Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The Philippine Star, February 11, 2008

Eileen Tabios, Dredging for Atlantis (Otoliths, 2006)

KRIPOTKIN By Alfred A. Yuson

To all the friends and wannabes who sent their latest titles in the year just past, my sincere apologies. Been so busy over the past months that I couldn't find time to conduct any literary reviews. But since my extra-galactic powers allow me to trilocate sometime around Valentine's Day and adopt various life forms, such as an amoeba, a paramecium, and a Jarjar Binks-type of mutant, these manifestations managed to go through every single, letter-perfect page in your wonderful additions to Filipiniana, let alone my shelves.

Why, my holy synergy even found the gravy time to render the following report. Not an omnibus review; no, let's not call it that. But a report, plain and simple, glowing as it must be, for good Happy Lunar New Year measure.

The books are cited in the order received by this visiting Neptunian. But I'll initially confine this first part of a series to books of verse, that is, human poetry, which is close to my extraterrestrial heart.

Early last year, Eileen Tabios sent her 11th poetry book from California, where she tends a vinery while still writing poetry and occasionally publishing other poets' books.

Dredging for Atlantis is published by Otoliths of Australia. It's a slim chapbook of 56 pages, but rather delightful, not only for the continuing experimentation in poetic form and provenance, but also for the brief works' aphoristic value.

Most of the poems are of the ekphrasis variety, which means they're inspired by or based on works in other art forms, such as paintings. Here, too, they utilize the painterly technique of scumbling — that is, softening lines or colors by rubbing or coating opaquely. Thus she creates poems from other poets' works.

Whichever the technique, her deceptively simple lines radiate memorably in various directions, as in the poem "Burning Pulpit": "Could our two miseries/ copulate/ into one opulent being?// Men simplify/ then slink back/ to antediluvian burrows// Baby priests/ turn away/ to cast profiles forsworn to Donatello// But she is clutching lilac print/ within a shadow burning/ away/ salvation's seedlings."

The two-line poem "Futurism" is Villaesque: "The truants of heaven/ possess a startling velocity"; so is "Winged Victory": "Defile/ that Carrara// A nude woman stands for the universe// All of her names end/ with 'A'// Then her eyes..."

Also from other writers' texts, she extracts sequences of the "hay(na)ku" — a poetic form she introduced in 2003, and managed to have international poets try their hand at it. It involves tercets with a stepladder progression from one word to three words in each of the three lines in a stanza, or in reverse hay(na)ku, the other way around. As in "Windfalls": "The olives' oil/ contents grow/ substantially// from October to/ December. It's/ risky,// however, to leave/ them too/ long// on trees because/ if they/ become// 'windfalls' they cannot/ be considered/ for/ virgin pressings."

[more at http://goodchatty.blogspot.com/2008/02/alfred.html]


Post a Comment

<< Home