Eileen Tabios on the Avant Garde

I heard Eileen give this talk at the Bay Area APIA Avant Garde Poets reading in San Francisco, in which I also participated. My powers of focus are not great these days. I heard it, but I’m glad she wrote it down. I keep coming back to this.


I’ll note some techniques I’ve used that overlap with some approaches used by some poets who’ve been called avant garde. These would be collage, the use of found material, the reliance on the materiality of language and last but not least abstraction. But I don’t use these techniques to get away from the self, my self (which some poets have said as a motivation). I use these techniques to include others (for example, others’ texts). And as regards abstraction, I don’t use that technique to say nothing autobiographical; I use it to listen to others. That is, if others interpret my abstract poems in the way a viewer may interpret an abstract painting, there is content coming from another person and my job as poet is to listen after I’ve provided the microphone. I am there, listening.