Monday, April 30, 2007


OTOLITHS, Issue 5, is now LIVE!

I am very grateful to Ernesto Priego and Paolo Manalo for providing Spanish and Tagalog translations of my poems.

Ernesto also offers 5 original poems; his "Verbal Countries" opens with

I don't write poesía en español
because I have stopped believing in origins.

I try, instead, to look for futures I obviously don't have.

and reminds me of what I was fumbling towards when I thought to write translations in "Diasporic Ilokano" versus (pure) "Ilokano".

Anyway, CONGRATULATIONS to Mark Young for the First Anniversary of Otoliths! Here's the official announcement:

has just gone live, which means it's a year old today. It's also May Day, so arise & join in a chorus of The Internationale with Paul Siegell, Andrew Topel, Jordan Stempleman, Ernesto Priego, Paolo Manalo, Eileen Tabios, Jeff Harrison, Katrinka Moore, Corey Mesler, Raymond Farr, Steve Rodgers, Robert Lee Brewer, Mark Cunningham, Martin Edmond, Steve Timm, James Sanders, Audacia Dangereyes, Thomas Fink, Spencer Selby, Maria Zajkowski, Richard Lopez, Marcia Arrieta, Tom Hibbard, Matina Stamatakis, Louise Landes Levi, Márton Koppány, Anny Ballardini, Jill Jones, Craig Santos Perez, mIEKAL aND, Dax Bayard-Murray, Ed Schenk, MTC Cronin, Alana Madison, Alexander Jorgensen, Andrew Taylor, Carol Novack (& Stan Crocker), Stephanie Green, Maurice Oliver, Caleb Puckett, David-Baptiste Chirot, Derek Motion, James Maughn, Michael Rothenberg, Tom Beckett, Nick Piombino & Richard Kostelanetz as they "change henceforth the old tradition".  Enjoy. Mark Young

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Sigh. Sadly, this is a true story. To wit, I learned that a New York-based member of Oenophiles For Poetry donated money to Marsh Hawk Press for aiding the press' publication of my Fall book. Naturally, I emailed the Peep a blatheringly-gratified "THANK YOU"!

The drunkard replied: "The best way you can thank me is by NOT sending me a copy of your book. Since I moved, I no longer have a fireplace....."

Fighting words, yah? So Moi e-zinged back: "Well, you didn't give enough for me NOT to send you a copy. And given your lack of fireplace, you'll just have to have a custom-made frame made for it and hang it in a prominent place in your loft to uplift your [quite tedious] decor."

To which the drunk riposted again: "I will put that next to some of my favorite books:

Famous Italian War Heros
Famous British Chefs
Famous German Comedians
Eileen's Guide to Etiquette

Nuff said, right? After all, I got his $$. Besides....apparently, I wrote the book on etiquette.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007


I am so happy and grateful we in the Bay Area had a chance to celebrate kari edwards' life and poetry...

When I translated kari edward's poem -- for Friday evening's memorial celebration (see prior post), it was the first time I'd translated a poem into Ilokano, my first language. I had never thought before to translate something into Ilokano because I don't consider myself fluent in it anymore; I was ten years old when I left the Philippines to become 100% immersed in English. But as I told the SPT audience, I felt compelled to translate kari into my birth tongue because I have always felt inexplicably at home in hir poetry.

The process was revelatory. First, I translated the English to Ilokano -- the text being translated was all numbers (which I chose for numers' transgenderedness). But I could only remember the Ilokano words from 1 to 10. So when I was faced with a number larger than ten to translate, I would translate its addition to that sum. For instance, I would translate "25" into the Ilokano words that meant "ten plus ten plus five".

What this facilitated was a number of repetitions of words -- since the vocabulary being used was only ten words -- that then generated a certain rhythm....that then led to my first poem-as-chant. It's why I entitled the poem "Chant for kari".

I felt aflight as I began reading-only-to-end-up-chanting the Ilokano poem. And winging it as I read/chanted, I began to play with modulations of tone.

I felt the poem as pure abstract sound -- as pure song. It is, I feel, the most pure "song" poem I've ever written.

And that the (Ilokano) texts in it were technically/formally garbled or grammatically erroneous (as well as undoubtedly misspelled) just proved again something that I said, too, in my introduction to the poem-reading when I pointed to a black box scribbled against a page in kari's iduna as my favorite "poem", -- a black box that is illegible -- "Poetry is not words."

Later, Rebecca who was in the audience encouraged me to pod-cast the reading. I, the luddite, just said, Huh? But then Rebecca also suggested something that came to mind as I was chanting the poem -- that the poem for kari would be great with a kulintang collaborator. I appreciated hearing that -- I like the notion of gongs while chanting.

I translated the poem an hour before I left for SPT where I performed it for the first time. This meant that I hadn't yet fully developed the performative aspect of the poem. But now that I see its possibilities, I can see that kari left me with yet another gift. kari is always so good at *engendering* effects. Thank you, kari.

And another effect of the exercise is that, now, I'm looking to translate other poems into Ilokano. But I wish specifically to use my Ilokano to be what words I remember; that is, I don't wish to relearn Ilokano so that I can translate. I wish to work within the limits of, not Ilokano per se, but (my) "diasporic Ilokano."

I think that will work since my aim is pure sound.

And in this process, I also hope to combine two thoughts from Jose Garcia Villa:

young Jose: Poetry is music.

older Jose: I used to think a poem should sing; now I believe, a poem should think.

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Friday, April 27, 2007


I hope to see you tonight at this celebration of kari edwards. More details HERE. I will be offering an Ilokano translation of her poem

M+M (M+lines_=A

The poem is on pages 34-35 of kari's book IDUNA (O Books, 2003; you can see my engagement with IDUNA HERE).

The text of kari's poem is all numbers; its first line, for instance, is “1 2 15 24”. I chose this poem to translate because as far as I know, numbers are transgender.

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Allen Gaborro recently reviewed The Secret Lives of Punctuations, Vol. I (Salamat for the attention and intelligence, Allen!) for Philippine News and he notes (click on excerpt below for full review):

"Such deconstructionist poetry as Tabios’s has the ability to either inspire wonderfully limitless layers of meaning among the open-minded or downright contempt among old school poetry enthusiasts."

That's not a bad encapsulation of the reaction to date of Filipino readers to my poetry. In fact, it's probably very inconvenient to those who dislike my poetic approach that my "Filipino credentials", on the other hand, are unassailable -- by which I mean mostly the cultural activism in which I engage that promotes many Filipino artists and writers. Simplistically, Filipino artists who've adhered to other aesthetic concerns beyond the politically/culturally didactic are often charged with being purely "art for art's sake" to the extent of ignoring matters of ethnicity. (Well, can't do that with me, can ya?)

I rarely discuss publicly this matter. I am grateful to those Filipinos who've supported my work. But I feel any Filipino rejection deeply, even when it can be easy enough to dismiss closed minds...and even though I do deep down understand that the issue isn't really personal, given the history of silencing. It's complicated -- we Filipinos who are invested in ensuring our stories don't get ignored, then face a poetry like mine, which is generally (narratively) silent on such subjects. If you were to delve deeper into my literary output, you would see that I actually have written a healthy percentage of stories about Filipinos (I do stories in short stories; I do poetry in poetry). And that my seemingly "abstract" poetry raises ethnicity through an investigation of form (vs content, to the extent one separates such). But, mostly, Filipino readers who don't see how my poetry "fits" into their paradigms of how a Filipino should behave don't investigate further -- they just reject, criticize (e.g. anonymous interventions in the internet on references to me) or ignore.

