Tuesday, July 08, 2008


[Hay, naku! New Poetic Form Alert!]

Something I picked up from certain visual artists -- you can either maximize your number of exhibitions or make sure that each individual exhibition is different from each other. Moi, of course, wants it both ways. One way to facilitate obscurity in the poetry world is to serve up books that make a poet difficult to categorize. Once fame is acknowledged (acknowledged in a nano-second) as irrelevant in poetry, I just put out those books as quickly as I can as long as each book hits my own publish-able threshold. I mention "fame" here as some poet has "helpfully" suggested that I'd be more famous if I didn't publish so many books and so gave time to poetry's (presumed) limited audience to take in my output. Well, F*(&)(*&k That Shite!, the Chatelaine thinks even as she smiles sweetly at that censoring peep.

So, anyway, my one-of-three forthcoming books, THE BLIND CHATELAINE'S KEYS: Her Biography Through Your Poetics, hits several of my markers for publication, not just for expanding the notion of narrative arc to disrupt the form of biography; it also introduces a new poetic form: the haybun. Ye hay(na)ku lovers should get it -- it's like Basho's "haibun" except it utilizes the hay(na)ku instead of haiku. And, significantly, the haybun is more flexible/open, insofar as the hay(na)ku is less formally strict than the haiku.

Last but not least, while the book can be considered a poet's poetry project for its direct address of form, the book's social concern is not, one hopes, egocentric (heh: not egocentric though it's a biography) or, ahem, fame-centered. This collection addresses a matter close to my heart and my veins: the plight of orphans worldwide, estimated as high as 200 million. I hope that when it comes out from BlazeVox Books, you will be interested in going through its pages. A book description (for once, I care about "blurbs", per this one blurb in it) is featured below:


The Blind Chatelaine’s Keys takes its impetus from three impossibilities: (i) biography (and autobiography)—something is always left out, (ii) artistic criticism—the critic’s subjectivity inevitably comes to play, and (iii) pure persona in poems—the poet’s self remains a presence no matter how much a poet may wish to disrupt the “I”.

Eileen R. Tabios, known as “Chatelaine” in poetry blogland, uses others’ criticisms and engagements of her writings to create a narrative arc that serves as a biography. Since the biography is based (mostly) on her poems, it conceptually pushes the idea summed up by Ted Berrigan: “there is a self inside almost all of the poems”.

The Blind Chatelaine’s Keys is also a poetics, but laid out by others based on Tabios’ poems. Not only is this ideal as one doesn’t want to apply proscriptive paradigms on art, but, according to Tabios, it reflects the way of “Kapwa”—a Filipino cultural concept of interconnectedness whereby other people are not “others” but part of what one is. The featured critical engagements were also chosen for what the reviews say about their authors. The results address the Chatelaine’s core poetics: while Rimbaud says, “I is Another,” the Chatelaine cheerfully notes, “Moi is all about Toi.”

When Tabios finally speaks for herself—it is to inaugurate a new poetic form: the “haybun.” While this form is inspired by the “haibun” associated with Basho, the “haybun” relies on the “hay(na)ku”. The “hay(na)ku” is an earlier invention by Tabios which has become a popular 21st century form, undertaken by numerous poets worldwide. Through the haybun, Tabios offers a memoir of a failed adoption attempt, “Looking for M.”, has been praised by adoption professionals, including:
“‘Looking for M.’ is not just deeply moving but also educational about one of the most complicated difficulties in adoption attempts: reactive attachment disorder. Eileen Tabios also reveals her psychic wounds to educate the public about the potentially dire consequences of orphanhood. M.’s story is the story of so many orphans whose interior lives are often invisible. Ms. Tabios gives them a voice through poems I read over and over, saddened that the emotions I feel become physical.”
—Sherrell J. Goolsby, Executive Director of World Child International

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