’t be short-cutted…”


Margo’s book includes a powerful introduction, befitting her powerful poems and prose poems. She presents something I have never forgotten since I first read about them (and yet which I believe didn’t get enough attention from requisite authorities): the “prostitutes in woodlands of the Bois de Boulogne: young young young girls from the Eastern European borders brought when they were just old enough to menstruate, or not even. Now their Johns and their pimps have disappeared for fear of the great illness. Left them in tents hidden in the branches, girls still busy as hell opening their legs for men descending under cover of midnight. Some bring them bottles of whisky, the story says. Under the branches. Under the static of missing wings. And the coughing, infected girls are dying in the thickets one by one.”


The girls’ presence both grounds and clarifies the book’s concerns which include women’s lives and aging. As regards the latter, you turn 60 and life is different. Different again: “I was scraping my knees on the edges of my aging…” Okay, but what does 60 tell you? Among other things, it told Margo, “Learning something is the only existential reason I’ve ever found.”


The specifics in her poems are specifics from her life. But because she transformed words to poetry, the stranger-reader cares:


“At lunchtime women head for good or decent restaurants for different reasons, ways to partition the hours between chill and sun, hunger and wine, loneliness and solitude, art and mission, lassitude and a promise to move the flesh, to ignore the loosened muscles, the mirror of middle-aging with the memory of being a beauty, or not. They refuse to read the news. They—are their only news.”


The book contains much wisdom through a variety of examples. E.G. “Everybody wanted a world that would remember, and heal. But first you have to agree to do the soul’s work. An ex-priest told me that. Do your soul’s work. What am I, then, allowed to forget?” 

Margo presents others’ wisdom as well with choice quotes that she makes her own:


When she raises her eyelids, it's as if she were taking off all her clothes.



The streets were dark with something more than night 

—Raymond Chandler 


I am circling around God, around the ancient tower, 

and I have been circling for a thousand years. 

And I still don’t know if I am a falcon,

or a storm, or a great song.

—Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Bly 


Her writings are also presented with resonant photographs and art that committedly collaborate with her words:


All in all, Margo’s poetic technique masters the edge before fraying begins to become unimpeded and disintegration takes over fate—note the “held back” breathlessness of caesuras in the title poem “Kneel Said the Night.” But all this made me glad when I came to read:


“I am still eager, I said.

I have questions. I have more than questions.”


I can only evoke rather than manifest the mercurial strength and yet radiant beauty of this collection. With this book, Margo Berdeshevsky is a poet who did exactly what was counseled in this chosen quote from another writer who knew how to fly—


Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall. 

—Ray Bradbury 


—which is to say (from her poem “Risk”), this poet “struck a match and kissed the blaze.” 


Sunday, January 1, 2023


In 2022, my reading was affected (adversely in terms of numbers) by devoting much time to writing novels, a pattern that began last year when I focused on this long form: in 2020, I read 403 books, but read 209 in 2021 and for 2022 read only 91 books. As with last year, the effect was caused from reading books relevant to my novels-in-progress versus reading for exploration/discovery/enjoyment. Nonetheless, I managed to insert books from the latter factors, and here are the results below. 

2022 BOOKS READ: 91

13 Fiction, 23 Non-Fiction, 55 Poetry


Secret Orbit by Ken Edwards (Grand Iota, 2022). Novel. December 2022.


The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (Simon & Schuster, 2009). Novel. October 2022.


Liwanag 3, Editors Jason Bayani, Rachel Lastimosa, Oscar Penaranda, Dara Del Rosario, Joe Ramos, Edwin Lozada, Erina Alejo and Steve Belale (Soma Pilipinas, San Francisco, 2021). First Book read in 2022 (Jan. 1). Literary/Arts Journal. Includes an excerpt of my novel DOVELION and a hay(na)ku poem by OM France. January 2022.


Growing Up Filipino 3, Collected and Edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard (PALH, 2022). Fiction. December 2022.