I feel generally blessed when it's come to reviews -- both in receiving such reviews and having reviews be positive. But most are written by non-Filipinos. This point shows something larger about the reception to my work. So this new review by Allen Gaborro matters more than just any positive review would. It matters because it's written by a Filipino and published in a Filipino publication. Allen, by the way, raises Jackson Pollock in discussing my poetry -- that's one of the highest compliments I've received. But it's not the first time that Pollock has been raised as regards my poetry -- it's just that I'm pretty sure Allen is the first Filipino critic to mention it. And this mention, by the way, has special significance to me because perhaps two or three decades ago, a Filipino writer prominent in the Filipino and Asian American community dismissed another Asian American poet for being inspired by the New York mid-20th century abstract expressionists, implying that an AA poet who finds inspiration in those arts rather than hir ethnic history is being pretentious.

"Pretentious" is a word that's been ascribed by some Filipinos to my work. It's always amazing to me that they don't investigate the implications of this type of criticism -- that, what, this Pinay is over-reaching? And that, what, Filipinos are so stupid that they need poems narratively spoon-fed to them? (Geez -- don't get me started on those who believe "simple" or spare language (specifically English) has something to do with Filipino authenticity!) Allen Gaborro's response shows what I've long believed -- I don't need to pander to Filipinos to get acceptance from Filipinos.

Allen Gaborro's review is available HERE, but also reprinted in full at Punctuations' web site because I don't know how long the former will remain up.


Having said that, ahem, let me address Allen's conclusion that says "Tabios gives readers every opportunity to gaze out on the far side of their existence and see that “reality,” poetic or otherwise, is contingent upon the dynamic energies that run throughout their unique human imaginations. That said, hard work and great patience will be required on the part of readers if they are to understand and appreciate Tabios’s poetry. But that will only make the interpretive chase that much more sweeter."

It's a positive statement, but it does allude to a very common preconception (mayhap misconception) about my work -- from both Filipinos and non-Filipinos. Some assume that my work is difficult. Certainly, I can see how my Punctuations can be considered that. But as much of my work is quite accessible (I'm using terms like difficult and accessible loosely, but you get my drift, yah?) -- what's so difficult about the flamenco poems, for example, which are available (in still unedited form) in the Beach House' archives.

And this is what's happened to my work. Those invested in more traditional narrativity come across poems like those in my Punctuations book and reject me. Then those invested in post-avantism come across poems like those in my flamenco chap or some in my ENGLISH brick and reject me. Matter of fact, ENGLISH has difficulty being accepted out there because its 504 pages is, not just 504 pages but, can't be neatly categorized within poetic styles.

You know what? If I was to try to encapsulate my ideal reader, I'd say something like -- someone who reads as an individual, not as a representative of a group. My poems are invested in how you feel, not how you think you should feel. Try it, Peep -- odds are there's a surprise in this for you: you'd be amazed at just how much you'll discover that as a sole human being, you're a pretty great individual.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007


I just learned that moi Flamenco chap found a home in the Poetry Archives at University of California, San Diego. For some reason...that just makes me laugh and laugh and laugh...!

Joy Poetics!

Remember, you only have five more days -- till the end of April -- to request a free copy of this handmade chap!

Poetry is a gift!


A flamenco dancer posts about moi chap on her Lolabola Blog! What's cool about her (April 26) post is that if you scroll down to its end, you will see a reproduction of one of the images in my chap, which apparently is a favorite of hers as well!

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"the duende wounds"

I long hid with uncut hair and wounds as eyes, waiting for You.
--from "Sentences"

Belatedly, I thank those who engaged with moi Flamenco chap -- thanks Jean! And Jean follows up her engagement with her response to Moi's call of "Dame La Verdad"! Lorca split a stigmata on Jean's hand -- no wonder she turned to poetry!

Poetry does that sometimes, yah? When I was writing about my father dying, I woke up with teeny crosses in the middle of my palms...

Ernesto also got his copy and responds in part: "...a true work of art, a happening of a poetry collection, an interruption of the course of everyday life, a shattering in time and space, un cancionero bilingüe, a work of love, a work of drunkenness (of course, it was only a question of time before oenophile Tabios would fall prey to the lunatic spell of Lorca, duende and flamenco)."

Thanks Ernesto. But if Moi also is to abide by La Verdad, I should note that a long time ago in New York City, I did study flamenco. From day one -- from that very first poem -- duende blackened my hands...

But I was so inept I turned what I learned about flamenco's sinuous twining of hands into a bastardized Kali martial arts movement (when one of my plays was presented during Small Press Traffic's Poets' Theatre). But at least my body was engaged in the poem, no matter how ineptly. I think my poems are good at also featuring ... bodily awkwardness.

But I loved my black flamenco skirt -- its radiant sheen...

...I loved the radiance -- from day one of the first poem, duende blackened my hands. But I could never consider duende's demands -- and they have been destructive ("do violence to your body or give way to the beauty of dawn"--Catherine Clement, Syncope: The Philosophy of Rapture) to be acts of sacrifice. You get out of poetry what you put into it.

Actually, I haven't gotten from Poetry what I put into it. I've gotten more. And let me share my secret on that ROI. It's a choice. In addition to choosing to suffer for your art, you can choose to ... receive a lot.

Stigmata? Eh, Poetry -- bring it on. My hands are lifted, my palms open. Sing, Body. Sing until You dance. Dance so furiously you notice the bruises only for admiring their violet blossoms. Sing, You Body. Dance.

You don't just sing the Poetic Song. Your body must get in the way of the abstract Word. Dance that poem into Song:

I am leaking, I am leaking, help me, I am leaking on to the floor or your shoes ... go ahead lick it up and taste the dissolved gains of sugar
--kari edwards

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Well, when your day is replete with conversations over how and when to schedule moving the septic tank from the mountain and then trying to accommodate being without said septic tank for a few days, the times aren't conducive for anything but reading light fare.

So I was munching through THE JUROR, a novel about jury-tampering by George Dawes Green (also a poet, as it turns out)...and cackled moiself silly reading how this poet-novelist inserted poetical references in a crime fiction genre. Here's an excerpt:

Slavko Czernyk hunkers down tonight in this old clawfoot bathtub because his tightass landlord still hasn't turned on the heat and this is the only way to get warm. He lifts his foot out of the water and gets a toe-grip on the H knob. Twists it.

Treats the tub to a nice scalding pick-me-up.

He's chewing a Nicorette and smoking a Lucky Strike at the same time. A cupful of Jim Beam (with a drop of honey) rests on the tub sill. He's holding a book above the waterline. The book is called The Essential Derek Walcott. He owns this book because once a woman told him that Derek Walcott was the greatest poet ever, oh my god. He was in love with this woman. He still is. So he keeps the book at all times in this bathroom across from his office, and whenever he takes a crap or a bath he opens The Essential Derek Walcott and makes a stab at civilizing himself.

