Monday, February 28, 2005


Martha King:
Four poems in The Cafe Review, Winter 2005 due any day now (magazine edited by Luttrell)

Three fictions in the March issue of Brooklyn Rail (arts newspaper out of Williamsburgh)

Three poems in the April issue of 26, issue d (magazine edited by Burns, Morrison, Noble, Robinson, and Strang)

New collection of short prose fictions,with art by Basil King, titled North & South, scheduled for October 2005 (Spuyten Duyvil)

Basil King
"Bestiary" excerpts from "Learning to Draw" with art by Basil King in The Cafe Review, Winter 2005 (see above)

The "Eakins" section from "Learning to Draw" in April issue of 26, issue d (see above)

The "Turner - Egremont" section from "Learning to Draw" in Spring 2005 issue of First Intensity (magazine edited by Chapman)

And two chapbooks in 2005:

from Libellum (Vincent Katz) "In the fields where daffodils grow" - excerpt from "Learning to Draw" with art by Basil King

from Skanky Possum (Nguyen and Smith) "The Twin Towers" - excerpt from "Learning to Draw" with "The Towers" ink drawings by Basil King

Reading in Portland, Maine, at the Center for Cultural Exchange, March 28

Sunday, February 27, 2005


Poet and radio host Beau Beausoleil will be reading three poems from Eileen Tabios' Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole on his poetry/jazz show. The poems "Dusk," "Sterility," and "Traveler" will be read to interact with a saxophone solo by Joshua Redman. The program can be heard by residents of Sausalito and Tiburon, California at FM 100 on these times:

6 p.m., Tuesday, March 1
8 p.m., Saturday, March 5
8 p.m., Sunday, March 6

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Poet-blogger Joe Massey not only loves bacon (hence his blog's title), but also Burt Kimmelman's new poetry collection, SOMEHOW. Here's what he has to say:

"Burt Kimmelman's Somehow contains some real gems. If you prefer poems that employ a passive-aggressive sense of irony, sarcastic abstraction, etc., don't bother. If you're capable of appreciating clarity and precision (and if the occasional natural image doesn't cause you to reach for the barf bag), check it out.

"Quite a few of the poems use a syllabic line. I mentioned syllabics in an earlier entry. Kimmelman's syllabics come off sounding uncramped, elegant."

Monday, February 21, 2005


Alfred A. Yuson is one of the Philippines' leading contemporary poets. He also writes a column for The Philippine Star, and he leads off this week's entry by covering Eileen Tabios' I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED:

I take thee, English… (for Star, Feb. 21, 2005)
by Alfred A. Yuson

A synchronicity tax, oh yes, thank goodness we don’t have that yet. Otherwise I might have landed in the poorhouse last week when, starting on this column-review of certain titles that should enhance our current drive toward regaining excellence in the English language, what should fall on my lap but this heavy tome straight out of California, titled I Take Thee, English, for My Beloved.

Why, wunnerful!

The book is authored by our friend Eileen R. Tabios, poet, editor, ekphrasis expert, publisher, proselytizer for Fil-Am literature. An all-around Wonder Woman, she also tends an orchard at Napa Valley when she’s not consuming bottles of produce as a bibulous epicurean cum blogger on the comparative merits of the red-or-white stuff.

The hefty, 504–page volume, published by Marsh Hawk Press in New York (MarshHawkPress@cs.com), is quintessential Madame Eileen, starting with its charming cover that features a young bride, brown and very pretty, pairing off with a dashing groom, Caucasian, for a highlight photo-op climaxing that sacrament called matrimony.

The contents are also quintessentially Tabios, which is to say that it’s something like manifest destiny turned manifold. To call it a grab bag is to do postmodern palaver an injustice. Let’s say multi-disciplinary, assembling as it does, rather ambitiously, her extraordinary output in several literary genres: poems, prose poems, essays, exegeses on others’ works as well as on her own, by others, etc.

There’s a scenario that’s section-titled “Obviating the Proscenium’s Edge” and piece-titled “But Seriously, When I Was Jasper John’s Filipino Lover…” — where she plays herself as a character, while a Kali artist and a Bride are supposed to be played by her fellow Fil-Am poets from SF, Michelle Bautista and Barbara Jane Reyes.

There’s an ars poetica essay, “Six Directions: Poetry as a Way of Life,” that’s illustrated by photos documenting a performance “happening” that featured what Tabios billed as a poem sculpture — the interactive “Poem Tree,” which required the participating audience to pin poems on Eileen’s very own, now vintage, bridal dress.

