The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku


The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets 1996-2019
ISBN: Paperback: 978-0-9969912-5-4; Hardcover: 978-0-9969911-6-2
Price: Paperback: $18.00; Hardback: $29.95
Edition: Paperback Release: 2021; Hardback (Released 2019 but now Out-of-Print)
Pages: 240
Distributors: Small Press DistributionAmazon, Thrift Books, Ebay, Marsh Hawk Press, among others. You can also request a signed copy from the Author

The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets 1996-2019 presents tercets that Eileen R. Tabios created during her writing career, a process that led to her invention of the hay(na)ku poetic form. The hay(na)ku has been practiced by poets and visual artists around the world. The collection also presents her tercets in other forms, from the lyric to the experimental, and ends with her take on the Death Poems from East Asian cultures.

SPD Books Recommendation, November 2019


Will you bring the scent

of red roses

I left behind

in New York City alleyways

(or has that season yet to pass)?

In my eyes

will you see

Baudelaire’s infinity

he defined as the “sky”

you witness repeatedly

on and in any painting

marked by blue sapphire, lapis

lazuli, indigo, turquoise…sky…?


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.”



Too many readers overlook a poem’s form, ironically. Tabios does not. Yet she’s always bending it. Tom Fink points out, in his introduction to The Intervention of the Hay(na)ku, that this book “involves theorizing about poetry [from] within the poems.”
James Joyce found poetry too confining. Tabios must always transcend her own formalisms—their own magnitude and brilliance. What one writer lives in or with, so the other.
Tabios is intrinsically drawn to form for reasons to do with how aesthetics and thought touch. Robert Creeley wrote what I see as a hallmark of post-War American experimental poetry. Titled “A Piece,” the poem has five words—two each in the first two lines, one in the last. Its unobvious symmetry is evident in its reading:
One and
one, two,
When once asked about this poem, Creeley said: “I knew that for me it was central to all possibilities of statement.”
Tabios may not know Creeley’s poems well. Nevertheless, she possesses the instinct in that non-poem. I’m awed by her intellect that’s always understated.
—Burt Kimmelman, Marsh Hawk Review, Summer 2021


The In(ter)Vention of the Hay(na)Ku: Selected Tercets 1996–2019 by Eileen Tabios: One might say that the prolific and visionary Tabios invented a new recipe for poetry with the hay(na)ku, a tercet-haiku hybrid (and a play on the Tagalog phrase that roughly translates to “Oh, my!”). Tabios’ hay(na)ku has created a global community and practice around the form, with varieties such as Tabios’ own “haybun” version that incorporates prose. This collection includes poems created from computer-generated text, another example of Tabios’ creative innovation.
—Vina Orden, “Filipino/a/* American History Month Reading List” at Lift Up podcast, Oct. 19, 2020


The book is well organized and the subjects are broad but spring from specific symbols that work both logically and figuratively. Poems vary from three lines to many pages. There is good variety, a little instruction and much to be discussed in this prism of poems that shares so much light.
Lynette G. Esposito, North of Oxford, April 1, 2020

Tabios’ latest collection showcases her mastery of the genre and emphasizes the various uses of tercets in her formats over the years. With universal subject matter ranging from love and gender to class and power, this compilation details the triumphs of a decade-spanning writing career.
from “Books by Barnard Authors” by Isabella Pechaty, Barnard Magazine, Spring 2020
As a California-based writer whose works are in English, Tabios infuses her Filipino identity in the Hay(na)ku form. Like all Filipinos, the Hay(na)ku is a cross-breed. It is simultaneously grounded in Pinoyness, while also anchored in the trauma of American and Japanese colonization of the Philippine psyche due to the enduring problematic legacy of imperial domination and catastrophic world wars.
“Poetry rules are sometimes made to be broken,” Tabios writes. At its core, the Hay(na)ku is liberatory and emancipatory, similar in magnitude to the genius of Black American inventors and innovators in literature, music and other creative pursuits. By developing the Hay(na)ku, Tabios invited her contemporaries to define FilAm, U.S.-born-and-bred poetry from brown-skinned Filipinos, to cease conformity with white supremacist notions of “goodness” in art and the expectation of appeasing the tyranny of literary gatekeepers in order to be validated.
Maileen Hamto, The Halo-Halo Review, November 2019


One gets that sense that, as free-ranging and transdisciplinary as Tabios is (and she must be to generate so much fresh and innovative text), that she is equally as intimate with these self-same subjects. One can feel the arc of the original inspiration, the spiritual depth-diving with which she engages said subjects to such an extent that the silver thread that holds them is taut enough to pluck and hear the tone as though it were the Music of the Spheres manifestly made.

