Sunday, September 30, 2012


Lasrt night whilst enjoying some Napa Valley cabernet (1992 Von Strasser for those of youse who insist on the specific) under the stars, the hubby and I were talking about, among other things, his recent read of a study that shows that ten books within a household makes a HUGE difference in a kid's academic success.  Ten Books?  I was appalled.  Later, I googled the subject and while I saw several references to this concept, the lowest number of books threshold I saw was 25 books.  Still.  25 books is not a lot, is it?  (And this was based on a very quick google so the threshold could still be the lower ten books).

So I looked at the hubby and asked, how many books do you think we have?  After thinking/estimating, he replied, "About 8,000 books ..."

See, a lot of people would think that's a lot of books (of which poetry is but a portion).  But I haven't had a sense that we have A LOT.  I've just been going through life reading what one is interested in and, you wake up one morning and suddenly you have 8,000 books! 

Studies show that it's not just the number of books, of course, but the culture that comes with it.  We've not been didactic on this issue with Michael.  But he obviously is growing up in a house with tons of books, seeing both Mom and Dad frequently read, and taking for granted that he's supposed to read ... and he does read himself to sleep every night now.  So, relatedly:

The other day, Michael and the hubby were discussing an English homework.  And Michael's class is apparently reading some Kurt Vonnegut novel about how the population is forced (?) to be exactly like their leader.  Like, if their leader is fat, everyone has to be fat.  If their reader is a redhead, everyone must dye their hair read (I am making up these examples because I don't know this Vonnegut novel).  So the hubby asked Michael what he thought of this Vonnegut story.  Michael replied, "It's like how Muslim women wear the same robes ..."

Blog Reader, I wept with happiness upon hearing of this incident.  Michael, of course, was referring to the burqa, though he didn't know to call it as such.  And I don't know how close is the linkage between the Vonnegut tale and the notions underlying the burqa.  But for Michael to have leapt from the Vonnegut story to something in current events displayed the leap from knowledge-acquisition to applied knowledge that has long made me suspect he is strong in the Humanities.  It's been complicated to assess this factor since so much is masked/affected by the fact that he's studying in a language (English) that he's been speaking for less than four years.  But what he's achieved/is achieving to date wouldn't even be possible without reading.

Another bonus for us, his parents?  We now know that the library that we'd been creating all our lives will go to a good home someday -- into Michael's life.  What a blessing, indeed!  It is such a kick to see a kid blossom. 

Actually, it is a kick to see any human being blossom ...

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Saturday, September 29, 2012


You know how we get annual school photos of your kids as they go through school?  Well, we got Michael's latest for this year and, OMG, it's the FIRST photo I see of Michael as a young man!  Previously, his photos all showed a kid, but this one?  He's a MAN!

Wasn't it just yesterday that he was a kid, a tiny kid at that!  Here he was ... in the beginning:

How can my son be a man when I'm getting younger every day?!

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Friday, September 28, 2012


I will be offline and not available from Oct. 6-13.  If you need to contact me, you may want to do it next week ... certainly before October 6.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012


And as I've said before, I don't assign myself poetry publications to review.  I just try to read as widely as I can and whatever moves me to review them end up being the poetry books I will have reviewed!  This makes reviewing a gift, rather than a chore, since to be pushed to review a book usually means that it inspired me in some way (with the occasional exception).  This is all to say, the next book I will have reviewed for the forthcoming Galatea Resurrects is the marvelous ARDOR: poems of life by Janine Canan.  (If you wish to review for Galatea Resurrects, please go HERE for a list of available review copies; I just updated the list!).

Canan's ARDOR partly pays homage to the Mother goddess(es), and  I chose to review ARDOR in part for this magnificent poem (do feel free to chant your read!):

Radioactive (A Work in Progress)

Algerian Sahara
Bora Bora
Christmas Island
Connecticut River
Farallon Islands
French Polynesia
Hunter’s Point
Jornada del Muerto
Lake Huron
La Manche
Long Island
Los Alamos
Pit Nine
Praire Island
Rancho Secco
Rio Grande
Rocky Mountain
Sacramento River
San Francisco Bay
Savannah River
Sierra Mountains
Simi Valley
Sosnovy Bor
Spokane Reservations
Three Mile Island
Yucca Mountain—

radioactive forever

The feminization of everything
is required.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Michael's taking a photography class.  Here's one of his homework assignments that he took from the backyard:

He has such an eye!