He glares at a poem.

The poem taunts him.

The poem says things like

  …and read until the lamplit page revolves
  to a white stasis whose detachment shines
  like a propeller's rainbowed radiance.
  Circling like us, no comfort for their loves!...

He squints. He tries that part again. He still doesn't get it. He turns the book upside down and reads:

  [same excerpt as above except the words are upside down]

This is never going to work. He takes a long pull from the Jim Beam, a long pull from the Lucky, and turns the page.

In his office across the hall, the phone rings.

Who have we got here? He wonders. Who'd be calling the Czernyk Detective Agency at this hour?

Probably Grassman Security. They're on a stakeout and no relief and Slavko, could you please hustle your ass down here? So you can make eight bucks an hour sitting with Bill Farmer in a colder-than-shit Mercury Zephyr and keep tabs on a murky motel door across a murky street and listen all night to Bill Farmer's two-part encore-and-fart harmony, OK, Slavko?

All the god damn livelong night, how about that, Slavko?

No thanks.

Thanks but I'd rather stay here and read, read until the lamplit page revolves to a white stasis whose detachment shines like a propeller's rainbowed radiance, you know what I mean?


Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Living on a mountain means my internet access is not viz latest technology. I don't know if that has something to do with what happened last night, to wit: I almost got shut down because I received 70 -- maybe 73 or 78, I lost exact count -- emails, one after another, from Craig Perez as regards the launching of his new press, Achiote Press. The email was all the same content -- about requesting my help to spread the word about his press' launching; details HERE.

So, go to the link above for the word. But next time, Peeps, one email suffices. And congrats to Craig for launching a new poetry press -- sorry I won't be able to make it, but at least I provided guest bedroom facilities for one of your speakers, eh?

[P.S. to Craig -- I'm sure you actually just sent one email that then got replicated by some mischievous fallen angel. No need to email me about this post; I'm, uh, kinda scared to receive your emails for a while...]




Frances Blau, Marcus Civin, Rob Halpern, Joseph Lease, Kevin Killian, Roxi Hamilton and Elizabeth Treadwell Jackson would like to invite you to

a memorial celebration

of the life and work of

kari edwards (1954-2006)

Friday, April 27, 2007 at 7:30 PM

Co-Sponsored by Small Press Traffic and the CCA MFA Writing Program

Presenters will include:
Charlie Anders, Frances Blau, Taylor Brady, Marcus Civin, Amanda Davidson, Donna de la Perriere, Rob Halpern, Roxi Hamilton, Brenda Iijima, Kevin Killian, Joseph Lease, Wendy Loomis, Akilah Oliver, Leila Rauf, Ellen Redbird, Leslie Scalapino, Sherman Souther, Eleni Stecopoulos, Eileen Tabios, Justin Veach, Maggie Zurawski

The memorial will also feature video of kari edwards


California College of the Arts, San Francisco Campus
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

The memorial will celebrate kari edwards’ indomitable spirit and compassionate revelation of body and language. Focusing on kari's considerable legacy, the memorial will include poetry, performance and visual art. Despite our deep sadness for kari’s untimely passing, kari’s commitment to justice in general and transgender issues specifically and hir ingenuity as an artist inspire all of us.

Contact Small Press Traffic: 415-551-9278
or Marcus Civin:
for more information about kari, please visit the blog:

did I not say
despite the body
there is a universe
despite the universe
born waves of existence
did I not say
saying I must go
did I not say
death does not annihilate
it only breaks up conjunctions

--kari edwards, "did I not say",
from the unpublished manuscript Bharat Jiva


Monday, April 23, 2007


In Jacket, Carlos Hiraldo reviews Tom Beckett's Unprotected Texts. You, too, can learn from Tom Beckett's warnings against sex with the walking dead -- by checking out the book viz HERE and HERE.

Shanna Compton, by the way, also has a de facto review in the second link above for Amazon.

And you can check out other reasons to check out Unprotected Texts viz Galatea Resurrects reviews HERE; the comments section also directs you to other reviews.


Sunday, April 22, 2007


I've written here before about deliberately looking for poets' COLLECTEDS or thick SELECTEDS because I wanted to glean some idea of a poet's work not possible by simply looking at several individual poems. Subject to time, I look for these COLLECTEDS/SELECTEDS regardless of the poet's identity. What this occasionally allows is the discovery of a poet who come to interest me in ways that reading a few poems might not. And it's a delight to discover recently the poet Bert Meyers -- I'd never heard of or read his poems before, but his COLLECTEDS arrived in the house as a review copy for Galatea Resurrects. Since it was a COLLECTED, I read Meyers right away and, yep, kudos to University of New Mexico Press for bringing out this book -- it is a lovely showcase of a poet who should be more read.

Speaking of COLLECTEDS/SELECTEDS, I'm glad the SELECTED I edited on Jose Garcia Villa made Ivy's "must read" list (and one of moi-ine!). Thanks Ivy!

Here's my latest list of relished w(h)ines that I post about every other week:

E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E V-A-L-U-E-S: The First XI Interviews, Curated by Tom Beckett



MONSTER ZERO, poems by Jay Snodgrass


BEING FRIDA KAHLO, poems by Jim McCrary

TAXIDANCING, poems by Paul Pines

HATE, poems by Mark Salerno

METHOD, poems by Mark Salerno

SO ONE COULD HAVE, poems by Mark Salerno


LETTERS TO A YOUNG ARTIST, Ed. by Peter Nesbett, Shelly Bacroft & Sarah Andress




WESTWARD THE DREAM, novel by Frances Marion

EXECUTIVE POWER, novel by Vince Flynn

SEPARATION OF POWER, novel by Vince Flynn

THE THIRD OPTION, novel by Vince Flynn

TERM LIMITS, novel by Vince Flynn

TRANSFER OF POWER, novel by Vince Flynn

MEMORIAL DAY, novel by Vince Flynn

ACT OF TREASON, novel by Vince Flynn

THE DEVIL'S ALTERNATIVE, novel by Frederick Forsyth

MATILDA'S LAST WALTZ, novel by Tamara McKinley

JACARANDA VINES, novel by Tamara McKinley

TABLE FOR FIVE, novel by Susan Wiggs

1999 Verite La Joie Sonoma Valley
2005 Dutch Henry syrah
2006 Dutch Henry syrah
2003 Dutch Henry chardonnay
1990 Moccagatta Bric Balin
1990 Carmignano Riserva La Vigne Alte AMBRA
2003 Peter Michael chardonnay Les Carrieres (sp)
2001 Jones Family cabernet "Three Sisters"
Pizzeria Travigne house chardonnay (probably 2005)
2004 Dancing Hares
1992 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet
R.L. Buller & Son Fine Muscat
2002 Shirvington McLaren Vale cabernet


Friday, April 20, 2007


I've written -- ranted -- before about how artificial, external constraints hamper the development and full realization of a poetry project. An example is how the usually economically-determined page count constraints of poetry contests has released many poetry collections whose arcs just seem cut off, notwithstanding the merit of individual poems.

