The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku


Otoliths, 2019 has featured the book’s Introduction by Thomas Fink. You can see it HERE but here’s an excerpt:

“… a new collection of Tabios’ work from the beginning of her writing life to the present should yield a solid sense of the problematics and topoi that she has consistently tackled. The lines … from “Venus Rising for the First Time in the 21st Century” provide a fine example of what Joi Barrios, placing Tabios’ work in relation to feminist Filipina bardic precursors, identifies as a major thematic dimension: “Tabios’ poems seemingly speak of love and desire, and yet are powerful statements that participate in discourses on gender, class, and power” (318). As it interacts playfully with the trope of “sea” that points to the mythological context of Venus’ birth, the repetition of “see,” as well as “want,” involving a “you” (male gazer) and “her” (the 21st century Venus) can be said to interrogate the power of the male onlooker to establish contexts of perception. According to this interpretation, the “you” seems to want Venus to experience a kind of “double consciousness” (W.E.B. DuBois’ term applied to African-Americans early in the twentieth century) so that she can participate in and accept her own objectification rather than experience her (new) life in an unmediated way, and he wishes to witness it—as reassurance that it is happening. Yet the second sentence, beginning at the end of the first tercet with the same words that started off the poem, indicate the male’s desire for her to be conscious of her desire for him.
“Interestingly, though, the man figures himself not as traditional masculine solidity but as a “body” of water, a “form” of “foam,” and this troping suggests the tenuousness of the male’s desire, the fragility that threatens his social power.”


More information to come.