HIRAETH: Tercets From the Last Archipelago
The Knives Forks Spoons Press’ Book Page
Release Date: Spring 2018
Price: 10 British Pounds; U.S.$16.00
Distributors: The Knives Forks Spoons Press, Amazon, among others.
Gratitude to the Conner Family Trust for permission to use Bruce Conner’s “Suitcase” on front cover, and to the Arts Council of England for funding for the book.
In these twenty-six complex, finely-crafted poems, we see Eileen Tabios at the height of her poetic powers, fighting, changing, and embracing two languages to wrest new meanings not only from the words themselves, but from hyphens, slashes, and empty spaces. Sometimes intensely personal, sometimes fiercely political, Tabios plunges the reader into a universe of ecstatic images as she repeatedly attempts to freeze each “inevitable stutter of love.”
—Mary Mackey, Author of Sugar Zone, Winner of the 2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature
Layering memory soaked through with heart/home sickness where “paper is too / soft a field for your hand leaving my waist,” Eileen Tabios’s HIRAETH: TERCETS FROM THE LAST ARCHIPELAGO mesmerizes. With its title borrowing the Welsh word for the feeling of homesickness tinged with grief expressed for dear ones departed, the collection is partly inspired by British painter Andrew Bick’s series of multi-layered wax paintings wherein each layer presents new imagery as well as ghostly images of older layers. Just as an Archipelago Sea is studded with so many isles, each of these poems arrives so “studded” with some lines intentionally faded out as though possessed by the “Unreasonable ghost of a ghost / who’d persuaded the world its name is “Unicorn””. There are recollections, imagined or not, of “poetry readings where I ripped pages / from my books. Sometimes I autographed them; sometimes / I crumpled them into balls I’d toss towards the audience as / if they were money or my underwear” seeking “to alchemize the reader into / the author!” In an era when the current President of the United States often acts no better than the “school bully who was bred and raised by indifference,” it is time to have this work out in the world. Maybe the poet, too, needs to be reminded out of amnesia: “I forgot my poetry is going to change the world. … I forgot my words are holy. / I forgot my words will lift you—all of you!—towards Joy.” But readers should never forget the fruit of such devotion to poetry. How terrific to have it here at hand.
—Patrick James Dunagan, author of There Are People Who Think That Painters Shouldn’t Talk: A Gustonbook and The Duncan Era: One Reader’s Cosmology
“For pure line-by-line loveliness, Eileen Tabios’s HIRAETH: Tercets from the Last Archipelago sates my thirst for intelligence.”
—Minal Hajratwala in Poetry’s Editors’ Blog, July/August 2019
“Hiraeth, the title taken from the Welsh word for homesickness, twenty six tercets taking in a vast range of themes and subjects, ranging across politics, visual art, war, natural history, dreams, language and religion to name a few. … This collection is full of surprise and wit and celebration and splendour and dark moments and can be both read through in a sitting and contemplated at a more leisurely pace, perhaps both is the best option. The cover artwork ‘Suitcase’ by Bruce Connor suggests a cornucopia and this is largely what we have here, a panoramic vision, warts and all.”
—Steve Spence, Litter Magazine, December 2018
Leny M. Strobel’s article on HIRAETH and Filipino Indigenous Wisdom, as well as on Beauty and Social Justice and, thus, why “I love HIRAETH”: HERE.
Jean Vengua’s 2019 painting, “Hourglass and Ellipsis,” inspired by one of HIRAETH’s poems, “Kapwa’s Song,” at North Fork Arts Projects, October 2019:
Cebu Literary Festival / Silliman University
After being exhibited along with other Eileen R. Tabios books at the June 2019 Cebu Literary Festival, all books will become part of Silliman University’s Library (Philippines).
Some introductory information HERE.