Tuesday, June 23, 2015

About Eileen Tabios

of Maxwell Clark

Vaguely aware of Kierkegaard’s teachings on the obnoxious superfluity of book-reviewing, of how in the reading masses book-reviews lazily crowd out the more intensive and individual reading of their else merely attendant books, I offer a few remarks on Eileen Tabios. She is to me more of a vortex of transnational poetic societal relations, however fuzzily and ambiguously defined in their ever-shifting dimensions, than a poet unto herself. She curates the works of others exceedingly well. She reviews others books with such an easy command that it even sometimes astounds her reader. But for all of her glowing book-reviews, very many of which are deposited haphazardly into her own books, do her own books stand out with a like aura of serendipity when the reader is alone with them? Were I to ever answer this question, I would be stooping to the traditional forms of critical evaluation in the book-review canon. Instead, I leave the question hanging; the better to nag the otherwise ignorant of her corpus to answer for themselves.

Eileen Tabios is of a genius that is hard to pin down in any one textual space, otherwise put. Her genius is more of that incessantly collective barrage of her own rapid-fire of texts, their wondrously delicate shepherding of her ambient poetic world, in so many micrologically specific ways. I don't mean to go against Kierkegaard's grain re: book-reviewing much, but perhaps in the unique case of Tabios's most luscious critical preenings, that most brusque but highly attentive sensitivity they achieve as contexts to otherwise unread texts, therein something of goodness and justice accrues. Perhaps, just maybe, her reviews are better than the books upon which they anchor as references to? Doubtless, I again cannot answer my own questionings. But hanging questions, as superlative luxuries in a way, I indulge myself with them herein. Perhaps the art of reviewing books needn't deteriorate the value of what they review, perhaps book-reviews may indeed even ennoble their otherwise mediocre reference materials? If such were ever to be the case, then assuredly Eileen Tabios would be exemplary of it.


  1. Hamlet: Act 3 Scene 2, Max, you are the Queen speaking in this review. Only I'd change the word 'protest' to writes.

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