Another example raised by my recent read of Frieda Hughes' Forty-Five is the inexplicable presentation of the project as just text-poems. This poet-painter (and daughter of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes) conceived of this project as one poem and one painting each for each year of her life (she was 45 years old when the project was completed). The work should have been published together: text poems and (images of the) paintings in one book. I'm irritated this didn't happen since the publisher, Harper Collins, surely had the financial wherewithal to present it this way. (Geez, if my New York publisher Marsh Hawk Press -- an indie small press collective -- can release books of both poems and visual art imagery, surely Harper Collins can!)

This is just another sign of conservatism, of course, by the big-house publishing industry which barely pays attention to poetry, let alone bother to spend the time to consider how each poetry project should be presented. Although...I suppose if many poets themselves can't accept that poetry can be multidisciplinary, I suppose I'm being naive in thinking a commercial publishing house should think of poetry books in a more challenging way.

Where are the bloody visionaries?

UPDATE (4/21/07):
Well now. Yesterday's rant shouldn't have tarred a whole sector (larger commercial publishers) for the acts of some. I am reminded by Guillermo that Farrar, Straus & Giroux recently is doing good work, e.g. (1) Michael Hofmann, "Twentieth-Century German Poetry" and (2) Roberto Bolaño, "The Savage Detectives." Bolaño's book, in particular, sounds interesting from Guillermo's description, being a novel centered on avante guard poetry, and being a type of long, epic poem, in terms of how it's structured (multiple narrators) and the beauty of its prose. And both books being translations makes them already a miracle of sorts, that a major publisher would put them out at a time when no one in the US reads American or English writers, much less German or Latin American ones." I agree! Thanks for the heads' up, Guillermo!

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Thursday, April 19, 2007


Hay naku! And what's nifty about Moi's offer for free flamenco chaps is that, now, I'm getting requests not just from poetry lovers but from flamenco artists! I feel really honored by such...And that's what I like to see! Poems getting disseminated beyond the "poetry world" out to, uh, the world-world!

Remember that you have until the end of April to request a copy. Details in moi archives HERE and HERE.

This also encourages me to ask -- would any flamenco dancer/artist out there like to collaborate per a combined poetry reading/flamenco performance? Attention flamenco artists in New York and Bay Area! If interested, email me at I'm envisioning very brief performances -- maybe your interpretation of one or two of my flamenco poems. We can do it during some gigs already lined up for me, to wit:

New York: Sept. 20

Berkeley, CA: Oct. 21

I've done collaborations with modern dancers/movement artists (including martial artist) before. These are typically unrehearsed. We discuss it by email, then show up at performance and just go. I like 'em unrehearsed because, ya know, (my) Poetry can't be rehearsed. So, that's a dancing idea...!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007


First, Moi gets kissed off by Mark ... my Flamenco series notes that the third commandment of flamenco is not to reveal anything but the first two to outsiders. Mark reveals what might be the fourth commandment (muy interesante, yah?)

Secondly, I've been enjoying the blog of Marne Kilates with whom I once shared the Philippines' Manila Critics Circle National Book Award in Poetry. Marne reminds me of this year's Pulitzer citation for John Coltrane. When I first arrived on Galatea's mountain, she spurred me to stream forth a series of wine country poems -- these were among the most effortless to flow out of moi pen. Marne Kilates' "Lush Life" homage-post reminds me to share my own tribute to the late jazz great:

"Pursuance" By John Coltrane

It's not a memory
of Coltrane

It's not fireflies

It's not a turtle
taking a step

It's not bluebells

Here, where a cloud
shifts to birth a moon--

where Napa River awaits
water from distant mountains--

the steady pulse of your heartbeat
against the flat of my roaming palm

is the sound of grapevines


Correction: it is also
a memory of Coltrane

The above was first published, amazingly enough, in the local newspaper, the St. Helena Star which had offered the community a space to share poems. The feature was a short-lived one. I don't know why the newspaper didn't continue it (change of editorship?), but google "St. Helena Star", you editors, and maybe you will see there is interest in poetry in the area. How can there not be? Is this not wine country?

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Last Saturday I went into Berkeley to attend a Board of Directors meeting for Kelsey Street Press -- welcome to the Board, Larry Rinder!

I always enjoy Kelsey mtgs because the food they serve is always exquisitely delicious. But the news from this meeting is what's really worth blogging about -- Kelsey's next offering will be a fiction work by Renee Gladman -- something to which to look forward! Renee's Juice is/was one of Kelsey's bestsellers, and this new work promises to be as exciting!

Well, Wooo!


Monday, April 16, 2007


First, a poet writes a nearly thousand page manuscript. A single poem, even, rather than a series of poems.

A publisher publishes what becomes a thousand page, single-poem book. It gets split into two volumes only because the page count exceeds the printer's constraints, but it really is a single book.

The poet has always wondered who would read this poem. The publisher wondered the same thing as soon as she decided to publish it, knowing full well that a thousand-page single-poem book requires a reader committed to poetry, not to a particular poet.

Words really are coming difficult to me this morning to discuss this -- I'm trying, fumbling, to share my admiration of Allen Bramhall's Days Poem. I'm trying to say, among many other things, I truly respect this project's process.

And then the icing du jour is that, as far as I know, the OFFICIAL FIRST CUSTOMER of Days Poem is John Yau. (That was unexpected but, wooooo, what an email to wake up to this morn!) Perhaps the second is Ohio State's library ...

The matter at hand is poetry, so why not contribute, too, to bucking its "odds" (as imposed by a sleeping culture) by availing yourself of A SPECIAL OFFER (see prior post). And did I say the self-evident "it's a great read" factor? Days Poem is not just a book publication of a poem. It's a gift in how one might live. That is, Live!

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Sunday, April 15, 2007


I read DAYS POEM by Allen Bramhall as, among other things, a project borne out of a combination of Faith & Ambition. When a poem is the matter at hand at this intersection, what you get here is simply a wonderful read. It's my pleasure to share:


A Two-Volume Poetry Collection by Allen Bramhall:

494 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9709-1798-0
Price: $28.00

441 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9709-1799-7
Price: $28.00

Meritage Press is delighted to announce a PRE-RELEASE SPECIAL OFFER for a unique and ambitious two-volume collection by Allen Bramhall: DAYS POEM.  Mr. Bramhall describes his project with:

"Begun casually, the writing of Days Poem quickly grew into a daily necessity to write, even to plug onward. In this way, it resembles a journal or novel, tho it claims neither genre as its own. It started with an idea of writing large and embracing extent. It settled (and unsettled) itself within the compelling philosophical argument that it is what it is. The thrill of relentlessness and perseverance pushed it until, you know, it came to an end. As the writer of these pages, I wanted to play with hobos, and bears, and Tarzan & Jane, and Walden Pond, and all the words in between. I wanted a little amazement in every day."

BIO: Allen Bramhall was born by the banks of the Concord River in 1952 and has lived in Massachusetts ever since. He was educated at Franconia College and Lesley University, and in non-academic places as well. / Simple Theory / (Potes & Poets Press) was his first book. He maintains a blog called Tributary, and a life with Beth and Erin.