There’s an interview of her by poet Nick Carbo, an epistolary Poetics via e-mail, “Sculpted Poems,” and “hay(na)ku” poems which are a Pinoy take on the haiku in a stepladder tercet form that Tabios initiated, thence succeeded in drawing similar contributions from among non-Filipino poets. Why, the handsomely designed book even has all of 90-odd pages that are nearly, concretely, blank, but for one-to-two-line footnotes at the bottom. I suppose this extravagant feature presciently addresses any possible allegation that the multiplicity of dazzling entries constitutes a top-heavy offering.

Yet indeed, spectacularly over the top is the direction Eileen Tabios seems to have always gravitated towards; she is a Baz Luhrman of an entrancing, entranced poet-aesthete. And her Moulin Rouge of exultant literary treats is run as by a first-class Madame, graciously, elegantly, exquisitely at all hours.

But this is not to say that Tabios’s fundamental verse belongs to the province of frippery. Space considerations dictate that I offer but one quote; for this I select the first few lines of the emblematic, native hark-back that is “Season of Durian,” which starts with epigraphs from Joey Ayala (“Durian defies categories.”) and Jacques Derrida (too long to be quoted here): “Somewhere/ a crop/ teases a wet opening/ to soften bones// Nipples nail a man/ into silence. So loud the stars,/ for once, are audible…”

We hear you, Eileen. Loudspeakers blaring or muted, your marriage to poetry, to English, to universes beloved and betrothed, can only signal joy, ecstasy, and fulfillment. Hear! Hear! And we are all so much less benighted.

At the awards rites last week honoring the winners of the National Book Store’s My Favorite Book contest run in this paper, fellow judge Sir Butch and I were happy to receive, among our compensatory spoils, a large brown bag filled with book goodies.

Among these was The Penguin English Reference Collection, an invaluable eight-piece set of softbound books encased in a nifty stand-up carton. The titles are: The Penguin Guide to Plain English, The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar, The Penguin Guide to Punctuation, The Penguin A-Z Thesaurus, The Penguin English Dictionary (the thickest), The Penguin Dictionary of English Idioms, The New Penguin Dictionary of Abbreviations, and The Quickway Crossword Dictionary.

What a treasure trove. I hadn’t realized that my decades of elbow-bending sessions at Penguin Café Gallery in Malate, where last we consorted with bohemian friends on the eve of the Year of the Wooden Cock, would ever entitle me to this reward.

Why, this is priceless as a set of quick guides to English usage. If you haven’t yet acquired Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, that runaway British bestseller dwelling veddy charmingly on the efficacy of commas and the like, you might open the Guide to Punctuation in the Penguin set and relearn that there are four types of commas: the listing comma, the joining comma, the gapping comma, and the bracketing commas (which always come in pairs, unless used at the beginning or end of a sentence).

How often do we see misuse and abuse of commas (no, not by our grand lyric poet Jose Garcia Villa, in whose honor Penguin may someday have to acknowledge the “eccentric” comma)? Por ejemplo, the feature headline “Panda eats (bamboo) shoots and leaves” is perfectly understandable, while “Panda eats, shoots, and leaves” suggests a ridiculously surreal scene where a Mai-Mai conducts a Mafioso hit at an Italian pizzeria.

As the Penguin book says, “Perhaps you use commas … merely because you think you might pause there in speech.” In any case, this Penguin parade of self-help material is a prize on any shelf, or better yet, desk or bedside table.

Now that those of us who aren’t exactly faux supra-nationalists seem to agree on the urgent need to upgrade our proficiency in English, we’d do well to restudy Strunk & White & similar handbooks, perchance the better to provide inexhaustible fodder for call centers.

Personally, I’ve always thought that when our educators gave up on the practice of diagramming, there went our English. Best to master a language by getting intimate with its very architecture, and resolving to respect sensitive parts of, uhh, in this case, body English.

You’ll find the Penguin set at NBS. Thank you, Nanay Socorro (the lady Nick Joaquin hailed as super-tindera!), for this great good gift. Then there’s our very own Jose Carillo’s English Plain and Simple: No-Nonsense Ways to Learn Today's Global Language, which came off the press last December. Published by The Manila Times where the pseudonymous Carillo ran a column on the proper way to handle the language, this 492-page book thoroughly engages with its proficient lessons in English grammar and composition.

Carillo asks learners to wage war against "the vicious enemies of communication: legalese, corporatese, bureaucratese, academese, and other forms of gobbledygook.” Heh-heh. Right. We can only agree. The foreword by Dr. Jose Y. Dalisay Jr., a.k.a Sir Butch, goes in part: “English Plain and Simple… is a charmer of a book that delights and instructs. I myself have campaigned strenuously for plain English at many forums, seminars, and workshops. Now my task is made easier by the availability of this book."