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Friday, September 21, 2012


We at Galatea are all celebrating Mom's FIRST book!  Quite an accomplishment for someone just shy of her 83rd birthday!  You can see information about DAWAC And Other Memoir-Narratives by Beatriz Tilan Tabios over HERE, as well as order it from (give it a couple of days to get into their system) or at  Here is Michael relishing his Abuelita's book:

The dawgs are equally excited and are all over the box of books shipped over by the printer:

I'm going to repeat the Press Release below because I do want to belabor JOY whenever JOY exists:


(Please Forward)

DAWAC and Other Memoir-Narratives by Beatriz Tilan Tabios

ISBN No. 978-0-9826493-5-0
Release Date: Fall-Winter 2012
Available for $12.50 through Meritage Press ( and (
Available for $14.50 through

Meritage Press is delighted to release a first book by a first-time author just shy of her 83rd birthday: DAWAC and Other Memoir-Narratives by Beatriz Tilan Tabios. DAWAC presents Mrs. Tabios' childhood memories of Babaylans (indigenous Filipino healers) as well as surviving the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II.

DAWAC describes many incidents that would be lost today without the book's existence. They also make history come alive, as only the testimony of someone who lived through the experience (versus a historian's or academic's account) can accomplish. An example is a section that describes how she and her family ran to the forests to hide whenever the Japanese army approached their town. As it turned out, it was during those times of hiding when she ended up being introduced to Greek poets, because Homer's Iliad was a "little" book light enough to carry as she fled.

Beatriz Tilan Tabios received her B.A. with English as her major from the Silliman University in Dumaguete, Philippines. She developed her love for poetry as a sixth-grader reading Homer, William Shakespeare, John Keats, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge while trying to survive World War II. She would further develop her appreciation for literature as a college student instructed by poet Edith Tiempo, the first woman to receive the title of National Artist for Literature in the Philippines. Critic and fictionist Dr. Edilberto Tiempo, then the head of Silliman University’s English Department, encouraged Mrs. Tabios to continue her study of English and American literature. As a result, Mrs. Tabios wrote her Master of Arts thesis, one of the earliest investigations, regarding Filipino literature, of “(The Use of) Local Color in Short Stories in English.” Later, Mrs. Tabios taught English literature at Dagupan College (now University of Pangasinan) and University of Baguio, before becoming a teacher at Brent School, a boarding school initially built for children from U.S.-American military, missionary and gold-mining families stationed in the Far East.

Advance Words on DAWAC include, from award-winning critic and writer Albert B. Casuga:

I found Beatriz Tilan Tabios’ memoir to be in the classical style of story-telling, worthy of her training under Edilberto and Edith Tiempo. I read “Dawac” and liked the characterization of Apo Kattim, particularly the use of an Igolot extract that was the colloquial dialect in the sanctuaries of Baguling, La Union, where my family evacuated and were sheltered by the bagos (Ilocano-Igolot-Pangasinense mix) during the Japanese mop-up operation before Americans and Filipino guerrillas liberated the Northern provinces and the Cordilleras. I still speak a smattering of the Igolot of Apo Kattim, which I picked up as toddler during our refuge in Baguling’s mountains. Mrs. Tabios’ use of the dialect makes for an authentic character as memorable as those mang-ngagas or herbolarios. I, too, was "cured" by an Apo Anong when I was a little boy—he brushed some leaves all over my fevered body (according to my mother) to trap the "evil spirit" inside an egg; after praying to rid the spell that "punished" me, he threw the egg into some banana grove in my grandmother's orchard (my mother swears to God the egg did not break!). The next day found me running around with my rambunctious cousins as I’d been "cured" of the malady. I learned these from mother's own memoir.
—Albert B. Casuga, author of A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems
For more information:

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Thursday, September 20, 2012


or, rather, ex-Other Woman is the subject of a short story first published last century by Bamboo Ridge but now newly online at OurOwnVoiceCHECK IT OUT HERE!  But I'll also give some background to the story by cutnpasting an email I sent to one Listserve:

Dear All,

... I would like to make you laugh (hopefully) and point you to a short story of mine that was published last century by Bamboo Ridge and reprinted online recently by OurOwnVoice. Click here:

This had a real-life inspiration. I'd been married already for 7 years when I brought my husband Tom to the Philippines for his first visit (and only visit so far). I still remember that dangerous thousand-mile-per-hour bus ride from Manila to my childhood village in Santo Tomas, Ilocos Sur. It occured at night and Tom was amazed that the driver could see in the darkness through the narrow roads. He was further amazed when he looked over at me at about 2 a.m. to see the woman that he thought he knew (thus married) blissfully cramming her mouth with chicharron soaked in vinegar and pepper from what he pointed out was undoubtedly disgustingly-unsanitary plastic bags ('twas my first chicharron in years!).

