Wednesday, October 31, 2007


William Blake's "London" is for me the threshhold for so-called *political poetry.* You'll never retain my interest as a reader in a political poem that remains trapped in its politics (which is not the same thing as saying I'm anti-didacticism, mind you). Blake's "London" is the most effective political poem I've ever read for reasons below....but first, here's the poem:

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear:

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace-walls.

But most, thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born Infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

A lot has been said about this poem and I'm certainly no Blake scholar (and much of what's shared below is from notes from, or meditations that took off from, scholar Donald John's lectures). But here are some elements that move me about the poem:

Among the poem's impressive layers is how the first draft of the 2nd stanza's last line "The mind-forg'd manacles I hear" actually was written as "The German-forg'd manacles I hear", reflecting of course the history at the time with the Hanover empire and Great Britain. But by BRILLIANTLY changing the word to "mind-forg'd," Blake opens up the possibilities for hope and redemption -- that one can use imagination and creativity to address problems. (Which, in turn, brings humans back onto the path towards the Paradise [as fulfilling human potential] from which we were kicked out, if you continue with Blake's underlying concept...) So that the line is located in the specific, and yet becomes the kind of poetry that lasts because it doesn't remain trapped in its 18th century historical reference. And the point? Why, that a 21st century reader is called to be politically proactive -- that one need not be limited by (inherited) circumstance; that one can think of ways to act to improve or address the ills of one's specific times...

Note also the reference to Chimney-sweepers in the 3rd stanza's line, "How the Chimney-sweepers cry". London back then really was a hellhole for the poor. Families sold their children to chimney sweeps because only children can be small enough to clamber through those chimneys. There were laws -- like the chimney sweeps couldn't sublease their bought kids to other chimney sweeps, that they're supposed to buy them a fresh set of clothes at least once a year, feed them healthily and all that; mostly, these laws were ignored. There also was a maximum term of service -- seven years; but by the end of seven years, the children already had been permanently disabled with crooked spines, cancer from breathing in the soot et al, and so on. And who was the biggest employer of chimney sweeps? The Church. For nearly two centuries, the religious hired chimney sweeps knowing full well how abusive this practice was against children.

And the two lines "And the hapless Soldiers sigh / Runs in blood down Palace walls" -- these lines weren't just about the *general* plight of soldiers; this is a *specific* reference to the British war veterans returning from the American revolution who had been promised but were failing to receive military benefits.

The reference to "youthful Harlots"? London then was the center of child prostitution.

And so on. Now, note that "London" was written at a time when London poems had been generally used to honor, to glorify England. Blake (and other Romantics) subverted "London" to indict England -- to draw attention to the rulers' hypocrisies and abuses. The references to the word "mark(s)" not only meant its literal meaning but was chosen for being a highly-charged Biblical word (ref. Ezekiel, "mark of the beast," "Isaiah"...).

Remember that, as with the majority (like, 95%?) of Blake's poems, "London" was written also as an Illuminated Poem -- text inseparable from the visual imagery that Blake created for/with it. Among the figures for "London" is a child guiding an old man along the streets. The child obviously hearkens innocence, Blake's larger theme -- as explored in Songs of Innocence & Experience -- as regards soul-making. That one first is innocent, then becomes experienced, but from that experience -- through the tools of creativity/imagination like poetry -- one moves to a "Higher Innocence."

Imagination, according to Blake, is the closest thing to "God" -- to bring human beings to maximize their potential. Significantly, and as influenced no doubt by his criticism of organized religion, one need not be Christian to relate to Blake's soul-making path.

So, in this poem, there is content, there is visual poetry, AND THEN the bloody thing is so purr-fectly pitched it can be sung. I just heard the version of this poem in William Bolcom, Songs of Innocence and Experience (William Blake), Univeristy of Michigan School of Music (2004). It is nothing less than MAGNIFICENT. This poem resonates for being a bountiful feast for the mind, the eyes, the ears -- the spirit.

So that ultimately, here's the thing about "London". The poem is *successful* because it was created based on the poem's terms (poetic terms?), rather than only to manifest a political gesture. And because the poem is successful, the reader is moved. And as a result of being moved by the poem, this reader turns attention away from the specific suffering of 18th century England to the sources of suffering in one's own times. And therein lies the impetus for political action. That the poem then becomes -- as good poems can be, whether for political or non-political matters -- a portal to new experiences.

Most of the contemporary "political poetry" I've read remain mired in authorial biography (granted, it could be a function of my reading habit) -- they were writ primarily to make the authors feel better (by *feel better*, it includes ranting against abuse). But while the authors got some relief, it's a masturbatory relief and has nothing to do with Moi (or Toi); what's inherent in masturbation is that it's a solitary act. (And using literary techniques that elide the spedifics of didacticism doesn't necessarily change things.)

So a political poem -- perhaps more than any other type (so to speak) of poem -- needs to be conscious of audience. So consider, when you do a political poem, how palatable, for example, is being preached at? If you don't like being preached at, then don't preach through your poem. You preach through a poem and that poem becomes or remains being about you the author, instead of the polis of "us". Same question could be raised as regards -- how palatable being abstruse?

And there's always this thought I've heard spouted by many: "Fine fine you're a concerned human being -- so go ahead then and vote, protest, et al; no need to specifically write a poem about how concerned a human being you are -- if only because such a poem is not likely to be as effective anyway for addressing politics as voting, protesting, et al." (While I empathize with this view, btw, I don't actually posit it -- it crosses the line for me on telling people how to write their poems, which I choose not to do. Poets should write whatever they want; the matter I address is how I come to want to read what a poet writes -- a different matter.)

MIS DOS CENTAVOS, anyway...I blog, ergo I got two cents. Good mawning!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Was in San Francisco today as part of this ongoing Conjuration for what will be the most important thing I'll ever do in my life. And at one point I got into a conversation with the cab driver, and I revealed I'm a poet. See, I often like cab drivers -- they're game for conversation (I guess an occupational requirement if not hazard). For many people, to hear I'm a poet is a conversation-stopper. This cab driver excavated his memory for something regarding poetry, then mentioned that he'd appreciated the few poems he once read by a poet -- "name starts with R."

"Rumi?' I replied.

"Yeah, that's him...." he said with a grin. I naturally was pleased I guessed correctly right away. What does it mean that Rumi has penetrated households with otherwise not much interest in poetry? Oh, I think it means a lot ... but you all are smart peeps so you be the ones to tell Moi what it means.

Then, the in-progress Conjuration List Poem:

St. Helena
San Francisco
Los Angeles
San Francisco
St. Helena
San Francisco
Santo Tomas
Santo Tomas
San Francisco
St. Helena
St. Helena
San Francisco
St. Helena
Napa City
St. Helena
New York
San Francisco
Internet for "20 Hour Course"
St. Helena
St. Helena
Santa Rosa
St. Helena
Santa Rosa
St. Helena
San Francisco
St. Helena
San Francisco
St. Helena
San Francisco
St. Helena
San Francisco
Napa City
St. Helena
St. Helena
St. Helena
San Francisco
St. Helena

Make it so, Angels. I've done what you've demanded. It's your turn. Make it so, Angels. Make it so...!



We're sending out acceptance notifications to poets whose works will appear in the forthcoming HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY, VOL. 2, coedited by Mark Young and Jean Vengua. I'm fascinated by the geographic distribution represented by the poets who've confirmed participations so far.

In the U.S., represented states include: Vermont, California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Arizona, New York, Chicago, Ohio, Massachusetts, Iowa, Colorado...

