Tuesday, June 02, 2015

New Books by Eileen Tabios

I Forgot Light Burns (Moria Books)

Against Misanthropy (BlazeVOX[books]

Two new books by Eileen Tabios. One is a collection of poetry, the other a collection of interviews with and statements by Eileen. I think Eileen makes little distinction between the genres, and first name basis seems the only basis with her.

I Forgot Light Burns is the poetry collection. Eileen used a poetry generator to create this work. The generator randomly selects material from a database of 1146 lines. Each block of text begins with the words I forgot. Pages consist of one to many such blocks. Each block could be considered a sentence, simple or complex. In the first section the blocks end sans period, elsewhere with an em-dash (my favourite punctuation mark!). You could consider each block a poem, or each page, or each titled section, or the whole book. The door is kept open that way.

So there we are.

The first section (of three, not counting afterword) bears the title “I Forgot the Flamenco Red”. Inspired by if not an ode to red toilet paper that Eileen managed to discover in Spain and is pictured on the book cover. The lines here generated all begin with “I forgot Red”. Here are some random selections:

I forgot Red for the slithering snake freezing to S in Espana [from this I see this weird ass tp pulled sinuously from the roll]

I forgot Red of black heels stamping concrete

I forgot Red of Guernica

I forgot Red as the roses sacrificed to the spiders by the winemaker

This section strikes me as more thematic than the other two.

Many lines carry a sad, surreal quality. There’s an intimacy in these lines:

I forgot a child crayon to form a heart—

I forgot instructing saliva to wait—

I forgot minarets growing within muddy pools—

A few lines seem directed, as if the author were trying to say something. These satisfy me less than the oracular ones that seem to arrive from who knows where. I should add that within the context of random origination—math types always say there is no such thing as random, don’t they?—the compelling voice would want to speak as well.

Against Misanthropy (subtitle A Life in Poetry) is, as I did mench, interviews and statements. Eileen is much thoughtful on the process of writing. Writing seems too delimiting a term to enclose the artistic, political, cultural, aesthetic, and humanistic concerns of this author. This book offers an engaging sampling of her thoughts and concerns. Eileen Tabios engages and supports poetry with unusual zest. That zest shows in every page of this book.

I was about to get wordy but the three words I just used, engages, supports, and zest pretty well map the territory. Lively statements and lively replies about poetry, people, and world. Do drop in.

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