So make no mistake—Tabios is not innovating and recycling to mask a lack of writing power. Take this tercet, from “listening to what woke me”:

     in the city, as summer evaporates off the streets

     the stilled, sharp blades of a three-pronged fan

      behind the curve of its grated metal mask (27)

Hear the music?

—Joey Madia, New Mystics, Literary Aficionado, and Goodreads, December 2019


“The tercet was introduced into English poetry by Sir Thomas Wyatt in the 16th century. It was employed by Shelley and is the form used in Byron’s The Prophecy of Dante. The haiku appeared in Japan in the 13th century and was popularised by Bashō much later. As the title of Tabios’ book suggests, its contents are not just invention but also an intervention: the insertion of something new between what has become familiar. It also carries with it the implication of improvement, of advancement in progress by a third party. Tabios’ explorations of the tercet culminates with the “hay(na)ku”—a poetic form named after a Filipino expression and based on a stanza where the first line is one word, the second line two words, and the third line three words.
Neil Leadbeater, The Fil-Am, Jan. 28, 2020


Book Launch Video Recording of the 2021 Paperback Edition

Available with link and password at the Marsh Hawk Press website.

From Burt Kimmelman’s Introduction: “Too many readers overlook a poem’s form ironically. Tabios does not. Yet she’s always bending it. ….Joyce found poetry too confining. Tabios must always transcend her own formalisms…. Tabios is intrinsically drawn to form for reasons to do with how aesthetics and thought touch.”


Book Presentation and Lecture for KULECTERATURA
July 2021 Event Video available on Facebook.


A Miniature Book Version!

Note from Author:

The In(ter)vention… has been annotated into a mini-book version—sized at 1-7/8” x 2.5”—that can work as a Christmas Tree ornament! If you don’t traffic in Christmas or Christmas trees, the ribbon used for hanging on a tree can be used as a bookmark!  There are poems within the miniature book.

This miniature book, available in a lovely gift bag, is available for $10  (plus $5 shipping). You can purchase just the miniature book or use its purchase for a credit of $10 off of the larger hardback release priced at $29.95!  Yes, this means that for the price of the hardback, you also can get the charming tiny book!

Naturally, books can be signed!  If interested in this offer, email me at galateaten at gmail dot com  . Offer good while supply of miniature books last!

More pictures available HERE.

A Miniature Book Club was formed in March 2021. The doll Abot Tala clutches The In(ter)vention…’s miniature book:


Recently Noted About Eileen R. Tabios

Eileen R. Tabios is one of the more adventuresome and truly creative poets before the public today. She is absolutely able to write poems in the usual styles and make her works resonate with every reader. But she always is searching for ways to push the use of words into formats or situation that challenge the brain as well as heart.
—San Francisco Review of Books

[Eileen R.] Tabios’ concern for our world is global in its reach.
—Contemporary Literary Review of India

Since the 1990s when I first encountered Eileen Tabios’s poetry, she has continually taken readers on a different journey of creativity with each book. Ms. Tabios is one of the Philippines’ great gifts to the United States… There are many other lines in Tabios’s poetry that intrigue—there always are. Her language is light years ahead of many poets from countries around the world, yet remains accessible and exciting.
—Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene 

Innovation is not easy. Being innovative and prolific—well, that approaches the ultra rare. And that is why, year after year, I try to do at least one review of Eileen Tabios’s works… // [E]xperience generates new inspirations and new commentary on the state of our arts. Given the use of our lists by Big Data, this particular creative act of Tabios’s might be nothing less than Revolutionary.
—New Mystics Review