Giraffe Books (Quezon City, Philippines)
Release Date: 2001/2
Distributor outside Philippines: Amazon
MY ROMANCE is a unique collection of writings that conflate poetry and the visual arts. Author Eileen Tabios presents essays on contemporary artists representing a variety of aesthetics, ranging over abstraction, minimalism, figuration, monochromatism, conceptual art and sculpture. Each essay is followed by a poem written by Ms. Tabios as a result of having considered and written on the essay’s subject artist(s).
While each essay and poem may be read on a standalone basis, the juxtaposition of essay and poem allows the reader to discern part of the process through which Ms. Tabios wrote the poem.
Another significant dimension to MY ROMANCE is how Ms. Tabios uses her meditations on art to venture forth into other disciplines and topics. As examples, she uses her essay on Ulrike Palmbach to address urban culture, her essay on Santiago Bose to address political corruption, her essay on Christian Vincent to address Wall Street culture, her essay on Max Gimblett to address Buddhism, her essay on Susan Bee to address the flux of language, and her essay on Tom Friedman to address human mortality. She explains her approach as: “I write on art because it is a way to engage with capitalism, politics, culture, history, issues of identity and the environment. To write on art is like the writing of a poem: a way of engaging with the world.”
Sculptor Miriam Bloom says about MY ROMANCE: “Eileen Tabios knows with all of her heart and soul that both poetry and visual art involve distillation, essence, mystery, and grandeur of experience. Her poetry is an analog for abstraction in the visual arts.”
Featured Artists: Santiago Bose, Max Gimblett, John Yau, Ulrike Palmbach, Ruth Liberman, Ed Moses, Paul Pfeiffer, Richard Tuttle, Christian Vincent, Stephanie Syjuco, Carmen Lomas Garza, Susan Bee, Tom Friedman, Marc Trujillo, Joseph Marioni, Miriam Bloom, Venancio “V.C.” Igarta, and Carlos Villa.
“I wished to write a book as a Love Poem.”
This line alone, which ends the book’s Introduction, was enough to make me teary-eyed. The idea of a book about Art written as a love poem is new to me. Art is often perceived as belonging to a realm beyond the common and everyday. Art as the embodiment of all that is sublime in human aspirations. Art as the manifestation of the best that human nature is capable of. Art as something to be found beyond glass cases in a gallery or museum where one is allowed to gaze but not to touch. Art as something to be admired and to be awed by.
…[On the other hand,] Eileen’s approach in this book is the approach to Art as something to be engaged with, Art as a way to engage the world.
“Everything I’ve said today took a lifetime to get here,” Eileen quotes the poet Eric Gamalinda. Here, Eileen demonstrates how her life-long romance with Art also becomes a poetic engagement with the world: the world that includes history, politics, identity, and spirituality. Indeed, all of life.
—Leny M. Strobel, La Solidaridad
In My Romance, which juxtaposes poetry and visual art writings, Eileen Tabios carefully addresses political ramifications of art-making/reception and aesthetic issues….A powerful erotic charge, tinged with surrealism, pervades many poems: “I am swooning into you with eyes of open stones.”…Tabios writes compellingly, as well, on artists who explore perception, spirituality, and psychology….My Romance‘s collaging of poetry, historical data, symbolic analysis of art, and formal evaluation itself embodies a critique of reductiveness and a championing of pluralism with a critical edge.
—Thomas Fink, MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (Go HERE for extract)
My Romance is a deceptively packaged jewel of a book. By its title alone, one expects a torrid recount of a love affair between a pirate and a kidnapped royal personage. Giraffe’s pink soft cover packaging promises lighthearted reading of lighthearted prose. Beware of flipping open these pages because as sure as a magic wand, black lightning will strike and one finds oneself carried away to unheard of places: the mysterious universe of the artists’ creative processes.
In My Romance, Eileen Tabios, poet extraordinaire, culls together her art essays on contemporary artists “representing a variety of aesthetics, ranging over abstraction, figuration, minimalism, monochromaticism, conceptual art and sculpture.” Minute descriptions of each exhibit and the artists’ intent transport the reader to the actual exhibit site. As if this experience is not enough, Tabios showers the reader with petals by closing the essay with her personal affective entry into the world of art-through poetry. Each essay is graced with a Tabios poem. One is forced—nay, persuaded—to reflect on the artists’ intent and re-read Tabios’ critique.
—Reme Grefalda, Our Own Voice