Participating poets also come from Mexico, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, Norway (by way of), Australia, Netherlands, England, and Canada.

The net may be widened as I hear more of who the final participant list will be....but it's already a sufficiently wide net so that, once again, I'm just surprised at where the hay(na)ku has gone.

And it's trip isn't ended yet! You are invited, Moi reminds, to get CHAINED WITH THE HAY(NA)KU!


Monday, October 29, 2007


And then there's Jean's (Oct. 29) "engagement" (grin) of Nicholas Manning's CORDITE review of The Light.... Here's an excerpt:
“[Manning] asks, Does such profusion, in the end, have a definable tradition, ontology and object?” In Filipino terms, we might call this profusion an expression of loob.

Thanks Jean, and thanks, too, for calling up Leny's essay on Moi and loob -- the first time I had a scholar contextualize my work with loob.

(And ain't it interesting that, with all my references to the Greeks et al -- "Greek" being both algebraic here as well as, uh, Greek -- I get to be located in a Filipino indigenous tradition? Trickster poetics is among moi favorites, I gotta say...)

Click on links to get to know "loob" -- which is to say, Let's Relate!

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Sunday, October 28, 2007


I'm blessed by (no other word but "blessed" came to mind at) Nicholas Manning's review of THE LIGHT SANG AS IT LEFT YOUR EYES in the new issue of CORDITE. I can tell he spent much time and attention on my book, in part for this excerpt:
One must note, however, the risk of failure implied by such a project. This risk is, specifically, the production of a work of such overwhelming eclecticism that it turns abundance into aesthetic bedlam, largesse into graphomania. If Tabios’ vital work avoids this pitfall – though often barely, and with displays of fantastical acrobatics – it does so, in this critic’s mind, thanks largely to....

And, yes, I'm being mischievous by cutting off the excerpt there -- if you want to know why Nicholas didn't think I failed, click on the excerpt to read the entire review. But the above nonetheless goes to my secret fear (well, it had been a secret): that in pushing the arc of the collection, I'd push it too far and fall off the cliff....rather than winging it to soar into penetrating the sun (so to speak).

I used to work at forming a poetry collection by trying to make sure it's perfect (however I defined it at the time). But in a certain relaxation that comes with age (or just exhaustion), I've been less focused in recent books on perfecting that arc-as-pitch and more interested in pushing the arc's edge...including being willing to disclose the rawness of the sore singing throat if need be. So that I'd rather incorporate the occasional off-note to ultimately achieve a more layered book ... what's perfection anyway? The wabi sabi artists or Native American weavers, among others, realized long ago that deliberately incorporating the flaw or the break may not be perfect but nonetheless is more perfectly human/humane...

Anyway, I'm impressed that Nicholas caught on to this layer of The Light....and grateful for all of his words (thank you Nicholas!). In this case, he's an example of the dream-reader I/we long for...


And Nicholas also begins his review with this
In this new century, the writing and rewritings of the poetic self seem to be at the crux of a burgeoning genre; a genre in which the self is less a “basis” for certain convictions about “what poetry is” than an opening: an aperture or aporia to diverse inventions, collaborations, languages, traditions, and histories.

which lead me to note something I'd been tinkering about mentally for a couple of months now. I think it'd be interesting to create a SYLLABUS OF 21ST CENTURY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL FORMS where people write autobiography in fresh ways. I hope THE LIGHT... -- as well as SILENCES: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LOSS -- would be part of such a syllabus, but also (from my own readings) books like


THE GRAND PIANO, by a collective of authors

[one love affair]* by Jenny Boully (actually, it seems as if all her books could fit based on their book descriptions, and I'm certainly looking forward to reading her THE BODY: AN ESSAY and THE BOOK OF BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS)

UNDER ALBANY by Ron Silliman

THE MIDDLE ROOM by Jennifer Moxley

I know there are others -- these are just the books of the top of my head (a tired head, as I write this). Is any teacher out there already doing such a class? I think the ways poets subvert, if you will, the form of autobiography is a logical extension of the larger poetry project, particularly given the latter 20th century attention to the "I" or its (so-called) alternatives. Please email Moi at if you know of any books that could belong to this grouping.

UPDATE: Peeps suggest the following titles also may be relevant (though some may be 20th century):

Lyn Hejinian * My Life

Chris Kraus * I Love Dick

Cecilia Vicuna * quipoem

Stephen Ratcliffe * Portraits & Repetitions, * Real

Alan Bramhall * Days Poem [I'm embarassed I moiself didn't bring that up, but I was really tired when I originally wrote this post]

Geraldine Kim * Povel

Kenneth Goldsmith * Soliloquy, * Fidget

Everything by Hannah Weiner

Everything since * Little Houses by Alice Notley

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Saturday, October 27, 2007


[Pls Forward]



Poems by Jean Vengua
ISBN-10: 0-9794119-2-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-9794119-2-2   
Price: $16.95
Release date: December 2007
Distributors: Small Press Distribution, &
For more info:

Meritage Press is delighted to announce the release of -- and a SPECIAL RELEASE OFFER for -- Prau, winner of the The Filamore Tabios, Sr. Memorial Poetry Prize and the inaugural full-length poetry collection by Monterey Bay Area-based poet Jean Vengua

Jean Vengua's poetry has been published in many print and online journals and anthologies, including Going Home to a Landscape, Babaylan, x-stream, Interlope, Returning a Borrowed Tongue, Fugacity 05, Sidereality, Moria, and Otoliths, and in her chapbook, The Aching Vicinities (Otoliths). With Mark Young, she is editor of The First Hay(na)ku Anthology and the forthcoming Hay(na)ku Anthology, Volume 2. Jean's essays, articles and reviews on literature and music have been published in many journals including  Jouvert, Geopolitics of the Visual (Ateneo U. Press), Pinoy Poetics, Our Own Voice, Seattle's International Examiner (Pacific Reader), and

ADVANCE WORDS from prominent poets attest to Prau's power and beauty:

Jean Vengua is a poet of the typo, the missed step, the happy and unhappy accident; in short, she is a poet of linguistic and global migration. Prau moves its reader from the Philippines to the Bay Area and back, "always mining past present tenses." In her aptly titled prose poem, "Momentum," Vengua links Gustav Mahler, her mother, Buffalo Soldiers, Marie Curie, Roberto Matta, and Jose Rizal in a dance of histories real and imagined. The momentum of her writing brings together what is otherwise ripped asunder: "That is to make beautiful where the dissonance begins to tear."
--Susan M. Schultz, Editor of Tinfish Press

Prau sets forth on its courageous voyage through time and spirit with a meditation on the year 1911, the date of the author's mother's birth, that sails us through the worlds of Mahler, Marie Curie, Moses Browning (who invented the M-1911 Colt 45 to kill intransigent Filipino "moros" in Mindanao), the H - Bomb, Matta, the polymath Rizal, Dapitan and the migratory routes of her father's wandering ukulele. Vengua's poems gently yet firmly navigate us towards yet to be explored spheres of psychological and lyrical revelation where "by turns and in rounds we are angry, indifferent and in love" and "without ghosts, the obscurity of night becomes real." This is page-turner, addictive poetry that never falters in its gaze at the integrity of dream and the dream of integrity.
--Nick Piombino, author of
Fait Accompli