Carillo runs an English-language services company in Manila. A former corporate executive, newspaper reporter, and college editor-in-chief, he has won the Gold Quill Award of the U.S.-based International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the Golden World Award of the U.K.-based International Public Relations Association (IPRA), and business communication industry awards in the Philippines.

Now, there’s yet another, locally (proudly Philippine, as we say) produced set of English-usage tenders and helpers that have been enjoying brisk sales.

The Milflores English Reader series from Milflores Publishing, Inc. comes as five, thus far, handy booklets that allow you to “Be Your Own English Teacher!” They’re cheap, handy, and highly instructive. The titles are Grammar Review (written by Learning for Empowerment and Development, Inc. or LEAD); Nouns & Pronouns (Maybelle Joch Guzman and Lydia Rodriguez Arcellana); Prepositions (Guzman and Arcellana); Punctuation (Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo and Thelma B. Arambulo); and New Words (Hidalgo, Arambulo and April T. Yap).

A sixth title, not part of the series, is Business Writing (LEAD). Forthcoming are three more titles: Modifiers: Adjectives, Adverbs, and Articles (Frank G. Flores); Verbs (Guzman); and Spelling (Heidi Emily Eusebio-Abad).

This is a signal service being provided by Antonio Hidalgo, the bestselling writer himself (for his articles and stories on sabong or cockfighting, as well as other fiction). Milflores has grown since its establishment in 1999, so that it now has 45 titles in bookstores and expects to sell around 50,000 copies this year.

The English Teacher booklets range from 70 to 140 pages, but are comprehensive and reader-friendly. Grammar Review, for instance, covers fundamental areas from Subject-Verb Agreement to Subjunctive Mood, Active and Passive Voices, Parallelism, and Articles. Exercises are designed to enable users to track their own progress.

For instance, on the matter of Dangling Modifiers, (an area where frequent havoc is wreaked), the reader is shown a deficient example, such as “To find shoes that fit perfectly, several stores may have to be visited.” You’re told that you have to rearrange the main clause to make up for what’s called the deleted subject, or simply to supply the subject for the dangling verb form. Thus, “To find shoes that fit, you may have to visit several stores.”

These handbooks take up from where the incomparable Jean Edades left off decades ago, after having guided us gently by the hand, in her newspaper mini-boxes, down the primrose yet thorny path of English usage. It is to be hoped (since we often hear how “Hopefully” ought to be a no-no) that more of us manage, with the help of these books, to escape that dragnet of Philippine English where even some columnists are often found, spreading bad-apple ill-will like “Among the winners include (sic)…” and “resulting to (sic) …”

At the latest English Speaking Union-Philippines meeting chaired by Sir Butch, we were enthused to learn that ESU-Phil will be officially accepted as a full-fledged country chapter in November. And that no less than Lord Alan Watson of Richmond and Valerie Mitchell of the London-based ESU International will be leading the foreign guests for our formal launch. In May, we will send a student candidate to the ESU International Public Speaking Contest, which our very own dear princess, Patricia Evangelista, topped last year. UP Prof. Judy Ick also goes to London soon to represent us at a Shakespeare-related event. As Sir Butch reminded us at the meet, ESU-Phil also needs to “initiate and promote programs that would serve more Filipinos and take into account the strategic importance of English in our society and economy.”

Yes, we take thee, English, for our beloved. With the help of such books as those cited above, we should brush up on Our Precious, if only so the British dignitaries we host in November may not remember their Manila experience as being tantalizingly tantamount to having done nothing but eat, shoot, and leave.

Friday, February 18, 2005


Poet, performance artist and critic Jack Foley begins a new entry in his "Foley's Books" column at The Alsop Review by mentioning Sandy McIntosh's new book! Here's Jack's column in full:


I met a New York poet named Sandy McIntosh. He has a long poem, “Obsessional,” in The After-Death History of My Mother which argues, with some justice, that Tottel's Miscellany—which printed but regularized the poems of Thomas Wyatt—constituted “a story of the hijacking / of English poetry / in the year 1559.” I wrote back that I loved his poem:

I wonder, though, why you left it at Tottel’s. (Did you know that Ron Silliman called his very early language poetry newsletter Tottel’s? I have some samples around the house somewhere.) Emily Dickinson's poetry received exactly the same treatment as Wyatt’s and for the same reasons. The “regularity” of French poetry particularly, I think, had much to do with the desire to regularize English poetry. And the relationship between “stress” regularity and “syllable” regularity.