To celebrate the release of Days Poem, Meritage Press is pleased to offer the following PRE-RELEASE OFFER:

To order a single volume, a 20% discount and free shipping/handling (about a $3.00 value) for a single-volume price of $22.40

To order both volumes, a 25% discount and free shipping handling for a 2-volume price of $42.00

This offer will be good through May 31, 2007...and is expected to be the least expensive rate for purchasing the book(s). Please send checks made out to "Meritage Press" and mail to

Eileen Tabios
Meritage Press
256 North Fork Crystal Springs Rd.
St. Helena, CA 94574

This offer is good throughout the United States; Meritage Press will take international orders but will have to adjust shipping/handling costs. If you wish to place an international order, or have any other queries, please email

Beyond the expiry of this PRE-RELEASE OFFER, Days Poem will be available through the publisher (email or you can order through Meritage Press' Lulu account at:

Days Poem, Vol 1

Days Poem, Vol 2


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Saturday, April 14, 2007


this morning...HERE.

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So that was a lovely reading last night and wonderful crowd; I read from my flamenco hay(na)ku series and they were receptive to my notion of "using as pared-down language as I can muster to manifest the saying, 'Poetry is not words'." But of course the blog is not just about me. It's about Moi, which is to say, about Toi. So here are three upcoming events involving four Meritage Press authors!



Join us at Eleanor Harwood Gallery, 1295 Alabama Street, San Francisco, for the three part reading/performance/screening series PULP: Mystery! Romance! True Adventure! Hosted by the Bay Area art journal Article: Art and the Imaginative Promise, PULP will present a variety of engaging performances from local, national and international artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers.

Act One is a reading by Oakland poet Garrett Caples accompanied by the paintings of Beijing artist Hu Xin. Garrett Caples is the author of four books including The Garrett Caples Reader (Angle Press/Black Square Editions, 1999) and the forthcoming Complications (Meritage Press). Of his work, the poet Jeff Clark said: "Caples is a polymath. He is, in no particular order, an essayist …; with his partner Anna Naruta he's the maker of films, documentaries, music videos; … he's a connoisseur of hip-hop; he's a love poet, photographer, and collage-maker. His erotica has been anthologized… He's been and likely will remain, as long as he's here--or there--a student of radical Oakland politics and culture."

Hu Xin is a painter living in Beijing. Though trained from an early age in the techniques of traditional Chinese painting, he most often works in oil on canvas. He has studied painting in China and Japan. He and Garrett collaborated in a poem and ink drawing chap, er, um (Meritage Press).

Act Two is a screening of Vancouver filmmaker Jamie Travis' "The Patterns Trilogy". Jamie Travis has built a strong reputation in Canada's independent film scene as a director of precise vision. For "Patterns" (2005), Jamie was awarded the Vancouver International Film Festival's top short film prize—for Best Western Canadian Director of a Short Film. A suspense thriller, a love story, a dreamscape and a musical extravaganza, "The Patterns Trilogy" presents, in three parts, the epic anti-romance of Michael and Pauline. Ion Magazine called "Patterns," "the best stop-motion melodrama satire short you'll ever see."

Eleanor Harwood Gallery is enjoying its first season in its new location. Eleanor Harwood formerly curated the Adobe Books Backroom Gallery.

Article: Art and the Imaginative Promise publishes three times a year. By focusing on the imaginative promise of contemporary practice, Article aims to provide the venue for heartfelt and engaging conversations about art.



Bruna Mori, author of Derive (Meritage Press) will have her fiction displayed on a wall at Florencia Pita's show at LAXART--the opening is July 19, 2007!

She also will be a host during tne Friday readings for Feminaissance: A Colloquium on Women, Writing and Feminism, Organized by Christine Wertheim, Matias Viegener and Teresa Carmody, April 27 - 29, 2007, at MOCA and LACE in Los Angeles.

The purpose of Feminaissance is to put writers from many genres in dialogue about issues concerning women writers today. The colloquium is presented in conjunction with MOCA's current show "WACK: Art and Feminist Revolution." It includes a reception, one day of panels and two evening readings and a Consciousness Raising workshop on the final day will take place on Sunday, April 29th at LACE, in Hollywood.

FRIDAY, April 27, 2007
MOCA, 250 S. Grand Avenue, LA, CA 90012
7 pm Reception
8 pm Readings by Caroline Bergvall, Teresa Carmody, Meiling Cheng, Bhanu Kapil, Chris Kraus, Tracie Morris, Christine Wertheim, Stephanie Young, and Lidia Yuknavitch

By tne way, I keep receiving unsolicited fan mail raving over Bruna's Derive -- do check it out! At SPD, Amazon and special bookstores!



The Parasol Unit poetry series is pleased to announce that a third reader has been added to our previously announced reading on Tuesday, 5 June, at 6:30 PM. In addition to the English poet Michael Glover and the Mexican poet Ernesto Priego, this reading will also feature the distinguished American poet Bill Berkson.

Bill Berkson, poet, critic, and teacher, was born in New York City in 1939. A longtime resident of California, he has for many years taught at the San Francisco Art Institute. He is the author of sixteen books and pamplets of poetry, most recently Our Friends Will Pass Silently Among You (The Owl Press, 2007) and Gloria (Arion Press, 2005, with etchings by Alex Katz). Other recent books include Sudden Address: Selected Lectures 1981-2006 (Cuneiform Press, 2007), What’s Your Idea of a Good Time: Letters & Interviews 1977-1985 with Bernadette Mayer (Tuumba Press, 2006), and The Sweet Singer of Modernism & Other Art Writings (Qua Books, 2004). As Ron Padgett says: "Bill Berkson's writing is witty, musical, daily, and deep, underpinned by a bracing integrity and shot through with gorgeous abstraction and other brilliant hookups between eye, ear, mind, and heart."

Michael Glover has written art criticism for The Times, The Economist, The Independent, and The Financial Times, among others. He is the author of several books and chapbooks of poetry, including Amidst All This Debris (2001) and The Bead-Eyed Man (2000), both from Dagger Press, and Impossible Horizons (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995). Of his new book, For the Sheer Hell of Living, to be published this year by San Marco Press, John Ashbery writes, "Michael Glover’s lines unspool gravely and efficiently with few commas like waves that know they are on the way to someplace but without making much fuss about it. They can be piercingly sad and hilariously wry, sometimes at the same time, as: ‘Someone loses the midge swat./ Many glasses are raised.’—this from a poem called ‘Few things happen.’ Few things happen here, true, but those that do are tremendously important even when tiny."

Ernesto Priego is a Mexican poet, essayist, and translator presently living in London. He is the author of Not Even Dogs (Meritage Press, 2006) as well as the blogs "Never Neutral" and "The Jainakú Project". A recent interview with him can be found on Tom Beckett’s blog "e-x-c-h-a-n-g-e-v-a-l-u-e -s".

The readings at Parasol Unit are organized and introduced by Barry Schwabsky, who is also a Meritage Press author, and that'd be twice over! Previous readers have been Tim Atkins, Guy Bennett, Peter Cole, Kelvin Corcoran, Linh Dinh, Carrie Etter, Allen Fisher, Mark Ford, Lee Harwood, Lyn Hejinian, Sue Hubbard, Vincent Katz, Tony Lopez, Drew Milne, Redell Olsen, Anthony Rudolf, Leslie Scalapino, Barry Schwabsky, John Seed, Simon Smith, Carol Szymanski, Catherine Wagner, and Barrett Watten.

