TANKA, Vol. I
Simulacrum Press (Ontario, Canada)
Publisher’s Book Page
Release Date: Spring 2018
Description: A tall, slender chapbook of 20 pages, saddle stitched and printed in an edition of 75 numbered copies.
Price: $10 CAD
Available HERE For Purchase
In Tanka, Vol. 1, prolific poet and reader, Eileen R. Tabios, investigates the classical Japanese tanka form. Presenting a scope of work, from her early engagements with the form to increasingly stylized experiments, a progression of possibility opens in the arena of stricture. Where in the initial section we find the poems following the traditional form (as it manifests when romanized), for the following sections Tabios utilizes her MDR (Murder Death Resurrection) Poetry Generator to set the stage for reconfiguration, then excavation.
The following is the first tanka ever written by Eileen R. Tabios:
Last night my white cat
Approached with whiskers drooping
Signs are increasing
The world around me ages
I shiver in its cold wake
From that traditional tanka, Ms. Tabios radically reconfigures the form within 34 tankas with the help of a poetry generator and Martin Heidegger’s philosophical strategy, “sous rature.” Here is a later example of her tankas:
Some Reader Responses:
This sequence of poems works on at least two levels. On one level as a means to describe our creative thought processes and on another as a metaphor for memory and forgetfulness.
How much do we really remember of our life? The answer is very little…perhaps less than .001 percent. This is less than a small fraction. Tabios employs the literary device of sous rature to illustrate how certain facts are completely forgotten so that very little (just the words placed in bold type) remain. The resulting tankas are fragments of larger episodes—episodes that have been largely forgotten but for a few key words that are embodied in the tanka. The effect is like that of filleting a fish down to the bare bones. In this context, the tanka, as a form of précis, may act as an aide memoire to help resurrect a little more of the picture they are meant to describe but even if they do, that picture will be disarmingly inaccurate because it will be colored by all sorts of prejudices that have crept in ever since.
Referencing red, yellow and green, Tabios reveals that color and the associations that it brings can be a whole story in itself. There are throwbacks to childhood, the mention of a mother, grandmother and grandfather, references to puberty and ageing. At one point the maple is “wide, vivid, promiscuous” and at another it is disintegrating into dust. The term “excavation” used in the final sequence calls to mind the science of archaeology as a means of examining the past through the presence of physical remains. Here, all that remains is the bold text. These are the colors of red and gold that only come in the autumn when sufficient time has elapsed for memories to exist, loom large and then fade into near oblivion. “Childhood is ineffable” says Tabios. At the end of the day, it becomes so elusive, it is not able to be described.
–Neil Leadbeater, The FilAm, Sept. 10, 2018
“… a lovely book, beautiful paper and printing. I love the exploration of process…”
–Alice Brody, artist
“Excellent work, lovely production, and a feast!”
–Sheila Murphy, poet
Must say, I am very ‘taken’ with your
and so beautifully presented / produced. Whatever people may say about you as an experimentalist means nothing. If experiments ‘work’ they are no longer experiments but achieved facts, and that is certainly true of your work in this chapbook! Hats off to you!”
–David Giannini, poet
“impressive and attractively produced!”
–Elly Nobbs, poet
“… a wonderful small collection of three series of poems, first using a line by Sheila Murphy and then Eileen’s own previous work (by ‘previous’ I also mean the previous series within TANKA) as sources of (further) liberating restrictions, because poetry exists on the border of itself.”
–Marton Koppany, poet