T.S. Eliot probably didn’t realize that much of John Donne’s work is syllabic rather than stressed. Donne often seems to be irregular of accent--as, indeed, he is. Eliot probably read him as he might have read Emily Dickinson’s work before it was regularized. (Her work constitutes still another “hijacking / of English poetry.”) For Eliot, Donne seemed to be daringly irregular in accent. Emily was not counting syllables, however, as Donne was. Even where Donne seems to be irregular in accent, he is regular in syllable count. By the seventeenth century, scholars had lost the understanding of the final e in Chaucer, so Chaucer too seemed to be irregular to poets of that time. A perfectly regular line such as “Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth” seems to be irregular if you don’t know that “sweete” is pronounced as a two syllable word. Wasn’t it Pope who wrote, “Even as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be”? The idea was that poets would grow more “regular” as they increased in “refinement”—as they became more “civilized.”

Stressed verse goes back to Anglo Saxon, in which stress is regular but syllables vary. Iambic pentameter was an attempt to maintain stress but to “tame” it, to “civilize” it: the iambic pentameter line is stressed (five) but syllables are counted as well (ten). In the form of “blank verse”—unrhymed iambic pentameter—the meter was also connected to the subject matter of war, since it was first used to translate Virgil and was conceived of as the equivalent to Classical hexameters. (Following Classical models, epic poems were always about war, so that when Milton tried to write a poem about Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden--no “war” there--he had to find some way to include war in his poem: thus Satan and the battle in heaven.) The great triumph of the combination of stressed verse and syllabic verse is probably the verse of Alexander Pope: Pope is always exact in his stresses (five) and equally exact in his syllable count (ten).

But English is a stressed language, and stressed verse nevertheless maintains itself against the triumphs of the unstressed or tamed pentameter—though usually as a “complementary” mode. Think of Browning (Pound called him a “mesmerizer,” “Old Hippity-Hop o’ the accents”) or Hopkins or of Pound’s translations from the Anglo Saxon. Even Auden’s “Doom is deep and darker than any sea dingle.” Marianne Moore and Dylan Thomas wrote purely syllabic verse—Thomas’s “Fern Hill” is scarcely recognizable as regular verse, but it is. William Carlos Williams thought of free verse as an alternative to iambic pentameter. Annie Finch is consciously looking for “non iambic” modes.

One can thus find a strong tradition of “alternatives” to the regularity of iambic pentameter in English/American verse—a tradition which includes conscious “breaking” of iambic pentameter. This tradition is ultimately rooted, I think, in the Anglo Saxon modes which have never quite disappeared. This is opening line of “America,” the poem Walt Whitman chose to read on his only recording (if indeed the recording is authentic):

Center of equal daughters, equal sons

The line could be taken straight out of a Shakespeare play: clearly a pentameter line. But look at what Whitman does in the very next line:

All, all alike endeared, grown, ungrown, young or old

That monosyllabic “all,” followed by another, breaks the rhythm immediately, and the line becomes increasingly monosyllabic: “grown, ungrown, young or old.” The third line places even more emphasis on the individual word:

Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich….

The opening of The Waste Land is also like that:

April is the cruelest month, breeding

That is a perfectly regular line of trochaic (strong stress followed by light stress) pentameter—except that the pause at the comma and the word “breeding” breaks everything up. Had Eliot written

April is the cruelest month, it’s breeding


April is the cruelest month by breeding

the line would have been perfectly regular—not necessarily good, but regular. Eliot wants to assert regularity (as when, later in the poem, he writes, “When lovely woman stoops to folly and”) * but he also wants to break away from regularity. “Free verse” functions in The Waste Land as both an assertion of new freedom and a lamentation that the modes of the past are gone—“unreal.”


* The line is iambic pentameter so it is in this sense “regular.” Eliot is, however, deliberately misrepresenting the meter of his source, Oliver Goldsmith’s “Song,” which begins,

When lovely woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can soothe her melancholy?
What art can wash her guilt away?



