Because I Love You, I Become War

Because I Love You, I Become War

Poems and Uncollected Poetics Prose by Eileen R. Tabios

Publisher: Marsh Hawk Press

Release Date: 2022
ISBN: To Come
To Come
Price: To come
Pages: To Come

Cover photograph of Kerima Lorena Tariman by Kiri Dalena


Since her first works, Eileen Tabios’ performances—in prose, poetic artifices, and mixed constructions or inventions—have always sharpened the cutting-edge of contemporary global cultural events. Art has morphed into a dazzling multiverse of sensuous happenings. Undoing the conceptual habit of reframing and parodic mimicry, she has created a new form of  montage in texts such as “Because I Love you, I Become War” and “President Duterte Socializes Media,” etc.—witty humor jostling with sharp critique and graceful Spieltrieb.  Enjoy in this volume the exercise of a rare intelligence that weaves the semiotic subtleties of icon, index, and symbol into epiphanies and discoveries that are, indeed, new additions to our world as we know it so far. 

E. San Juan, Jr., author of Sisa’s Vengeance and Maelstrom over the Killing Fields

Raw[ness] exudes from this collection of poems and poetics prose about love and war, both corporal and terrestrial. Whether speaking of “rose petals yawning like little girls, like the daughters I never bore,” or a California wildfire’s “yellowed skies” and “smoke taint,” even color is narrative in Eileen Tabios’ dexterous hands. Prose serves as the underpainting, outlining recurring themes that emerge in Tabios’ writings of women and women’s bodies as loci of war and of creation; of poetry and teaching as social and political activism. In the section “Political Science,” Tabios’ Motherland, the Philippines, is a battlefield where the personas of journalist Maria Ressa and presidential contender Leni [Robredo] are pitted in a balagtasan against the persona of macho-fascist [Rodrigo Roa] Duterte. “The Great Grief” section rises from the battlefield of Mother Earth with elegies on a world on fire; a cactus’ “Interior as dry / As the cracked sod surrounding / You, for whom no one sheds tears”; songbirds’ “corpses hitting ground.” Eileen Tabios is a poet with a finger on the pulse of humanity, and her poems are proof of its resilience even in these grave times.

—Vina Orden, Writer, Editor, co-host of The Lift Up podcast, and Immigrants’ and Human Rights Advocate

Near the beginning of “Water as Poetics as Identity”, one of the prose pieces in this book, are the assertions “The best poems, for me, are not about something. They become/are that something.” This book does something better; it transcends the dichotomy implied by those sentences. Each piece in it is definitely about something, and each definitely issomething. The same can be said about prose in the second half of the book. This, for me, is when Eileen-the-maker-of language-things is at her best. Because you know where she’s at, and she is down to the bone (tip of the cap for that phraseology to the great East Bay Grease band, Cold Blood. Before your time, Eileen …). Just like the world. When it’s down to the bone the only art that matters is art that can look it all in the face and say, “I measure up.” And be dead on about that. Art that matters can be found on nearly every page of BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, I BECOME WAR. This book is by a mature artist at the height of her power—a book that is a gift.

—author/curator of the Zeitgeist Spam series, associate editor of Poetry of the Americas: A Transnational Anthology (eds. Jerome Rothenberg & Javier Taboada), and editor of Collected Poems of Anselm Hollo with Yasamin Ghiasi and Barbaric Vast & Wild: A Gathering of Outside & Subterranean Poetry from Origins to Present from the “Poems for the Millenium” series with Jerome Rothenberg