THE CONNOISSEUR OF ALLEYS
From Foreword by Vince Gotera
A phrase from Comte de Lautréamont’s prose poem Les Chants de Maldoror (1869) has been used by many as a definition of surrealism: “the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella.” Such fanciful and bizarre juxtaposition is one of the many sources of beauty and the sublime in The Connoisseur of Alleys. Sentences and lines resurrected from the earlier works resonate and reverberate with each other in a preordained fashion so that each poem ebbs and flows, builds to a crescendo, echoing each of the other poems’ ebbs, flows, and crescendos. There is certainly “chance meeting” in the way Tabios’s text collides with itself but there is nothing chance about the delicacy and beauty that comes from those collisions.
These poems are, to borrow from Whitman again, “large and contain multitudes.” They are a striking tribute to art and to poetry—both Tabios’s own earlier work and, really, all poetry—underlining and emphasizing for ourselves our own humanity and grace. Again, a random quotation (page-riffled and finger-pointed):
I forgot the damp eyes were mine…. I forgot that if you call an island
“Isla Mujeres,” half of the population will be anguished…. I forgot
to be human is to be forgiven…. I forgot the taste of your mouth
was song of licorice….*
I forgot. And in forgetting, I remembered. Excruciatingly and exquisitely. May we all forget and remember so eloquently and elegantly.
Distributors: SPD (Small Press Distribution), Amazon, Among Others
POET OF THE DAY – THE QUOTIDIAN BEE
The Quotidian Bee, curated by Shanna Compton, features The Connoisseur of Alleys and one of its poems, “Dredging for Atlantis,” as the Daily Feature for February 12, 2016.
RECOMMENDED POEM – VIDA
In VIDA’s series “Voices of Bettering American Poetry 2015,” Melissa Studdard recommends “It’s Curtains,” one of the poems in The Connoisseur of Alleys. Melissa says, “‘It’s Curtains’ uses anaphora brilliantly, refusing forgetting even as it hammers ‘I forgot’ onto the page.”
Reviews & Other Reader-Responses
Though the lines insist on the loss of memory, the logic of the generated poem—the recursion on which the poems are founded—asserts that nothing is ever forgotten. Each poem is composed in eight paragraph-like stanzas, the returns both familiar and new. Tabios’ algorithmic work depends upon the vivid imagery and emotion of the original lines and the wonder to which each new configuration gives rise. Reading these poems, I entered a durational space, a state in which time flows otherwise, according to the orbits of the recurring lines. I lost track of where and when in the drifting patterns the poet has construed, finding myself midmost a language journey: “I forgot the empty chair that awaited us, its expanse the totality of a planet still unexplored.”
—Marthe Reed, The Volta, July 4, 2016
“I forgot a mirrored face only partially owns its reflection….I forgot a long-haired woman exists, but outside the frame as has been reality for centuries.” // In this small excerpt, Eileen R. Tabios explores the objectification of women as the historian’s intrepid cliché. Who will see past the body, past the skin, past the allure modeling itself for the pleasure of others? Of course, “outside the frame” we are reminded, “a mirrored face only partially owns its reflection.” The rest is owned by the strong poesis of voice, a voice tuned to the spirit of the ellipse. It contains a multitude of how we forget to remember, and in so doing fill forgetting with absence.”
—Daniel Y. Harris and Irene Koronas, X-Peri, July 14, 2016
…a testament to not only the form and substance of Tabios’ poetic tapestry as I have written about it over the years and a testament to Tabios’ ability to inspire and co-create from afar, through the power of her words and fearless pursuit of new forms to deliver them.
—Joey Madia, New Mystics Reviews, Book Masons, and Literary Aficionado, July 2016
Imagine a string of over a thousand lines offering Beauty and Poet whispering: Do not Forget. // I accept this gift. Here, the Poet’s elision of her authorial voice (I forgot) offers me, as a reader, the gift of renewing my second sight—where its gifts often hide in alleys sidelined by socially-condoned consensual reality shaped by what we are now willing to admit as the failure of the modern narrative.
—Leny M. Strobel, The Halo-Halo Review Mangozine #3, August 2016
…every time Tabios sets her mind to a new project, something unique happens. This collection of works is a collection of interconnected poems, each time a poem begins a reference shines, a moment of recognition and yet that moment so embellished with fresh perspective that the result is as mesmerizing as it is exquisite poetry. Each poem begins with ‘I forgot…’ and then 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…. // This book overflows with ingenuity and with brilliance of writing – as is always the case with Eileen R Tabios. She is quietly overtaking her art form with constant infusions of new ideas and techniques.
—Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer
Should poetry be left to chance? If it is “generated” by a machine is it still chance? What inspires you in that moment is still on the page, just at a later time….yet another interesting book by Ms. Tabios
—Chris Mansel, The Daily Art Source
Poems Written in Response
Michael and Joyce Gullickson, co-founders of the Georgetown Poetry Festival, wrote poems in response to reading The Connoisseur of Alleys! Mike’s poem, “RE. LIFE RE. LIVING,” is available HERE. Joyce’s poem, “In Due Time,” is available HERE.
A Book-Inspired Painting by Advaita Patel
FULL-LENGTH COVER (w/ FRENCH FLAPS)
Designed by Michelle Bautista
FOR SAMPLE POEM
You are invited to Marsh Hawk Press’ Book Page for The Connoisseur of Alleys.
NEW YORK LAUNCH AT POETS HOUSE
You are invited to Marsh Hawk Press’ Blog to see photo coverage of the book launch for The Connoisseur of Alleys and other Marsh Hawk Press books.
HARRIS MEMORIAL COLLEGE
The Connoisseur of Alleys is now part of the Library at Harris Memorial College (Philippines):
Presented at The Sitting Room, Santa Rosa, CA for Filipino American History Month, October 2016
ST. HELENA STAR, Feb. 25, 2016