Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The Feminist Review, June 10, 2007

Dredging for Atlantis by Eileen Tabios
Review by Vita Foster

Writing is in the eye of beholder, especially when it comes to poetry. This slim book is Tabios' fourteenth collection of poems. It is divided into three parts. Section I, "Dredging for Atlantis," consists of ekphrastic poems "utilizing the painterly technique of scumbling." Although ekphrastic poetry is usually a poetic response to a piece of visual art, in this case all but one is a "textually scumbled" poem of Mina Loy. Since I have not read the originals, it's hard to tell what, precisely, that entails.

Section II's poems "scumble from Kinta Beevor's memoir, A Tuscan Childhood." Section III's poems "scumble from John Banville's novel, Athena." The two sections are written in reverse hay(na)ku form, consisting of tercets of three, two and one word lines. The form was invented by Tabios herself and inaugurated in 2003 on Philippine Independence Day.

Most of the poems are short and in many cases did not grab my attention right away. Yet, many contained a startling turn of phrase that invited deeper contemplation, an effect I crave and the reason why I read poetry. Others just made me wonder what Tabios was smoking.

As a writer who is not fond of editing, my favorite has to be the last one, "*****," that starts with:
Edit it down.
Edit it


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