Readings begin at 6:30 PM and are free to the public. Parasol Unit is located at 14 Wharf Road, London N1, near the Old Street and Angel tube stations.

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Friday, April 13, 2007


POETRY FLASH and Cody's Books are pleased to sponsor TODAY:

Friday, April 13, 2007, 7:30 p.m.
Poetry Flash Presents

Mary Mackey

Rochelle Ratner

Corinne Robins

Eileen Tabios

at Berkeley City College
2050 Center Street, between Milvia and Shattuck, Berkeley

There are two public parking garages (right next door and across the street). You also may take BART since the venue is one-half block from downtown Berkeley BART.

Mary Mackey is a novelist and a poet. Her tenth novel, The Notorious Mrs. Winston, has just been published. Her new book of poetry, Breaking the Fever, her fourth, was published in 2006. Dennis Nurkse says of it, "Most poets seem to write poetry with the will, relentlessly suppressing every part of themselves that isn't ecstatic. Mary Mackey writes as a whole person--mind and senses--and the poems are marvelous."

Rochelle Ratner has published fifteen books of poems, most recently Balancing Acts, (2006), Beggars at the Wall, (2006), and House and Home, (2003). She's also published two novels, Bobby's Girl and The Lion's Share, and she's the editor of an anthology, Bearing Life: Women's Writings on Childlessness.

Corinne Robins is a widely published art critic and art historian as well as a poet. She's the author of The Pluralist Era: American Art 1968-81 and of five books of poems, most recently Today's Menu. She coordinates the reading series Poets for Choice in Brooklyn, New York.

Eileen R. Tabios has published fifteen collections of poems, a volume of art essays, a poetry essay/ interview anthology, and a book of short stories. Recipient of the Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry, her most recent books of poems are Dredging for Atlantis, (2006), and SILENCES: The Autobiography of Loss, (2007). In fall 2007 she will publish the multi-genre collection The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes. A budding vintner, she's Poet Laureate for Dutch Henry Winery in St. Helena, California, and is assiduously researching the poetry of wine.

For info, Poetry Flash 510-525-5476,

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I'm busily kissing the handmade chaps related to THE SINGER And The Others -- per prior post. My kiss-ink, I should note, also reflects ecopoetics. It recycles lipsticks that I would never wear but have in the drawer as gifts. The first was given to my husband from one of his clients. It's from "the balm" and is called


Well, yadda. Isn't that speeee-eeecial. Well, no. What it feels like is irritatingly tingly. I guess this product is for those envying Angelina Jolie's plump's yet another experience Poetry led me to have, and it tingles and irritates. On the other hand, this is nothing compared to some of those alleys I had to tip-toe through to make some poems...ah, youth.

Anyway, I'm still taking addresses for those who'd like a comp copy! A few more and I'd have assigned out my "first print run" (heh) before the chap is even officially released. Why, then, I'd have to do a PRETZEL, to wit, re-do the edition as Claes Oldenburg did with his "Pretzel" wall hanging sculpture -- 'twas released by Claes in an un-numbered, which is to say, infinite edition.

But then, ain't Poetry an infinite gift? Why limit(-ed edition) it anyway?


Email Moi at if you wanna get kissed off ... with a chap!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I have had the most ecstatic (wink) time these past three days figuring out how to do the hand-made chap that will be issued through Dusie this summer. This is Dusie's special chap project where pdfs of the chaps will be available online, but poets also can create print versions. It was very difficult for a lazy Moi as I kept having to clamp down on the urge to just send the manuscript to a POD printer and be done with it.

And I'm such a luddite that in deciding to do a print chap, I had to cutnpaste the text to fit it horizontally as I can't figure out Word's way of switching from vertical to horizontal!

But it's done! The design is done -- and and and it also reflects what I meant in Moi's penultimate post about having to be sure that there has to be a reason why a project moves from online to print (to which Allen Bramhall, btw, posts an interesting response). In my chap's case, all the poems (or unedited versions) are available online at the archives of the Beach House ...and then, this summer, they'll be available online through Dusie. So what's the rationale for my print version? Here are my raw *Poetics Notes* for conceptualizing the print version into providing a multidimensional manifestation of the project, including an invitation to performance involving the reader:

--The text is xeroxed against treated paper: a faded xerox of a newspaper's Want Ad section. I relate the "Want Ad" concept to Desire, a thread underpinning the poems. But it's not clear, with the fading of text, that the background text are want ads -- they just come across as words words words...but which I think fits (since stories are often told through words) the surfacing several times of the line hearkening a major theme of the project: "Once, I stepped / into a / story // I thought belonged / to me..."

--Sprinkled throughout are black-and-white images of flamenco scenes, mostly from postcards and flyers from my trip years back to Spain when I witnessed flamenco, mostly in Barcelona. I wanted to be sure that the images weren't just lifted from available internet sources (one is). For me, to write poetry is partly first to see...and I wanted that private (bodily) check of authenticity.

--The cover stock is two-fold: glossy red and green paper. The right edge of the front red paper is ripped, to show the underlying green (the above cover image was shot before I discovered I should rip that edge). If color is a narrative, red denotes passion and green, in this case, nature. The reference to nature relates, in this case, to reality...that though, as I often do in my poems, "I concoct fictions, I never lie."

--The torn strip from ripping the red front cover is pasted before the last poem in the flamenco series; the last poem is a sort of conclusion to the prior 11 poems. Written on the torn strip is another underlying theme of the project: "DAME LA VERDAD" (Tell me the Truth).

--There is a rawness (e.g., crookedly-pasted lines, not neatly aligned page edges, unaligned staples, ripped images) in the production of the chap, which is deliberate as I very much wanted to show the presence of the hand. Hand-making inserts, in moi view, the poet's bodily presence so that it's impossible for the poems' "I"s to be mere personas (even as they're fictitious).

--The chap is encased in used newspaper wrapping -- not only is this recycling part of my and Dusie's "ecopoetics," but it relates to creating value from things normally considered trash (something I hearkened in my earlier Six Directions projects when I created drawings from used paper bags)

--There is a handmade sticker atop the newspaper wrapping featuring a black-and-white image of a flamenco dancer and the words: "To learn my secrets, read my poems. But, first, you must promise: DAME LA VERDAD!" This designs seeks to tip the reader into a space to consider words which are a form of address to that reader, and yet it is unclear who is talking and, relatedly, who is asking for a promise...for Truth. This uncertainty, I think, often applies to the reading of poems -- and yet it can be true that a poem can be significant without being totally transparent in meaning.

--Underneath the sticker will be a ribbon wrapping -- either red or green to mirror the cover's colors or gold because Poetry is Gold! It's recycled Xmas ribbon, again reflecting ecopoetics and to reflect my belief that Poetry is a Gift!

--To access the chap, the reader must untie or cut the ribbon and tear the sticker (and possibly its newspaper wrapping). The process also inserts the reader's bodily presence into the space of the chap's poems.