After that overnight bus ride where he saw me change from a Manhattanite to a pure-bred Pinay (haha), the bus finally rolled into our village. The bus doors opened. We got off ... right into a wedding celebration. My Apong, bless her grandmotherly heart, had set up a wedding reception for us since, of course, the village had never participated in my wedding here in the U.S. You can imagine Tom's stunned surprise at having spent a sleepless night on the bus grimacing through every fast-taken turn on the dark road, every so often dubiously looking at me as I scarfed through one filipino snack after another, then decamping the bus right into a "breakfast" of a wedding reception complete with lechon, ornately-decorated cake and our wedding album (which my my mother had sent earlier) being passed around all over again. 'Twas magical realism at its best! You couldn't make it up! (And I suspect my husband is still wary, if not scared, of returning to the Philippines....!)

So it inspired the story that OOV printed ... I hope you enjoy. I can tell you honestly that OOV publisher Reme Grefalda read it and it made her cry. Tears of laughter, I hope...:)

And of course hope you enjoy the rest of the OOV issue:
Now I am hungry!

Hm. I have a whole bunch of these types of stories written when I was a newbie writer and before I fully launched myself into poetry that my mother considers "difficult to understand."  I should put them together into a book manuscript -- I am comic(al) after all ....

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Monday, September 17, 2012


Meritage Press' fastest selling publication, to date, is BEAUTIFUL EYES!  Already on its third printing ... and you can see one reason why below -- it's the Cabinet members of Cal State Long Beach's Pilipino American Coalition:

CRACK MOI UP, why dontcha!  And you should order it to see what all the hoo-haa is about!


Saturday, September 15, 2012


I'm grateful to the folks over at the very international Van Gogh's Ear for asking ... then presenting my poem "(PURITY", which is one of the poems in my manuscript-in-progress Reproducing the Emptiness (gotta work on that book title).  You can see it at !

Debate Over Van Gogh's Ear

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Thursday, September 13, 2012


In soccer today, mi hijo soared up into the air and did (what Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid accomplished below) a "Chilena"!!!

Soccer Mom is so proud! 'Twas a thing of beauty and grace ...

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I grew a pear! Yes—singular. One pear! It’s exciting coz it’s my first pear. It’s also telling as it’s only … one pear! Such is city slicker farming! Here is the pear—which I should bronze as it not only is my first but possibly my last—along with some house grapes.

I’m also growing honeydew melons—but they’re smaller than my fist. Again, such is city slicker farming! Which is to say, here’s another update of my Recently Relished W(h)ine List below. Note that in the Publications section, if you see an asterisk before the title, that means a review copy is available for Galatea Resurrects! More info on that HERE.

1 peach (doesn’t really count because while it’s the first fully formed peach we’ve mustered, it wasn’t edible. But it’s our first!)
1 pear (our first!)
3 canteloupes (our first!)
8 honeydews (our firsts! City slickers that we are, we initially thought this was ripening watermelon. Harvested it (ooh: I love claiming I “harvest” anything!) Didn’t know what they are until we cut into one and tasted. They’re tiny, though: the size of my fist. But still good miniatures!)
23 bunches of house grapes
19 black figs
139 green figs
27 heirloom tomatoes
25 plum tomatoes
13 jalapenos
29 cucumbers
4 lemon cucumbers (we didn’t plant these this season; they’re last season’s which seeded themselves)
8 strawberries
8 sprigs of mint
7 sprigs of basil
35 yellow squash
14 eggplant
18 zucchini
5 bell peppers
0 plums for the season (because the birds et ‘em all!)

* THE COLLECTED POEMS OF LUCILLE CLIFTON 1965-2010, Edited by Kevin Young and Michael S. Glaser (have never really paid attention to her work until this volume. And now I’m a fan. Deeply and satisfyingly intellectual. Worthwhile life-poems-life…!)

A VOICE HEARS YOU FROM MYSTERIOUS PLACES, audio-video CD collaboration of poems, visual art and sound by Barry Schwabsky (voice and poems, except for one translation of a Paul Eluard poem) and Marianne Nowottny (gorgeous, lyrical, evocative!) With a very on-point introduction by Kenneth Goldsmith!

MAY APPLE DEEP, poems by Michael Sikkema (fabulous po-mo pastoral. Philosophical music)

THE COUNTRY ROAD, poems by James Laughlin (there are many moments of pleasure in this collection—a type of pleasure specifically afforded by age’s wisdom)

* TRISM, poems by Rebecca Loudon (high energy!)