At last, this pioneer of the literary blog scene who I have followed through cyberspace since the nineties has a book of poetry that I can take home with me! Vengua's poetry delves into the very nature of culture and custom. An ordinary postage stamp triggers a multi-racial dilemma. A personal memento unlocks a sequence of historic ramifications witnessing the first ever explosion of a hydrogen bomb. This is poetry tempered by the movements of New Historicism, Postmodern irony and the culture clash of living in California. Languages abound. A typo or a footnote can become central to the themes she navigates in her agile prau, sorting through truth, folklore, dream, memory, and pure desire.
--Catalina Cariaga, author of
Cultural Evidence


Meritage Press is pleased to offer a Release Special through November 30, 2007.  For $14.00, you can obtain a copy of Prau, a reduced rate from the book's retail price of $16.95—plus free shipping/handling (an approximate $4.00 value) to U.S. addresses. Just send a $14.00 check made out to "Meritage Press" to:

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

For international orders or more information, please contact us through


Jean Vengua will be launching Prau in Berkeley here:

Dec. 8, 2007, 3 p.m.
at Eastwind Books of Berkeley
with Michelle Bautista, Eileen Tabios & Jean Vengua
Eastwind Books of Berkeley
2066 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704


Friday, October 26, 2007


One of many reasons I adored this week's reading at City Lights was the focus on sound poetry (matter of fact, can I say that I experienced there my first experience as a "rock star poet" when I went up to the podium for my part of the reading to the calls of "Sound Poem! Sound Poem!" from peeps who'd heard or heard about my "Fado for my Father" reading at Berkeley Museum of Arts).

And a very exciting development is the forthcoming volume TAU by Philip Lamantia that Garrett Caples is editing and which will be released next year by City Lights Books. This apparently will include a previously unpublished sheaf of sound poems found among Philip's voluminous papers. Ach: that Philip -- so pure!

Significantly, the manuscript comes with a poetics intro of sorts wherein Philip described his approach to sound poems....which is significant partly because, as Garrett aptly noted, Philip's process statement reveal him ever to be interested in experimentation (without the baggage associated with that word, please) and debunks the oft-made erroneous observation about his poems as primarily *spontaneous combustions* (phrase within asterisks mine, as I paraphrase or misparaphrase Garrett's point from his introduction of his reading).

Anyway, it's just as well I didn't have a chance to explicate how Philip explicated to me his observation of society's turn from hunting to gathering as not making sense from purely the Alan Greenspan perspective. That'd be too content-ridden....Wink.

Sip. Oh don't mind Moi: I am just relishing this lovely lovely 1993 Ravenswood Wood Road zinfandel from beauteous Russian River Valley. Just Bliss.

Also bliss was having to see and fondle the issue of VIEW (courtesy of -- and thank you -- Steve F.) that published Philip when he was 15 years old. Amazing, really. At 15, Philip Lamantia was writing fully-formed poems. Gads I miss him.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007


"A poem should burn!"
--Jean Vengua

Galatea's mountain is in St. Helena, which is nearly 2 hours north from San Francisco (well, it'd have been a 30 minute drive from SF had a bunch of poets joined me in the drive to here after the City Lights reading but what happens in Tosca stays in Tosca, yah?).

Anyway, so St. Helena is, what, about a dozen hours by car away from the fires raging in Southern California. But from those fires hundreds of miles away, 6:30 a.m. brought a full moon the color of nothing less than blood orange. As I was telling Ernesto, the image evoked Beauty as a result of Danger. Made me think of certain poems, possible only because their authors burned up....

To which Ernesto replied with -- y muchas gracias Ernesto!:

Ballad of the Moon
By Federico Garcia Lorca
Translated by Will Kirkland

The moon came into the forge
in her bustle of flowering nard.
The little boy stares at her, stares.
The boy is staring hard.
In the shaken air
the moon moves her arms,
and shows lubricious and pure,
her breasts of hard tin.
"Moon, moon, moon, run!
If the gypsies come,
they will use your heart
to make white necklaces and rings."
"Let me dance, my little one.
When the gypsies come,
they'll find you on the anvil
with your lively eyes closed tight.
"Moon, moon, moon, run!
I can feel their horses come."
"Let me be, my little one,
don't step on me, all starched and white!"

Closer comes the the horseman,
drumming on the plain.
The boy is in the forge;
his eyes are closed.
Through the olive grove
come the gypsies, dream and bronze,
their heads held high,
their hooded eyes.

Oh, how the night owl calls,
calling, calling from its tree!
The moon is climbing through the sky
with the child by the hand.

They are crying in the forge,
all the gypsies, shouting, crying.
The air is viewing all, views all.
The air is at the viewing.



Supposedly, ref last post, Poets in Need can't take donations earmarked for specific poets. See, this confuses me. When nonprofits raise money for specific projects, peeps make checks out to that charity and it's earmarked for a specific project, e.g. a hospital raises funds for a particular X-ray machine versus general operational funds. So why can't Poets in Need take donations for specific poets?

Some tax accountant needs to come to poets' rescue. Anyone? Moi audience is the internet, yah?


Wednesday, October 24, 2007


After ultimate tests & burnings
the spore of space
of diurnal fatigue

its remains
marked by a geometric hydrogen
--from "A Cursory Note on Pre-Existence" by Will Alexander

There were so many touches of the marvelous in last night's reading at City Lights to commemorate what would have been Philip Lamantia's 80th birthday. But, for now, I want to focus on how the event opened with a BIG BANG! To wit:

Will Alexander couldn't make it from Los Angeles due to his battle with cancer (more below), but what Peter of City Lights did was call him on his cellphone. Then Peter placed the cellphone over the microphone and we were all able to to hear him read. It was really moving -- he wanted to ensure his health didn't prevent him from being part of this event and it didn't!

Because the sound of his reading was affected by the technological travel, I was glad I that I'd prepared to open my reading with one of Alexander's poems, "Inside the Ghost Volcano." I had thought it'd be boorish if I didn't do that, since I was reading de facto as his replacement for the event. Now, the thing with reading another poet's work is then you can really tell about pitch, because rhythm can be subjective and part of the challenge is being able to write poems that transcend the author's voice-specificities (which is to say, to paraphrase sculptor Carl Andre, One can write poetry not to determine what the poet wants to say but what words want to say). Well, Will Alexander has purrrr-fect pitch. It took me years to really appreciate Alexander's work as much as I do today -- and I do recommend you check him out, too!

Meanwhile, please note this message from Steve Dickison:

As you may have heard, poet Will Alexander is quite ill with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. He's spent his life largely off the poetry grid, taking on odd jobs, and has no financial support or, needless to say, health insurance.

The San Francisco organization Poets in Need is coordinating efforts to raise money for him. You can make a (tax-deductible) contribution to them, earmarked for Will, and send it to:

Poets in Need
PO Box 5411
Berkeley CA 94705

For those around New York, there will be a benefit reading for Will at the Bowery Poetry Club, Thursday November 1, 6-8 pm (readers to be announced).

Many thanks---

[Please feel free to forward this letter on...]

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I'll be excavating Atlantis and Philip Lamantia tonight viz:

Garrett Caples, Andrew Joron, and Eileen Tabios
Tuesday, October 23, 2007, 7 pm
City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133

Poets will read from their works on the occasion of what would have been Philip Lamantia's 80th birthday.