--Last but not least, crossing an edge of the sticker and newspaper wrapping, there also will be a lipsticked tattoo of a kiss.....for obvious reasons. But let me be obvious -- I intend, through this project, to engage in a love affair(s) with reader(s).

So is the above seductive to you? Okay, does it at least tickle your curiosity, Cat? Well then, the chap is a hand-made limited edition. Its distribution will be limited to (1) members of the Dusie chap kollektive, (2) the author's entourage, and (3) last but not least, YOU! -- if you say so. If you wish a free copy of this chap, let me know by the end of this month The chaps are being printed (viz xerox machine) this month so I can easily accommodate those willing to be seduced (or amused) by Moi (or Moi's blather). Email me your address at

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Monday, April 09, 2007


So I was asked to participate in the inaugural--as in first ever!

Free to the public
Saturday, May 12, 2007
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Japanese American National Museum
369 East First St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

As part of event, various poets will be offering readings during the afternoon at the so-called "Poetry Balcony". Here's the newly-received schedule from curator Jamie FitzGerald:

12:15-12:30: Victoria Chang

12:45-1:00: Sung Yi

1:15-1:30: Amy Uyematsu

1:45-2:00: Russell Leong

2:15-2:30: Sesshu Foster

2:45-3:00: Eileen Tabios

There may be re-assignments in certain time slots but I've confirmed my own -- so wanna meet?


Sunday, April 08, 2007


I'm fascinated by the aborted issue of HCE: And Here Comes Everybody, Eds Lance Phillips with Geoffrey Gatza (Blaze Vox Books, 2007). This is a print anthology based on a project put together on the blog HERE COMES EVERYBODY . But within 48 (if not 24) hours of receiving word of its release, I learned that the publisher and editor announced that they were forced to cancel the book anthology; there seems to be a dispute as to whether some participants had agreed to be in the book in addition to the online site.

Because of the dispute -- which caused a poet(s) to threaten to sue the publisher/editor -- I won't be able to see the book HCE and see how it relates to a larger issue of anthologies created from online websites. Because I'm lazy, I'll just cutnpaste an excerpt from a review I'm writing on one such anthology, to share my thoughts on this larger issue which is relevant to other projects besides HCE:

As a blogger, I've set up individual blogs related to presenting works-in-progress as they progressed. Some of the contents in these blogs later ended up in books. So I've long been interested in the difference between the "same" material presented in a blog versus a book.

I believe all of the materials in my blog can stand on their own. But I sought to have a reason to move them from blog to print. For examples, the material in my former garbage blog was recontextualized to be part of a poet's fictionalized autobiography in my most recent book SILENCES. Some of the material in my former poem blog was recontextualized to become a novel in my book ENGLISH. The material in my former shopping blog came to generate POST BLING BLING, a book project addressing commodification. And the material in this now defunct poetry-in-progress blog was recontextualized to exemplify a Filipino poetics in my fothcoming book THE LIGHT SANG AS IT LEFT YOUR EYES.

In other words, I've been very conscious that there has to be a reason why material that's already available in the internet (viz blogs) would come to cut down trees to form books.

The challenge is ably met in, say, the anthology E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: the first XI interviews, Ed. Tom Beckett (Otoliths, forthcoming 2007). Full disclosure requires that I note that I am one of the interviewees in this first volume -- but being part of the anthology has offered me a behind-the-scenes look at what will be in the print volume. In addition to the interviews which already are available online, there will be sample poems by each interviewee which are good to have in terms of presumably exemplifying the poetics discussed in the interviews, as well as an Editor's Introduction by Tom Beckett whose astute editorship is known (Beckett edited The Difficulties (1980-1990), a now legendary critical journal)

This is all a long introduction to noting my disappointment with ________, which puts in book form an anthology of poems culled from its ___website. Their Introduction offers no aesthetic/editorial rationale for their choices ...

In recent decades, enough anthologies have come out so as to enable a lively dialogue on what makes an anthology successful or not. (As an editor or co-editor of five anthologies of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, I've been attuned to this matter, too.) But the ____ anthology barely makes it into this discussion arena with its basic claim that its existence simply manifests the editors' claims to present what's representative of the web site's content.
[end of excerpt]

As you might glean from above, my review basically is critical of this new anthology created as a result of its online presence. I won't reveal the name of that anthology yet as I'm still mulling over whether I want to come out publicly against the book (or any poetry project. Note that I say publicly -- privately, I bash a number of poetry projects to the dark angels, but to make my criticism public is an extra step which I am loathe to do for numerous reasons, not because I wanna be a Polyanna but due to how my poetics unfolds).

Prior to HCE's cancellation, I thought that HCE may be an example of a print anthology warranting its print-ness as it doesn't just repeat material on its blog. If you go to Blaze Box Book's web site regarding HCE, you will see an excerpt from the Editor's Introduction that presents a context as well as expansion of the initial blog-based concept. But I won't know for sure, now that the book has been yanked.

Anyway, the confluence of print-on-demand technology with blogs/websites is facilitating print versions of online projects. But on behalf of the trees, I hope that editors/publishers of such future anthologies do something besides making print replicate e-content -- if only, too, to respect the intelligence of your readers. At a minimum, mere replication is abuse of the technology that has allowed many to expand their use of the internet.

Meanwhile, my condolences (is that the right word) to Lance Philipps who I know has worked very hard on HCE and on behalf of poetry.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007


First and foremost, you are INVITED to this coming Friday's reading in Berkeley; go HERE for info.

Secondly, the young and fresh The Continental Review would like to present Moi to the internet. Okay. But this requires me sending them a ten-minute video of me reading poems. If someone attending the reading would like to volunteer to video me so I can have something to send them, email me at I will reciprocate with mucho gratitude and plenty of poetry books for your reading pleasure.

If you would like to video me but don't have a gizmo to do so, I am advised that video web cams can cost as little as $30. If you wish, I'll purchase said web cam for you and you can keep it after video-ing me. Again, just email me to let me know!


Thursday, April 05, 2007


I was going over my books to put together a stack for Mom who's off to the Philippines later this month. She and I are going to look into converting a former pig sty or storage area, some such thing, in moi old hometown. We'd like to convert it into a public library type of set-up ... more on that later.

But in going over my books, I realized that two of my last four books -- The Secret Lives of Punctuations, Vol. I and SILENCES: The Autobiography of Loss -- reveal a subtext I once thought about years ago but hadn't realized I might be starting to manifest. They could be mostly for that mythical reader who would read anything I'd write (which is not to say these books are only for that reader, but...).

When I was a newbie poet, I met an older poet who talked about this matter -- he said that he'd come to realize that his community, at best, is a dozen folks. And those are the dozen he cares most about in terms of whether each of his book resounds (positively) with them.

I don't consciously share this attitude -- I put out (in relative terms) a lot of books but I (consciously) think each can be read singly, that a reader need not pay attention to my overall work. But I can understand the affection one would have for that mythical reader (for obvious reasons: attention, commitment, care....Love).

I can only identify five (excluding Mom) who I know want to read everything I put out. And so I realize today how much that older poet had achieved. A dozen committed readers for a poet would be ... such a Joy.


But now that I realize the subtext to two of my recent books, I have to grapple with ... whether I want to write, de facto, for that mythical reader.

