Love In A Time of Belligerence
Éditions du Cygne / SWAN World
Release Date: September 2017
Price: 13 Euros; U.S.$16.00
Distributors: Éditions du Cygne, Amazon, Among Others
To understand human history is to recognize the eternal presence of belligerence. Eileen R. Tabios’ Love in a Time of Belligerence surfaces a variety of wars and their collateral damage of nature, indigenous culture, pets and infants, democracy, teachers, the poor, even “sex dolls,” among others. Such spirals to more losses: innocence, ideals, loyalties, family, and hopes. Love can be an antidote … until it’s not. The world presented in Tabios’ poetry does not reduce humanity to problem-and-solution—her poetry is one of insistent lucidity, which is an accomplishment on its own when one wants to hide one’s eyes from the world.
“Eileen Tabios has been a grand force in U.S. poetry … and it’s difficult to think of our own time without acknowledging what a large psychic space she has made for us. The sheer volume of her writing is impressive, like the rivers of Tigris and Euphrates; among postwar Americans, maybe only Leslie Scalapino, Steve Jonas, Alice Notley and Lew Ellingham have written so much with such assurance and endless, difficult-made-easy experimentation.
—Kevin Killian, poet, writer, playwright, critic, editor and Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer
Tabios’ concern for our world is global in its reach and this is a book that is very much of our time.
—Neil Leadbeater, Contemporary Literary Review India
Humanity is in trouble. People inflict violence against each other while the environment suffers. The legacy of colonialism continues to disenfranchise the Earth’s poor, who must negotiate the twin disasters of environmental and cultural degradation. Eileen R. Tabios’ Love in a Time of Belligerence explores this territory with bold, unflinching poems that refuse to look away from pain, sadness, exploitation and injustice.
Whether pointing out the robotic racism of an Internet ad or recalling the once-loved pets of a war-torn city, Eileen Tabios’ poetry is alive with vivid, striking imagery. Reality shifts and bends; things are never what they seem. A powerful voice narrates these poems, one of daring and clarity.
—Erica Goss, Sticks & Stones
Each [poem] meanders through the maze of memory and reconstruction of the past and references to the art of word craftsmanship in a manner that immediately becomes awe-inspiring.
—Grady Harp, Amazon.com Hall of Fame Reviewer
The Contents of Love In A Time of Belligerence are most inspiring. She revisits in the second section titled “From ‘The Ashbery Riff-Offs” John Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” a poem that inspired part of my PhD thesis. If you wish to follow Eileen Tabios, you will have to work hard to open up all the synapses of your brain; she escapes from any classification/calculation – improvised detection – instinctive deflection any reader has to protect him- herself, and is still there to hit, entertain, surprise, enchant, and escape.
—Anny Ballardini, # allpinayeverything
Here are excerpts from “PilipinZ”, one of the poems Eileen read. It’s in her latest book, Love in a Time of Belligerence, published this year by Swan World:
“I./ I forgot how perfume cannot obliterate. / I forgot children softening harsh wool with thin fingers in exchange for broken rice kernels. / I forgot discovering the limited utility of calm seas. / I forgot the World War II concentration camp where amnesiacs tortured by tying together the legs of pregnant women. / I forgot how Beauty dislocates. / I forgot that sense of approaching a labyrinth. /…
“I forgot rough skin was a map. / I forgot you losing all Alleluias. /… / I forgot steel will bend to form a heart. / I forgot wax will freeze to form a heart. / I forgot ink will flow to form a heart. / ….
“But I will never forget we walk on the same planet and breathe the same air. I will never forget the same sun shines on us. I created my own legacy: No one is a stranger to me.”
As these words thrilled and fascinated the audience at Dovre, so did the other poems, which found their own resonances within each individual present. This is the magic of poetry – it is one thing for the poet, and another for the reader, and always something to both.
There is also power in the spoken word—when it is clothed with sound, emerging on a puff of warm breath, it is brought to life in a special way. That night, the Dovre Club witnessed litchantment.
—Jenny Ortuoste, The Manila Standard, Oct. 22, 2017
I have just finished my first reading of this book, and already know that I want to read it again. In the last poem of this collection, Eileen Tabios writes, “I practice a poetics of lucidity. Everyone wants to be/ seen. Everyone deserves to be seen.” She delivers on the lucidity and so, we have no excuse for not seeing what she shows us about the belligerence of our times. Her sweep is wide: pets, oceans, genocide, intimacy … She raises the big question: what do we do about these things? And I think that she cares enough to raise the hard questions, that these poems, at least in part, represent the “love” that’s the first word of the title. P.S. and there’s an outstanding hay(na)ku [the poetic form she invented] chain-sequence-poem in the book
—E.E. Nobbs, Goodreads, December 2017
LOVE’S HURRICANE & FIRE RELIEFS
It seems fitting that a book entitled LOVE IN A TIME OF BELLIGERENCE will sponsor fundraisers related to Hurricane and Fire Reliefs. As regards the former, sales proceeds were donated to those aiding those adversely affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma; more information HERE. The Fundraiser also was presented at the 4th Filipino American International Book Festival, Oct. 7, 2017 in San Francisco. For the former, donations and sales proceeds during San Francisco’s 2017 LitQuake were given to Napa Valley Community Foundation Fire Fund; more information HERE. Finally, sales proceeds were donated to Beta Local which provides emergency grants to cultural workers in Puerto Rico. A Final Fundraising Update is available HERE. Gratitude to all those who participated by purchasing this book.
In Galatea Resurrects (Aug. 8, 2017), Eileen R. Tabios discusses her thought process as to how she came to choose the image for the book’s front cover: the painting “A Simple Word” by Marc Gaba. You can see her essay HERE.
One of the book’s poems, “Mom Betty Addresses the Nature of Proportion,” is featured in the Poetry Foundation’s “PoetryNow” series through an audio discussion and reading. You can read and listen through HERE.
At her blog Eileen Verbs Books, Eileen R. Tabios discusses one of the book’s poems, “Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: Pathos” as it relates to the rise of sexual relations between humans and robots. You can see the poetry-in-progress article HERE.
Four poems from Love In A Time of Belligerence is part of Carrie Etter’s “Poetry of Climate Change” course at The Poetry School (U.K.)
From St. Helena Star
“Yet another achievement for an accomplished poet who has received the Philippines’ National Book Award for Poetry and had her work translated into eight languages.
At an International Book Fair in Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium
Now shelved in Cebu Public Library, Philippines
With local teachers Malou Alorro and Dess Balota and library staff.