Saturday, February 16, 2019

Book Review: 'The Great American Novel' by Eileen R. Tabios

‘A remove remains and persists’

Eileen R. Tabios is one of the more adventuresome and truly creative poets before the public today. She is absolutely able to write poems in the usual styles and make her works resonate with every reader. But she always is searching for ways to push the use of words into formats or situation that challenge the brain as well as heart. She makes us think: she makes us work. And she is able in this book to entertain.

In this fascinating book Eileen shares visual poetry – random lines suggestive of threads or strings that seem to invite us into her thoughts. Images of art, places, photographs, puzzling pages and black and white drawings impress and enhance the poetry The spectrum of poetic ideas is broad though the overall tenor of the book is insightful, disturbing thoughts that address the collision of English and colonialism. Her Philippine heritage is examined as a personal view of cultural identity. A brief segment follows:

‘I’m not a masochist or a martyr. I prefer Beauty to its opposite. Five years after I began plucking white hairs from my head, I decided to transform them into something I could contemplate without the pain that created them. Thus did Art rear its pretty head. What is a hair but a line? I thought to create drawings using hair as a line, or hairs as lines – I envisioned these drawings against dark backgrounds since I would be working with white lines. But sometime during the past several years, I also was introduced to asemics by master practitioner Tim Gaze. An “asemic” is wordless writing. Asemic artists have addressed their art in numerous ways, from writing with undefinable symbols to “found” asemics such as sidewalk cracks, patterns in nature and (as I imagine) the flow of feathers on a bird’s wing.’

Read Eileen R. Tabios and connect with the mind of the universe – or at least the minds of the inhabitants of the globe. She requires us to think, readjust our thoughts, and find that thread that connects us all.

I never tire from discovering new works by Eileen R. Tabios. She makes my eyes more open, my brain more alert, my heart - richer. Grady Harp, February 19
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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