(In part, because, maybe, this concern is only for the poet's own lifetime...?)


Wednesday, April 04, 2007


There was a time when I was writing art reviews much more than I do nowadays. These weren't conventional art crits. They manifested a period when I was deep into exploring notions of subjectivity, and so I was exploring the insertion of my "I/Eye" into art reviewing prose.

A selection of this art prose comprises my favorite section in SILENCES. And you can see an example of such art "reviews" at the BEACH HOUSE. It's a review of a 2001 exhibition by Christian Vincent (in entertainment mode, I nota bene that he's married to the actress Peri Gilpin best known for playing "Roz" in the TV sitcom Frasier, although Gilpin's Wikipedia entry erroneously links her husband to be a dancer of the same name instead of the artist -- ah, the things you learn from reading Moi!).

Anyway, my review of this Christian Vincent exhibit also exemplifies a narrative reading/viewing that I applied to groupings of paintings -- which I just realized might have influenced how I've chosen to structure poetry books for some intended arc (versus to present a collection of individual poems). I've long thought that looking at artwork is my single most significant teacher in how I might write poems.

And to further differentiate my art reviews from others, I'd often inserted poems in such prose (often playing with the seeming arbitrariness of the juxtapositions). In this review, I inserted poems by Edgar Allan Poe....just for the heck of it. As in this excerpt from Poe's "Coliseum"

Here, where a hero fell, a column falls!
Here, where the mimic eagle glared in gold,
A midnight vigil holds the swarthy bat!
Here, where the dames of Rome their gilded hair
Waved to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle!
Here, where on golden throne the monarch lolled,
Glides, spectre-like, unto his marble home,
Lit by the wan light of the horned moon,
The swift and silent lizard of the stones!
…These stones—alas! These gray stones—are they all—
All of the famed, and the colossal left
By the corrosive Hours to Fate and me?

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Today I read LETTERS TO A YOUNG ARTIST, Ed. by Peter Nesbett, Shelly Bacroft & Sarah Andress -- a collection of responses by relatively well-known artists to a freshly-minted art school graduate's letter seeking advice.

Has anyone ever done something similar for poets? A compilation of LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET by various authors (not just the single-author edition by Rilke)?

My edited book BLACK LIGHTNING, which features about a dozen poets, all begin with "ADVICE TO YOUNG POETS" from the subject poets.

But I wouldn't mind reading a project along the lines of a LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET (or NEWBIE POET for those starting out at a non-young age).

Were I to contribute a piece, I'd probably say something loftier than this observation I feel like giving out today to contemporary poets. To wit:

The word "bougainvillea" is becoming as clichetic as "moon," "light", et al.

What would be "loftier" advice? Oh, you know -- like what Mei-mei Berssenbrugge advices in BLACK LIGHTNING: Read widely.

Then you'd realize that "bougainvillea" is ... etcetera etcetera etcetera...

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Monday, April 02, 2007


There I go again. Just emailed a generous soul a sheepish


as regards an offer to be video-ed for what would be an internet-based video -- "docu-drama" -- of poets reading their poems. This is on top of so many passes I've had to give to others who've asked me to participate in internet radio programs of poets reading poems. What can I say? Technology give me a head ache...

I need a 21st century butler.

Well, for those able to see me in person, time to nota bene my upcoming gig:


Mary Mackey

Rochelle Ratner

Corinne Robins

Eileen Tabios

Friday, April 13, 2007, 7:30 p.m.

at Berkeley City College
2050 Center Street, between Milvia and Shattuck, Berkeley

There are two public parking garages (right next door and across the street). You also may take BART since the venue is one-half block from downtown Berkeley BART.

Mary Mackey is a novelist and a poet. Her tenth novel, The Notorious Mrs. Winston, has just been published. Her new book of poetry, Breaking the Fever, her fourth, was published in 2006. Dennis Nurkse says of it, "Most poets seem to write poetry with the will, relentlessly suppressing every part of themselves that isn't ecstatic. Mary Mackey writes as a whole person---mind and senses---and the poems are marvelous."

Rochelle Ratner has published fifteen books of poems, most recently Balancing Acts, (2006), Beggars at the Wall, (2006), and House and Home, (2003). She's also published two novels, Bobby's Girl and The Lion's Share, and she's the editor of an anthology, Bearing Life: Women's Writings on Childlessness.

Corinne Robins is a widely published art critic and art historian as well as a poet. She's the author of The Pluralist Era: American Art 1968-81 and of five books of poems, most recently Today's Menu. She coordinates the reading series Poets for Choice in Brooklyn, New York.

Eileen R. Tabios has published fifteen collections of poems, a volume of art essays, a poetry essay/ interview anthology, and a book of short stories. Her most recent books of poems are Dredging for Atlantis, (2006), and SILENCES: The Autobiography of Loss, (2007). In fall 2007 she will publish the multi-genre collection The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes. A budding vintner, she's Poet Laureate for Dutch Henry Winery in St. Helena, California, and is assiduously researching the poetry of wine.

For info, Poetry Flash 510-525-5476,


Sunday, April 01, 2007


I swoon over Juliana Spahr's mind and poems, so what a relief (& how amusing!) to hear her relaxation-ist reading in the past has included romance novels. It makes me feel less weird about using the genre as brain popcorn reading. Recently, however, I've relied on the old standby of murder- and/or spy-mysteries. I've also been on an inexplicable spree of reading historical novels related to the Midwest and Western Frontiers -- inexplicable! I wanna say this topic is so not me...but then I realized that in poetry I'm whoever...! Anyway, here's latest list of recently-relished w(h)ines:


THE LIGHT'S AGITATION, poems by Robert Van Vliet

FORTY-FIVE, poems by Frieda Hughes

WOOROLOO, poems by Frieda Hughes

LIT, poems by Ron Silliman

BLIND DATE WITH CAVAFY, poems by Steve Fellner

ESCAPING OVER TREES, poems by Derek Motion

THERE ARE WORDS, poems by Burt Kimmelman

50-50, poems by Pam Brown

TEXT THING, poems by Pam Brown


GREEN BLOSSOMS, poetics and poems by Marjorie Light

THE VERY BEST OF SOME MISPLACED JOAN OF ARC, poetics and poems by Marjorie Light


COAST OF DREAMS: CALIFORNIA ON THE EDGE, 1990-2003, investigative journalism by Kevin Starr


THE RIDERS, novel by Tim Winton

ALBATROSS, novel by Evelyn Anthony

4th OF JULY, novel by James Patterson

DIRTY BLONDE, novel by Lisa Scottoline

INDELIBLE, novel by Kevin Slaughter

CONSENT TO KILL, novel by Vince Flynn

ANGELS FALL, novel by Nora Roberts

2005 Voss Vineyards sauvignon blanc Rutherford N.V.
2003 Dutch Henry chardonnay
2005 Peter Michael L'Apres-Midi
1990 Terrabianca Campaccio
2005 Greenbank Sangiovese
1993 Ravenswood Monte Rosso zinfandel Sonoma Valley
2003 Dutch Henry Mt. Veeder pinot noir
1994 Judds Hill cabernet N.V.