Oakland poet Garrett Caples is the author of four books including The Garrett Caples Reader (Angle Press/Black Square Editions, 1999) and 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.”  He’s the editor of the forthcoming volume in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series, Tau by Philip Lamantia & Journey to the End by John Hoffman. He also writes on hip hop for the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Andrew Joron was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1955 and grew up in Stuttgart, Germany; Lowell, Massachusetts; and Missoula, Montana. He attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in history and philosophy of science. After a decade and a half spent writing science-fiction poetry, culminating in his volume Science Fiction (Pantagraph Press, 1992), he turned to a more philosophical mode of speculative lyric. This work has been collected in The Removes (Hard Press, 1999) and in Fathom (Black Square, 2003). A book of selected prose, The Cry at Zero, has just been published by Counterpath.  He is also the translator, from the German, of the Marxist-Utopian philosopher Ernst Bloch’s Literary Essays (Stanford University Press, 1998), and the surrealist Richard Anders’s aphorisms and prose poems. Andrew lives in Berkeley, where he works as a freelance bibliographer and indexer. A new book of poems, The Sound Mirror, is forthcoming from Flood Editions.

Eileen R. Tabios recently released her 14th print poetry collection, The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes (Marsh Hawk Press, New York, 2007).  Poet Laureate for Dutch Henry Winery in Napa Valley where she is arduously and long-sufferingly researching the poetry of wine, she has crafted a poetic body of work that is unique for melding ekphrasis with transcolonialism. Her poems have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Tagalog, Japanese, Portuguese, Paintings, Video, Drawings, Visual Poetry, Mixed Media Collages, Kali Martial Arts, Modern Dance and Sculpture.  She edits GALATEA RESURRECTS: A POETRY ENGAGEMENT. She also spent her first summer in San Francisco, after moving from New York City eight years ago, discussing agriculture and other matters with Philip Lamantia.

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Monday, October 22, 2007


A series of solid, fast decaying sounds are produced with the implementation of dampening techniques. The desired effect is produced after striking the busel, by leaving one’s hand or knee on the flange or the mallets themselves on the busel.
--from Wikipedia's entry on the "Agung"

Which is to say, I reconstituted/re-translated the poem I began as "Chant for kari" into what became "Fado for my Father" in time to read/perform it at yesterday's lovely reading with contemporary Asian American poets. I want to thank Michelle "good sport" Bautista for collaborating viz the agung (a musical instrument from Southern Philippines), allowing the poetics manifestation thus of words deliquescing to music for such can be the power -- and beauty -- of Poetry's own language. A classic unrehearsed collaboration -- in this instance, got off the plane, met with Michelle to discuss the gig two minutes (or was it two seconds), and then just did it.

The agung was an interesting presence, as reflected in Wiki's description of its "decaying sounds." In this translation, I tinkered with translation's decay of the original text -- accepting life's transcience, with which I think kari might empathize -- even as it honored it if the resulting poem maintained its own integrity as abstraction. Obviously, a lot going on, poetics-wise, for this poem -- I should probably do an essay or paper on my translation/sound poem/transcolonialism poetics (transcolonialism? hence, fado) but I need to walk the dogs.

Meanwhile, also returned to California to see that a post I'd blogged from New York hadn't gone through. I replicate it here because the blog is also my file cabinet and I gotta keep these notes somewhere (for another non-blog purpose). Not menched in this post below is my visit to Sharon Louden's new exhibition; details HERE -- highly recommended, in part for the power of abstraction, an abstraction reliant on -- deeply integrated with -- quite specific (figurative for Louden and in my poetics, narrative) references:

Well. I didn't think I'd be blogging whilst in NYC but the hubby brought his laptop so I can do some e-stuff viz the hotel's wireless. Speaking of hotels, so I'm staying in the Chambers Hotel, which I like to do because the Chambers is one of those "art hotels" where contemporary artists' works are sprinkled throughout the hotel rooms, lobby and hallways. I've always loved the idea of the art hotel, in part for providing some support for the artists living and working in one's times - decorating with Picasso? That's for bourgeoise Las Vegas, no?

Still. I think this everytime I visit the Chambers so I'ma gonna write it publicly for the first time (Google me, Chambers, and let me tell you where your art and/or interior design consultants went wrong). Art hotels also are often draped in black or dark interiors so as to hew true to their attempts at chic hip. Thing is, they gotta lighten up in the hallways. Because that's where some of the biggest art works exist and I AM SURE those art works were not intended by their makers to be shown in near-black lighting. You don't need to be architecturally inclined, do youse, to know that setting/context should figure in design?

Next. Whilst meandering about the city, stopped by the New York Public Library on Fifth Ave. and near 40th for their book sale. As with any library book sale, it's hit and miss but I got these books for a buck each, except for the Espada for which I had to pay $2 because it was in hardback:

A MIDWIFE'S TALE: THE LIFE OF MARTHA BALLARD, BASED ON HER DIARY 1785-1812, a Pulitzer Prize-winning history tome by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

THE BIRD CATCHER by Marie Ponsot (synchronicity: Marie just joined my publisher Marsh Hawk Press' Artistic Advisory Board - which is also to say, I love Marsh Hawk's disciplined eclecticism as evinced by the total list of artistic advisors)

PLANT DREAMING DEEP, memoir by May Sarton

MAYAN ASTRONOMER IN HELL'S KITCHEN, poems by Martin Espada (I am only sorry to say that this book was available for sale because it was deaccessioned by the NYPLibrary. Now, what be the sorry story wid dat?!)

POEMS by Shin Shalom (Israeli poet trans. By Ada Aharoni)

TESSERAE: MEMORIES & SUPPOSITIONS, essay-memoirs by Denise Levertov

So, stop by this library branch - you can get some decent bargains there…

And while on Fifth Avenue, passed by the Philippine Embassy and noticed a painting exhibition. So walked in to see, and it's off mixed media paintings by Dan S. Pangan from the Philippines. I don't know him or of him but he was there, and we were able to have an amiable chat - that type of amiable conversation among strangers where nothing meaningful is said but the obligatory hems and haws to acknowledge the existence of an art exhibition for which I was happy to note "Congratulations" (I am trying to remember the last worthwhile deep conversation I've ever had in any art gallery….must be years now….)

And of course, with internet access, surfed through some blogs. And I noticed that Lorna Dee Cervantes posts a reading report that references my recent participation in LitQuake (Hi Lorna! Someday, we'll actually press flesh!)…which amuses me (maybe, embarrasses me) as it refers to my somewhat skewed performance aspect of my reading - where I, as Lorna reports, tore a page from my book. Thing is, I actually had intended to tear up many pages, crumple them into balls, and toss them at the audience as part of reading the words from a poem "edit / edit it down / edit edit edit" etc. But I'd not rehearsed this performance (as Joseph Lease aptly said afterwards, Of course I wouldn't have rehearsed tearing pages out of a book), and so I hadn't realized until I tore that first page that it was more difficult than expected.

My generous publisher had a decent paper stock in The Light…so it was actually kind of awkward to tear out a page. So I only did it once. It made bookmaker Lorna wince - and I also have to say, I've been going over the conceptual idea more and more in my mind. I had thought of it as part of the fleetingness of poetry, making it evaporate and all that. But maybe I angered the poetry-playing angels and so they're sending me a message: Don't tear up the poetry book!

She cocks her head up at the ceiling. The angels glare at her. She thumbs her nose up at them: Oh yeah: we all know how obedient I am…. Snort.

Where was I?

On this trip, I'm reading, among others, Jennifer Moxley's impressive autobiography THE MIDDLE ROOM which is impressive and not just because it's 633 pages. LOVE THOSE POETRY BRICKS LOVE 'EM LOVE 'EM LOVE 'EM!!!! Y'all should check out this project - I love the intended and manifested ambition!

