Dredging for Atlantis


Otoliths, Australia
ISBN-13: 978-0-9775-6044-8
Release Date: 2006
Pages: 56
Distributors: Lulu.com and Amazon.com
Prices: $10.45 from Lulu.com; $14.95 from Amazon.com

Publisher’s Description:

Otoliths (Rockhampton, Australia) is pleased to announce the release of Eileen Tabios’ latest poetry collection, DREDGING FOR ATLANTIS.

Eileen Tabios’ publications includes poetry collections, an art essay collection, a poetry essay/interview anthology, and a short story book. DREDGING FOR ATLANTIS extends a unique body of work for melding ekphrasis with transcolonialism. Here, she introduces her translation of the painterly technique of scumbling to create poems from other poets’ words. From other writers’ texts, she also extracts sequences of the hay(na)ku, a poetic form she inaugurated on June 12, 2003 to mark the 105th Anniversary of Philippines’ Independence Day from Spain, its three-century colonizer.

In DREDGING FOR ATLANTIS, the author addresses loss: a lost country, lost memories, lost words, and lost dreams. But hope remains, and serves as the impetus for new poems.

 A Folio Featuring Poems:

“Lines of Sight: Visual Art in Asian American Poetry / The Work of Nine Ekphrastic Poets” by Michael Leong, THE MARGINS / Asian American Writers Workshop. An excerpt:

When engaging with the tradition of ekphrastic poetry, these poets frequently strive to go beyond, to quote Leo Spitzer’s classic definition, “the reproduction, through the medium of words, of sensuously perceptible objets d’art.” A case in point would be Eileen Tabios’ “Athena’s Diptych,” which, rather than reproducing a specific artwork, inventively “reproduces” the painterly technique of scumbling in a linguistic medium. In a 2003 review-essay called “Redeeming my Faith in Ekphrasis,” Tabios says, “I came to prefer [. . .] writing poems that, while inspired by and perhaps even seeking to mirror a visual image, actually came to embody something different.”

Selected Reviews:

Imagine the poet as a diver exploring oceans of ancient texts, extracting gems, polishing and resetting them. In her 11th book, Eileen Tabios refers to ekphrasis, or speaking out in a dramatic way about a work of art. She chose “The Last Lunar Baedekar” by Mina Loy, to scumble and work over to create her own startling and original poems. Sleek and economic, they glitter with unexpected imagery and musicality in an atmosphere charged by crinoline and cufflinks, grace and salvation.

“Minor Riddle” (an apposite title) is avant and high-toned and flirts with academe. Yet the ensuing freedom and consequent surprises are compelling and reveal an interior logic unbeholden to straight-up narrative. Embedded in the backdrop of Florence is this joyous one-line stanza: “Minarets growing within muddy whirlpools.”

In “White as Grecian Marble” the poet creates a shiny column of couplets, a classic pastoral. “A trolley loaded/with ivory busts//glides against air/overtaken by snow//beyond this crocheted lace of white dandelions//and one orchid// recalling its youthful orgies.”

Wow! Sappho meets the Objectivisits! Ivory, snow, crocheted lace and white dandelions line up perfectly. And echoing orchid with orgies—the last line is all punch.

Jack Kerouac wrote, “Vision is deception.” Eileen Tabios’ version goes like this: “Go forth and prettily miscalculate.”
—Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, The Brooklyn Rail (Full review HERE)

In Dredging for Atlantis, Tabios composes poems through “textual scumbling,” a verbal version of a painter’s process, collaging “found” texts “dredged” from others’ writing–in this case, poems by Mina Loy, a memoir by Kinta Beevor, and a novel by John Banville. The resulting poems are often striking; here are a couple of complete poems: “Coax / lullabyes // from tin cans / long emptied, rusting” (“Parenthetical”); “Adolescent eros / a consistent source / for radium / of the Word” (“Impish Music”). An intelligent collection that definitely pomo’s the pomo.
—Vince Gotera, North American Review

…delightful, not only for the continuing experimentation in poetic form and provenance, but also for the brief works’ aphoristic value.

…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…”
—Alfred Yuson, Philippine Star (Full review HERE)

Any work by Eileen Tabios is interesting, intriguing, thought provoking and enlightening. These are poetic and artistic mysteries begging for exploration. Joy comes with the sense of adventure and discovery sparked as these poems are read and reread. Highly recommended.
—Laurel Johnson, Midwest Book Review

Most of the poems are short and in many cases did not grab my attention right away. Yet, many contained a startling turn of phrase that invited deeper contemplation, an effect I crave and the reason why I read poetry. Others just made me wonder what Tabios was smoking.
—Vita Foster, The Feminist Review

Art doesn’t result from observing proprieties. Art results from learning to magnetize oneself, art results from becoming an attractive nuisance.
—Tom Beckett, Soluble Census

The last two lines of the first poem of the book, the poem entitled, “Scumble-d” leave you with a taste that carries you through the rest of the book. The lines are

………………………the only art left –
The preparation of grace

That’s it. The work that must be done in order to get the words on the page, the music out into the air. Saint Augustine wrote, “Will is to grace as the horse to the rider.” It’s the will you have to look for when you open the book, when you first listen to a piece of music. When you first meet that person that might change your life. A book can change your life.
—Chris Mansel, The Daily Art Source