Ecstatic Mutations

Ecstatic MutationsECSTATIC MUTATIONS: Experiments in the Poetry Laboratory

Giraffe Books (Quezon City, 2001)
ISBN: 978-9718832356
Release Date: 2001
Pages: 134
Price: Up to $15.95
Distributor: OUT OF PRINT but with occasional copies through Amazon

—Finalist, Philippines’ National Book Award for Poetry (Manila Critics Circle)

Publisher’s Description:

This is a unique collection of poems, poetics statements and poetry-in-progress writings by poet, editor and critic Eileen Tabios, with a focus on experimentation.

Advance Words:

The multi-faceted Eileen Tabios—who emerges a full-blown member of the new generation of poets—writes with a sure hand of an artisan whose writing style ranges from the lyrical voice of the young–vulnerable and accessible—to the philosophical certainty of the old—hard knocking, gritty and diamond sharp. When her lyrics sing, they clutch at your throat with the tenacity of a drowning child hoping for the helping hand to allow survival. Her p rose poems contain some of the philosophical truths that always startle you with their honesty. Her poems give you the most compelling notion that poetry is poetry when your nape hair stands on end—and you say, “How true.  How true.”
—Carlos A. Angeles

In Eileen Tabios’ writings, one is seeking to be free, like brushstrokes on a framed canvas where the desired portrait is the world around it. Tabios’ world is one without walls without lines, without time, and it is luminously manifested in her works. In her attempts to capture the moments of the ever curious and the ever questioning, in her poetics, she unravels the unknown. But isn’t the gift of a writer her limitless imagination? In this collection, Tabios’ yearnings are as demanding as the words through which she expresses them, as mysterious as our world full of life, imagined and real.
—Bino A. Realuyo

Selected Reviews:

A…US-based Filipina writer, shuttling between the East and West coasts, not to mention occasional forays to the homeland, is Eileen Tabios, who traces her roots to the Ilocos. In Ecstatic Mutations (Giraffe), Tabios comes up with a workbook of sorts on the poetic process, or a step-by-step detailing of a birthing of not just one poem but several.

The poetry laboratory could very well be an indirect tribute to postmodernism, an exercise in deconstruction, or is it composition and decomposition.

… Tabios is only too aware of the duality of her situation: writing in an altogether foreign tongue while conveying a very Filipino sensibility.
—Juaniyo Arcellana, The Philippine Star


Eileen spent her earlier career years in journalism, economics, stock market analysis, project finance banking and even (begrudgingly, she says) received an MBA in international business and economics along the way. Undoubtedly, that she took a path so different from many of her peers has facilitated her ability to break boundaries in her work as a poet, writer and editor. Thus, scholar Leny Mendoza Strobel writes in her Introduction to Eileens ECSTATIC MUTATIONS, “As a Filipino English-language poet, [Eileen] says it was inevitable that she question how to express her-SELF through language. When the results of her search are *abstract* works, the result leaps over categories and boundaries of what has been labeled ethnic literature (in the U. S.) through its reliance on subject matter. What Eileen’s poetry makes me consider is this: When the sorrow of our colonial past is released and we come to know our Philippine history as the history of the world, Eileen’s poetry becomes an act of rounding up the fragments of our narrative. If one is already decolonized, then she can engage in other acts of creation which neither forget, negate, narrate and that by simply being herself as a poet, she gives back over and over again to the Filipino collective effort towards self-recovery or discovery”…

Eileen’s ECSTATIC MUTATIONS collects a selection from her poetry, fiction and essays, while concurrently transcending these same formal categories.
—Alex Mascara, Philippine Fiction Site



The court painter responds, “Map space into a grid. Then look through each square. What do you see?” She licks her lips before whispering, “Unrequited love. Unrequited life.”
Eileen Tabios, “Illusions through the Grid”

After I found these verses in Tabios’s Ecstatic Mutations: Experiments from Poetry Laboratory (Giraffe Books, 2000), I told myself (of course in my mind): this is the kind of poetry I like to read and want to write. I’ve read a handful of poetry books by Filipino and foreign authors, but this one stood as dear to me, as this does not only lay on the table the form of poetry and language I would instantly love and emulate, this also reminds me that writing is an unrequited form of love. You give your all and expecting something or someone to reciprocate your exertion you deemed as meaningful is more than delusional, like debris of broken glass shimmering under the sun while being swept by the wind.
—Aloysiusi Lionel Polintan, Renaissance of a Notebook (Full Engagement HERE)