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Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole is full of lovely, surprising conjunctions: "the sound of fireflies mating, the thin sliver of a distant moon, ... no premonition for such blinding light."
Arthur Sze, THE REDSHIFTING WEB
The Year 2002 has been one of abundance for Eileen Tabios, author of Beyond Life Sentences (Anvil) and editor of the poetics anthology Black Lightning (AAWW). A "rolling" exhibit cum "wedding to Poetry" enfleshing her adage, "poetry as a way of life" was greeted by Bay Area San Francisco audience with aplomb. It was a West Coast happening for writers and fans of this poet and artist. Early in April, Giraffe Books published her My Romance, a compilation of art critique with reflections in poetry, and as an additional affirmation of her stature as a poet, Marsh Hawk Press (New York) announced the publication of a selected prose poem collection (1996-2002) entitled Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole. It is dubbed as "the first U.S.-published poetry book by one who is a recipient of the Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry." Always the cultural activist, Tabios' Reproductions "combines ekphrasis with a postcolonial sensibility informed by writing in English as a language once used to help colonize her birthland, the Philippines."
"The intellectual layers underlying Reproductions make the book appropriate as a text for studies encompassing a variety of disciplines." To further quote Marsh Hawk, "While obviously fitting for poetry and creative writing courses, Reproductions also fits studies addressing Asian American literature, Filipino literature, postcolonialism, decolonialism, history, multicultural studies, among others. In combining ekphrasis with decolonialism concerns, Ms. Tabios offers poems unusual in their approach and content. Her path is summarized in one of the epigraphs to her book, when she quotes Buddha for having said:
Don't take my word for this.
Put no head above your own.
Have your own experience.