#Poem for Marthe Reed by Eileen Tabios

I mentioned in my last post that I’m doing a reading at Studio One today in Oakland with other Black Radish Books writers. Sadly, the beloved Black Radish poet/publisher/editor Marthe Reed passed away several days ago. The reading will go on tonight, and will include readings of her work. You Brought Me to the Mangrove Forest is a recently written poem for Marthe by Eileen Tabios. Click on the link for the poem and images.


#Poetry Reading: Black Radish Books

I’m looking forward to doing a poetry reading on April 13 at Studio One in Oakland for Black Radish Books. Other poets reading on the 13th are Carrie Hunter, Barbara Tomash, Mg Roberts, Dana Teen Lomax, & James Maughn. I’ll be reading from my book, Corporeal, which will be published in June by Black Radish. My book opens up with this quote:

“The natives of the islands of Pintados, especially the women, are very vicious and sensual. Their perverseness has discovered lascivious methods of communication between men and women.”  —Dr. Antonio de Morga, Alcalde of Criminal Causes, in the Royal Audiencia of Nueva España, and Counsel for the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas. 1609. In The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898: Volume XVI, 1609, by H.E. Blair.

Here’s a copy of the cover design for my book, by M.A. Fink (my name has not yet been placed on the image). I love it!

corporealxPoC - Copy.png
Book cover image by M. A. Fink.


California Coast

I heard from a friend via Facebook  (who I hadn’t seen for decades) that my poem, “California Coast,” (under my old name, and written in the 1990s) was blown up and posted on a wall in the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (Santa Cruz MAH), along with a translation. It was part of Tom Killion’s exhibit for his book, California’s Wild Edge, which included my poem.

Hmm, did I really use the word “amongst” on that first line? Maybe I’ll have to make a revision. 😉 I’ll have to get down there soon and take a look!

Photo by Ed Jameyson, 2018.

Update: I did stop by, and indeed, there was the poem, and a couple visitors sitting in front of it, reading. Anyway, it was quite a surprise, and I kind of wish I had known beforehand, but no one told me they were going to use the poem in this way. Nevertheless, I was honored to share walls with poets Gary Snyder, Jane Hirschfield, and Jack Spicer, not to mention Tom Killion’s beautiful woodcut prints of California’s wild landscape.

CA Coast





Blood and Submissions

It’s taking longer than I thought to get my iron levels up. I’ve raised the dose. Feeling a teensy bit better every day (best of all, no muscle cramps for the last week) but it’s slow going. Nevertheless, I didn’t collapse the last time I went to the gym, and I’ve had energy enough to begin converting Local Nomad into an online literary journal. I’m now issuing my first call for submissions. And I received my first submission today! To find out more go to my newly revamped website, Local Nomad.

Otherwise…we are thinking of putting in a vegetable garden. Just thinking about it. We decided against chickens. The weather here on the foggy coast is not optimal for things–like tomatoes–that grow much better 20 miles inland. Beans, maybe. Squash, maybe. And there are all those forageable things out in the field, e.g. wild mustards and dandelions.

Perihelion: A Journal of Poetry — End of Empire


The next issue of Perihelion: A Journal of Poetry is accepting submissions for their next issue. The theme is “End of Empire.” For submission guidelines click HERE.

We welcome poems that explore and enlarge upon issues related to empire, its continuance or ends, legacies, and possible transformations. Topics or tropes might include: migration, war and violence, empire and language, “the sixties,” revolution, apocalypse, restoration and reconciliation (a fantasy?), gender and empire, indigenous activism, the environment, technology and empire, the economy, and the future. This issue welcomes transnational writers—dual citizenship, bi- or tri-lingual, migrant workers and exiles—writing from the peripheries of empire, as well as writers taking up the theme of effects of US-Euro collapse from inside the remnants of empire. Poems in languages other than English are welcome (but please provide a translation, which will be published too, and a credit for the translator).