Also stopped by the relatively new Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle coz I needed a cuppa and so decided to check out Border's (sorry; I do intend to go downtown to the indie and used bookstores later). But while there, bought BANKER TO THE POOR by Muhammad Yunus - you all should know of him of course as the Nobel Peace Prize recipient for his ideas on micro-lending for battling world poverty.

In typing "world poverty", I first typed "word poverty." But of course the slip is apt. When I discovered, for example from my trip to the Philippines, that only 20% get to graduate high school, such of course has consequences for poverty, not just economically but psychologically; as regards the latter, I'm also referring to my small involvement in bringing kids' books to poor children in the Philippines. Suffice it to say that I love books.

And that I love poetry so much it even makes me tear up my own poetry books.... Click again on Lorna's link for her lovely Mission poem that ends:

An aroma of growth
in the opalled puddles
Your dream or mine?
Your poem or the fine
wine of tomorrow
and sage, winter
and age.

Opal references always remind me of surrealism, which leads me to lead you to more LIGHT, city lights, HERE.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Off to New York City; will be back this Sunday for the first of two readings next week -- and you are naturally invited to both! Reading information HERE!

Also, Poet-Peeps, if you are attending either or both gigs, you can also bring a copy of your poetry publication, if you wish, as a review copy for Galatea Resurrects -- in case that's of interest....! So sayeth your multi-tasking Chatelaine!

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Wow. This book is the fastest I have ever sold. As soon as I sent out the email to various Lists, I got an order literally 30 seconds from hitting the SEND button. Here's why:



For more info:

A Performing Arts Anthology Edited by Theodore S. Gonzalves
ISBN-13: 978-0-9794119-3-9
ISBN-10: 0-9794119-3-9
Release Date: 2007
Price: $22.00
Pages: 208

Meritage Press is delighted to announce the release of a historic document: STAGE PRESENCE: CONVERSATIONS WITH FILIPINO AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTISTS, Edited by Theodore S. Gonzalves, a musician and assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. In celebration, Meritage Press is offering a SPECIAL RELEASE OFFER (details at the end of this email).

STAGE PRESENCE is a collection of essays and interviews with Filipino American performing artists. Each of the chapters features critically acclaimed and popular artists in their own right, who have also mentored hundreds of dancers, comedians, theater artists and musicians of all genres. In this rare collection, performers take time off stage to speak candidly about their creative processes, revealing personal frustrations and triumphs, while testifying to the challenges of what it could mean to be an artist of Filipino descent working and living in the United States.

Featuring: musicians Eleanor Academia, Gabe Baltazar Jr., Danongan Kalanduyan; bandleader and poet Jessica Hagedorn; choreographers and dancers Joel Jacinto, Alleluia Panis, and Pearl Ubungen; and theater artists Remé Grefalda, Allan Manalo and Ralph Peña. The book also includes a thought-provoking foreword by scholar and musician Ricardo D. Trimillos.

Some ADVANCE WORDS speak to the project's significance:

“Fusing history, culture, jazz, and art, Stage Presence is one big happening jam session featuring ten Filipino American performing artists rapping on their craft, their process, their defiance to be boxed in by the category-obsessed American market, and their hunger and struggles necessary to stay true to their vision, identity, and art.”
— R. Zamora Linmark, author of Rolling the R’s, Prime Time Apparitions and Leche

“This collection of interviews and reflections by many of the leading Filipino American cultural workers demonstrates the range and vitality of Filipino American performing arts – an inspiring and dynamic range of practices encompassing everything from kulintang to head-banging heavy metal, from college PCNs to off-Broadway New York theatre, from the Bayanihan to site-specific performance art. Stage Presence gives us a view rarely available to students, scholars, and audiences: the winding paths through history and identity that led these groundbreaking artists into the spotlight.”
— Karen Shimakawa, author of National Abjection

“When the New York Times looks at Filipinos, it sees only house maids and cooks, copycats, and mimics. But when scholar and artist Theo Gonzalves looks at and talks with his compatriots, he sees stunningly original and creative thinkers who use an eclectic range of forms and methods to make art and perform culture. This book is dizzy and alive with the Filipino soul. Read at your own risk!”
— Karin Aguilar-San Juan, editor of The State of Asian America


Meritage Press is pleased to offer a SPECIAL RELEASE OFFER through November 30, 2007. For $16.00 for each book, you can obtain a copy of STAGE PRESENCE, a reduced rate from the book's retail price of $22.00—plus free shipping/handling (an approximate $4.00 value) to U.S. addresses. Just send a $16.00 check made out to "Meritage Press" to:

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

For international orders, please contact us through

NOTE: This book would make for a special holiday present! You can order as many books as you wish at the SPECIAL RELEASE rate!

NOTE #2: This anthology would be a great teaching textbook!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Started today a three week immersion in Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience with scholar Donald John....who amused by beginning class with a reminiscence of what he did with his summer vacation -- among other things, a lecture on Dante and Blake at the Italian Cultural Institute in London. Regaled with how much he loves chardonnays, including the inexpensive Aquinas chardonnay (haven't tried it yet but he recommends it) imbibed during that same trip. Assuming my notes are correct, he said that the Aquinas' back label mentions how St. Thomas Aquinas indeed used his scientific knowledge to defends his views on God....which surely, he notes, befits how he was described in The Guardian's coverage of his event as "an American academic from Napa Valley." All very amusing...

Donald John's lectures on Dante's Purgatorio had been instrumental in helping form the arc to The Light...

And here's my latest list of Whines and Wines:

BELOVED INTEGER, poems by Michelle Naka Pierce

[ONE LOVE AFFAIR]*, poems by Jenny Boully

SHADOWED TRUTH, visual poetry collaboration by Andrew Topel & Jim Leftwich

GOING GOING, poems by Jen Hofer

SOLOLUMINESCENSE, poems by Simone Muench and William Allegrezza

908-1078, poems by Brandon Brown



FINALMENTE: BRAZILIAN POEMS by Hugh Fox, translations by Glenna Luschei

from SOMEDAY I'LL BE SITTING IN A DINGY BAR, poems by Hwang Jiwoo, translated by Scott Warner and Young-Jun Lee

CaGeD, poems by Jared Hayes

RecollecTed, poems by Jared Hayes

ORGY IN THE BEEF CLOSET, poems by Michael Koshkin

LETTERS TOWARD JIM, poems by Matthew Langley


SPECIMEN, poems by Marci Nelligan


COR-RE-SPON-DENCE, poetry text by Jessica Bozek and typography by Eli Queen

KINE(STA)SIS, poems by Carrie Hunter

AND SO FOR YOU THERE IS NO HEARTBREAK, poems by K. Lorraine Graham

AFIELD, poems by Anthony Hawley

NORWICH UNVEILED, poems by Bill Shute


WILLIAM BECKMAN, Exhibition Catalogue with Essay by Donald Kuspit, Oct. 11-November 24, 2007 at Forum Gallery


I BOUGHT ANDY WARHOL, memoir by Richard Polsky

WE KEEP A LIGHT, memoir by E.M. Richardson

QUIT MONKS OR DIE, novel by Maxine Kumin


TEXAS DREAMS, novel by Linda Herring

THE EARTH AND I, children's book by Frank Asch

CAN YOU SLEEP LIKE BEAR, children's book by Martin Waddell and Barbara Firth

BABAR AND HIS CHILDREN, children's book by Jean De Brunhoff

A HOUSE OF LEAVES, children's book by Kiyoshi Soya and Akiko Hayada

WHEN I CARE ABOUT OTHERS, children's book by Cornelia Maude Spelman and Kathy Parkinson