Sindicato & Co. by Jose Elvin Bueno (Penguin Random House SEA, 2021). Novel. December 2022.


PHARONI by Colin Dodds (Dodds Amalgamated, 2022). Fiction. August 2022.


Spending by Mary Gordon (Scribner, 1999). Novel. December 2022.


Writers & Lovers by Lily King (Grove Press, 2020). Fiction. March 2022.


Love and Other Rituals by Monica Macansantos (Grattan Street Press, Australia, 2022). Short stories. December 2022.


After Dark by Haruki Murakami (Vintage International, 2007). Novel. December 2022.


Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami (Vintage International, 2015). Novel. December 2022.


Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami (Vintage International, 2015). Novel. December 2022.


The Billiard Green Dress & other stories by Donna Wyszomierski (The Yrtemmys Press, Buffalo, NY., 2021). Fiction. February 2022.




CLOSER TO LIBERATION: Pin[a/x]y Activism in Theory and Practice, Editors Amanda Solomon Amorao, DJ Kuttin Kandi, and Jen Soriano (Cognella, San Diego, 2022). Pin[a[x]y Scholarship. March 2022. Read in manuscript


Notes on Mother Tongues: Colonialism, Class, and giving away what you don't have by Mirene Arsanios (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2020). Essay. July 2022.


The Eight Nights of Hanukkah by Suzanne Beilenson and Rabbi Daniel S. Wolk (Peter Pauper Press, White Plains, New York, 1993). Size: 3.25" x 4". Religion. December 2022.


SULATAN SA PANAHON NG PANDEMYA, Editors Joi Barrios, Merlinda Bobis, et al (Gantala Press, Philippines, Australia, USA). Read in manuscript form. Correspondence. February 2022.


Irma Boom: Book Manifest (published with exhibition “Irma Boom: Book Manifest” at the Allard Pierson of the University of Amsterday, 2022). Size: 2.25” x 2.75”. Art. December 2022.


The MicroBibliophile, May-June 2022, edited by James Brogan (The Microbibliophile). Miniature Books Journal. June 2022.


Talking of Curtains by Paul Buck (SUNY Buffalo / Among the Neighbors #16, 2021). Literary History. February 2022


Seize the Moment by Ruth Cullen (Peter Piper Press, Mamaroneck, N.Y., 2003) Size: 3-3/8" x 4". September 2022.


Miniature Book Society Newsletter edited by Tony Firman (Issue 120, September 2022). Miniature Books. September 2022.


INADVERTENT by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Yale University Press, 2017). Lecture. June 2022.


A Few Collectors by Pierre Le-Tan (New Vessel Press, 2022). Nonfiction. July 2022.


We Are Not Okay by Christian Livermore (Indie Blu(e) Publishing, Havertown, PA, 2022). Memoir. September 2022.


Etiquette for Booksellers by Chris Bunje Lowenstein (Booksby Press, Parma, OH, 2021). Size: 1-5/8@ x 2-7/8". Essay. February 2022.


My Most Surprising Bookselling Story by Larry Malam (Booksby Press, Parma, OH, 2022). Nonfiction. October 2022.


American Writers at Home by J.D. McClatchy with photographs by Erica Lennard (The Library of America/Vendome Press, New York, 2014). August 2022.


Novelist as a Vocation by Haruki Murakami, Translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen (Knopf, New York, 2022). Essays. November-December, 2022.


Currently Classic: Jonathan Rachman Design with text by Dean Rhys Morgan (Flammarion, Paris, 2022). Interior Design. October 2022.


Wanna Peek Into My Notebook by Barbara Jane Reyes (Paloma Press, 2022). Poetics Essays and Prose. March & October 2022.


Silver in My Mines on Peter Hay by Geoff Sawers (SUNY Buffalo / Among the Neighbors #18, 2021). Literary History. February 2022


Grand Entrance: Elliana Joy Sommerfeld by Todd Sommerfeld (Booksby Press, OH, 2021). Birth-Plus Announcement. Size: 1-7/8" x 1-7/8". January 2022.