Editors: Dion Farquhar and James Maughn
Editor-at-large: Jean Vengua
Submissions Editor: M.A. Fink
Publisher: Michael Neff

Jack Gilbert (1925 – 2012)

(via Sheila Murphy)

The Abnormal Is Not Courage

The Poles rode out from Warsaw against the German
Tanks on horses. Rode knowing, in sunlight, with sabers,
A magnitude of beauty that allows me no peace.
And yet this poem would lessen that day. Question
The bravery. Say it’s not courage. Call it a passion.
Would say courage isn’t that. Not at its best.
It was impossib1e, and with form. They rode in sunlight,
Were mangled. But I say courage is not the abnormal.
Not the marvelous act. Not Macbeth with fine speeches.
The worthless can manage in public, or for the moment.
It is too near the whore’s heart: the bounty of impulse,
And the failure to sustain even small kindness.
Not the marvelous act, but the evident conclusion of being.
Not strangeness, but a leap forward of the same quality.
Accomplishment. The even loyalty. But fresh.
Not the Prodigal Son, nor Faustus. But Penelope.
The thing steady and clear. Then the crescendo.
The real form. The culmination. And the exceeding.
Not the surprise. The amazed understanding. The marriage,
Not the month’s rapture. Not the exception. The beauty
That is of many days. Steady and clear.
It is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment.

—Jack Gilbert

Perihelion: A Journal of Poetry

Happy to say that I will be “Editor-at-Large” for the next issue of Perihelion: A Journal of Poetry, on staff with Dion Farquhar, Jim Maughn, and M.A. Fink. Their current issue focuses on Santa Cruz poets (see an excerpt from the introduction, below):

Santa Cruz, California is a place of convergences. Here the Central Coast Range meets the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Bay Area meets the Southern California coast, the new economies of Silicon Valley and service tourism meet the fishing and farming economies that preceded them. So, too, do differing poetic communities converge here in Santa Cruz. Poetry Santa Cruz, an influential, independent organization has showcased what roughly might be called “mainstream” poetry for many years, to great effect. The University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as the shoestring A New Cadence Poetry Series, out of the downtown’s Felix Kulpa Gallery, garner diverse audiences for the challenging Language-derived (sometimes…) work that is often unsatisfactorily called experimental, or innovative, poetry. There is a thriving open-mic and slam scene, here, as well (both on and off campus).

Santa Cruz is a place where the diverse, sometimes contentious world of contemporary American poetry circulates in microcosm. This pluralism of clash and coexistence is what constitutes Santa Cruz’s poetry scenes, and it drives this issue of Perihelion, the first under the editorship of Dion Farquhar and James Maughn. We aim, in this issue, to embrace the contradictions these poetries perform–of gift and power, of abjection and death, of circulation, connection, and commitment to language. That sharing is what makes poetry communities work—a complex mix of the prescriptive, proscriptive, an always-already pluralist compromise.

The theme of the upcoming 2013 issue will be announced soon.

R.I.P. Jeff Tagami

I just read about Jeff Tagami’s death on FB , and I’m still in shock. I wrote a brief piece about him for the wall panel on Filipino American writers for the Filipino Voices exhibit (ongoing at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas); and a couple months ago, I tried to get in touch with him for a possible appearance at the exhibit. He did not reply, and now I understand why.

I believe that he has been a very important voice in Filipino American poetry — one that deserved much more attention. Long ago, when I was just learning to write, I met Jeff Tagami and Shirley Ancheta (both excellent poets) at a reading at the Capitola Book Cafe, and the two (along with Catie Cariaga) introduced me to the writers at BAPAW (Bay Area Pilipino American Writers) and Kearney St. Workshop.

For one semester, Jeff and I both taught in the same department at UCSC, and at one point I worked with Jeff and Shirley and couple other poets on a prison poetry project, reading poems written by prisoners incarcerated in San Quentin. An essay I wrote about Bulosan and Tagami was published in the journal, Critical Mass (Spr 1995).

Jeff grew up in the Pajaro Valley, and worked in its agricultural fields. He wrote with compassion and lyricism about the lives of the workers. His poems chronicle some of the darkest moments in Filipino American history, at times with bitterness and irony. And yet he also captured moments of quiet beauty. Jeff himself was quiet and understated about his own writing, yet he was also fiercely supportive of poets—their right to be paid well for doing public readings, for example.

Meeting Jeff and Shirley and the BAPAW group really changed the direction of my writing, and opened my eyes to the history and ongoing creativity and struggles of Filipino American writers. They also introduced me to the haunted history of Filipino Americans in the Pajaro and Salinas Valleys, pointing out to me, for example, where Fermin Tobera was murdered, and where stories and spirits linger in the rolling hills and agricultural fields of the area.

I live in Elkhorn, now (North Monterey County) surrounded by agricultural fields. Driving by the workers every day, seeing the dust rise from the tractors, and the patterns formed by the spray of water from the irrigation pipes, I can’t help but think of Jeff’s poems.