Jack Foley is an innovative, widely-published poet and critic who, with his wife, Adelle, performs his work frequently in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the past several years he has hosted a show of interviews and poetry presentations on Berkeley radio station KPFA. His current show , " Cover to Cover," which can be heard by streaming audio at www.kpfa.org, is on every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time. His poetry books include Letters/Lights--Words for Adelle (1987), Gershwin (1991), Adrift (1993, nominated for a Bay Area Book Reviewers' Award), Exiles (1996), and (with Ivan Arguelles) New Poetry from California: Dead / Requiem (1998). A contributing editor to Poetry Flash, he has published three chapbooks: Advice to the Lovelorn (1998), (with Ivan Arguelles), Saint James (1998 ) --an homage to James Joyce-- and Some Songs by Georges Brassens, translations of work by the late French singer. Foley has also edited Fallen Western Star Wars, a collection of essays dealing with the controversy caused by Dana Gioia's essay, "Fallen Western Star." O Powerful Western Star and Foley's Books, companion volumes of Foley's essays, reviews and interviews, appeared from Pantograph Press. In a review, San Francisco Chronicle Book Editor David Kipen describes the books as "galvanizing: an unparalleled cultural history of the past half century from Bodega Bay to the Pacheco Pass." O Powerful Western Star is the recipient of the Artists Embassy Literary/Cultural Award 1998-2000.


Two performances:

1. Wednesday, April 27, 8 p.m.
The New York Solo Play Lab
Where Eagles Dare Theater
347 W. 36th Street, ground floor
(bet. 8th and 9th Avenue)
$15 cover
see http://www.cherylkingproductions.com

2. Saturday April 30, 2-4 p.m. at the Bowery Poetry Club
$6 admission
308 Bowery
New York, NY 10012
East Village
West side of The Bowery, at First Street between Houston and Bleecker
Closest subway: 6 to Bleecker, walk east to Bowery, south to theatre
Street level entrance is into a coffee shop with the theatre behind it.
▪ Seating Capacity: 200

See www.bowerypoetryclub.com

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Rashidah Ismaili, whose book of poems Music Magic will be published by Marsh Hawk Press this coming fall, has written the libretto, taken from one of her poems, for an opera Elegies for the Fallen, by composer Joyce Solomon Moorman. It is being performed on Thurs., Feb.17 at 7:00 p.m. in Theatre One of the Tribeca Performing Arts Center at Boro of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers St., NYC. This opera recently received commendation in the Nancy Van de Vate International Composition Prize for Opera Competition.

It's free and open to the public. For more information, call 212 -220-1464.

For your interest, here's Rashidah's current bio-note:

Rashidah Ismaili, Ph.D. Poet. Born in West Africa into an old Islamic family, educated in Africa, Europe and NYC, she writes plays, poetry, fiction, scholarly books and critiques. A worker for many human rights causes in USA, Africa and elsewhere, she is a peace activist and serves on the Freedom to Write Committee of PEN. Her narrative poem "Shamaning of an Olive Tree" has been presented at NYU by the Africana Stuides and Comparative Literature Department. She is a core faculty member of the newly created Master of Arts in Creative Writing program at Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She read from her latest book of poems Cantata for Jimmy (for James Baldwin) at the second Yari Yari Conference held at NYU by the Organization of Women Writers of Africa in the spring of 2004,

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Thanks to poets Martha Cinader, Annabelle Udo, Chris Murray, Shin Yu Pai, Dale Smith and Hoa Nguyen for setting up these events:

Saturday, February 12, 2005
Listen & Be Heard Poetry Marathon
12 p.m. to 12 a.m. (Sandy and Eillen will read between 1 - 2:30 p.m.)
listen & be heard poetry cafe
818 Marin St.
Vallejo, Ca

Wednesday, March 2, 2005
7:00 - 8:45 p.m.
The auditorium of the John Germany Tampa Public Library
Downtown Tampa, Fla

In TEXAS, Sandy and Eileen will serve as visiting critics at the Southside on Lamar residency program in Dallas. They will offer studio crits to artists whose forms range pver drawing, painting, installation, performance, photography, text, multidisciplinary povs, sculpture, and sound/video. This will be followed by:

March 4-6, 2005
chris murray's PoetryHeat reading series at University of Texas, Arlington, in conjunction with Skanky Possum Press, Austin's 12th Street Books, Firewheel Editions/Sentence: a Journal of Prose Poetics and Marsh Hawk Press, are pleased to present the following events for Spring 2005:

Eileen Tabios, Sandy McIntosh
Friday, Mar 4, 7:00 pm
Rady Room, 6th floor, Nedderman Hall
University of Texas, Arlington
Arlington, Texas
Reception to follow, TBA


Eileen Tabios, Sandy McIntosh
Saturday, Mar 5, 7:00 pm
12th Street Books
827 W. 12th St.
Austin, TX
Reception to follow, TBA


Eileen Tabios & Sandy McIntosh
Sunday, March 6, 5:30 pm
Paperbacks Plus
6115 La Vista Dr
Dallas, Texas 75214
Phone for Directions: 214 827 4860
Free Admission

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