IT CAN BE SOLVED BY WALKING, poems and photographs by Jennifer Wallace (a lotta love in these lyrics. Appreciated the Author’s Note which revealed how the poem takes over the poet)

* PUERTO RICO, poems by Alejandro Ventura (interesting to see how the interest in visual art enlivens the theme—of course I empathize with this approach)

* THE PINK, poems by Jared Schickling (challenging, then rewarding)



* POETS’ GUIDE TO AMERICA, poems by John F. Buckley & Martin Ott

* BURDEN OF SOLACE, poems by Teneice Durrant Delgado

* GREEN IS FOR WORLD, poems by Juliana Leslie

SLEEPS WITH KNIVES, poems by Laramie Harlow



THE PROFESSIONALS, novel by Owen Laukkanen

MARINE ONE, novel by James W. Huston

2004 Samuel’s Gorge McLaren Vale shiraz
2010 The Top Carneros pinot noir
2006 Titus cabernet
2008 Rudd Crossroads
2006 Wegeler Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Auslese
2005 Trevor Jones shiraz Barossa Valley
2002 Chablis Grand Cru Valmur Domaine William Fevre
2004 Chablis Premier Grand Cru Fourcharme Domaine William Fevre
2010 Saintsbury chardonnay
1990 Ch. Haut-Marbuzet—moi birthday wine! Photo below of restaurant where the hubby and Michael brought me this weekend: a local favorite: FARMSTEAD. I had heirloom tomato soup and prime rib. Yum.

To paraphrase noted poet-author Bino A. Realuyo's wish for me today, "Happy Merry Birdie!!" to Moi!


Saturday, September 08, 2012


Again, I don't assign myself poetry books to review.  I just try to read as widely as I can and whatever compels me to review them end up being the poetry books I will have reviewed!  This, of course, means I love it when I review a poetry book--it means that something in it sufficiently moved me to write about it.  In this way, I turn the poetry book review into a gift to moiself, rather than a chore!

Which is all to say, I'm delighted to share the next poetry publication I ended up reviewing for the forthcoming issue of Galatea Resurrects: a chap entitled MAY APPLE DEEP by Michael Sikkema.  I recommend it, and you still might get it at a bargain price through its publisher's two-for-one special--one of the great deals in poetry town.  Check out Horse Less Press (which truly is doing great work nowadays)!

And more review copies are available HERE!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Michael is co-Captain of JV soccer.  But yesterday and this Friday, he is playing on Varsity!  Here he is with two Varsity shirts:

But he says he doesn't want to go fully on Varsity yet because he wants to "help out" his JV team.  How's THAT for sportsmanship!  When's the last time you saw THAT attitude from an athlete?!  So proud of him!

Such a proud Soccer Mom am I!

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Tuesday, September 04, 2012


(pun intended) if my forthcoming book was just one of the many thousands of byproducts mentioned HERE.

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Again: I don't assign myself poetry books to review.  I just try to read as widely as I can and then whichever poetry books compel Moi to review them end up being ... the poetry books I would have reviewed!  So here I was in the middle of my 4th review for the next issue of Galatea Resurrects -- a review of, wait for it, THE COLLECTED POEMS OF LUCILLE CLIFTON: 1965-2010, Edited by Kevin Young and Michael S. Glazer!  Book is wonderful--I confess to never having paid much attention to Clifton's poems before ... but this beautifully- and respectfully-designed edition is compelling!  Kudos to BOA Editions for puting it out.

Anyway, there I was in the middle of writing the review and I'm interrupted by a house visitor.  She wanted to know if I'd heard of this book Fifteen Shades of Grey because she saw the author's husband on Good Morning America and got curious....  So I explained 50 SHADES OF GRAY and, somehow, the conversation made a turn into...:
Eileen: Actually, there are studies that show that married people's sex lives improve after they read that book ...

Visitor: Well, then I'm not going to read it. I'm not married!
Uh. Somehow, that's not the result that is to be expected from this whole shady project.  Anyhoo: I just told the visitor to stick with my forthcoming 5 SHADES OF GRAY.  She nodded, Okay ... , but moithinks is looking at me differently after I told her about my own shady take ...

Anyway, as I was saying about Clifton--I'm writing a review!  I highly recommend the book!  And did you know she has something to do with the Carolingian Dynasty?  Only in Galatea Resurrects would you discover such nuggets! 

And for those who want to produce their own gems of wisdom, review copies are available HERE!

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