Kapwa's Novels by Eileen R. Tabios (Booksby Press, Parma, OH, 2022). Book-length Essay/Fiction. June & September 2022.


Craft: A Memoir by Tony Trigilio (Marsh Hawk Press, 2023. Read in manuscript form for blurbing purposes). Memoir/Poetry. October 2022.


“some nights I stay there…” on Donna Wyszoierski by Edric Esmer (SUNY Buffalo / Among the Neighbors #17, 2021). Literary History. February 2022


VITA JESU CHRISTI (no publisher but has label of "PRINTED IN GERMANY, nd but circa 1930s). Size: 1.75" x 2.25. Religion. April 2022.




DIVINE BLUE LIGHT by Will Alexander (City Lights, San Francisco, 2022).


To Hush All The Dead by William Allegrezza (BlazeVOX Books, 2022)


Palm-Lined with Patience by Basie Allen (Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2022). Poetry. May 2022.

Air Raid by Polina Barskova, Trans. by Valzhyna Mort (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021). Poetry. March 2022.


Kneel Said The Night by Margo Berdeshevsky (Sundress Publications, 2022). Poetry. December 2022.


Two Bolts by Matt Broaddus (Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2021). Poetry. January 2022.


The Future Is a Country I Do Not Live In by Cynthia Buiza (Paloma Press, San Mateo, 2022). Poetry. November 2022.


An Imaginary Cartography of Constellations & Cloud Forms by "The Neighbors"/ SUNY Buffalo Poetry (SUNY Buffalo Poetry Collection's Among the Neighbors series, 2022). Poetry/Poetics. October 2022.


Poet on the Right Side of History: David-Baptiste Chirot, edited by Tom Hibbard, C. Mehrl Bennett and John M. Bennett (Luna Bisonte Productions, 2022). January 2022.


HYBRIDA by Tina Chang (Norton, 2019). Poetry. August 2022.


I HAVE SEEN THE BLUEST BLUE by Natalee Cruz (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2022). Poetry. April 2022.


No Way in the Skin Without This Bloody Embrace by Jean D’Amerique (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2022). Poetry. December 2022.


Genesis: The Vispo Bible by Amanda Earl (Timglaset, Sweden, 2022). Poetry. August 2022.


Report from the Earl Society, writings on Amanda Earl, curated by rob mclennan (above/ground press, Ottawa, nd). Poetry. March 2022.


Four Blue Eggs: American Cinquains by Susan F. Glassmeyer (Little Pocket Poetry Press, 2022.) Poetry. November 2022.


The Long Way Home by Leonard Gontarek (BlazeVOX Books, New York, 2021). Poetry. January 2022.

Five Stars: Selected Amazon Reviews, Vol. 4 by Kevin Killian, Selected by Ted Rees and David Buuck (Tripwire, 2022). Poetry/Prose/ConPo. June 2022.


ABOUT TELEPHONE: Vol. 1 An Introduction & Bibliography, Vol. 2 An Interview with Maureen Owen by M.C. Kinniburgh (SUNY Buffalo Poetry Collection's Among the Neighbors series, 2022). Poetry/Poetics. October 2022.


They Rise Like A Wave edited by Christine Kitano & Alycia Pirmohamed (Blue Oak Press, 2022). May 2022.


Breeze by Marton Koppany (Red Fox, 2022). Visual Poetry. September 2022.


Invitation To See The Leaves Outside by Jacob Laneria (in manuscript form). Poetry. March 2022.


Separation Anxiety by Janice Lee (Clash, Troy, N.Y., 2022). Poetry. February 2022.


TALES OF DIONYSUS: The Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis edited by William Levitan and Stanley Lombardo (University of Michigan Press, 2022). Poetry. September 2022.


