Friday, April 9, 2010

Eileen Tabios

Eileen Tabios kindly sent me a copy of her book The Thorn Rosary (see Aileen Ibardaloza's review below). I was impressed by the sheer scale of it; a large-format book of around 350 pages. I should have known it would be bulky, having previously recieved a copy of her book "I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved" (right) - another bumper offering which contains four substantial collections. The list of works at the front of The Thorn Rosary show that Tabios is an ambitious writer who works on a grand scale; one whose work I intend to get to know much better. Her previous work includes poetry, novels, short stories and essays; she has also edited numerous anthologies, as well as the Asian Pacific American Journal (with Eric Gamalinda). Cleary, a powerhouse. She has a ready-made subject and constituency in the Filipino diaspora and post-colonial experience. As a writer, Tabios is more than capable of doing justice to that experience. "I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved" is a varied collection of poems, ranging from experimental texts to quite traditional forms, and "The Thorn Rosary" is similarly wide-ranging. So far I've enjoyed reading the accounts of her childhood and family life in the Phillipines in "My City Baguio", and I'm looking forward to sampling the rest of the prose-poems in this book. I don't believe the UK has a significant Fillipino community in the way that the US has, so, for me, Tabios's writing opens a window on a new and refreshing world-view. The book Pinoy Poetics, which I've talked about here, was my introduction to this scene.

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