SUN SONG, children's book by Jean Marzollo and Laura Regan

SOMETHING SPECIAL, children's book by Nicola Moon and Alex Ayliffe

DO YOU HAVE A SECRET, children's book by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos and Marta Fabrega

JONAH AND THE WHALE (AND THE WORM), children's book by Jean Marzollo

1992 Ravenswood Pickberry Sonoma Valley
2005 Argentinian malbec (can't recall grower, but good to nota bene for keeping Argentinian wine in mind)

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Monday, October 15, 2007


I have the honor of being Will Alexander's replacement in an upcoming Poetry Reading at City Lights. This will be a unique poetry event as, while we'll be reading from our works, the reading will bear the flavor of Philip Lamantia's 80th birthday. So there'll also be a presentation of Philip's "sound poems" as read by Garrett. And I'll read for the first time some memoir-poems from my first summer in the Bay Area, right after moving here from New York City, which I had spent hangin' out with Philip --

Okay: here are deets:

Garrett Caples, Andrew Joron, and Eileen Tabios
Tuesday, October 23, 2007, 7 pm
City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

The reading, held on what would have been Philip Lamantia's 80th birthday, also will include a presentation of Garrett Caples reading Philip Lamantia's sound poems.

Oakland poet Garrett Caples is the author of four books including The Garrett Caples Reader (Angle Press/Black Square Editions, 1999) and 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.”  He’s the editor of the forthcoming volume in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series, Tau by Philip Lamantia & Journey to the End by John Hoffman. He also writes on hip hop for the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Andrew Joron was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1955 and grew up in Stuttgart, Germany; Lowell, Massachusetts; and Missoula, Montana. He attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in history and philosophy of science. After a decade and a half spent writing science-fiction poetry, culminating in his volume Science Fiction (Pantagraph Press, 1992), he turned to a more philosophical mode of speculative lyric. This work has been collected in The Removes (Hard Press, 1999) and in Fathom (Black Square, 2003). A book of selected prose, The Cry at Zero, has just been published by Counterpath.  He is also the translator, from the German, of the Marxist-Utopian philosopher Ernst Bloch’s Literary Essays (Stanford University Press, 1998), and the surrealist Richard Anders’s aphorisms and prose poems. Andrew lives in Berkeley, where he works as a freelance bibliographer and indexer. A new book of poems, The Sound Mirror, is forthcoming from Flood Editions.

Eileen R. Tabios recently released her 14th print poetry collection, The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes (Marsh Hawk Press, New York, 2007). Recipient of the Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry, she has crafted a poetic body of work that is unique for melding ekphrasis with transcolonialism. She is the Poet Laureate for Dutch Henry Winery in St. Helena, CA where she is arduously and long-sufferingly researching the poetry of wine. Her poems have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Tagalog, Japanese, Portuguese, Paintings, Video, Drawings, Visual Poetry, Mixed Media Collages, Kali Martial Arts, Modern Dance and Sculpture.  She recently finished her first novel, CHATELAINE (grin).

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Saturday, October 13, 2007


I've started to receive reviews/engagements for the next issue of Galatea Resurrects -- so far, 25 new reviews....and more are committed to come! Yay.

But, still, I keep getting review copies and, Peeps, I would love to have more of you participate by sharing your engagement with a poetry publication. A poem is incomplete without audience, di ba?

Next review deadline is November 5, 2005. Information on available review copies HERE. Do email Moi at if you'd like to read and write.

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in the Litquake Lit Crawl viz:

Oct. 13, Litquake with SPD
Featured Poets: Elaine Kahn, Joseph Lease, Tanea Lunsford, Dennis Somera, Eileen Tabios, Eli Wolfe (aka Pickleman)

Marsh Cafe at 1070 Valencia near 22nd, San Francisco
Begins at 8 p.m.

Featuring SPD's "Poetry Trading Post": Trade a poem or story for a Free Book!

Friday, October 12, 2007


In a conversation re design over one of the books Meritage Press anticipates publishing in the near future, the question was raised over whether I'd allow an unusual size (i.e., different from 6 X 9). One of said unusual size's detriments is apparently that it could get "lost on the store bookshelf."

The matter was a no-brainer, or as I riposted grumpily, "I'd just as soon go by aesthetic reasons as regards the size. Given the odds of poetry books hitting bookstore shelves, I have no interest in having them have a significant influence on the design."

But then, soon afterwards, my grumpy mood was lifted by learning a major distributor requested a box of my books, thus certainly upping the likelihood that The Light...will appear in a bookstore near you. And hoo-haa if The Light... ain't 6 X 9, which means it won't get lost on the store bookshelf!

And that, dear Peeps, is about as good as it got this week. Happy Friday.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007


O you, will you not translate yourselves?
-- Victor Segalen,

Garrett Caples writes an absolutely sumptious engagement with STÈLES By Victor Segalen for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Click on the first paragraph below for the whole article:
"The short life of late symbolist and early modernist writer Victor Segalen (1878-1919) was at least as extraordinary as the works he bequeathed to posterity. A French naval doctor, he was sent to Tahiti in 1902 to join the Durance, a ship whose beat included the Marquesas Islands, where Gauguin had exiled himself. Segalen arrived three months after the painter's death, purchasing several now-priceless paintings for absurdly low sums at auction. When the Durance stopped at Djibouti in 1904 on its return trip to France, Segalen gathered some of the first anecdotal evidence of Rimbaud's experiences in Africa after renouncing poetry."

One of the many things I love about this article is its ability to do service to the complicated marvels in Segalen's life and work. Check out this excerpt, ye who would be a first-time reader of Segalen:
"...first-time readers have a solemn duty to skip straight to the poetry, beginning with Segalen's preface. The deliberate mysteriousness of Stèles must be experienced before it is explained. Annotations, moreover, do not a translation make, just as they cannot atone for a bad one. No atonement is necessary, though; Billings and Bush do an excellent job. If the prose sounds slightly formal, this is consistent with Segalen's desire to suggest the stele's highly specialized language.

"'Their style,' he writes in the preface, 'must belong to that which cannot be called a language because it has no echoes among other languages & could not be used for daily exchanges: Wén. A symbolic game, each element of which, capable of being anything, borrows its function only from the space it occupies, its value from the fact that it is here & not there.' Wisely, Segalen doesn't push this potentially stilted conceit too far, remembering he's writing French symbolist poetry, which tends toward elegance and music."

In fact, I'd posit that Garret's article should make you even more curious about Garret's own poetry aptly titled COMPLICATIONS!


Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I want to thank Juaniyo Arcellana for his deeply read/felt review of The Light... in the Philippine Star; an excerpt is available at Marsh Hawk Press' blog.



In his Selected Letters, James Wright discusses his discomfort at receiving a review in which complimenting his work becomes a way to shoot down another style of writing. It seems a timely point (sadly, it seems to be a perpetually timely point). And by the way, it's most pathetic when this same result occurs through blurbs. I'ma jes sayin'...