AGAINST ORIGINALITY: What is Lost Without Discourse Between Poetry and Philosophy of Science? by Julia Rose Lewis (dissertation in partial fulfillment for degree of Doctor of Philosophy, School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University, 2020). Dissertation. May 2022.


Travels with Aruba by Marianne Lyon (sp, nd). Poetry chap/broadside. January 2022.


Tales of the OOTD WAR Translated by Scott MacLeod (Serious Publication 29, Oakland, 2005/2022). Poetry. February 2022.


Autobiography by rob mclennan (above/ground press, Ottawa, nd). Poetry. March 2022.


Touch the Donkey #32, poetry journal curated by rob mclennan (above/ground press, Ottawa, nd). Poetry. March 2022.


Behind the Tree Backs by Imao Mohammed, Trans Jennifer Hayashida (Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2022). Poetry. May 2022.


Marsh Hawk Review, Spring 2022, editors Daniel Morris and Burt Kimmelman (Marsh Hawk Press, 2022). Poetry/Prose. May 2022.


Newsflash, Under Fire, Over the Shoulder by Jed Munson (Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2021). Poetry. February 2022.


Some Girls Walk Into the Country They Are From by Sawako Nakayasu (Wave Books, 2020). Poetry. February 2022.


So We Have Been Given Time Or by Sawako Nakayasu (Verse Press, 2004). Poetry. February 2022.


Knit Our Broken Bones by Bruce W. Need (Maverick Duck Press, 2022). Poetry. May 2022.


MemeWars by Aldon Lynn Nielsen with E. Ethelbert Miller (BlazeVox Books, 2022). Memoir / Poetry. September 2022.


Spider Cone by A.L. Nielsen (selva obscure press, Chicago, 2022). Poetry. September 2022.


Sufferhead by A.L. Nielsen (Bottlecap Press, 2022). Poetry. April 2022.


by Tammy Nguyen (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2022). Poetry. September 2022.


Coming Out of Isolation: Poems on Resilience, Triumph and Hope edited by Christopher Okemwa (Verlag Expeditionen, Germany, 2022). September 2022.


Nature Felt But Never Apprehended by Angela Penaredondo (Noemi Press, 2023). Poetry. November 2022.


gulp/gasp by Serena Piccoli (Moria, Chicago, 2022). Poetry. October 2022.


The Radiance of Things by Mercedes Roffe, Trans. by Judith File and Lucina Schell (Shearsman Books, 2022). Poetry. April 2022.


EXACTING CLAM No. 7, Winter 2022, published by Sagging Meniscus. Literary Journal. December 2022.


City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia) by Diane Sahms (Alien Buddha Press, 2022). Poetry. December 2022.


Memory Cards: Dogen Series by Susan M. Schultz (Vagabond Press, 2014). Poetry. April 2022.


Lilith Walks by Susan M. Schultz (BlazeVox Books, 2022). Poetry. December 2022.


Feelings Of And by Barry Schwabsky (Black Square Editions, 2022). Poetry. March 2022.


frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss (Graywolf, 2021). Poetry. April 2022.


Nine Poets produced by Peter and Donna Thomas (Naropa’s Harry Smith Print Shop, 1999.  Handmade letter pressed pages). Poetry. Size: 2” x 3” Represented Poets: Michael Gizzi, Elaine Equi, Wang Ping, Erica Hunt, Andrew Schelling, Anne Lauterbach, Bill Berkson, Thalia Field, and Anselm Hollo


Second Factory: Issue 3 (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2022). Poetry journal. May 2022.


She, Self-Winding by Lub Dieu Van (Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2022). Poetry. December 2022


Elixir by Lewis Warsh (Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2022). Poetry. May 2022


C.S. Rufinesque: A Field Guide by Joe and Steve Winhusen (Warsw Project Space, 2022). Visual art and poems. August 2022.


Your Order is Now Ready for Shipping by Mark Young (Sandy Press, 2022). Poetry. August 2022.


The Advantages of Cable by Mark Young (Luna Bisonte, 2022). Poetry read in manuscript. August 2022.