poetry and the body, perception

“In the context of relevant philosophical models, one can begin to conceive of Eigner’s poems as actively occurring experiments in perception. Thus Eigner asks us to reconsider not just what kind of body a poet can use to perceive, but what kind of perceptive positions might be formed and reformed (for reader and poet) in the protean space of the poem. It is Eigner’s careful orchestration of simultaneous attentions that both critiques and points to the relevance of phenomenology to the reading of poetry.” — Hillary Gravendyk

The Poetics Thing…

Some poems, and short essay, “A Poetics of Individuality and Community” now up on The Bakery.

With work also by Eileen Tabios, Joi Barrios, Arlene Biala, Rachelle Cruz, Karen Llagas, Luisa Igloria, Melissa Roxas, Melissa Sipin, and Sasha Pimentel Chacon. Edited by Barbara Jane Reyes.

By the way, the photo of me looking wonderfully cynical is by M.A. Fink.

According to Eileen Tabios, her “The Poetics of Educating ‘Shih'” (see it on the Bakery website) is shifting its energies
. And I was thinking that, when you write these things, you’re sort of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t; certainly in my case, various aspects of a “poetics” are bound to change. About my “writing mostly online,” for example. Well, I’m starting to write more on paper now. And that definitely changes things like line breaks, breathing within the line, etc. So, WTH.

I think that “Babylan Poetics” still works for me, with its critique of colonialism, its environmental concerns, and support of indigenous rights, even though I’m pretty much an atheist and secular Buddhist at this point (taking into account the fact that “babaylan” also refers to a Filipina/o spiritual practice). But I’m an atheist with strong ties to community, as well as individual expression, and I respect many aspects of the indigenous world/cosmos view.

The worst horse

I’ve always been a lousy Buddhist. The “worst horse” I think they call it. Meditating on and off. Ethical when it suits me — although I try to do right. Art, on the other hand (whether verbal, textual, or sticky with paint), seems to be my “real” teacher. Follows me at a distance with a stick, comes closer and pats me on the head, withholds favors, makes me trot around and blog, opens up the world, makes me do research, lectures to me, sings to me, sends dreams, interrupts my thoughts and my work, sends down the harpies when I neglect my duties…

On not writing poems

It occurs to me that not writing poetry, that painting instead, or not painting, is also about poetry. So is deciding to go for a walk today, and gessoing wood panels, and posting a photo of graffiti by Phlegm. So is this tea and this paint; so is disillusionment with systems, communities, and institutions; so is the ache in my legs, and the ideas I have for writing more poems, which I may or may not write, and the manuscript that never quite gets to that final, final, edit, before being submitted to various unknown and unknowable publishers.

Graffiti art by Phlegm

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.