Meanwhile, here's my latest list of Relished W(h)ines:

"...AND THEN THE WIND DID BLOW...", jainaku poems by Ernesto Priego

SPEAK WHICH: HAY(NA)KU poems by Jill Jones

THE SAN FRANCISCO SOUND, book art / poetry by David Larsen


CULTURE: A USER'S GUIDE, poems by Nicholas Grider

SCURRILOUS TOY, poems by Shanna Compton

FURIOUS LULLABYE, poems by Oliver de la Paz

OPERA BUFA, poems by Adam Fieled



ON BATHYBIUS, poems by Tom Orange

WILLIAM BLAKE: SELECTED POEMS with Introduction by Christopher Moore


POEMS From a Tubac Poet by Edgar F. Burd


FORCED ENTRIES: THE DOWNTOWN DIARIES 1971-1973, memoir by Jim Carroll


HERE IF YOU NEED ME, memoir by Kate Braestrup

HARVEST: A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF AN ORGANIC FARM by Nicola Smith with photographs by Geoff Hansen


CHOSEN BY A HORSE, memoir by Susan Richards

WILDERNESS PARISH, memoir by C.S. Cooper

BURNING BRIGHT, novel by Tracy Chevalier

DEAD IN THE WATER, novel by Ted Wood

HARLEY, children's book by Star Livingstone & illustrated by Molly Bang

1995 Vincent Arroyo petite syrah NV
1997 Conn Valley Etoge
2004 Mark Aubert chardonnay "Ritchie Vineyards" Sonoma
2003 St. Clement merlot
2006 St. Clement chardonnay
2005 Paul Hobbs cabernet NV
2006 Paul Hobbs chardonnay
1990 Ch. Haut Marbuzet
2003 Peter Michael "Ma Belle Fille" chardonnay

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Monday, October 08, 2007


We -- as in Mark, Jean and Jukka -- are continuing to work on finalizing The Hay(na)ku Anthology, Volume II...and I am so purrrrrr-ed and purring over seeing the results of Elizabeth Robinson teaching the form to her students at the University of Colorado. Just purrrring here...the hay(naku loves students!...

...which more than offsets the dismay at seeing mountain lion poop on one of my favored pathways this morning as I walked the dawgs. Cat Poop -- with the hay(na)ku watching Moi back, you won't set the tone for this day! Instead, purrrr....


Sunday, October 07, 2007


"There's only one body, that is why we sing"
--from "Bond Us Together" by Bob Gillman

Sang above hymn today at church, where today also was the culmination of its support for the Nothing But Nets program, with an afternoon/evening festival-fundraiser of games, barbecue and bands (I first typed "bonds"!). And of course I mench this since you Peeps were de facto participants in a modest fundraising viz this blog, as described in the missive below that will be published by the local United Methodist Newsletter:

For UMC Newsletter

We've all heard about Jesus multiplying loaves and fish to feed multitudes. This miracle came to mind with the result of my modest involvement with a fundraiser for Nothing But Nets which I conducted with poetry lovers through the internet.

After hearing about Nothing But Nets through church, I decided to auction a poetry publication that retails for $1.00 entitled 1 DOZ. POISON HAY(NA)KU by Wales-based poet Ivy Alvarez, and published by Big Game Books based in Washington D.C. In various auction-related e-correspondence, I focused mostly on spreading the word about Nothing But Nets. As it would turn out, poetry lovers from around the world would come to agree with me about it being a worthwhile program. Involving poets bidding as far as France, ... Ivy Alvarez's poems would come to net $300.00, all of which was donated [to] supporting Nothing But Nets.

A few years earlier, I had [conceptualized] the "hay(na)ku" as a community-based poetic form. That a hay(na)ku publication would come to mobilize the poetry community to support Nothing But Nets is a highlight, to date, of the hay(na)ku's history. And the exercise also reflects one of my beliefs as a poet: that Poetry, too, is a matter of Faith.

The pastor said that our $300.00 contribution will help save the lives of about a hundred people. I don't know the basis of that calculation, but I do like the idea of turning a dollar poetry chap into a hundred lives saved. Yay and yadda.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007


an artist can give another artist is when the latter's work inspires the former to create anew. Here is a lovely photo-montage by John Bloomberg-Rissman, incorporating in part some words from The Light... and imagery/text from Tom Beckett's Tiny Book STEPS: A Notebook.

Particularly relish the juxtaposition of the Tiny Book within the crook of an arm.


And thanks, too, to Mark Young's Otoliths for having first e-printed the story that inspired John.


Friday, October 05, 2007


until we get our act together and gizmo it up the gazoo with 21st century-plus technology (which must wait until I finally kick off all these BIG BURLY MEN off the mountain doing more burly-ish stuff with concrete et al).

Which is to say, there is a new hay(na)ku, rather: jainaku, video -- A VOID -- up at

I hope you all enjoy it since I can't (yet).

And I just received my gazillionth request to tape myself reading a poem for some lovely internet journal. A request which I regretfully declined because my crappy online constraints preclude me participating on such projects (I was only able to be on The Continental Review because Michelle intervened). S'okay: on the mountain, I sometimes live like a hermit. Which, come to think of it, I actually am. Fortunately for you loving Peeps, Moi is not.

And Moi says, I was amused by Andrea Baker's Zombie Debt Scheme. I agree with Andrea's Dad -- this idea can make money (well, it can also become performance art, sure, but it also can make money if done by the right peeps). Lissen to Moi: I've got an M.B.A. This can be a money-maker, Andrea!


Thursday, October 04, 2007


by deep reader Richard Lopez. Dude obviously has good taste, and I second his recommendation you get COMPLICATED, too! Available at SPD...

...or you can check out Garrett when he -- along with Andrew Joron and Will Alexander -- will do a reading at City Lights at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 23, celebrate the birthday of dear Philip Lamantia! Yadda!

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THANK YOU, Chris Murray, for this post. Actually, we all know Chris Murray is the one who "rocks!"

Chris' post actually hearkens a dimension ("hearkens a dimension"? Sorry, this is in the midst of JUST the first cuppa java of the day) of The Light ... which I've been discussing recently backchannel with some of youse. You know that saying about how a Poem writes itself? Well, The Light... is one where the Book wrote Itself (who'da thunk it'd have such a huge ass?).

"Because I am stuck in the swamps of the unutterable," to paraphrase Rebeka Lembo, I told the Book: Go Ahead: Write Yourself!

So, for example, when one of Chris' students, Cody McAfferty of Austin, Texas wrote a hay(na)ku on death, that came to be part of the book.

Relatedly, a Peep had asked why, in various parts of the book, more than one version of a translation was presented (with Rebeka Lembo's involvement as translator, for which I'm grateful). For example, Rebeka translated some of the poems as much as three times in the same language.

I said, "I could say that I'm not sufficiently fluent in Spanish to choose among the three versions, and that would be true. But more significantly, I wanted the Book to write itself so when a translator presented (unexpectedly) three versions of the same poem, I featured them all. And it synchronistically reflects how we often have to try to say something more than once before we can say what we mean (and sometimes we continue blathering and still are unable to say what we want to say)."

Jose Garcia Villa once wrote a powerful poem about a pianist with no hands....

It's also interesting to see what people choose to highlight among the poems in the book, in this case, Chris chose a collaboration with Nick Carbo -- "SUN RISE!"

And the sun has risen.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Meritage Press Announcement


Meritage Press (MP) is pleased to announce the fourth title in its series of Tiny Books that aligns poetry with fair trade and economic development issues affecting Third World countries.

MP's Tiny Books utilize small books (1 3/4" x 1 3/4") made in Guatemala by artisans paid fair wages, as sourced by Baksheesh, a fair trade retailer. All profits from book sales then will be donated to Heifer International, an organization devoted to reducing world hunger by promoting sustainable sources of food and income. This project reflects MP's belief that "Poetry feeds the world" in non-metaphorical ways. The Tiny Books create demand for fair trade workers' products while also sourcing donations for easing poverty in poorer areas of the world.

We are delighted to announce that MP's fourth Tiny Book is

               Speak which
               Hay(na)ku poems
               by Jill Jones

Jill Jones' latest book, Broken/Open (Salt, 2005), was short-listed for The Age Book of the Year 2005 and the 2006 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize. In 1993 she won the Mary Gilmore Award for her first book of poetry, The Mask and the Jagged Star (Hazard Press, 1992). Her third book, The Book of Possibilities (Hale & Iremonger, 1997), was shortlisted for the 1997 National Book Council 'Banjo' Awards and the 1998 Adelaide Festival Awards. Screens, Jets, Heaven: New and Selected Poems (Salt, 2002) won the 2003 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize (NSW Premier's Literary Awards). Her work has been translated into Chinese, Dutch, Polish, French, Italian and Spanish.

MP's other Tiny Books, which also are still available, are
               all alone again
               by Dan Waber

               Steps: A Notebook
               by Tom Beckett

               "…And Then The Wind Did Blow..."
               Jainakú Poems
               by Ernesto Priego

Each Tiny Book will cost $10 plus $1.00 shipping/handling in the U.S. (email us first for non-U.S. orders). To purchase the Tiny Books and donate to Heifer International, send a check for $11.00 per book, made out to "Meritage Press" to

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

Please specify which of the four Tiny Books you are ordering.

With Tiny Books, MP also offers a new DIY, or Do-It-Yourself Model of publishing. You've heard of POD or print-on-demand? Well, these books' print runs will be based on HOD or Handwritten-on-Demand. MP's publisher, Eileen Tabios, will handwrite all texts into the Tiny Books' pages and books will be released to meet demand for as long as MP is able to source tiny books -- or until the publisher gets arthritis.

Dan Waber is a visual poet, concrete poet, sound poet, performance poet, publisher, editor, playwright and multimedia artist whose work has appeared in all sorts of delicious places, from digital to print, from stage to classroom, from mailboxes to puppet theaters. He is currently working on "and everywhere in between". He makes his online home at Meritage Press tapped Mr. Waber to inaugurate the series partly for his work in minimalist poetry.

Tom Beckett is the author of Unprotected Texts: Selected Poems 1978~2006 (Meritage Press, 2006), and the curator of E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The First XI Interviews (Otoliths, 2007). From 1980-1990, he was the editor/publisher of the now legendary critical journal, The Difficulties. Steps: A Notebook is Tom Beckett's first hay(na)ku poetry collection. The hay(na)ku is also a form that lends itself to minimalism.

Ernesto Priego was born in Mexico City. He lives in London. He blogs at Never Neutral and is the author of the first single-author hay(na)ku poetry collection, Not Even Dogs . The "jainakú" is Mexico's version of the hay(na)ku poetic form.

For more information:



As of Oct. 3, 2007, Meritage Press' Tiny Books program has sold enough Tiny Books to finance the donation equivalent of two llamas, and is more than half-way there to financing a third llama! Here's what Heifer has to say about llamas:

"When resources are scarce, it's important that livestock don't use up land reserved for people. At home in rough, mountainous areas of Latin America, llamas are a blessing to families with limited pasture land, and they play a pivotal role in the cultural life of indigenous communities on the high plains of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. // Women weave their llamas' fleece into warm clothing to wear or sell. They load them up with goods for market and trek with them across rugged slopes at high altitudes. As they travel, llamas' padded feet don't damage the fragile terrain and their selective browsing doesn't destroy sparse vegetation. // Llamas and their kin, the alpaca, provide Heifer families with invaluable sources of transportation, income and wool, which is prized for making blankets, ponchos, carpet and rope."

Isn't that fabulous about llamas?! Then of course there are the chickens, goats, water buffalos, pigs, ducks, honeybees....all of which can help ease hunger around the world. Meritage Press thanks you in advance for your support and hopes you enjoy Tiny Books -- small enough to become jewelry, but with poems big enough to resonate worldwide.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I've been swamped and traveling so much lately that I only started last night to begin fulfilling the orders for Ernesto Priego's Tiny Book, "…And Then The Wind Did Blow...". I thank you for your patience, but the teensy books will be flying offa the mountain to your loving arms this week! And they will arrive with a bonus: hay(na)ku drawings by Moi!

Meanwhile, you can continue to order Ernesto's -- as well as Dan Waber's and Tom Beckett's -- Tiny Books; MORE INFO HERE! All proceeds go to Heifer International because Poetry Can Feed The World!

Meanwhile #2, Ernesto has an "Author's Note" about the poems in his Tiny Book; I wanna share an excerpt because Moi am the sharing sort, and I hope you find it as interesting as I do:
Because Eileen's first inspiration was the Japanese haiku and Jack Kerouac's take on the American haiku, I thought that it was only natural that some of us Spanish native speakers will think of the form as "jainakú" (we refer to the hayku in Spanish as "jaikú"). It has the same aspirated "h" sound, not the harder "gee" sound. (When we laugh in Spanish, we "ja-ja", not "ha, ha"). I have been experimenting with the hay(na)ku for some years now, and I have written them in Spanish, English and French. Eileen and other authors have referred to this form as a "diasporic" one, and for me it has been instrumental in my ability to express my experience as a Mexican living between geographical, cultural, political and linguistic borders. My jainakú are simply a humble and playful translation of the experience of the hay(na)ku; an attempt at appropriating (while sharing) a most generous poetic form that calls for a hospitable, democratic, multicultural, genre-bending, border-blurring phenomenology of the poetic experience in the times of savage capitalism and ferocious globalization.

A Teeny Book with a Beeeg Brain, yah? Tiny Big Yadda!

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Monday, October 01, 2007


Oct. 13, Litquake with SPD
Featured Poets: Eileen Tabios, Joseph Lease, Elaine Kahn, Dennis Somera, Tanea Lansford and "Pickleman"
Marsh Cafe at 1070 Valencia near 22nd, San Francisco
Begins at 8 p.m.
Featuring SPD's "Poetry Trading Post": Trade a poem or story for a Free Book!


Oct. 21, "One Way or Another"
Featured poets: Eileen Tabios, Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, Cathy Park Hong, Paolo Javier, David Lau, Barbara Jane Reyes, and Truong Tran
Gallery C @ Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley
2626 Bancroft Way
2621 Durant Avenue
Between College and Telegraph
October 21, 2007; 3:00 p.m.

The October 21 event is curated by Chris Chen who sends out the following announcement for more information:

Poetry Reading:
Asian American Poetry Now

How are young Asian American poets grappling with some of the issues that have engaged the artists featured in One Way or Another? Eight West Coast– and New York–based Asian American poets, from the same generation as the exhibition artists and with a comparable range of cultural backgrounds, will read from work that parallels the "post-identity" premise of One Way or Another. Their poetry displays a range of exciting experimental styles that depart from the focus on identity politics that has marked the work of many Asian American poets since the 1960s.

Poet and UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidate Chris Chen, whose dissertation explores experimental currents within contemporary Asian American and African American poetry, will introduce and moderate the program. Featured poets are Eileen Tabios, Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, Cathy Park Hong, Paolo Javier, David Lau, Barbara Jane Reyes, and Truong Tran.

Public programs for One Way or Another are supported by UC Berkeley's Consortium for the Arts, Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, and Asian American Studies Program, and cosponsored by Asia Society Northern California.
Hours (Galleries, Museum Store)
Wednesday – Sunday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Thursdays 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.